Moke Hamilton, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — The Memphis Grizzlies made their lone visit to Barclays Center on Sunday night and downed the Nets, 76-72. With 20 seconds remaining in the game and the Nets trailing by two, Deron Williams missed Mirza Teletovic on a backdoor cut and Tayshaun Prince intercepted the pass. Mikhail Prokhorov, from his luxury suite, grabbed his hair and doubled over in anguish.
Mike Conley was fouled, converted his two free-throws and the game was over.
But it was a critical no-call that occurred on the Nets previous possession that determined the game. Williams drove down the lane and was swallowed up by Tony Allen and Zach Randolph. There appeared to be contact on the play, but there was no call.
P.J. Carlesimo said that he wasn’t sure whether or not the play was a foul, but Williams seemed a bit more certain.
“I definitely thought I got fouled,” Williams said when asked after the game. “But, they didn’t call it, so I guess I didn’t.”
For Williams, the loss was frustrating not only because of the loss, but because he committed the aforementioned turnover on the game’s most critical possession and saw his 9-of-15 shooting performance and 24 points go to waste.
“I can’t control no calls or calls or anything like that,” Williams said. “I can control not turning the ball over on the next play, which is even more frustrating and really, how we executed down the stretch was frustrating.”
Williams has not converted as many as nine shots from the field since the Nets were defeated at the Houston Rockets, 119-106. That was way back on Jan. 28.
He hasn’t shot better from the field since the following game against the Orlando Magic. He shot 8-of-12 in a 97-77 victory at Barclays Center, so, it’s understandable for the loss to sting him a bit.
Overall, the Grizzlies won a game the way they have been winning games this season. The Nets scored just 72 points and managed to shoot just 38 percent from the field. To call the Grizzlies a “good” defensive team would be an understatement, but to the Nets credit, there were right there with them and had an opportunity to pull out what would have been a tough, hard fought game down the stretch.
“We stopped Brooklyn about five times in a row,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said afterward. “We then made the free throws, go up and then we continued to get stops.”
With Joe Johnson out and still nursing his sore heel, Williams did his best to rise to the occasion. He added four rebounds and four assists to his 24 points, but did commit four turnovers. He also had little help from anyone else.
In what has become a bit of an alarming trend, Brook Lopez sat the entire fourth quarter again. The rest of Williams’ team managed to shoot just 20-of-62 from the field and couldn’t overcome the Grizzlies balanced scoring attack—all five starters scored in double figures—and the interior tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
In the end, the Nets committed 18 turnovers and scored a season-low in points. Without Johnson and with Lopez being ineffective, it was too much to overcome.
‘They play extremely good defense and pound the ball,” Reggie Evans said afterward. “We couldn’t make a shot and things didn’t go our way in the end like we thought it would. It seemed like the momentum shifted for Memphis.”
To make matters even worse for the Nets, the Knicks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night, so the Nets have lost another game in the standings and are once again two games behind their intra-city rivals for first place in the NBA’s Atlantic Division.
The Nets will visit the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday before returning to Barclays Center on Friday to host the Dallas Mavericks.