Without being there for every game, it’s kind of hard to judge, but except for three out of four losses, the Brooklyn Nets first West Coast road trip this season should not have been that bad—not grueling at all.
The first game was a win against the Phoenix Suns on a Saturday night after two days off. They had another two days off before a back to back in Los Angeles at the Staples Center Monday and Tuesday—the same building, no change of venue or hotels, no travel, just games. They played the L.A. Clippers, a Top 3 NBA team and the Los Angeles Lakers, in the second and third road games, back to backs, Monday and Tuesday. Then they were off to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder, who had problems of their own. OKC had lost four of their last five games, three straight at home. So watching the 4-8 Nets play in their home Sunday afternoon against a .500 Portland Trailblazer team (7-7) didn’t warrant any concern—at least not until minutes into the third quarter.
Brooklyn, who had only been down by six at halftime, three at the end of the first and second quarters, had played competitively until then. The third and fourth quarters began their downward slide.
“I think what’s difficult for us is our third quarters,” said center Brook Lopez retrospectively. “I think throughout each of the games, we’ve come out and teams have made a run, or come out and hit first. It’s tough to come back from that, playing behind the rest of the time.”
Lopez is dead on. They’ve come out flat. They become stagnant. “I think it’s on us 100 percent,” he said. “I think that one is on us for sure.”
Rookie guard Isaiah Whitehead points out that Brooklyn needs to look at the game as two games. As one-half and a second half. “We’ve just got to keep the same amount of energy,” he said.
“We’re gonna have to regroup,” noted Brooklyn’s head coach Kenny Atkinson. “You know, get some practice time, get some film time, get our principles back.”
Atkinson blames the poor performance on slippage. “We’ve slipped, and it’s part of the NBA. We’ve got to, again. Regroup and look at it, and try to find areas we can help our guys in.” But there’s not much time for that in the coming days, although they’ll try to get it in.
Despite Brooklyn’s mounting losses, their efforts to improve and their tight, upcoming schedule, the organization and players hosted their annual Thanksgiving feast for more than 200 Brooklynites after the Portland game. The entire Nets team, along with General Manager Sean Marks participated. Families attending were also given Nets game tickets.
Forward Trevor Booker who’s been coming through on the court for Brooklyn so far this season, averaging a little under 10 points and close to 8 rebounds per game, has also partnered with Coney Lighthouse Mission and Key Food to provide 10 disadvantaged families with Thanksgiving essentials.
As Brooklyn spreads the love and makes adjustments, they have a consistent number of games scheduled. The Boston Celtics at home last night (Wednesday), the Indiana Pacers in Indy Friday, back home to host the Sacramento Kings Sunday and the Clippers again at Barclays Tuesday