Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Game 52 - A Scrappy Win...

...minus the "s".

They just beat a 10-39 team, shooting 37% (their high water mark, btw), shooting barely over 70% from the line, while they shot 43% and 86% from the line, by FOUR POINTS. AT HOME.

I don't want to believe it, but I have to admit - the last two games were Jason Kidd auditioning.

How else to explain such a crappy effort?

Granted, Frank's continuing bafflement at his job does not help, altho I will grant that he called timeouts at the right times, if to little effect.

But here we were again, a close ugly game against a very bad team, and a 10 point margin at the end of 3. Then stupid, uninspired, clumsy play. Both 4th quarters of this brutally bad season series, the Nets allow the lowly, and I mean VERY lowly, Wolves to score well over 30 points.

The only good news is they managed, barely, to score enough to hang on.

Here are two little vignettes:

To open the 4th quarter, the Nets were shooting 2 of 12 from 3 point land. Up by 9, after they scored twice on layups, indicating how weak the Twolves defense is, this is what they do on 6, count 'em, SIX consecutive trips:
- RJ misses a 3
- Nachbar misses a 3
- Frank calls time. Think he tells them, Guys - we stink from the arc tonite and they can't defend the paint so pound it inside? You tell me...
- Nachbar misses a 3 (HE certainly learned from his mistakes...)
- Armstrong misses a 3
- Armstrong misses yet ANOTHER 3, on the same possession, for good measure!
- Carter SCORES on a SLAM DUNK
- RJ misses a 3
- Sean Williams SCORES on a SLAM DUNK.

Sensing a pattern?

During that time, the score goes from 70-59 to 70-65, at which point the two SLAM DUNKS reopened the lead to 9, 74-65.

Now, imagine if the Nets had not tried to have a World B Free 3 Point Contest and instead pounded it in. A 15 point lead with 6:48 to go. (Of course, in Minneapolis, at the same point in the game they were up by 10 and still managed to lose by 3...)

Frank doesn't mention this in his post game, primarily because he DOESN'T GET IT.

But, in fairness, neither, or rather ESPECIALLY neither did his team. Or does his team.

Meanwhile, the Twolves are doing the opposite - can't hit a shot inside the arc, and Telfair is dropping threes all over the place.

But even still, as bad as the Twolves were shooting, repeatedly, as the Wolves missed ugly midrange jumpers, there was Al Jefferson, standing among 4 Nets, getting the rebound and scoring.

Doesn't anyone on the Nets staff see this? Doesn't Bill Cartwright see this? Why, year after year, do the Nets stink at pounding it inside? Why, year after year, do they have no clue about rebounding?

Here was a prime example as to how coaching, in-game coaching, can make a difference - point out how badly they're shooting from the arc and impress upon them to pound it inside. It really is that simple.

But beyond the Nets' coaches.

Here's the second vignette. 94-85, Wolves out of timeouts. Nets get a rebound with 18 seconds left. The Wolves don't foul. They don't exert any pressure. The Nets can just run down the clock.

RJ has the ball. Why him? Anyway, he barely gets over the midcourt line (why so long without serious pressure?). Now there's 8 seconds left. Unbelievably, yes, only the Nets, Jefferson flubs the ball and dribbles it out of bounds. With 5 seconds left.

Why didn't he call timeout? Take a shot? Dribble and get fouled?

Oh well. So Telfair gets the ball and is able to shoot a WIDE OPEN THREE. And drains it. Game over. Nets win but only by 4. Because of sheer lackadaisical play. Sheer lack of care.

23-29. Whoopee-damn-do.

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