NY Sports Day
Anthony Rushing

Rushing: Nets Sleepwalk Through Another Homestand

Neil Miller/NYSD

It’s time for someone on the Nets to wake this team up. They’re sleepwalking again.

Is there a doctor in the house? Is there someone qualified to prescribe the much-needed cure for what’s troubling this team?  Please, show yourself?

The first portion of the NBA season is over and the Nets continue to flirt with the thin line between awful and mediocre.

For the first three quarters of Brooklyn’s 101-91 loss to the Utah Jazz, Wednesday night at Barclays Center, the cure for insomnia came in the disguise of a basketball game.

Both teams struggled to score until the Jazz finally caught fire down the stretch. Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 29 points on 12-of-24 shooting from the field. Mitchell, an Elmsford, New York native, dropped 14 of those points in the fourth quarter to finish off the Nets. It was his first game back after missing the previous two with a rib contusion.

But there were the Nets again, taking two more steps backwards. They’ve now lost four straight games, five of their last six. Just as troubling for Brooklyn is their inability to defend their homecourt. They’ve now lost five straight at Barclays.

The losses are beginning to pile up and there doesn’t seem to be anyone capable of pulling them away from another early-season snooze fest.

Spencer Dinwiddie tried his best, against Utah, to help with the wakeup call. He had a team-high 18 points, off the bench, before fouling out.

But the Nets were once again smacked in the face with a dose of reality. This team doesn’t have a closer, they struggle with rebounding, and when the ball doesn’t move neither does their offense.

“Attribute to their defense and I’m sure some of it’s us,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said afterwards. “We’ll have to look at it but the ball stuck way too much. We did not move it when we needed to, so that’s got to be a record for us, 11 assists — that’s just not good enough.”

No, it’s not good enough. Not even close. It’s definitely not the brand of basketball Atkinson wants to play. This entire homestand has been one big serving table of everything wrong with the Nets.

Since losing Caris LeVert to injury, the Nets are 2-7. In the loss to Utah, the difference in the game was Mitchell’s stellar play in crunch time. The Jazz also have big man Rudy Gobert, he gave Jarrett Allen fits under the basket and finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds.

But Mitchell is Utah’s guy when it’s money time. The Jazz, now 10-12 on the season, have been dancing their own 1-2 step with mediocrity this season. They at least, however, know who their go-to option is on offense.

The same can’t be said yet for the Nets. Until that changes, someone has to step up. Someone has to help deliver on meeting the goals this team set for themselves in preseason.

Brooklyn, realistically, is still one summer shopping spree away from threatening to be a top team in the Eastern Conference. That’s no excuse, however, for performances like Wednesday night.

Atkinson must find a way to coach up his team better. Maybe, he should put an alarm clock in each of their lockers. It would serve as a sign it’s time to wake up.

Because if the Nets don’t wake up soon, they’re going to find themselves back in familiar territory at the bottom of the standings.


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