(Nets center Henry Sims puts one up Sunday against New Orleans – @BrooklynNets)
An old saying with the Brooklyn Dodgers was “Wait Till Next Year,” and one could say the same thing about the present-day Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets announced, in a somewhat surprise move, on Sunday morning that their two stars, center Brook Lopez and forward Thaddeus Young, would be shut down for the season, starting with that afternoon’s game against New Orleans.
This confirmed what has been known for a while, that the rest of this season, in this case, the final six games, are about talent evaluation.
Nets General Manager Sean Marks can now see how these players are, and they will get the minutes to show him what they have.
On a side note, to not have Young and Lopez play was an insult to the fans that came to the arena for a meaningless game on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. They should have played and then after the game announce they won’t play the final five games, three of which are on the road.
The Nets lost 106-87, and were heavily outplayed by the shorthanded Pelicans. The defense was a joke, and the offense looked muddled at times.
Sunday’s starting lineup was Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Thomas Robinson at the forwards, Henry Sims at center, Wayne Ellington and Shane Larkin at the guards.
Sims had 12 points and 7 rebounds in 30 minutes, Robinson had 11 points and 15 rebounds in 27 minutes, Ellington had 10 points and three assists, while Larkin had six points and nine assists.
One player who has already proven he deserves to be brought back is Sean Kilpatrick, and he had 15 points and three rebounds in 27 minutes on Sunday.
Nets Interim Head Coach Tony Brown said of where the balance is with players trying to prove themselves and playing team basketball, “Well, we’re not going to make drastic changes because some of these other guys are not playing. We’re trying to stay in the same schemes offensively, where the pace is what we would like, moving the ball, getting up and down the floor. But within that framework, you have to play smart basketball. Getting double-teamed or getting extra help to your penetration, you have to find a way to get the ball out and get it to somebody that is open where we can create something on the weak side, and clearly we didn’t do enough of that. I thought our pick-and-roll game wasn’t what it was in the past where they were trying to force us to our weak ends and we had no counter to get downhill because of it. We tried some different plays to get us to get more over the pick and roll and try to attack that way, but we didn’t do a really good job on that.”
Brown said of Young and Lopez being shut down for the rest of the season possibly helping to develop more chemistry for the rest of the team, “Well, maybe. I don’t know. I think that, like I said, I’m not changing a lot of stuff that I’m doing on both ends of the floor, so it should be some comfort in that, even though Brook and Thad and those guys are not out there. So, like I said, it’s not going to change drastically. You still have to play within the framework that we’ve been playing.”
To the question of what the morale of his team is with Lopez and Young out, Brown said bizarrely, “I have no idea what their morale is. We approach the game the same way. We’ve given them all the schemes we want to try and compete in the game, and when you go in the locker room, you (meaning the reporters) ask them about their morale because I couldn’t tell you.”
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said of the morale, “(There are) a lot of different people in the locker room. There are a lot of different personalities, so it’s kind of hard to say.”
Sean Kilpatrick said of Young and Lopez being shut down for the year, “It’s going to be hard, but that’s when guys, especially on the bench, just have to step it up. Now that everyone is getting more of an opportunity to play with those two being out, it gives, especially the fours and fives (power forwards and centers) an opportunity to show what they got. With a big drop like that, though, point-wise wit those two out, everyone has to chip in, and also defensively. Those two did a great job on the boards and in the paint as well, so we have to do a better job defensively now.”
Kilpatrick should look in the mirror when defense comes up, as he was a miserable -27 on Sunday, meaning New Orleans scored 27 more points than the Nets with him on the floor.
It’s also funny to hear Kilpatrick talk about defense considering the Nets have given up over 110 points routinely since Brown took over, so the 106 on Sunday was par for the course. They probably would have given up the same number with Lopez and Young in there.
Hollis-Jefferson said of staying focused with Young and Lopez being done for the season, “It’s tough getting that news. You just have to adjust. You have to know that you can trust your teammates, that they’ll step up. We’ll all play our role, we’ll play hard, but it’s definitely tough to get that news and not have those guys, because a lot of times, more than none, we go to them late in the (shot) clock situations and pretty much run a lot of things through them. Now we just have to figure things out.”
RHJ said of getting more of an opportunity now with them out, “I would say that they do take the most shots on the team, so it gives everyone an opportunity to kind of swing the ball more, be able to get a couple more shots in and be able to play your game.”