For Nets, It’s No Jack City

(Jarrett Jack in action against Stephen Curry and Golden State in early December – @BrooklynNets)

The Brooklyn Nets announced on Sunday the loss of their point guard, Jarrett Jack, for the rest of the season with a torn ACL and small medial meniscus tear in his right knee.

Jack will undergo surgery and the date is yet to be determined.

The injury occurred during Saturday’s game in Boston, in which the Nets beat the Celtics 100-97.

Jack played in and started all 32 games for the Nets this season, and averaged 12.8 points, 7.4 assists, and 4.3 rebounds.

Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of Jack before on Monday night before they played Boston again, “It’s tougher for Jarrett, he was playing really well for us and doing a lot of the things we were asking him to do.  To get hurt like that is nasty, I’ve seen injuries before, and when he went down, I felt it was bad. Hopefully, everything will go well surgery-wise and it will heal, recover 100 percent and move on with his career.

“For us as a team, it’s part of this game. Injuries, you know, I hear people say cut down exhibition season, you know, cut the amount of time in games, cut the amount of games. As I told the players, none of that matters. You can do whatever you want to do, but you have a limited window in this game, just like us as individuals that don’t play, and them, we have a limited window on this earth.

“You can eat healthy and work out every day, but when it’s your time, it’s your time. You have to cherish it and play it to the hilt, and he did. He always played with passion, he loved being in the gym, and it’s going to probably hurt him more not being able to play. I think he’ll be back, and as we move forward, just have to fill the next guy in and just got to step up and play,” said Hollins.

Shane Larkin, who has done a nice job in his first season in Brooklyn, will step in to the role of starting point guard.

Larkin, who spent his rookie season in the NBA with the Knicks, is averaging 6.6 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per game.

Hollins said of Larkin and others stepping up in Jack’s absence, “It’s still a team game. As much as we rely on certain people, I think that, when they’re gone, other people we learn to rely on, is what I want to say. It’s somebody who nobody thought of and, all of a sudden, you get comfortable playing him, you get comfortable seeing his game, and you have confidence in what he’s doing.”

This was a Nets starting lineup that already had to cope with the loss of rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. In his place is Bojan Bodanovic, who has done a nice job, averaging 9.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.0 assist per game.

The strength of the Nets is in their Big Three of Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Thaddeus Young.

Lopez, possibly the best center in the NBA, received Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday for the week of Monday, December 28 to Sunday, January 3.

Lopez led the Nets to a 2-1 week, averaging 26.7 ppg, 13.3 rpg and 2.3 bpg in 37.5 mpg and shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 88.9 percent from the free throw line. In the three-game stretch, Lopez totaled three double-doubles and one 30-point game, while leading or tying for the team-lead in scoring and rebounding in all three games.

For the season, Lopez is averaging 19.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game.

Johnson is averaging 10.8 points per game, well below his career average. If he can get anywhere between 15 and 20 points a game, the Nets should expect to win more games.

Young is the orchestrator of the offense in the post, and he has put up some nice numbers, with 15.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game.

The key to Saturday’s win in Boston was that Lopez had 30 points, Johnson had 20 points, Young had 16, and Bogdanovic had 13, combining for 79 of the Nets’ 100 points.

On Monday night in the second half of the home-and-home, the Celtics came out firing. They outscored the Nets 37-22 in the first quarter, led by 14 points from Jae Crowder, seven from Jared Sullinger, and six each from Evan Turner and Isaiah Thomas.

The Nets never left the game get too far out of reach, as the Celtics never took more than a 15-point lead in the third quarter, and took a 79-68 lead into the fourth.

In the fourth quarter, the Celtics gave the Nets every opportunity to make a run, as they only scored five points in the first seven minutes of the frame. The closest Brooklyn got was five points, at 90-85, on a Joe Johnson jumper at the 3:00 mark.

The Celtics responded with a Crowder three, and put it away with a minute left when Marcus Smart made an acrobatic move with a minute left to make it 100-91 Boston, and they won it 103-94.

Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens said of Crowder, “He’s hit the big shots for us all year. He’s not afraid of the moment and he stepped up. The biggest shot is when we were up five and Isaiah Thomas drew the defense a little bit and threw it to Crowder. He had a couple of drives from that spot from earlier in the game so it creates a little indecision on the closeout, whether or not he is going to rip it or drive it, and so he decided to shoot it because the defense was a little back and he made it.”

The Nets were led by Thaddeus Young, who had 23 points on 9-for-18 shooting, 2-4 on threes, 15 rebounds, and two assists. It was Young’s 18th double-double on the season, and fourth against Boston, becoming the first Net to do that since Deron Williams had four double-doubles against the Knicks in 2012-13.

Young said of the changes in the rotation with the loss of Jack, “I think it’s huge. You know, sometimes you have that feel with different players and right now it’s all about getting acclimated with Shane (Larkin) in the point guard and (Donald) Sloan in the point guard spot. Some things Jarrett sees that they don’t see. You know that’s from Jarrett playing with us most of the time, majority of the time. So, like I said, we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and watch some game tape and show the guys where the seams are, what’s the next play and what we should do in certain situations.”

Johnson had 21 points on 8-for-15 from the field, 2-4 from behind the arc, six rebounds, and four assists. This was the second straight time Johnson scored 20 or more points, and it’s the first time he has done it in back-to-back games this season.

Lopez finished with 19 points on just 6-14 from the field, but he never really got into a rhythm in this one. Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk played incredible defense on him.

Hollins said of the loss, “That wasn’t a very pretty first quarter. We came out, had eight turnovers, they had 11 fastbreak points and the score was 37-22. We just didn’t come out mentally ready or physically ready to do battle. I knew they were going to come out aggressive and we talked about it. We talked about it this morning, we talked about it yesterday and we wanted to make a statement to back it up and validate the win we had on the road. We are sort of back to where we were last year in not playing very well at home and playing better on the road. I can’t call why. I wish I knew. But we battle back after the first quarter and we outscored them in every quarter. We just couldn’t make enough plays to get all the way back, They hit some big shots and we missed some shots.”



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