If Nerlens Noel wasn’t the reply for Brooklyn’s backup heart debacle, the Nets had higher discover one other reply — and shortly.
Days after the group declined to present Noel a second 10-day contract, the Nets have been obliterated on the glass in a 101-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.
As versatile as beginning heart Nic Claxton is on each ends of the ground, his largest shortcoming — brute energy — continues to be a precedence for the Nets to handle.
Especially if second-year ahead Day’Ron Sharpe — who was out there however didn’t play towards the Kings on Thursday — is out of the rotation.
That’s as a result of the bruiser stays the archetype of participant that stumps and stampedes the Nets at each flip.
What has been true of the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers was true within the Nets’ loss to the league’s No. 1 offense on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day.
Just just like the Nets have rotational limitations that make them prone to being trampled over by the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid, Brooklyn had no reply for Kings All-Star Domantas Sabonis.
Sabonis punished the Nets from opening tip to the ultimate buzzer. Head coach Jacque Vaughn tried a wide range of rotational techniques — from staying huge with Claxton to going small with the 6-5 Royce O’Neale taking part in backup 5 — however all of them faltered.
The son of NBA legend Arvydas Sabonis completed with 24 factors, 21 rebounds and 5 assists on the night time. Seven of his rebounds got here on the offensive glass, contributing to 16 second-chance factors.
The Nets had none.
On one possession early into the primary quarter, Sabonis — sandwiched between Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie underneath the bucket — merely snatched an air ball out of the sky earlier than both of the closest Nets might react.
Later within the first quarter, he created two extra photographs on the identical Kings’ possession, cleansing Malik Monk’s missed layup to discover a wide-open Trey Lyles on a nook three try, solely to tip-out Lyles’ missed shot to create one other attempt at a Kings bucket.
“The offensive rebounds hurt also,” Vaughn mentioned postgame. “Their ability to get second chance points, it deflates you at times, especially when you have a good defensive possession and you end with [Sabonis] having an offensive rebound.”
His efficiency was an embodiment of one in all Brooklyn’s longest-standing points because the Nets strategy their last 10 video games of the common season in pursuit of a playoff berth: An lack of ability to cease the bruiser — of which there are lots of within the Eastern Conference.
“I just think all five guys need to do a better job participating,” mentioned Claxton, who completed with 14 factors and 14 rebounds. “We all gotta be sure we hit anyone. It can’t simply be two guys. It must be a five-guy effort.
“They did a good job of just everybody crashing, but a lot of times, I was going to contest shots and Sabonis would get some offensive rebounds. It’s on all of us though. We’ve just gotta hone in on that.”
The Nets held All-Star level guard De’Aaron Fox to simply 4 factors within the first half and 18 factors on 5-of-16 taking pictures from the sphere on the night time. Ex-Net Kessler Edwards hit a pair of well timed nook threes off the bench for the Kings and 4 different Sacramento gamers scored in double figures.
The Kings did their harm, nonetheless, on the glass, out-rebounding the Nets, 57-41. Vaughn mentioned Sabonis is hard to cease, however the Nets wanted to do a greater job of limiting his teammates on the glass.
Four different Kings gamers recorded 5 or extra rebounds on the night time.
“You can’t let the small dudes get some along the way,” Vaughn mentioned. “[Sabonis] is gonna get some no matter what. He’s bigger, stronger, he has techniques to get the basketball, but those perimeter players can’t get those two, three, four. Those add up.”
Vaughn mentioned the Nets confirmed a clip at halftime the place Claxton left Sabonis to go defend the rim, however no Nets participant had the assistance on Sabonis, leaving him free to seize an offensive rebound on a shot Claxton compelled a Kings participant to overlook.
“Seth was in pick-and-roll coverage with [Nic], and C.J. [Cam Johnson] was on the bottom weak side,” Vaughn defined. “C.J. and Seth each have to return in and hit Sabonis. It’s simply that easy. You’ve received to have the ability to give your physique up, have contact if we’re gonna ask Nic to go block photographs.
“That’s just one example. There’s plenty of examples throughout the course of the night where you’ve gotta hit somebody, and you’ve gotta be OK doing that, and for us to take another step forward — we can’t be in [the bottom 10 teams in box-out rate]. Every guys gotta come back, and if you’re not touching somebody, then you’re wrong. If you’re not helping your teammate, then you’re wrong.”
And now the Nets get off to a suboptimal begin to a four-game homestand towards official championship contenders.
They host Nikola Jokic — one other bruiser — and the Denver Nuggets in a matinee recreation on Sunday earlier than welcoming Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers for back-to-back video games instantly after.
“It’s important in a number of ways. First of all, just because of where we are in the season and trying to take advantage of every single opportunity. Each game as you see, every night that you watch games, they’re all important for some reason or another,” Vaughn mentioned. “I think what I’m looking for is we, on the road, played some really good quarters, we played some great halves also, so can we put four quarters together? That’s what I’m looking for because if you don’t this week, you’ll definitely pay for it. That’s definitely what I’m looking forward to.”