The Brooklyn Nets lose another close game, this time 108-107 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Jeremy Lin was terrific again in his continous limited minutes role off the bench, which makes us waiting for a “full” return, which could help the Nets finally win a game.
Lin scored 16 points in a very active 22 minutes. He shot 5-for-10 from the field (2-for-7 from beyond the arc) and 4-for-5 from the line, adding 4 assists and a couple of steals. He hit a 3-pointer with less than 3 seconds to go and made it a one-point game, but it was too late for the Nets to get another opportunity against their rivals for the bottom of the East, now tied with them at 7 wins this season.
Over the last 3 games, Jeremy Lin is averaging 14.3 points and 4.7 assists in 20.6 minutes per game. Translate it into per 36 numbers, that’s 25 points and 8.2 assists, while shooting 51.6% from the field. His 3-point shooting could do a bit better, and he missed some free throws against Houston on a 1-for-4 performance at the line. But overall, he’s been fantastic. The Nets have been consistent too: Terrible defense, not bad offense most of the time, and plenty of missed opportunities late in the game.
Lin wasn’t perfect in the fourth quarter. He missed a 3-pointer that could have tied the game at 104-101, and had a couple of turnovers. But he also had an assist to Joe Harris and two 3-pointers of his own, not to mention two steals off of Joel Embiid, who is cruising towards a rookie of the year award, scoring 33 points in 27 minutes against the defenseless Nets. The Nets rookies weren’t as effective: Isaiah Whitehead finished with 11 points, his third game in double figures in 12 days, which for him is an achievement, while Caris LeVert finished with 2 points in 11 minutes. It’s going to take time before he impacts the game positively on a consistent level.
Brook Lopez had a great statistical night (22 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 blocks) and the Nets were terrible when he rested (Lopez was +17 in 32 minutes). Trevor Booker had another soft day offensively, finishing with 5 points. Sean Kilpatrick took only 5 shots and finished with 7 points. Joe Harris had one of his better nights, scoring 19. The Nets don’t have trouble scoring points, but even against bad teams they struggle getting stops in key moments.
The bottom line hasn’t changed, but now the Nets are only 0.5 a game above the Sixers in the battle for the “wooden spoon” (rugby reference), basically the worst team in the conference. At some point these close games will start going their way, and getting Lin for more than 20-22 minutes a night will start swinging things their way. However, the last week was about close calls and missed opportunities for a team that can’t really afford to lose such winnable games. A turnaround won’t get them into the playoffs, but it would be nice to win a game, won’t it?