Brooklyn Nets: Week 5 Stars and Slackers
This week’s Brooklyn Nets column was three missed free throws and two overtimes away from being “Slackers and Slackers”. Fortunately, we have good news. The losing streak in Brooklyn has finally come to an end. Therefore, “Stars and Slackers” continues on in its usual form.
After losing seven straight games, the silver lining in the Brooklyn Nets season became increasingly difficult to find. In week five, the Nets lost their first three games by an average of 19 points. With the Clippers on deck, most assumed that trend would continue. However, with Blake Griffin resting for the game, a glimmer of hope shined through for the struggling Brooklyn squad.
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Down as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter, the glimmer of hope faded quickly. What appeared to be another blowout soon turned into a memorable battle. In a roller coaster ride that featured an epic collapse, a superhero performance, disheartening missed free throws, an emotional meltdown by Doc Rivers, multiple end of regulation game tying shots, and more suspense that I care for, the Nets were victorious. This victory provided us with one star, in a week full of slacker efforts.
Sean Kilpatrick has officially arrived. For weeks, Kilpatrick has displayed flashes of brilliance. It all came together in a must-win game for morale sake. Kilpatrick dropped a career-high 38 points to go with a “grown man’s” 14 rebounds. What is even more impressive, is that 31 of Kilpatrick’s 38 points came in fourth quarter and double overtime. With 20 fourth quarter points, Kilpatrick powered the Nets back into contention after falling behind by as much as 18 points.
It was not all pretty though. While the game went into double overtime, Kilpatrick had the opportunity to seal the deal in the first overtime. Unfortunately, he missed two free throws in the last 29 seconds of overtime. This paved the way for Jamal Crawford to sink a game-extending three-pointer with 10 seconds left in the first overtime.
Despite his woes at the stripe, Kilpatrick put forward not only the best performance of his early career, but the best Nets performance of the season. That performance helped stop a losing streak that many anticipated to continue for much longer.
In a week with few bright spots, the only area we can focus on for our stars section is the wins column. In the victory over the Clippers, Brook Lopez notched an impressive 27 points and eight assists. While it was perplexing that the Nets went away from him completely in both overtime sessions, his contribution was enough to help the Nets pull out a win.
His production however, is not why he is on the stars list. I will admit that I have been tough on Lopez having regular unwarranted rest days. Against the Clippers, Lopez manned up. Rather than living by a minutes restriction, Lopez logged a whopping 43 minutes.
Perhaps Lopez and the Nets finally realized that regardless of trade value, they have to figure out a way to win games. The only way to win games, is to play Lopez minutes commensurate with a 28-year-old as opposed to a 48-year-old. Hopefully for Brooklyn nation, Lopez can maintain increased minutes without compromising his health.
Nets Training Staff
When will Jeremy Lin come back? No one seems to know. Lin has now missed 12 straight games and has not played basketball in almost a month. The Nets have been abysmal without him, sporting a 2-9 record in his absence. The assumption is that Lin will not be suiting up anytime soon. With no breaks or tears, it is frustrating to watch the Nets struggle with their leader sidelined.
In these instances, as frustration sets in, we must find a scapegoat. That scapegoat is the Nets training staff. It is more important for the Nets to win games than any non-title contender (any team outside of the Cavaliers, Warriors, and Spurs). As stated many times before, the Nets must avoid a bottom six record at all costs. The Nets training staff needs to figure out how to get Lin back in action as soon as possible. If not, the Nets could be in store for another seven-plus game losing streak.
I must start off by saying that I have full faith in Sean Marks. Given the roster and situation he inherited, Marks is doing his best to make lemonade out of some sad looking lemons. However, while I have faith in Marks, it does not mean we cannot assess areas where he could have done something differently. With Lin out and a seven-game losing streak in the books, it is obvious the Nets do not have enough talent.
Looking back at the summer, we should appreciate that Marks did not spend money recklessly after the Heat and Blazers matched Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe’s contracts respectively. However, there were several cheap options Marks could have invested in to increase the likelihood of winning more games this season. Players such as Dion Waiters, Mo Harkless, and Lance Stephenson were on the market for quite some time.
Although each of these players has their own set of issues, their talent is obvious. Looking at the last two weeks of play, that talent should have been welcomed in Brooklyn. Stephenson and Waiters both signed one year deals in New Orleans and Miami respectively.
As there was clearly no market for them, Marks should have taken the risk on one year deals in Brooklyn. Waiters is putting together a solid season in Miami and prior to injury, Stephenson was a solid contributor in New Orleans. Furthermore, their gritty attitudes embody the mindset of New York that Brooklyn has been missing.
There is no sense in crying over spilled milk. However, as the losses pile on, it is fair to wonder if Marks may have been a bit too conservative in his approach this summer.