The Brooklyn Nets played their second preseason game with their best player, Jeremy Lin, sitting this one out. While it’s a good opportunity for Kenny Atkinson to check out other lineups and combinations, it looked bad for a lot of minutes.
The Nets lost 116-98. The New York media is trying to start a Carmelo Anthony vs Jeremy Lin thing. Anthony always helps them with bits and pieces of quotes that could be recognized as anti-Lin or something along those lines. Lin has never fell into these traps, simply saying that face to face, Anthony has always been nice and cordial with him, and that’s about it. It’s not hard to read between the lines of what Anthony says and figure out he never liked Lin (putting it gently) and even dislikes the fact that Lin got big contracts from Houston (back in 2012) or now on the Nets, all relative of course.
But moving away from the ‘Housewives of the five Boroughs’ kind of gossip, the Nets losing to the Knicks revealed just how their much heralded ball movement from the first game relies on Lin being on the floor, and even more so their communication and aggressiveness on defense. Whether it was Atkinson or Brook Lopez, Nets personnel admitted their ball movement simply wasn’t there most of the time, and they didn’t play to their strengths.
Let’s just say this: A backcourt of Randy Foye, Greivis Vasquez and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (a ‘2’ or ‘3’ depending on the situation) isn’t something we’re going to see a whole lot. The ball movement wasn’t far, the off-the-ball movement was almost non existent, and a Knicks team that isn’t exactly stellar defensively, and has plenty of flaws on its own, looked quite capable of handling the Nets. It was a game that showed how much the Nets might struggle this season when Lin isn’t on the floor, just how important he is to their effort of not finishing at the bottom of the East, and makes you wonder how soon will teams pick up on that, forcing the Nets to get more creative.
Not everything was bad. Trevor Booker looked good on defense and on the glass in 21 minutes of basketball. Sean Kilpatrick put the 0-for-7 performance behind him, scoring 13 points on 50% from the field. Joe Harris continues to be impressive with his ability to put up quick points, scoring 11 in 19 minutes this time. Anthony Bennett, trying to keep his NBA career alive topped the Nets scoring with 15 points, finishing with 11-for-14 from the line.
Atkinson was especially focused on seeing what rookies Isaiah Whitehead and Yogi Ferrell might give to the team. Ferrell struggled on defense, while Whitehead had his moments, finishing with 6 points in 14 minutes. Chris McCullough looked a bit overwhelmed by the whole ordeal, turning the ball over six times, although it might have been simply an off night. That’s what the preseason is for. Bojan Bogdanovic made his preseason debut, scoring 3 points in 12 minutes.