To call the Nets’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night a low point is to downplay the endless indignities of this lost season, but just a game after one of their most exciting wins of the year, the blowout Wednesday night proved that no good feeling can last. It also ensured that the bitterness that has defined this first half will carry over into the All-Star break.
And thanks to an 0-for-3 night, it also ensures that the bitterness will extend to Joe Johnson — who hit the winning shot at the buzzer Monday only to have his field-goal streak snapped at 937 games, the longest such streak in the NBA.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” he said after the 109-90 loss at the Barclays Center.
“It’s sad,” added Tony Brown. “He had some opportunities but came up short. Unfortunately, I hate to be the one to break that record. I wish I could have gotten him some more touches.”
Mike Conley scored 20 points and Jeff Green added 18 off the bench as the Grizzlies rode a 39-18 third quarter to the easy win. It was little solace after learning Tuesday that they’ve lost Marc Gasol indefinitely with a broken foot. Gasol led the team this season in points per game (16.1) and blocks (1.3) and the Grizzlies had primarily run their offense through their big men, Gasol and Zach Randolph (15). Not that much of that matters when you’re playing a Nets team that gave up 25 points on 22 turnovers, like they did Wednesday night.
“We didn’t do a good job of taking care of the ball,” said Brook Lopez, before pointing specifically to himself and his five turnovers. “They made some good plays but I thought the general amount of them was definitely unforced.”
Though Lopez is quick to turn the finger on himself, offensively, he feasted early on in his fellow center’s absence. He scored 18 of his team-high 20 points in the first half, shooting 7-for-10. Wayne Ellington had 18 and shot 4-for-5 on three-pointers. Otherwise, the Nets sputtered, getting outscored 48-32 in the paint and 15-6 in second-chance points. They trailed 50-45 at the break, and their second unit couldn’t do much of anything against the Grizzlies.
With most of the Nets reserves in for the second quarter, the Grizzlies erupted on a 13-2 run, turning the Nets’ five-point lead at the end of the first quarter into a six-point deficit. The Grizzlies kicked off the third quarter on a 10-0 run, ignited by back-to-back threes by Conley, and had an 89-63 lead going into the fourth.
“They got on a run early and we had nothing to combat that,” Brown said. “We didn’t come out ready to play in the third quarter.”
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who was in the building after interviewing potential general managers this week, left his luxury box after the disastrous third quarter, telling ESPN of the general manager search that the Nets had “finished our first round of homework. Now we’re onto the second — the shortlist.”
That’s good news for the Nets, who haven’t had a general manager since Billy King was reassigned on January 10 and have the trade deadline looming in a week. But if the season — and Wednesday’s loss — has taught them anything, it’s that this year, very few good feelings stick around for long.