The Spurs couldn’t duplicate the improbably efficient offense of Monday night’s game, and couldn’t get stops when they needed them, and that resulted in a loss tonight. In the end, it was the offensive star power of James Harden, who looked a little rusty to start the game, but used his economical offensive game to score when he needed to and keep the game out of reach late, even when a deep bench unit of Keita Bates Diop, Tre Jones, Devin Vassell and Gorgui Dieng provided energy at the end of the game against the Nets’ first unit. There were many positives to take out of this game for the Silver and Black, but securing a win wasn’t one of them. They are headed across the East River tomorrow for a game against the Knicks, for another chance to wrap up the 10th place spot and a spot in the play in. The Pelicans could lose tonight and be eliminated, but the Kings are still barely in the hunt, with elimination for them happening on their next loss or Spurs win.
- This is my final recap of the regular season, and I wanted to make sure I expressed my appreciation for all of you. It’s good to be a part of the fine community of Spurs fans, and while I don’t always say it, I appreciate every one of you. Watching the games with you guys makes it so much more fun.
- I forgot that Blake Griffin was on the Nets. I remembered after he scored 5 of the first 7 for the Nets.
- Mike James is a guy I had never seen, and he wasn’t even listed on the box score on ESPN, but he was doing a great job for the Nets. Even with all of the superstars they have on their roster, they need some glue guys who can hustle and make plays, and he’s a perfect fit for them.
- The Spurs scored 87 in the first half against the Bucks, and only 51 tonight against the Nets. That’s a 36 point drop off. Unacceptable.
- DeMar DeRozan has some kind of radar to get his toe on the line to turn three point baskets into two pointers. It’s kind of amazing.
- Nicolas Claxton is developing into a really nice backup big for the Nets. He has well above average ball skills for a guy his size and he plays really hard.
- The Spurs now have 36 losses and need to win out to finish with a .500 record.
Keldon Johnson scored the first points of the game for the Silver and Black, but despite a circus shot from DeMar DeRozan where he got fouled and still sank the shot, the Nets went out to a quick early lead. Jakob Poeltl’s persistence on the boards kept the Spurs close early, but a 13-0 run from the Nets had them leading by 15 late in the quarter. The Spurs had zero assists in the quarter and trailed 35-20 after one.
The Spurs showed a bit more life as the second quarter began, scoring the first eight points and 11 or the first 13 to pull within 6 in the first 4 minutes of the quarter. That brought James Harden off the bench, but Patty’s three cut the lead to one score. Lonnie Walker IV became the focal point of the Spurs offense, and they kept reducing the lead to one or two points as the Nets answered to keep ahead by a whisker. The defense flagged a bit late in the quarter and Jeff Green outran the defenders and got free under the basket where Harden was able to get it to him for easy points. A late Lonnie Walker triple closed the score to 57-51 at the half.
Kevin Durant took over to start the third as the Nets pushed the lead back to double digits. Harden got into the act as he started to shake off the rust, and before you knew it, the Nets led by 16. It could have been worse, but DeRozen’s iso play kept the Spurs from being iced out as he was the offense for the Silver and Black. Unfortunately for the good guys, Harden was feeling it, and a Harden triple put Brooklyn up 96-78 late in the quarter. The Spurs cranked up the defense to end the quarter, but the clunky Spurs offense couldn’t take advantage as the third quarter ended 96-81, Nets.
Nicolas Claxton showed why the Nets picked him, as the Nets lead swelled to 17 points when the Spurs missed a rotation leaving him in the paint for an easy dunk. With 8 minutes left in the game, Pop put in Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, and Luka Samanic, either a white flag to save the starters for the SEGABABA tomorrow, or just a move to shake thing up? Whatever the reason, the lineup immediately began to pay dividends, as Vassell, Keita Bates Diop and Gorgui Dieng forced the ball inside to force and-one opportunities and cut the lead to 11 with 5 minutes left. The backup unit competed on offense, but they had no answers for Harden’s shot making as they were able to keep pace but couldn’t erase the lead as Brooklyn won by 12.
It’s a straight shot on the #2 subway line from Barclay’s Center to Madison Square Garden, but the train sometimes stops in the tunnel under the river for a while, and you’re stuck with the other passengers in the car. It’s kind of a myth that the subway is always crowded, in the middle of the night, sometimes there’s only a couple of people in each car. Sometimes you get stuck with someone interesting, like this guy that I met in 1985 while we were waiting for the train to get going again. He was kind and generous with his time, and we had an excellent conversation.
What’s Next . . .
For the Nets fans perspective, visit Nets Daily.
The Spurs are headed across the East River tomorrow for a meeting in Madison Square Garden with the New York Knickerbockers, who are actually good this year. They will provide another tough matchup for the last road game of the season before the Spurs head home for a Saturday/Sunday series against the Suns in the AT&T Center.