Late Friday night, Kenny Atkinson quickly entered the room and approached the podium, ready to address the media, with the look of an exhausted man. The first-year head coach, unshaven and clearly sleep-deprived, is searching for answers to remedy his team’s losing ways.
Minutes earlier, Atkinson’s Brooklyn Nets were defeated by the Miami Heat, 108-99. James Johnson led the Heat with 26 points off the bench, Brook Lopez finished with a game-high 30 for the Nets.
While the Heat continue to turn heads, with their 13th straight victory, the Nets found themselves once again in a familiar scene on their home court.
Brooklyn has now lost 12 straight games, they’ve also dropped their last 14 games at Barclays Center.
One look at the calendar and the math is pretty easy, the Nets are 0 for 2017 at home. Their last home win came way back in December against Charlotte.
The Nets fell behind to Miami, 11-5, in the first quarter. When it looked just as if the Heat were going to cruise to victory, they suddenly went cold on offense. This allowed the Nets to find their rhythm and pull off a 10-0 run to take the lead.
Brooklyn would come out of the locker room with a 53-49 halftime lead, but became unglued in the third quarter again, this time failing to hold an 11-point lead. Miami pulled in front and never looked back.
It was Heat head coach Erik Spolestra’s deciding to turn to a smaller lineup which ultimately did in the Nets. James Johnson was all over the place and the Nets had no answer for him.
“It gave us a lot of problems,” Atkinson said afterwards. “Their speed, their aggressiveness, obviously we had trouble handling it on both ends. I thought offensively, they turned us over and then defensively, they had kind of five small guys out there driving and getting to the paint and just too much penetration, so it was a good move by them. I thought it changed the game.”
The turnovers continue to cause issues for the Nets, their 22 turnovers led to 29 Heat points.
The lack of production at the starting guard position is beyond a concern for this team, it’s a red flag waving over Flatbush avenue for everyone to see.
Randy Foye and Spencer Dinwiddie combined for 15 points against Miami, the only problem with that is Foye scored all 15 of the points.
The Nets are now 9-45 on the season, they’ll next face the Memphis Grizzlies and, yes, it’s a home game.
Atkinson, at this rate, might look like a walking zombie the next time he faces the media after a game.