Had the Nets rebounded as well Paul Pierce played, they might have had a fourth straight win. Instead they struggled immensely in that area and the ineptitude overshadowed Pierce’s season-high 27 points in a disappointing, 113-107, loss to the Wizards Wednesday night.
The Nets fell to 9-16 on a night when Pierce made his first seven shots and shot 10-of-12 while playing 35:28. They actually outscored the Wizards, 85-79, when Pierce was on the court but it was not enough to cover up a whopping 51-31 disparity on the glass.
It was the fifth time the Nets gave up at least 50 rebounds and, not surprisingly, they are 0-5 in those games. It exceeded the 56-37 margin against the Nuggets from Dec. 3 when the Nets were pounded by 24.
“It is easy to sit here and talk to you guys about what kind of night I had but the bottom line is I really don’t care,” Pierce said. “We lost the game and that is pretty much all the matters. We come out here and try to win as a team, it is not about how Paul Pierce is feeling.
“Tonight we had the inability to rebound, defend the three and that is what cost us the game.”
The Nets were in the game throughout as their biggest deficit was 12 points. That was because despite their ineptitude in allowing 19 offensive rebounds and getting only five, they managed to shoot 52.7 percent (39-of-74).
“We scored enough points to win,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “There were some rebounds that we couldn’t come up with down the stretch. We are getting better but we just lost a game that we felt we could control.
“It was on me,” Brook Lopez said after getting five rebounds in his return from missing two games with an ankle injury. “The effort wasn’t there.”
The leading rebounder for the Nets was Joe Johnson, who had seven, but the starting frontline of Lopez, Alan Anderson and Kevin Garnett were outrebounded, 26-10, by Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat (10 rebounds) and Trevor Booker (nine of 13 rebounds on the offensive end).
“They crashed (the glass) with three or four guys each time and they were able to get offensive rebounds and offensive rebounds means second shots and we didn’t do a good job of controlling that and making that adjustment,” Garnett said.
Rebounding ultimately cost the Nets down the stretch as they were outscored, 12-7, after getting within 101-100 on a 12-footer by Deron Williams with 1:57 to play. On the next Washington possession, John Wall missed an 18-footer, Gortat out maneuvered Garnett and easily scored.
And then came the backbreaker as Williams missed a 14-foot jump shot with 1:25 remaining but Lopez jumped too soon and Nene grabbed the rebound. After Nene made the pass, Bradley Beal knocked down a 3-pointer, an open 3-pointer, and Washington had a six-point lead after Lopez didn’t rotate under the screen properly.
“That’s what the game was won and lost with,” Johnson said.
Had they rebounded well or defended better consistently, they might have been talking about Pierce’s best game as a Net in his fifth game as a sixth man and ninth career game off the bench. Instead they were lamenting not getting a win on the night Pierce scored his most points in a regular season game since last March and had his best field goal percentage on at least 12 field goal attempts since a 12-for-14 night against the Nets on March 4, 2009.
“I feel like he is semi-healthy enough to be fresh and these last couple of days he’s gotten a rhythm,” Garnett said.
Had the Nets been able to get into a rebounding rhythm, then things might have been different.