There have been two Joe Johnsons this season: pre-”selfish” and post-”selfish.” Unfortunately for the Nets, post-selfish Johnson has been abysmal.
Prior to Johnson’s comments to the media after the Nets’ last win to date — November 9 against the Magic — where he called his team out for lazy, me-first shot selection, Johnson was his typical hot-shooting self. Johnson got off to a 47.9 percent pace (46-for-96) in the Nets’ 4-2 start, highlighted by a 60.9 percent effort on November 1 against Detroit. In fact, Johnson shot 50 percent or better in three of Brooklyn’s first six games. That was good for a cumulative +26 over those six contests. It seemed like the ageless Johnson was picking up this season right where he left off in the playoffs, where he was essentially unstoppable. But a mixture of tougher opponents and a cold shooting stretch have derailed all that.
Johnson is down to just 42.8 percent over his last five games, all Nets losses, low-lighted by a 2-for-9 effort at home against Miami on Monday, and an o-for-6 stretch in crunch time against Milwaukee that spanned throughout the fourth quarter and all three overtimes. In fact, Johnson’s short attempt in the third overtime on Wednesday was his first miss in the last 10 seconds of a game since arriving in the borough. Frankly, he looked like he completely lost his confidence, and the minute that clutch show came off his fingers, he didn’t have any semblance of belief that it would go down. It was a frustrating as it sounds.
The primary problem looks to be a reliance on isolation. The Nets’ ball movement as been non-existent over this five-game skid, and Johnson in isolation just really hasn’t been where this team has excelled over his three-year tenure. Johnson has found a comfort zone in this progressing stage of his career by finding space and burying good looks, and that’s not what the Nets are setting up for him right now. He’s also chucking up more shots (15.1 field goals per game, more than two attempts higher than his 2013-14 average), which leads me to believe he may be pressing a bit to make up for Brooklyn’s recent offensive shortcomings.
Jason Kidd’s departure from Brooklyn struck a chord with new players’ union executive director Michele Roberts.
Roberts told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that there is an existing rule the union has on the books that bars player agents from representing coaches or executives, but it’s rarely enforced. Kidd said that his player agent, Jeff Schwartz, had a role in negotiations for him this summer.
“We can’t allow the status quo to remain, i.e. people to act in defiance of the rule because the rule is the rule,” Roberts told Berger. “But I also want to try to do it in a way that makes sense for everyone. If it appears that the rule is not something that we can work around, then it’s time to enforce it.”
Schwartz was reportedly instrumental in orchestrating Kidd’s exit from the Nets, Bucks GM John Hammond and assistant GM David Morway learned of the negotiations with Kidd through the news media.
First, this is a great read by Berger, who dials down into how the Kidd deal came to be, and the people who knew and who didn’t.
As the report notes, Schwartz reps Deron Williams and Mirza Teletovic, but he also has Shaun Livingston and Paul Pierce on his client roster. The latter two players were free agents who did not return, so could Schwartz have been trying to hold Livingston and Pierce over the Nets’ heads to try to get Kidd the autonomy that he wanted? The union says no, but I don’t think anyone can say for sure. The fact is that if the rule exists, enforce it. It can create all kinds of headaches, and the NBA has plenty of those already when it comes to star players forcing a team’s hand of where they’re traded, etc.
Andrei Kirilenko did not dress for the second consecutive night.
Kirilenko, who expected a bigger role with the Nets this season, has played in just seven of the Nets’ 10 contests. He is averaging 5.1 minutes per game and has not played more than 10 minutes since Opening Night.
“It’s tough, but there’s nothing I can do,” Kirilenko said. “I’m not the one making decisions, and it is what it is.”
It looks like Markel Brown has moved ahead of Kirilenko in the depth chart, and I think that’s just bonkers. I’m sorry, but Kirilenko is exactly the kind of player the Nets need right now. He hustles, he does the little things. He could easily provide a jolt Brooklyn needs. Why is he not even dressing? It makes absolutely no sense.
Even if Hollins thought AK didn’t fit into his system, why not try to showcase him early in the season? Maybe the Nets could move him to a contender for a future asset, especially if the acquiring team felt like they were getting close to a full season out of him. Instead, he’s left to rot on the sidelines? Even if I don’t agree with a move, I usually understand the rationale behind it. To me, this just seems like incompetence, especially since Brooklyn in marred in their worst skid of the season.
Tied at the end of regulation. And overtime number one. And
overtime number two. What a game! What a night! What a mess…
Even if you’re willing to overlook the fact that the Nets let an eight point lead get away at home at a Bucks team that was 2-4 on the road coming in. Or, if you’re an optimist, you might want to take solace in Brook Lopez’s 11-for-19 night from the field, en route to a game-high 26 points over the course of 44 minutes. Or Bojan Bogdanovic’s 19 point, seven assist contest, which included several clutch three pointers. If you’re willing to grant all these concessions, answer me this: How am I supposed to take this team seriously if they can’t beat Milwaukee on their home floor?
“We’re still searching,” Deron Williams told reporters after the game. “We’re still trying to figure out what plays work well [in crunch time]. Defensively, we’re still working through some things, but we’re good enough to where we should just be able to make plays late. We did that in stretches, but we’ve gotta close out these games. We’re a veteran team, [Milwaukee’s] not. We should be able to win these.”
Yes, Deron. Yes, you should be! But you aren’t winning these games. In fact, your club hasn’t won of your last five decisions, and it’s starting to give some fans real pause about the viability of this team moving forward.
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Jason Kidd and Deron Williams discuss Kidd’s return to Brooklyn after the Nets fell to the Bucks.
Result: The Bucks outlasted the Nets 122-118 in triple overtime in Jason Kidd’s return to Brooklyn.
Need to Know: Jason Kidd was greeted with boos on his return to Brooklyn as head coach of the Bucks, but he had the last laugh in a triple OT win.
The Bucks pulled ahead in the third overtime as a 112-112 game to a 116-112 lead and never had the game tied again. Jabari Parker led the Bucks with 23 points.
For the Nets, Brook Lopez had 26 points and six players were in double figures. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 19 points and Joe Johnson and Deron Williams added 18 each.
The Nets fell to 4-7.
Links: Box score | Recap
Next up: The Nets play at Oklahoma City on Friday.
The Milwaukee Bucks — and head coach Jason Kidd — come to the Barclays Center on Wednesday night.
The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on YES and WFAN.
Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, Bojan Bogdanovic and Deron Williams are expected to start for Brooklyn.
March 1, 2014
Marcus Thornton scored a game-high 25 points off the bench for Brooklyn, as the Nets defeated the Bucks 107-98 in Milwaukee. Andray Blatche recorded a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds, also off the bench, and Deron Williams added 15 points and four assists in the win.
December 27, 2013
The Nets beat Milwaukee 104-93 at Barclays Center, led by 20 points, six assists and five rebounds from Shaun Livingston. Mirza Teletovic added 19 points off the bench in the effort, shooting 53.8 percent from the field (7-13 FG) and 55.6 percent from long range (5-9 3P FG).