Derrel “Jazz” Johnson, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets were on their way to starting the season 2-0, winning their first two game at the brand new Barclays Center in convincing fashion. With 9:36 remaining in the third quarter of Monday night’s game, the Nets held a 22-point lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 71-49. Unfortunately for the Nets and their fans, the 2-0 start was not meant to be.
Just one night earlier, the Minnesota Timberwolves lost to the Toronto Raptors—the same team the Nets beat on opening night—but mustered the energy and shocked the Nets with a 26-15 run to end the third quarter. Entering the fourth, the Nets lead was down to just 11. The Timberwolves then outscored the Nets 32-10 in the fourth quarter and gave the Nets its first loss of the season and at the new home arena. The final score was 107-96.
Under any circumstances, surrendering a 22-point lead on your home floor and losing a winnable game is troubling. But the fact that the Timberwolves are playing without its two best players—power forward Kevin Love and point guard Ricky Rubio—makes the loss tougher to digest.
Monday’s loss was one that was routine for the New Jersey Nets. But the Brooklyn Nets are supposed to be different.
The old Nets was supposed to have a new lease on life. But in game two of the first season in Brooklyn, they showed up and the whispers of “same ‘ol Nets” was heard.
After the loss, Nets head coach Avery Johnson alluded to the past, “I just think for our team, losses like this have to really sting more than they ever have in the past, because losses like this can come back to bite you later on in the year, so we can’t afford to lose at home,” he said. “We are trying to build a home-court advantage. We’re trying to get us a rhythm here at home, some momentum. So this was one that was definitely a winnable game… It looks like we just kind of ran out of gas.”
When asked about what Coach Johnson said, Deron Williams responded “I think last year we got to a point where it was kind of normal.”
As a writer who covered the team their last two seasons in New Jersey, I can confirm that it did get to a point where it was “kind of normal.” This loss felt all too familiar.
Losing winnable games, many which saw the Nets with a sizable lead, was a regular occurrence over the past couple of seasons at Newark’s Prudential Center. Teams routinely came back and defeated the Nets in close games.
In March 2012, the Nets blew a 12-point lead to the Milwaukee Bucks and the next month, in April 2012, the Nets blew a 13-point lead against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Way back in December 2008, the Nets blew a 22-point lead to the Utah Jazz. The ultimate irony is that the Jazz were led by Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko.
In what was supposed to be the second game of a new era for the team, Monday night’s loss against the visiting Timberwolves was a disappointing reminder of the past.