They may have a completely new identity, but the Nets appear to have carried over some old traits from New Jersey across to Brooklyn. The Nets gave up yet another double-digit lead at home to fall to the Utah Jazz, 92-90, dropping their record to 13-11 with another critical clash against the New York Knicks tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden. An all-too-familiar habit crept back into play again tonight, costing the Nets the game – and causing some concern for the coaching staff and playing personnel.
For the 6th time in the 18 games in which they've held a lead of more than 10-points, Brooklyn gave up a winnable game. Coach Johnson refused to lay the blame on the final possession in which both the Nets had a chance to tie – or win the game – after two Utah turnovers in-bounding the ball.
"That's really not what the game came down to," said Johnson after the crushing defeat. "It's really all about the third quarter. In the third quarter we turned the ball over, probably six or seven times, we were awful to start the third quarter."
Indeed they were. Brooklyn were outscored 26-17 for the period, and were punished for a lack of defensive rebounding (15-8) with a 13-2 second chance points differential. Point guard Deron Williams, who endured a 5-12 shooting night for 14 points, said he couldn't explain why the team kept having lapses in the third period.
“I don’t know. I wish I did,” Williams said. “We even talked about it. We’ve talked about it a lot. Turnovers, careless with the ball, [we] were kind of flat; no energy and we let them back into the game.
"This is a tough loss, it shouldn't sit with us well. We had control of the game, and we gave it away."
Now the Nets must travel across the bridge tomorrow for Round Three of the Battle of the Boroughs, and try to recapture some of the form they showed during the first meeting between the two teams. Even with the possibility that Carmelo Anthony may not play, the Nets (3-7 in their last 10-games) are wary of the Knicks firepower.
“We know they beat the Heat in Miami without him, so we know they still have a good team,” D-Will said.
Deron Williams is criticising the offense, Brook Lopez is still not back to the form he was in prior to the injury, and the team's third quarter yips continue, yet despite all that, the players expect an improved performance at The Garden tomorrow. Lopez says it's the perfect bounce back game.
"It's a good game for us to bounce back. I don't think we're gonna have to worry about energy at all," maintained Lopez. "I think we're all excited to play them [Knicks] and it's going to be a good environment for us."
So long as those third quarter hiccups don't return again.
Image via : Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News