Also-ran Nets nearing end of lost season
Drop Sixth Straight in 121-103 Blowout at Playoff-Hopeful Washington
After reaching the playoffs in each of their first three years in our fair borough, the Nets are simply trying to play out the string in this lost campaign without suffering any further embarrassment.
But even that has become a tall task for Brooklyn, especially with center Brook Lopez and power forward Thaddeus Young shut down for the remainder of this disastrous fourth season, as per the instructions of new general manager Sean Marks.
With their two “foundation pieces” watching instead of playing, the Nets suffered their latest blowout loss Wednesday night in Washington, a 121-103 defeat to the playoff-hopeful Wizards in front of 16,846 fans at the Verizon Center.
Though Washington needs several unlikely scenarios to play out to even reach the postseason, it came out playing with more resolve than the Nets have shown in weeks.
Thomas Robinson scored 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Sean Kilpatrick added 15 points off the bench, but Brooklyn (21-57) was dominated on the glass en route to its sixth consecutive defeat.
“We knew there was going to be a discrepancy on the boards,” Nets interim head coach Tony Brown admitted after his team was beaten by a whopping 53-38 rebounding margin.
“I’ll give them that,” he added. “But there are still a lot more things we could’ve done.”
These last six losses, coming by an average margin of nearly 20 points per contest, won’t even be beneficial to the Nets in June’s NBA Draft.
Former general manager Billy King sent the team’s 2016 first-round pick to Boston in the blockbuster deal that brought Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett here in the summer of 2013, and the Nets won’t have control of their own first-rounder again until 2019.
That’s three years from now, if you’re counting.
Marks pulled Lopez and Robinson in an effort to prevent them from suffering injury in a series of meaningless contests, which means he could have started doing this the moment he took over the job back in February.
“[Marks] just wanted to take sort of a precautionary angle going forward,” Lopez said earlier this week of the GM’s decision to put both his top scorer and leading rebounder on ice for the remaining four games of the regular season.
And so what’s left of the Nets’ 2015-16 slate will basically be an open casting call for the remainder of the roster, beginning with Friday night’s game in Charlotte.
With Lopez and Young on the bench, players like Kilpatrick, Robinson, Markel Brown, rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Bojan Bogdanovic will simply be vying for the attention of Marks, and/or other teams interested in trading for or signing them this coming offseason.
“They’re all being evaluated,” Brown noted. “It’s not just our organization that are watching these guys.”
Bogdanovic, the lone starter left from the original five of Joe Johnson (waived), Jarrett Jack (out for season with ACL injury), Lopez and Young, struggled to hit the rim during Wednesday’s loss, managing just four points on a putrid 2-of-12 shooting effort.
Following their matchup with the Hornets on Friday, the Nets will travel to Indiana on Sunday before mercifully finishing up the regular season at home against Washington and Toronto next Monday and Wednesday, respectively.
Nothing But Net: The Nets have signed C Henry Sims for the remainder of the season … C Willie Reed will also sit out the remaining four games, citing “personal reasons” for his absence from the team.
Our borough did get some good basketball news this week.
Former Brooklyn Friends School standout Kyle Neptune helped cut down the nets in Houston Monday night following Villanova’s thrilling, last-second 77-74 victory over North Carolina in the national title game.
Neptune, who led BFS to an improbable Class C State Championship during his senior year as a player for the Blue Pride in 2003, was a member of Jay Wright’s coaching staff at the Philadelphia-based school.
A former four-year letter-winner at Lehigh University, Neptune assisted with all elements of the Wildcats championship program, including on-court teaching, player development and recruiting.
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