Brooklyn Nets vs Denver Nuggets Notes and Observations: 02-24-17
The first game following the All-Star break was supposed to be a hopeful one for Brooklyn Nets fans, as their patience was rewarded with Jeremy Lin returning to the starting lineup following a series of hamstring injuries.
Unfortunately that feeling of hope was short lived.
Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and the Denver Nuggets made sure to spoil Lin’s long awaited return, routing the Nets 129-108 in Denver. Brooklyn allowed Harris to go for a career high 25 points while Gallinari added 20 points and Chandler ended with 24 points as the Nets’ losing streak extends to fifteen games.
It was the usual suspects behind yet another Brooklyn Nets’ loss; a gross lack of defense, getting out rebounded on both offense and defense, the third quarter, and a weird distribution of minutes killed any and all chance of coming back in this game.
Problems On Defense
The Nets allowed the Nuggets to dish out 32 assists, shoot over 50 percent from the floor, and shot 14 of 31 from deep. Harris added in four by himself. In addition to that, former Net Mason Plumlee finished two assists shy of a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists off the bench. Gallinari shot eight of thirteen from the floor, Chandler shot 11 of 21, and Will Barton contributed 11 points, six assists, and five rebounds in the route.
The damage was done by on the perimeter and by slashing guards and wings as the Nets looked lost defensively. Even with an offense-only guy like Bojan Bogdanovic removed from the lineup, the Nets couldn’t seem to stop the Nuggets from running them off the court.
The problem is extremely poor defense on the perimeter that allows opposing players to do whatever they want. Weak perimeter defense usually leads to three things; uncontested three-pointers, easy cuts and drives to the basket, and easy entrance passes into the post. Denver was able to capitalize on all of these fronts on their way to almost topping 130 points, all without unicorn-lite Nikola Jokic who was sidelined by foul troubles.
No Rebounding, No Victory
Rebounding has always been an issue for Brooklyn, and it was again in this game. The Nets only pulled in 49 total rebounds, two less than the Nuggets had on defense alone who then went on to add 11 offensive rebounds too. This in turn led to 13 more possessions than Brooklyn, a chance at 26 to 39 more points for Denver. It isn’t a wonder why this game got out of hand in a hurry.
Brooklyn’s best rebounder came in the form of Trevor Booker, who had nine, and then Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who added eight, but aside from that six players had two or less rebounds. If it wasn’t for Justin Hamilton pulling in seven off the bench, the Nets would’ve been completely overpowered on the glass.
Quincy Acy is still out with his ankle injury, Luis Scola has one foot in retirement, and Andrew Nicholson is in the middle of his worst season in the NBA. Brooklyn needs guys to step up and focus on nitty gritty things like rebounding if they want to start taking steps in the right direction. Rebounding is about focus and it feels like every time the ball hits rim, players immediately start focusing on getting in position to run the break. The priority needs to be securing the rebound before anything else.
The Third Quarter Strikes Back
The dreaded third quarter did the Brooklyn Nets no favors, as it ultimately led to their downfall in this matchup. After being down only ten at the half, Brooklyn was then outscored 22-37 and the game was put out of reach in a hurry.
A steady helping of Chandler, Gallinari, Harris, and Hollis-Jefferson turnovers started the run but then it was guys like Plumlee and Barton that ended up taking over for the Nuggets. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the game was already well out of reach.
At this point, the third quarter woes are to be expected. This is a team that has been without an NBA point guard for most of the season and a team that is very young. In addition to that, this is a first time head coach in a rebuilding situation unlike anything in sports. There is no condoning it, but once you take a look at the situation it is easy to understand why every third quarter is flat. This should hopefully change with Lin’s return and as Atkinson learns and grows as a head coach in this league.
All-Star Game-Esque Minutes Distribution
Did anyone else notice the abnormally even distribution of minutes by Atkinson? With the exception of Lin, who only played 14 minutes in his first game back from injury, every other player that saw the floor played between 18 and 26 minutes. Most lineups have three or four guys that are near 30 minutes, then you have two or three 25-28 minutes, two or three 15-18 minutes, then the rest are fill in as needed.
Lopez sat for long stretches, players that weren’t used to playing that much or in that lineup were combined and damage was done. From an offensive standpoint things were relatively fine, but this unfamiliarity gave way to some of the worst defense played all season. Three players scored 20+ points for Denver and another player almost had a triple-double off the bench, trying to get everyone the same number of minutes isn’t going to be how these players develop or how the team learns to win.