Crushing End to an Ugly Week for Brooklyn Nets
After suffering three straight losses prior to tonight's game, the Brooklyn Nets at 16-19 were still in the playoff mix and respectably just under .500 and a game ahead of last season's record at this point before going on a terrific pre-All Star run that changed their season.
So facing another woeful Philadelphia 76ers team, with a pitiful 5 wins against 29 losses, Brooklyn had to feel like they could end this miserable week on a positive note. The Barclays Center was not filled to capacity and although it was only off by 1,600 seats out of a total of 17,732, it felt like more. Premium season tix and high-enders seemed to be sitting this one out and even though there are always folks to fill "celebrity" row, it seemed like a different level of VIP, no shade.
The Nets faithful were in full throat though and they expected what we all did, that their team would control this game from start to finish and come away with a much needed victory...unfortunately somebody forgot to tell the Sixers.
Brooklyn started off a little slowly. But, with a competent starting lineup featuring Mason Plumlee who continues to impress with his basketball I.Q. and versatility, and Jarrett Jack who brings a professionalism and consistency to the point that has been sorely needed, you were looking for the Nets to handle their business.
Brooklyn Nets center, Mason Plumlee, point guard Jarrett Jack
Philly started with a 3 from two-guard Robert Covington. The Sixers spent the first 4 minutes of the game with the lead for one of the two times they would enjoy it all night. Behind Plumlee, Johnson and Jack who played the entire 1st quarter, the Nets took the lead halfway through the first with balance scoring from all the starters and took their largest lead of 9 points, into the second on 60% shooting Brooklyn 32, Philly 23. Conversely, the Sixers were only shooting 45% from the two but 75% from 3-point range, which kept them within shouting distance.
Joe Johnson was on, hitting all three of his attempts from the field, with one of those a 3-pointer and it looked like the makings of game that could be broken open early.
Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson
And even though Coach Hollins put in a new line up, with the exception of Lopez, to start the 2nd Quarter of Teletovic, Morris, Bogdanovic and Anderson, they were able to maintain their 7 to 9 point lead through the first 6 minutes of the second quarter but could never seem to shake the always athletic and scrappy 76ers loose.
With another Covington 3, a missed layup by Teletovic and a Wroten bucket off a MCW (Michael Carter-Williams) assist, the Sixers trail by only two points 40-38 and Hollins takes his 2nd timeout and brings back Plumlee, Jack & Johnson for Lopez, Morris and Bogdanovic respectively.
Despite the subs, Alan Anderson is the only Net who could find his shot, hitting two jumpers to stretch the lead back to six. Unfortunately, only to see MCW hit his only 3 of the half followed by a tip in by center Nerlens Noel and Brooklyn ends up nursing just a one point advantage at the half 46-45.
The third quarter looked a lot like the 1st, with Plumlee, Lopez, Jack & Johnson carrying the load and even upping the lead to as much as 11 points, 58-47 with 7 minutes left. The Nets eventually took a seven point advantage into the 4th despite the team shooting dropping dramatically down to 48% FG. However, where they were being severely outplayed was at the 3-point arc, going from 33% to 20% and crashing at 16.7%. In contrast, the Sixers after coming down from the impossible 75%, maintained a very respectable 46% through the remaining 3 quarters.
The fourth quarter lead for Brooklyn looked vulnerable. Coach Hollins was still juggling his lineup, keeping Plumlee on the bench for huge stretches. The Nets' inability to put together back-to-back buckets let the 76ers continue to hang around and gave them growing confidence. Philly took only their second lead of the game with less than a minute left in the game at 88-86. When Brook Lopez tied the game at 88, everyone in the building knew what was coming. Plumlee had been reinserted and although he had a career high in rebounds at 15, he would need help on the final play.
As he had done on the previous big scores for Philly, their best player, Michael Carter-Williams took the ball from the right elbow at the foul line down the lane and attacked the basket. When Mason Plumlee came over to defend, there was no one rotating to cover Sixers forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who scored the game winning bucket at the cup. The Nets go down to the hapless 76ers 90-88 and given the recent losing streak, the crowd's fears were realized.
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