Sean Kilpatrick’s disappointment after Wednesday’s loss stemmed from the same old tune: a lack of “energy.”
But only 14 games into an 82-game regular season, the Nets cannot afford to hum their Atlantic Avenue Anthem any longer. The third-year guard stands alone, the old man on the block, leading the charge of a starving, wide-eyed and inexperienced squad. Kilpatrick played like he had a message, and explained that after the game.
“It’s kind of disappointing because it’s something that we continue to be sitting here stressing [about],” Kilpatrick said. “If you want to play hard the whole game you’ve got to play hard the whole game.”
His demeanor and message is understandable, as Brooklyn dropped its fifth straight game, losing 111-92 to Boston on Wednesday night. Coming off the bench, Kilpatrick shot and drove his way to 23 points. When he wanted to get to the basket, he got to the basket. Aside from his 8-of-17 shooting night from the floor, he drilled six of his eight free throws. The former Cincinnati Bearcats stud lived up to the job description of a bench guy: provide energy.
But the Nets did not support him. They survived a terrible first quarter, falling behind 30-16. But finally awakening a thirsty crowd, the Nets outscored the Celtics 33-21 to close out the half. That rebirth completely tipped the scales of on this Brooklyn team. In the first quarter, the slow, lethargic, and inexperience Nets could not find any chemistry. In the second quarter, youth connected, shots fell, and the home crowd chipped in.
But out of the break, a two-point game, 51-49, turned its ugly head when Boston knocked down some big shots. Kilpatrick poured in the majority of his work, scoring 19 of his 23 points in a second half where he seemed to be the only Brooklyn Net alive.
“You can’t sit here and slack off on quarter or possession because this is the NBA and no one is going to take a play off on you,” Kilpatrick said. “Until we come to that realization, we’re going to continue to keep struggling.”
He provided energy in the second half like the Energizer Bunny while the rest of his black-and-white-clad counterparts stood by. The 19-point thrashing by the well-coached Boston Celtics at Barclays Center illustrated Brooklyn’s problems, and highlighted their shortcomings. The most prevalent characteristic that stood out for the young Nets teams was exactly that. In a stacked deck of talent, most of the players are bunched together as a glorified college team.
Though that description seems to be harsh, it simply means that Brooklyn has to grow up and grow up quickly. Kilpatrick is right: this is the NBA. Nobody is going to take plays off.
Brooklyn’s starting five, save for big man and veteran Brook Lopez, only holds so much experience. Seton Hall’s recent hero Isaiah Whitehead, who won the Big East title this past season, runs the point. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, in his second year out of Arizona, joins shooter Bojan Bogdanovic who’s in his third season. Spark-plug Trevor Booker, who’s in his seventh year, has not been counted on as a contributor too much in his career, scoring 6.6 points in 20.4 minutes.
The Brooklyn Nets have great upside; they’re a team for tomorrow. And that’s the biggest challenge today.