Nets losses pile up, on and off the court
Brooklyn Bid for Motiejunas Goes for Naught Before Defeat to Wizards
The Nets lost before they hit the herringbone-designed hardwood floor at Barclays Center on Monday night.
Then, as per usual, they lost again on it as well.
Brooklyn found out earlier in the day that center Donatas Motiejunas, a player they coveted and signed to an offer sheet worth an estimated $36 million over four years, was matched by his current club, the Houston Rockets, making general manager Sean Marks 0-for-3 in trying to snatch players from other squads dating back to this past summer.
Back in July, Marks, the man charged with this massive Downtown rebuilding project, made offers of four years and $75 million and four years and $50 million to Portland’s Allen Crabbe and Miami’s Tyler Johnson, respectively, only to see those bids matched by the players’ clubs.
“It’s obviously disappointing when you miss out on a chance to acquire another asset,’’ Marks said before Brooklyn squandered a 15-point halftime lead in an eventual 118-113 loss to the visiting Washington Wizards in front of 12,529 fans on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
“But at the same time it shows us we were going down the right path knowing that another team [agreed], that he was matched, just like the guys in the past,” Marks added.
Whether the Nets are, in fact, going “down the right path” is yet to be determined.
They came out blazing Monday against the Wizards, shooting a blistering 56 percent from the floor en route to a 66-51 lead at intermission.
From there, Brooklyn pulled its usual third-quarter collapse, committing 10 of its 22 turnovers over the next 12 minutes to fall behind in the early stages of the final period.
Despite their second-half malaise, the Nets battled hard down the stretch and pulled within three points on Sean Kilpatrick’s driving layup with just under 40 ticks left on the clock.
A missed 3-pointer by Washington’s Kelly Oubre Jr. actually gave the Nets a chance to come down and tie the contest with 18 seconds to go, but the Wizards’ Bradley Beal stepped in front of an ill-advised entry pass from Joe Harris to seal Brooklyn’s second and most painful loss of the day.
“They picked up their energy, their physicality,” first-year Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson lamented after the Wizards outscored his struggling unit, 32-15, in the third quarter.
“They got into us and that was the story of the game,” he added. “Credit to them. They really got into us. We had a lot of live ball turnovers, and live ball lead to layups, usually.”
With Jeremy Lin still nursing a seemingly ever-lingering hamstring injury that has kept him off the floor since Nov. 2, the Nets (5-15) dropped to an unseemly 3-12 in their starting point guard’s absence.
They were 2-3 when Lin was healthy, but that small sample size doesn’t necessarily point to better results to come when their floor leader ultimately returns.
Brook Lopez scored 25 points, Kilpatrick finished with 21 and Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 for Brooklyn, which has dropped three straight and 10 of its last 11 games.
“We fought back,” Atkinson insisted following the Nets’ third home defeat in four contests.
“So I did like that. If we’ll take one positive, I thought we fought back. We could have folded. Turnovers like that can demoralize you, and we showed the will to keep competing. I was happy with that.”
Though Atkinson and Marks remain optimistic regarding the progression of this team, it’s getting harder and harder for Nets fans to do the same.
Brooklyn is currently ranked 27th in the league in home attendance (14,905) after averaging better than 17,000 fans per night across their first three seasons here, each of which concluded with a playoff berth.
“It’s just been the story of our season,” Lopez said of Brooklyn’s penchant for turning solid first halves into second-half disasters. “I don’t know what it is. I wish I had the answer, but it’s something we need to figure out.”
Nothing But Net: There was one bright spot in an otherwise tough Monday for Brooklyn. Caris LeVert, the rookie combo guard out of the University of Michigan who has yet to play for the Nets due to a series of foot injuries, was activated, though he did not see any action in the loss to Washington. “I can’t believe it’s been that long,” LeVert said prior to the contest when informed that he hadn’t played in a game since February against Purdue. “I’m really anxious to get out there.” LeVert may get his first taste of the NBA Wednesday night, when the Nets host Denver at Barclays Center. … The Nets have lost 25 of their last 30 games dating to last season.
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