It’s really difficult finding something good to write about following the Brooklyn Nets 30-point home loss to the Chicago Bulls (118-88). Jeremy Lin wasn’t just the best thing on the team, he was the only good thing on the team. Yet it’s not enough to wash away the bad taste such a performance leaves.
Lin played 24 minutes and scored 14 points (team high was Bojan Bogdanovic with 15), all of them in the first half. He had a team-high 4 assists (the Nets had only 14 in the game), shot 6-for-10 from the field and 1-for-2 from beyond the arc. He was probably the only player up for the challenge defensively, finishing with 4 steals, but one player doesn’t turn a defense into a capable one. All the things people worried about before this season began came to life in one night.
The defense, the rebounding, the limited players on an offensive level, the short bench, the softness. When it mattered, the Nets got destroyed on the boards, even if they did finish with 16 offensive rebounds. Brook Lopez, scoring 13 points in 22 minutes against his twin brother, finished with just 2 rebounds, which is embarrassing when you’re a 7-foot center. The Bulls were always going to pose a problem due to their size all over the court, but the Nets didn’t look like a team willing to play with extra aggression needed to match the Bulls intensity.
While we usually focus on Lin in our posts about Nets games, it’s one of those times that’s hard to talk about anything positive. Lin made some nice plays towards the basket, a couple of nice assists. Nothing we didn’t know before or wowed us. But overall, it got drowned in the disappointing performance of a team that looked depleted of energy and will to try and catch up. The Bulls led by 18 points after the first quarter, by 21 at halftime. Things got worse slowly and steadily.
The interesting thing is the Nets averaging an NBA best 38 points in the 4th quarter before the game, but they scored only 22 this time. They also made just 5 of their 31 3-pointers. It seemed more like lazy shooting a lot of the time, especially from Joe Harris, Anthony Bennett and Sean Kilpatrick, then part of an offensive system. The Nets averaged 12 3-pointers per game heading into the game. That is what happens when every weakness a team has gets exposed.
Bogdanovic can’t score, but can’t defend, just like Lopez. Trevor Booker will score and hustle, but needs someone to create for him. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is an offensive liability, something the Nets can’t afford to have on the floor, not for 30 minutes (2.8 points, 21.1% from the field since the start of the season). Joe Harris is soft. Isaiah Whitehead, getting minutes because of injuries, doesn’t look NBA ready right now. Kenny Atkinson also seemed to give up on the game quickly, already thinking about the Detroit Pistons after a short rest, also at home. Losses often help a coach understand his team better, see who he has to work with. This game wasn’t that kind of performance. The Nets can’t afford too many of these flat efforts so early in the season, or the worst-case scenarios will come alive.