Derrel “Jazz” Johnson, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — After seeing the Brooklyn Nets drop their fifth home game in their last six attempts last night to the Utah Jazz, who came into the game with a 4-10 road record, I was curious as to how the game unfolded from the very last play to the beginning of the third quarter, when the Nets held a 13-point lead.
After watching the replay of the final shot by Reggie Evans, I was curious as to whether he was trying to bank the shot in or not. When I asked, he replied, simply, “I was trying to bank it in.” It was the bank shot that wasn’t, or, to use an overused basketball cliche, the bank was closed for Reggie and the Nets Tuesday night.
Before Evans had a shot at tying the game, teammate Gerald Wallace had a shot at winning the game with a wide-open three-point shot. “The shot didn’t fall,” Wallace said of the shot he knows he is capable of making. When looking at the impact of these losses at home—losses in which the team has lead by double figures—Wallace said “We’ll look back at these games in March and April.”
Indeed, losses like these can drastically change playoff seeding, especially in a conference that is going to be competitive.
The Nets have lost six games, or 25 percent of their total played, in which they have had a lead of double digits. How significant is this fact? If the Nets had won all of those games, they would be 19-5 and have a two game lead over the 18-6 New York Knicks. One of those blown leads were to the Knicks, so the Knicks would be 17-7.
The biggest reason for these losses? The third quarter. A very telling statistic from last night’s game is turnovers. The Nets only turned the ball over 13 times in last night’s loss, but seven of them came in the third quarter. In that third quarter, the Nets were outscored by the Jazz, 26-17.
Reggie Evans added “We just have to do something better in the third quarter.”
Deron Williams looked deeper into the third-quarter woes. “I don’t know. We even talked about it, we talked about it a lot, how we have to come and have a good third quarter, protect the ball, but we come and do the opposite. It’s something that we’re very conscious of. Maybe because we’re so conscious of it, it has the reverse effect. We have to come out and have better third quarters. We have these leads, and in a lot of our home losses we’ve had good leads, but the third quarter costs us.”
Nets head coach Avery Johnson was rather blunt about the third-quarter play. “In the third quarter, we turned the ball over six or seven times. We were awful to start the third quarter. That’s something we focused on yesterday along with taking care of the basketball. You can’t score unless you get shots at the basket. We didn’t get shots at the basket in the third quarter. That doomed us for the rest of the game.”
Coach Johnson continued, “Because we turned the ball over on offense, it put our defense in a bind. We were decent in the first half but in the second half our turnovers put us in a bind.”
Kris Humphries had his own thoughts on correcting the third-quarter woes. “I think we have to put more emphasis on catching the ball, getting low, and getting our guys off of us. We have to present ourselves to the ball, as well as passing it. There are a lot of things we need to work on, but there’s another game tomorrow.”
The most surprising thing about the many Nets turnovers is that they come from a team that has players you would consider good ball handlers. Williams, Joe Johnson, and Wallace would all be considered good ball handlers, but a large amount of turnovers in a short period of time is enough to doom any team.
The Utah Jazz deserve some credit too, and Paul Milsap talked about what his team did defensively. “We got up and pressured them and got some turnovers.” He added, “we won this game and I don’t think many people expected us to come in here and beat this team, but we did.”
Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin also discussed what his team did well. “I thought we did a great job in the third quarter coming out and being more aggressive… We were aggressive on both ends. On the defensive end we had our hands on them.”
The Nets don’t have much time to sulk about the bad loss, as they travel across the Brooklyn Bridge to play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden for the first time as intra-city rivals.
A Net team that is only two games over .500 needs a win desperately, and perhaps they will come out and play that way. Deron Williams hinted at just that.
“We’ve got to bounce back. This is a tough loss. It shouldn’t sit with us well. We had control of the game, and gave it away. So now we have to come back tomorrow and go across the bridge and have a good game.” Perhaps Williams will have a big game, which he has had in his Nets past at the Garden, and maybe Humphries will join him.
“I like playing at the Garden.” Humphries then added, a bit tongue-in-cheek, “They love me. That’s what the booing means,” referring to the many boos he heard a season ago at Madison Square Garden.
For the sake of the season, and Nets fans, hopefully Deron and Kris will hear many boos not only before the game, but after. That would be a sign that they both played well and the Nets have won the game. If not, the Nets will host the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday and would need a victory to avoid falling to .500 for the first time since they were 2-2 back on Nov. 9.