It’s become too much of a familiar song for the Brooklyn Nets, the third quarter blues
“Play it again, Sam.” How about, let’s not?
If Humphrey Bogart were around, he might’ve walked over to the piano and took a hammer to it by now.
There’s something about the third quarter that just doesn’t agree with the Nets this season. Not one part of the quarter, no, the entire quarter.
On Thursday night in front of a home crowd, which included former President Bill Clinton, the Nets found themselves looking up at the scoreboard after three quarters of play and possibly asking themselves, what in the world just happened?
Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 23 points, along with eight assists, as the Milwaukee Bucks ran off with a 111-93 win over the Nets at Barclays Center.
Jabari Parker added 22 points for the Bucks as they improved under former Nets head coach Jason Kidd to 9-8 on the season.
Brook Lopez scored 15 points to lead the Nets. Sean Kilpatrick added 14 points, however was held to only two points in the second half.
Neither team in the first two quarters, with the exception of Kilpatrick, could get into a consistent rhythm on offense. There were 10 lead changes in the first half and the Nets pulled to within 52-51 at the half on a three from Lopez.
Then the third quarter happened, and the wheels fell off for Brooklyn, again.
Kilpatrick scored his only points of the second half on a layup which gave the Nets a 60-59 advantage with under nine minutes to play in the third. The Bucks, however, would go on a 18-4 run which proved to be the backbreaker for Brooklyn.
“The third quarter again, we came out flat.,” said Nets forward Trevor Booker. “They took advantage of it. You just got to find ways to get a better start in the third quarter.”
A better start for the Nets, at this point, might be coming out of the locker room after halftime and finding a new entrance to the court. Something, anything, has to give.
While the Nets were searching for shots to fall in the third, the Bucks were thriving and suddenly knocking down everything in sight. Tony Snell scored 10 of his 13 points in the third. Antetokounmpo put up 11 of his 23 points along with six assists.
“I think our offense got really stagnant,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said afterwards. “Give them credit, they switched a lot of our stuff and forced us into a lot of one-and-one play and the ball stopped moving.”
The turnovers can’t be ignored, that would be an injustice. The Nets turned the ball over 18 times, the Bucks turned those mistakes into 26 points.
That’s your game right there, folks.
“I think turnovers hurt us,” Atkinson continued. “Just giving them too many easy baskets and, you know, the third quarter again, they outscored us pretty good there, so we’ve got to look at what we are doing there.”
By the time the smoke had cleared, the Nets were outscored 38-27 in the third by the Bucks and went into the final quarter with a 12-point lead.
The Nets, their spirit arguably weakened after another poor third quarter showing, mustered only 15 points in the fourth as the Bucks pulled away.
The struggles in the third quarter have been the achilles heel for the Nets this season and it has to be impacting the team’s mental approach to ballgames.
Turnovers are one thing, so is a lack of ball movement, but to have repeated setbacks coming out of halftime, where adjustments are usually made, should be an alarming concern for the 5-13 Nets by now.
“We are looking at it and trying to figure it out,” Atkinson said. “But we haven’t figured it out yet.”
The Nets are going to have to figure something out and soon because, when it comes to the third quarter blues, this team could badly use a new tune to sing.