By Ryan McDonald(@RonnieMac90)
Coming off a depressing defeat to the Washington Wizards in overtime, the Nets did not right the ship in Brooklyn against the Pacers; losing 96-91 on Saturday. Both teams were on the second half of a back to back. The Nets had an opportunity to send the game into overtime in the final seconds but Joe Johnson couldn't connect with an open look from 3.
MVP Candidate Paul George put in 24 points and was clutch down the stretch hitting big shots. David West put in 18 points as well, and seemed to have an open jump shot the entire night. Whether giving West that shot was by design or simply missed assignments I couldn't tell as it happened so often.
The Brooklyn Nets bench continued to impress. Thought to be their weakness going into the season has turned into one of their strengths. It was their bench that saved the Nets from the game turning into a blowout early in the first quarter. Mason Plumlee out worked his counterpart Ian Mahimi for 3 rebounds and 6 points. Livingston showed once again that he can run the 2nd unit effectively. Unfortunately, other than the stretch of play in the 1st and 2nd quarter, the 2nd unit was not seen again.
Brook Lopez fended off Roy Hibbert fairly well. Hibbert shot 7-17 from the field and finished with 15 points. Post defense against elite centers is something Lopez has struggled with. Lopez was dominated by Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins a season ago, so it's nice to see improvement. Hibbert's not exactly the offensive dynamo like those two, but Lopez made Hibbert work on every shot.
Kevin Garnett continued his struggles on the court. He shot 3-7 from the field for 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 turnovers. Garnett missed a couple of routine jump shots that he normally drills. This has been a theme so far in the early season and hopefully it can be fixed shortly.
The Nets continued their late game struggles as they did against the Wizards. After managing to cut down the Pacers 4th quarter lead of 10 to 2, the Nets turned the ball over 3 times in the final 3 minutes of play. One was by Paul Pierce with under a minute to go as he was running to the corner in transition. Deron Williams also fouled George Hill on a 3 point shot with under 2 minutes to play. The Nets have been in games late 3 out of their 4 losses only to throw it away with bad mistakes.
Hopefully with time and as chemistry develops between the new pieces the Nets acquired, they'll be able to fix these late game issues.
Despite the 2-4 record, there is no need for any panic for Nets fans. The Bulls, Heat, and Knicks have also struggled early this season and the Nets need time to figure out their rotation with so many new pieces.