J.R. Smith goes up for a layup against Nets center Brook Lopez. Credit: Getty Images
Midway through another bad third quarter, TNT cameras caught Nets general manager Billy King sitting pensively with his hand on his mouth watching some semblance of his $190 million team getting blown out of the building.
Among what he witnessed was an extremely poor perimeter defensive effort as the Nets gave up 16 3-pointers in a wire-to-wire, 113-83, loss to the Knicks.
In a matchup of two teams that “stink,” in Nets head coach Jason Kidd’s words, and one that is a “laughingstock,” in Carmelo Anthony’s words, it was the Knicks who showed some semblance of last year’s team that won 54 games while the Nets continued to look worse than they did during the 2-10 stretch a year ago that cost Avery Johnson his job.
“They started the game off, it didn’t seem like they were going to miss,” Kidd said. “In the third quarter we couldn’t get the ball in the basket and the Knicks kept going and they did.”
The Nets lost for the 12th time in 15 games by allowing the Knicks to thrive from beyond the arc in their first win since Nov. 13 in Atlanta. That was the game owner Jim Dolan guaranteed the Knicks would win but in the weeks following, talk about Mike Woodson’s job security increased to the point Allan Houston and Jeff Van Gundy were mentioned as replacements.
They looked like a team with little, if any, chemistry and Joe Johnson certainly did not disagree with that.
“On both ends of the court [we make it hard] — defensively, offensively,” Joe Johnson said. “Defensively we’re giving up a 100-plus a game in our own building. You can’t beat anybody like that. Offensively, we just, maybe early we have the movement, but the second half, we don’t have that movement. We just don’t have any chemistry at this point.”
“Chemistry just doesn’t snap and wave the magic wand and voila,” Kevin Garnett said.
The Nets have now allowed opponents to shoot 44.8 percent, the worst mark in league history. Over their last six games, opponents have shot 50.9 percent (77-of-151) from 3-point range as the Nets attempt to emphasize defending the paint.
Changes to the Nets’ staff have been the topic of the week since Lawrence Frank’s sudden “reassignment” due to philosophical differences. According to Garnett, the team has made changes, mostly to defensive schemes in the paint, but since Frank left the Nets had not had time to practice them except for Thursday morning’s shootaround.
“We’re trying different schemes man,” Garnett said. “We’re trying to defend the paint and keep the paint but teams are shooting the ball very well. Every team that shoots the 3, they’ve had success shooting the 3 against us. We haven’t done a very good job of that.”
Even worse than having no chemistry is the fact that the team doesn’t seem to communicate, a fact pointed out by Alan Anderson.
“Our communication is not there,” Anderson said. “With this team, this is weird because we all get along. We don’t have no guys who don’t like each other. We all get along. As a team we just got to get better with our communication.”
While Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko sported suits again, the rest of the Nets made nothing happen. Only Williams appears close to returning, as King told TNT during the game that he will likely return Tuesday against Boston.
Mirza Teletovic and Toko Shengelia were among the backups trying to defend Anthony and it was hardly successful. Anthony started the game trying to facilitate but heated up in the third by making 4-of-5 shots and scoring 10 of his 19 points.
The Nets have been outscored by 102 points in the third quarter this season and have had seven third quarters when they have been outscored by double digits. The Nets trailed by as many as 15 in the opening quarter but were respectable enough to get it to 50-43 at halftime.
Then the bottom fell out again in what is becoming a familiar pattern for the Nets, who allowed five 3-pointers and 12-of-20 shooting. After Joe Johnson opened the third with a jumper 43 seconds in, the Nets missed their next four shots before getting a basket by Alan Anderson that made it 58-50 with 7:40 remaining.
After that, the Nets had two baskets the rest of the quarter and were outscored 26-9 the rest of the period. Any chance they had of picking up their sixth win ended when the Knicks went on a 22-2 run, which looked as similar to the 20-4 run the Nets gave up to Denver two nights ago.
The only drama after that were technical fouls handed out to Andrea Bargnani and Kevin Garnett in the fourth quarter. Garnett tripped and Bargnani’s leg appeared to impede his progress resulting in both players being given technicals.
A few minutes later, Bargnani was ejected for trash talking Garnett after hitting a 3-pointer.