The Brooklyn Nets follow up one of their best wins of the season with one of their worst last night versus the Philadelphia 76ers, falling 106-101 at home.
Brooklyn was near full strength with Sean Kilpatrick returning to the lineup and to make it even sweeter the 76ers were down to a rotation of eight players and Tiago Splitter, who was making his first appearance in over a calendar year. It was a recipe for another Nets win but instead it turned into a debacle.
Jeremy Lin had one of his worst games from the floor of the season, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson shot his way out of the game, Brooklyn imploded late in the game, and Dario Saric added another game to his blooming Rookie of the Year resume.
Jeremy Lin Played A Bad Game, And He Knew It
Its looking more and more the way Jeremy Lin goes, so goes the Brooklyn Nets. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Lin had a really bad game last night from the floor. He played 29 minutes and ended with 11 points, seven assists, six rebounds, four steals, two turnovers, and three fouls on four of fourteen from the floor while going zero of four from deep. He filled up the stat sheet in other ways but was visibly frustrated with both his inability to hit open shots and a lack of calls going his way.
Most frustrated I’ve seen Lin all season. Not his best night pic.twitter.com/sOMjwqzs1q
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) March 29, 2017
Lin was matched up on T.J. McConnell for a majority of the night and was presented with a plethora of good looks but for whatever reason the ball just wasn’t going in for him tonight. Unlike most nights when faced with adversity, Lin failed to meet it with his patented cool demeanor. Following the game, Lin was the first person to admit that this game was not up to his usual standards.
Jeremy Lin post-game: Its on me. pic.twitter.com/Uu194vhiMB
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) March 29, 2017
This game only solidified that Brooklyn needs to start looking at a point guard as well in free agency. Not as a replacement for Lin, but it is clear he can’t and shouldn’t be the only true point guard on this team. Both Spencer Dinwiddie and Isaiah Whitehead show promise, but are far from ready to be a true backup point guard and aren’t anywhere near Lin’s skill level.
Every good team has two or three guys that can facilitate the offense and help others get shots. Right now Brooklyn only has Lin. Adding another highly skilled guard will only help the entire team. The fans that follow Lin should not only brace for an eventual signing but welcome it with open arms because it will only help Lin look more like the player he was in Charlotte.
Hollis-Jefferson Shouldn’t Have The Green Light Anymore
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has proven time and time again that his jump shot is truly broken, last night is just another example of it. He ended with 11 points and seven rebounds but shot an abysmal five of fifteen from the floor. Matching up against rookie Dario Saric proved to be too big a task for the born again power forward.
Kenny Atkinson has given Hollis-Jefferson an insane amount of leeway this season to develop into whatever will make him the most successful player going forward. At the beginning of the year, it was him on the wing as a 3&D prospect that also brings the ball up the floor, but failed to hit any shots from the permitter. Now he is playing power forward and getting beat up by stronger, bigger players routinely.
Its not that I don’t have faith in Hollis-Jefferson, I just wish the team could recognize when a game is close and be able to quit experimenting in order to buckle down and get the victory. Its clear that all of these games are pointless as far as the final record and draft choice goes, but they mean something to the players and the fans. When it gets down to crunch time minutes, Hollis-Jefferson shouldn’t be attempting anything outside of layups and dunks.
The Third Quarter Doesn’t Seem To Be The Issue Anymore
Since the All-Star break, the third quarter is far from the issue for the Brooklyn Nets. They are no longer getting blown out after halftime, but instead standing tough and usually coming out winning the quarter. The team is building on momentum from a good second quarter and usually establishes a big enough lead that when they eventually collapse slightly in the fourth, they can weather the storm. Unfortunately that didn’t happen this time.
Brooklyn outscored Philadelphia 33-27 in the second quarter and ended the third quarter tying the 76ers in points scored with 21. Brooklyn maintained a lead until the 2:29 mark of the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold off Saric and the surging 76ers.
The Nets have a real problem finishing games. This happens in the beginning of the fourth quarter whenever the starters are pulled for rest. The bench unit failed to hold the 76ers off starting late in the third and despite making it a close game, couldn’t hold on for the win.
Dario Saric Will Win Rookie Of The Year
Last night was the definitive Dario Saric Rookie of the Year candidate game. He ended with 23 points and seven rebounds on eight of fifteen shooting from the floor while being the obvious leader on the floor for the 76ers. With teammate Joel Embiid sidelined before playing the minimum required games to qualify for he award, Saric has slide into the favorite to win it.
Saric shows just exactly what a stretch four that rebounds and defends can do for a team. He shut down Hollis-Jefferson all night and looked like a seasoned veteran for the entire game. Hopefully he doesn’t get bitten by the injury bug because he stands a chance at being a real difference maker for the 76ers down the road.