The Brooklyn Nets mess at point guard beyond the injury of Jeremy Lin and their difficulties on defense were too much in a 110-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
Lin sat on the sidelines, once again watching the Nets try to overcome their point guard issues. We mentioned his influence on the younger players like Isaiah Whitehead in his guidance and experience. And while that’s something he can do even without playing, there’s a limit to what mentoring , coaching and anything else can do when the Knicks have Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis clicking against a team with very little to give off the bench, and terrible defense.
The Nets just bleed points, giving up 108 per game. It would help if they were capable of keeping up with everyone, but they’ve been inconsistent so far, and on a back-to-back, without Lin or a point guard with even a shred of experience at the position, it was just too much. Isaiah Whitehead didn’t play because of a concussion. Greivis Vasquez was released. Yogi Ferrell is a rookie who was called up and made his NBA debut. Lin is out. Sean Kilpatrick isn’t a point guard. Caris LeVert is injured. These aren’t excuses, just a certain situation the Nets will have to go through, hopefully with minimal damage.
They did start out OK. Brook Lopez was firing on all cylinders and finished with 21 points. Justin Hamilton finished with 21 as well, making five 3-pointers. But all these good things happened during the first half. The Nets were outscored 60-41 in the second half. Anthony, Porzingis and the bench players were too much for a Nets team that struggled putting points on the board from midway through the third quarter. After taking a 67-58 lead in the third, the Nets managed only six points while the Knicks opened an 8 point lead. Later came another stagnant stretch in which the Knicks closed out the game.
Things are going to get uglier on the West coast. Better teams than the Knicks, not a lot of rest, no Lin. The Nets shouldn’t bring him back until the end of the road trip, or at least not put him in the lineup. They’re situation with point guards is a messy one, but Whitehead will be back, and Ferrell at least gives them something except for recovering from ankle injuries until stumbling onto another one like Vasquez, who the Nets could have used in their current predicament.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the Nets, and it’ll be easier to see it once Lin gets back from his injury. But it’s probably going to be a while before this team finds some consistency on both sides of the floor. Remember, the Nets are still without a win when playing on the road, and it won’t be too much of a surprise if they head back home after the next four games still winless on the road. Circumstances have worked against them in a way, but this was never going to be the season that changes everything for the franchise. Baby steps, or something in that avenue, is more realistic. And for that to happen, they need their best player back on the floor.