Brook Lopez’s second season in the NBA the Nets went an ugly 12-70 (with him as their best player). This wasn’t a team trying to tank for the draft — the Nets got the third pick thanks to the lottery and chose Derrick Favors, who was moved in the Deron Williams deal — this was just a bad team that had Lawrence Frank at the helm as they started 0-18 (Frank was canned after the 16th loss).
Lopez thought things couldn’t get worse than that.
Until this season. The Nets reached a new low point Thursday night when the 3-13 Knicks, their “rivals” from over the bridge, came into the Nets building and dominated the game winning by 20.
So Brook, how does it compare? The New York Post asked.
“I thought I got the craziness out of the way early, I thought I’d be done with it,” said Lopez, pointing back to the nightmare of his second season, the nauseating 12-70 record in 2009-10 when the Nets were a mere 29 games out of the playoffs. “This is definitely more bizarre than that, though.”
So the problem is…
“I don’t really want to blame injuries because I still feel we’re better than a lot of teams we played. I don’t know if it’s chemistry either because I’ve rarely been on a team like this where everyone really gets along with each other and respects each other,” Lopez said. “I don’t know if it’s just energy or what.”
Injuries are part of it — Deron Williams missed training camp and is currently out of the lineup again, as is Paul Pierce, Lopez missed time with an ankle sprain. This team has never really gotten a chance for its starting five to get any chemistry going.
But the bigger issue is they have the worst defense in the NBA. Then Knicks exposed it Thursday. The Nets can’t turn this thing around if they can’t turn the defense around — they look old, slow and plodding on that end. Which they have been.
On the bright side, they should still win more than 12 games this season. So there’s that.
Steven Adams is one of the NBA’s toughest players.
But that didn’t stop a Nuggets fan from heckling the Thunder center during Denver’s win Friday.
Adams stepped toward the fan and yelled, to the point a referee restrained him. Russell Westbrook – who lost his temper later in the game – also yelled at the fan.
It’s hard to hear exactly what Adams and Westbrook said. But it sounds profane enough both players could get fined.
No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley has been solid for the Kings.
No. 3 pick Luka Doncic has been even better for the Mavericks.
Doncic had 28 points and nine assists against Sacramento yesterday. Though the Kings won, questions have still swirled about why they didn’t just draft Doncic. Sacramento coach Dave Joerger even weighed in on the rookie.
Joerger, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:
“Perhaps there was an idea that there was a ceiling on him – I don’t see it, unfortunately for us,” Joerger said. “He’s great for them and he’s great for our league.”
Coaches commonly praise a young opponent then add a variation of “unfortunately for us” – as in, unfortunately we’ll have to play against him for many years.
But it’s easy to infer deeper significance here.
The Kings seemingly drafted Bagley for bad reasons – i.e., his desire to go to Sacramento. Doncic looked like the better prospect. But Kings assistant general manager Brandon Williams helped steer the team toward Bagley. When Joerger played veteran Nemanja Bjelica over Williams-preferred Bagley, that caused drama earlier this season. The Williams-Joerger rift apparently continued, too.
So, Joerger’s remarks could have been a thinly veiled shot at Sacramento’s front office. Maybe the coach didn’t intended it that way, but it wouldn’t be a huge leap.
Knicks owner James Dolan is widely regarded as one of the worst owners in sports.
He’s also defiantly himself.
That came through in a lengthy profile by Ian O’Connor of ESPN. Dolan is still defending his organization after losing a sexual-harassment lawsuit. Dolan is still blaming Charles Oakley for an ejection from Madison Square Garden last year. Dolan is still trying to contextualize his relationship with Harvey Weinstein.
But Dolan won’t concede one eye-opening claim.
Jim is the owner who years ago, on occasion, would play his guitar on the Knicks’ team plane — even after losses, according to several witnesses. “It was the last thing the players and coaches wanted to hear,” says one regular on those flights. “I just remember the looks on their faces.” (Dolan denies this claim and calls it “somebody’s fantasy.”)
Dolan has made a lot of enemies over the years. It wouldn’t be shocking if one made up a story to make him look bad and others corroborated it for the same reason.
Because it’s quite believable.
Dolan is more passionate about his music than owning the Knicks. This also wouldn’t be the first time he subjected players to his musical interest.
Occam’s razor suggests Dolan did this rather than a conspiracy existing to frame him. Besides, believing he did it is way more fun.
With D’Angelo Harris to his left, Rondae Hollins-Jefferson to his right, Joe Harris trailing and only Hawks in front of him, Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs passed ahead. Confidently. That was a bullet.
But to nobody – except maybe the referee. It looked high for the ref, though maybe an NBA player would have snagged the throw.
At Brooklyn still beat Atlanta, 144-127.