The Brooklyn Nets’ 2013 calendar year was a 12-month spin they’d like to forget, one that saw the team lose in embarrassing fashion to an undermanned Chicago Bulls team in the first round of the playoffs, followed by a future-destroying trade for veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, topped off by the strange hire of Jason Kidd as a rookie head coach and a 10-20 start to 2013-14. With the defending Western Conference champion Spurs set to host Brooklyn in the final game of 2013, things weren’t expected to get much better for the $180 million team, what with Brook Lopez out for the season, and the team’s triptych of Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce going through the motions.
This is why you can understand if the Nets, despite the massive amount of compensation they get to sleepwalk through these games, can’t even be bothered to stay on the court for a full 48 minute term. The Spurs were up 113-92 heading into the final 24.2 seconds of their blowout win over the Nets on Tuesday, and with the team’s record set to turn over to 10-21, the Nets decided to bail early after giving some midcourt handshakes – even though it was clear that the Nets would have the final possession of the game unless the Spurs decided to shoot it and then crash the offensive glass.
They didn’t, dribbling the 24-second shot clock out instead, necessitating that the Nets would get the ball back with two-tenths of a second left in the game. The problem was that no Net was around to end this monstrosity under league rules. Watch:
That’s right, Jason Kidd had to call a timeout with his team down 21 points, with 0.2 seconds left, just to chase some players out of the locker room and back onto the court. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s reaction to the eye-roll of an end was telling:
As the league more closely scrutinizes its referees, who are judged game by game on their performance to a ridiculous degree via tape that night, we’ve lost a bit in terms of refs letting things go. More often than not, the game is run by the rule book, as opposed to the referees enforcing the rule book, which is why you see an annoying number of block or charge calls whistled, or the endless video review of what seem like obvious breakaway fouls, or reviews of out of bounds calls that should take just one quick viewing of the replay to discern.
The problem here is that the league would have no sense of humor if the refs decided to waive the final 0.2 and call it off. The refeering crew was simply doing its job, and the Nets (who should have been told by someone, anyone on that coaching staff or veteran-laden roster) should have known that 24.2 seconds was too much time to burn off by just dribbling the ball out. And if the Nets would have attempted to in bound with fewer than five players on the court, an immediate technical would have to be called, the Spurs would shoot a free throw, and the Nets would be given the ball again with 0.2 left on the clock.
This is a long way of saying, again, blame the Nets.
Following the loss, Jason Kidd decided against that, and blamed it on the scorer’s table for letting the clock run all the way out. From the New York Post:
“They thought the game was over,” Kidd said. “There was no confusion. They thought the game was over, but unfortunately there was 0.2 seconds left.”
The problem with this scenario is that most of the Nets had either left the bench or were heading off the court on their way to the locker room by the time the Spurs’ possession ended. That and the whole “24.2 minus 24 equals 0.2”-thing.
All the more reason why Garnett was less than hopeful about his new team’s outlook, heading into 2014. From The New York Daily News:
“The most frustrating thing about me is I could see if wasn’t hitting shots and I wasn’t in here working or taking (expletive) days off,” Garnett said. “I put time into my craft for it to come out, but then that’s rhythm on offense. And I don’t have that right now.”
“Honestly, I have no rhythm. I’m trying to establish some confidence and figure this whole, ‘Where I fit into the offense’ thing,” he said. “Right now I’m just not even a priority. I’m trying to be more of a defensive-minded guy. … So I probably need to be a lot more aggressive. Right now my mental is more defensive right now than offense.”
All that would be promising if the Nets didn’t rank 30th out of 30 teams in defensive efficiency this season.
Good luck in 2014, Brooklyn.
(Hat tip: Sports Illustrated)
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