The Brooklyn Nets got Brook Lopez back, but it hardly mattered as they were out-rebounded 51-31, including 19 offensive rebounds, in a 113-107 loss to the Washington Wizards at the Barclays Center on Wednesday night.
“We are playing well and I do feel that we have a good momentum going,” Kevin Garnett said. “We ran into a good Washington team that are getting some of their guys back. It’s not like we were playing swiss cheese or something tonight. Where we messed up is where we failed to commit to some assignments and they counted on it, but we still feel like we have a good momentum and are playing well.”
The rebounds really killed the Nets, especially those offensive boards, as they outshot the Wizards 52.7 percent to 43.2 percent, Paul Pierce was great off the bench with a season-high 27 points and Deron Williams had a double-double with 15 points and 13 assists. It was only in that one department, rebounds, that the Nets were really beaten and it showed as the Wizards led 23-3 in second chance points.
“It was nontraditional things they did,” Garnett said of Washington’s rebounding. “They crashed with three or four guys each time and they were able to get offensive rebounds and offensive rebounds means second chance shots. I just thought when you have chances to have a two-on-one, they did a good job of when the ball hit of crashing and getting offensive rebounds and put-backs.”
The Nets had a chance to win this and were within one with 1:57 left in the game, but their weakness on the glass really killed them as Nene grabbed rebounds to set up a three-pointer by Bradley Beal to go up six. Shortly after that Nene grabbed another rebound and drew a foul from Kevin Garnett, which was his sixth. As he left the court so did the Nets chances of winning.
The best thing to come out of this game, though, was Pierce’s 27-point effort. He really made a big difference playing with that second unit again. Alan Anderson struggled too, shooting 0-for-4, and Pierce was with the first unit by the end of the game. Perhaps this is the end of him coming off the bench.
“This is as healthy as I have been all season,” Pierce said afterward. My hand is feeling good, my groin is feeling good. I’m understanding the system and understanding my spots.”
After the game, Jason Kidd said that he would discuss it with coaches and Pierce before he decides to move him back into the starting rotation or keep him on th bench. Pierce admitted that it’s been an adjustment coming off the bench, but thought that he has handled it well.
“I really don’t care,” Pierce said when asked if he wanted to start again. “I’ve been a starter my whole career and I’m making adjustments coming off the bench, but it doesn’t matter. I just have to watch the game, help the guys on the sideline. YOu have a chance to see and understand what’s going out there. It’s definitely a mental adjustment, but I think I’m making it pretty good and figuring it all out coming off the bench.”
Lopez also played a solid game, if somewhat rusty, in his first one back. In 31 minutes, he had 22 points, five rebounds and three assists. He did get into foul trouble early, which forced him to sit out for most of the third, and he committed four turnovers so it wasn’t a perfect night.
“I felt fine, but I was definitely disappointed in myself,” Lopez said. “I was a little rusty and a step slow. I think it was more mental than anything else though and it hurt us a lot. I think it was a little bit mental, but I can’t be like that out there. I didn’t really have any energy. It was frustrating, I let my team down and it was a mental error. I can’t have that.”
As far as the rebounding went, though, Kidd wasn’t especially upset with Lopez’s performance noting that it was more the situations of the game rather than a weak effort from the 7-footer.
“We would love for Brook to get a couple of more rebounds, but sometimes on the perimeter, when you are guarding the pick-and-roll, you are not under the basket to get the rebound,” Kidd said. “They had him in those situations a lot and he wasn’t able to get more rebounds.”
The Nets are back in action on Friday when they travel to Philadelphia to play the Sixers for the second time this week. The Nets destroyed the Sixers 130-94 on Monday without Lopez.