NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 9: Brook Lopez #11 of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball against Joakim Noah #13 of the New York Knicks on November 9, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Brooklyn Nets vs New York Knicks 11-09-16 Notes And Observations

In a season with little expectation, match ups against rivals like the New York Knicks bring some added excitement for a fan base looking for some bragging rights. Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Nets were unable to secure those rights in last night’s 96-110 loss at Madison Square Garden.

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Despite leading for almost three quarters of the game, Brooklyn’s second half woes continued against New York. After taking a five point lead into the half, the Nets ended the third quarter down only one point but the damage had been done. Thanks to large second half performances from both Kristaps Pozingis and Carmelo Anthony, momentum was well in favor of the Knicks going into the fourth quarter. From there, the rest is history as the Knicks went on to outscore the Nets 38-25 to seal their victory.

Even in the loss there are a lot of things to take away from this game for the Nets. With all the injuries to the point guard position we not only got our first look at Point Skilpatrick, but also saw rookie Yogi Ferrell make his debut after starting the season with the Long Island Nets. Randy Foye is slowly getting more and more comfortable with his role on the team, Justin Hamilton played a major role adding 21 points on five of seven shooting from deep, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson getting out of his early season slump are just some of the things to take away from this game.

Brook Breaks My Heart Every Game

As someone that truly appreciates low-post scorers and players, watching Brook Lopez finish with four rebounds or less most nights is starting to eat away at my soul. In this matchup, he posted a stat line of 21 points, four rebounds, one assist, and three blocks in 24 minutes on eight of twelve shooting from the floor. If you ignored the rebounds or didn’t take into account that he is a legit seven footer, then it’d be a very impressive stat line.

At this point, it really doesn’t make sense. I know it shouldn’t bother me so much, because this has been his MO since he was a rookie. Some games he looks like the second coming of David Robinson, pulling down boards, dominating the low block on both sides of the court; but he can never keep it going consistently. It is just a shame, because if he got those rebounding numbers up and stayed healthy, he could’ve been a perennial All-Star by now.

I highly doubt Brook is going to wake up tomorrow and magically be the good rebounder we need him to be, but stranger things have happened. The team will never realize its full potential until Lopez, or anyone else, steps up and consistently rebounds. Right now the team relies on Trevor Booker and rebounding by committee for most of the production. That will need to change in the coming years if the Nets want to take the next step as a unit.

This Team Is Gaining An Identity

Up to this point, the Brooklyn Nets have been known as a team that relocated and tried to win now by leveraging the future instead of building a team from square one. The infamous Boston trade will probably go down as one of the biggest black eye’s in franchise history, but for the first time since it happened it looks like they are truly taking steps towards a new era; and the rest of the league is noticing.

Following Tuesday night’s victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, A Wolf Amongst Wolves blogger William Bohl had this to say about the Nets:

The other main takeaway from this game concerns the Brooklyn Nets, namely HOW MUCH FUN THEY ARE TO WATCH THESE DAYS. WAIT. WHAT? HOW? BROOKLYN? They’ve been so depressing lately! They’re fun all the sudden? Before the game, how many of their players could you name? Any? One? Brook Lopez, right? And… Jeremy Lin? (He didn’t play, he’s got a hamstring issue.)

But yes, they’re a ton of fun to watch. They push the pace, they take a ton of threes, they swing the ball, they have these weirdly fun wing players like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris, and Sean Kilpatrick. Brook Lopez and Justin Hamilton, the team’s starting and backup centers, respectively, each hit three triples. The centers. 7-footers. Three threes apiece. It’s wild! It’s fun!

Its been very fun so far, the team is playing and competing with some of the best units in the league and I don’t think anyone was anticipating it. The fact that other people that cover the league are starting to notice is great, because there is finally a brand of basketball that people can A) identify and B) enjoy watching.

The Nets do two things extremely well, take threes and move the ball. In a feature for NBA.com, John Schuhmann touched on two important things; one being that the team is taking a lot more shots from deep in their offense. Before last night’s game against the Knicks, 39.5 percent of their shot attempts came from deep. That is good for third overall in the league and a 17 percent increase from last season. Against the Knicks they stuck to the script and took 33 threes, which was roughly 41 percent of the shots they attempted.

The other stat that Schuhman touches on is passes per game, which the Nets lead the league in with 333. Last season they finished 20th in the league with 292 per game, a full 41 passes less than what they are at now. Atkinson’s system clearly works. He is making the most with his gang of misfits, and it is very exciting to watch.

Hollis-Jefferson Is Really Good At Two Things

If all Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did was defend at an extremely high level and facilitate, I’d be pretty okay with that. Sure, when he is hitting threes and throwing down thunderous dunks the team fires on all cylinders, but he doesn’t do that with great consistency. What he needs to do consistently is keep locking players down and keep moving the ball.

Against one of the premier scorers in the league in Carmelo Anthony, Hollis-Jefferson looked good defensively. He was always attached at his hip, and it showed through the first half. At one point, Melo was just 3-12 from the floor and that was mostly thanks to RHJ. He defends three to four positions with ease and has good vision in Atkinson’s offense. If this team wants to stay competitive, they’ll need him to become their stopper on D.