NY Sports Day
Anthony Rushing

Rushing: Missed Opportunity Leaves Nets and Atkinson Looking For Answers

Ashley Marshall/NYSD

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson challenged his team to get back on the winning track. After the way the last two games went for Brooklyn, Atkinson must’ve knew it was time for an intervention disguised as a team meeting.

Since knocking off LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, a week ago, the Nets’ energy level has dropped off dramatically. Ugly losses to the Knicks and Nuggets led to Atkinson looking for any signs of life from his young squad.

The NBA schedule can be unforgiving at times, but it can also provide struggling teams an opportunity to find their way again.

For the Nets, opportunity was knocking in the form of the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns, three games into the season, decided they’d seen enough of Earl Watson as their head coach. To further complicate matters, disgruntled point guard Eric Bledsoe is getting paid to stay home while the team’s upper management decides what to do with him.

What better opportunity for the Nets to right what’s gone wrong? Play against a team who’s having their own share of issues, take advantage, fix what’s been going wrong, and come away with a much-needed win. Solid plan, right?

Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

If you think the Nets have problems, then the Suns reply to that might be to hold their beer.

But there it was, an opportunity for the Nets to take advantage of the schedule and put one in the win column before heading out to the west coast for five games.

Take advantage of the struggling team, get a win, feel better about yourselves.

Only Phoenix was apparently thinking the same thing when they saw that Brooklyn was the next stop on their travel itinerary.

 The Suns rallied late to beat Brooklyn 122-114, Tuesday night at Barclays Center.

The loss was a brutal one for the Nets. They’ve now lost three in a row, but this one really stung.

Brooklyn battled back from down 18, and eventually went up by eight points with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter.

But, just as in their previous two losses, the Nets offense went cold and their defense repeatedly broke down. Phoenix went on a 15-2 run and kept Brooklyn at arm’s length the rest of the way.

Afterwards, a perplexed Atkinson faced the media, perhaps thinking the same thing we’re all thinking. Where’s the team that beat LeBron and Cleveland? The team which played so well together in preseason. Where’s that team?

“Somehow we got out of rhythm in this past three-game stretch,” Atkinson said after the game. “I’m not sure where that team I saw in preseason and those first six games went. It just seems like we’ve lost the rhythm. I really don’t have an answer for you why that’s happened.”

It’s never a good sign when the team’s head coach starts sounding as if he’s out of answers for what’s gone wrong.

Atkinson challenged his players to do better.  The result was more of the same defensive breakdowns, poor shot selection, and periods of low to zero energy shown.

Were they short-handed in the front court? Yes. Quincy Acy and Jarrett Allen didn’t play because of injuries. Phoenix outrebounded the Nets, 66-44.

But the Nets battled back from 18 points down while also playing shorthanded, and managed to go up eight points in the final quarter. So that’s no excuse. 

On this Halloween night, it appeared the NBA schedule played a cruel trick, which it’s known to do from time to time.

The Nets had beat the Suns four straight times before Tuesday night’s loss.

With a west coast trip coming up, this was the game Brooklyn needed to feel good about themselves again. Instead it’s back to the drawing board and maybe another intervention.

 


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