Sprung: Nets face yet another identity crisis without Lopez

What are the Brooklyn Nets right now, other than a pathetic underachieving ballclub?

brook-lopezBrook Lopez is not coming back this season after breaking his foot, and the Nets dropped to 2-8 without him after Monday’s 103-86 loss to Indiana. Brooklyn is 9-18, a .333 winning percentage.

“It’s certainly a big setback, he’s a great player,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “One of the best centers in the league, so it’s obviously very difficult to replace what he gives on both ends.”

What’s worse than the team’s best player being lost for the season with no viable replacement? The team’s rookie coach thinks his players have grown content with losing games.

“It’s gotten very close to just accepting losing,” Jason Kidd said. “Getting comfortable with losing. And we’ve got to make a stand with that, because when things get tough, do we give in? And most of the time right now we do.”

Those are very telling words from someone with the type of NBA experience Kidd has.

“When we don’t make shots, we tend to hang our head and we forget about playing defense,” Kidd said. “Again the third quarter. Our turnovers, our missed shots snowballed into a situation where we lost control of the game.”

So what does Brooklyn need to do to get out of these doldrums? Kidd and other Nets players have continued to call this season a process, but it’s practically one-third over, and they are nine games under .500. Whatever the process has been so far, it isn’t working.

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“I’m not comfortable losing. It’s not fun,” point guard Deron Williams said. “Not only when we’re losing during the game, but when I go home sitting there and thinking about it, it’s not fun.”

GarnettPaul Pierce and Kevin Garnett didn’t have much fun on Monday night. Pierce was held scoreless for the first time since March 1999 and was ejected in the third quarter when he practically clotheslined Indiana guard George Hill and was tagged with a flagrant-2 foul.

Garnett had 12 points and five rebounds in just under 19 minutes but shot 3-for-10 from the field. In 24 games, it was just the fourth time Garnett reached double figures in scoring. That’s an incredibly low number for one of the all-time great power forwards.

Neither Garnett nor Pierce spoke to the media after the game, which is becoming a trend when neither of Brooklyn’s fading stars play very well in defeat. Kidd is playing Pierce off the bench, starting the defensive-minded Alan Anderson. Given the way Garnett has performed this season, it may be time to send him to the second unit as well.

Garnett’s drop-off has been quite precipitous, as Sheridan colleague Jim Park points out. The 37-year-old is having the worst season of his career in many respects.

KG Career LowsNumber
Minutes22
FG Attempts8
FG %37.5
Points6.7
Assists1.8
Steals0.9
Blocks0.7
FT Attempts0.9
PER11.3
True Shooting %40
Effective FG %37.5
Offensive Rating87
Net Rating-15
Offensive Win Shares-0.6
Win Shares/480.08

Based on those numbers – and there’s no reason to believe he’s going to improve anytime soon – Garnett should not be a starter. It’s that simple.

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