The Brooklyn Nets have found a variety of ways to lose games this season—in the third quarter, the fourth quarter, the final minutes and seconds of a game; by blowouts, by buzz beaters, by one point or two points.
In the win-loss column, there’s no asterisk that determines the type of loss, especially not one for disappointment.
“I’m disappointed,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson about the lack of energy that his team exhibited against the San Antonio Spurs Monday night, a 112-86 loss, the Nets’ 35th.
“I’m disappointed for the fans,” said Atkinson with the sincerest of looks. “Our fans are unbelievable The way they support us. I just ask for patience, and we’ll keep working at it, and we’ll try to get better.”
San Antonio came to Brooklyn and in usual Greg Popovich fashion, he didn’t play all of his marquee players. He sat Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobili, and Brooklyn still suffered a 26-point loss.
“Of course we never want to play without guys like Pau and Tony,” said veteran forward David Lee. “Of course Kawhi. With it being a back-to-back, and him being sore [also the excuse Popovich used for sitting him], but that’s why our depth is one of our strengths.”
Brooklyn may have had fans in attendance, but they were outnumbered by Spurs fans whose cheers surpassed those in volume for Brooklyn on the sound meter.
“They moved the ball so well,” noted Brooklyn center Brook Lopez. “They really shared and trusted in one another, and it’s always moving [the ball] around the arc. They have complete trust in one another. I think that’s what makes them special.”
Native New Yorkers, Danny Green (guard) and Kyle Anderson (forward) contributed greatly to San Antonio’s victory. Getting the most minutes, Anderson 35 and Green 33, they hit for 14 and 9 points, respectively, in addition to Patty Mills’ 20, LaMarcus Aldridge’s 16 and Lee’s 15.
“Pop [Popovich] makes it very clear what he expects out of us out there. Whether it’s the first team guys, or the role players,” Lee further stated.” We came out and just tried to execute that. If they fall short, coach will find somebody else who will get it done.”
Special is one way of describing the Spurs. Their season losses, 9, matches the Nets’ total number of wins the first half of this season.
San Antonio is in second place in the Western Conference, a conference top heavy with elite teams. The Golden State Warriors, who’ve been to the championship the past two years, are in first place. The new, improved Houston Rockets are in third place, and the L.A. Clippers in fourth. At 36-9, the Spurs even have a better record than the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors, first and second atop the Eastern Conference, 13 and 14 notches above the Nets, who hold down last place.
The Nets, who played the Miami Heat last night (Thursday), face the defending champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow night (Friday), the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday and the Miami Heat Monday—all road games before they return to Flatbush and Atlantic to play the New York Knicks Wednesday night.