Net losses piling up in Downtown Brooklyn
James Leads Cavs to Easy 91-78 Victory over Hapless Barclays Hosts
The Brooklyn Nets are turning into the most generous hosts in the NBA.
And for all the wrong reasons.
With Wednesday night’s 91-78 loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in front of a rare sellout crowd of 17,732 at Downtown’s Barclays Center, the Nets dropped to an embarrassing 7-16 on their herringbone-designed floor, matching league-worst Philadelphia (3-16) for the most home losses in the league this season.
Making matters worse, Brooklyn only seems to sell out its state-of-the-art arena when the opposing team is a natural draw.
Stephen Curry and the defending NBA champion Warriors stuffed the building to the rafters on Dec. 6, as did the East River rival Knicks, sans Brooklyn-born superstar Carmelo Anthony, just last week, when the Nets finally ended a humbling 10-game home losing streak.
James and the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers fit the bill Wednesday, but the four-time league MVP only needed to put in 29 minutes of court time, well shy of his 36-minute season average, to help hand the Nets their 12th loss in the last 13 home contests.
“It was definitely a step back tonight all around,” admitted Brooklyn center Brook Lopez, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the anemic Nets in both categories.
“Cleveland scored 91 points,” interim Nets head coach Tony Brown added. “If we were doing the right things on offense we’d be right in the ball game. Because of our struggles offensively, it made it difficult for us to get back into the ball game.”
Of course it didn’t help that James and the Cavs were coming off an embarrassing loss of their own, a 132-98 slaughter at the hands of Curry and the Warriors Monday night in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals.
“I think tonight it was very easy to look each other in the face and know that we got better tonight,” James said.
If only the Nets could say the same.
They dropped to 1-5, including defeats in each of their last four games, since Brown replaced Lionel Hollins and billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov “reassigned” general manager Billy King.
At first, the Nets appeared to operate more freely on offense under Brown, but couldn’t buy a basket after the midway point of the first quarter Wednesday, finishing at 41 percent from the floor, including a dismal 4-of-19 effort from the 3-point range.
“I don’t think it was our best effort since I’ve taken over,” Brown ceded. “I don’t know if it was just because it was Cleveland. I don’t know. But we could do a lot better on both ends of the floor.”
Year Four here in Brooklyn is quickly dissipating into one Nets fans would like to dump in the Gowanus Canal.
There will be no late-season push to a fourth consecutive playoff berth.
There will be no postseason basketball at Barclays for the first time since the franchise relocated here.
And perhaps most important, from a business standpoint, there will be no average attendance nearing the 17,000 mark the team put up during its first three seasons here.
At 11-32 overall, the Nets own the third-worst record in the NBA, and cannot benefit in the least from accumulating even more losses as their first-round draft pick belongs to the Boston Celtics via King’s blockbuster/franchise-killing deal that brought Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett here in the summer of 2013.
Though Forbes Magazine lists the Nets as the seventh most valuable franchise in the league at $1.7 billion, the team actually lost money last year due to Prokhorov’s salary-cap busting payroll the past several seasons.
Whomever Prokhorov ultimately tabs as the team’s new GM has to find a way to bring in some star power worthy of the nation’s largest media market.
Otherwise, the Nets will simply revert back to the form that had them aching to leave New Jersey for our fair borough in the first place.
Nothing But Net: Joe Johnson, who had reached double digits in scoring in seven straight games, endured a rough night Wednesday, managing just three points on 1-of-7 shooting … Young had 14 points and six rebounds against the Cavs, but was outperformed by Cleveland big man Kevin Love, who finished with 18 points and 18 rebounds. “He plays well off other guys, especially playing off of LeBron,” Young said of Love. “He’ll bang some threes, or he’s able to get to the free throw line and he’s rebounding the basketball. He’s not doing anything differently from what he’s been doing. Some nights he’s going to have great nights, some nights he’s going to have okay nights.” … The Nets have three straight home games lined up, including Friday’s visit from Utah. After the Jazz leave Brooklyn, the Nets will host Oklahoma City (Sunday) and Miami (Tuesday).
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