Playing without star point guard Deron Williams, it appeared the New Jersey Nets were on their way to an easy win over the Washington Wizards after one half of play.
In the first 24 minutes of action the Nets scored 56 points and shot 54.8 percent from the field. Particularly impressive was the performance in the first quarter, when New Jersey scored 35 points on 60.9 percent shooting.
The Nets were also solid defensively in those first two quarters, holding Washington to 43 points while keeping the team to a low 42.9 field-goal percentage.
Something happened at halftime, though, and the script was flipped.
In the second half New Jersey went just 10-of-39 from the field (25.6 percent) and scored all of 36 points. Yes, you read that right. The Nets hit a mere 10 shots in the third and fourth quarters combined and managed to score just one more point than they did in the first period.
The Nets also broke down on the other end of the floor, giving up 55 second-half points and allowing the Wizards to shoot 55.6 percent, losing by a final score of 98-92.
So what happened?
Quite simply, New Jersey was awful after the break. They settled for bad jumpers, had poor player and ball movement and were incredibly sloppy. On the game the Nets had 22 turnovers and at least eight of those occurred in the third quarter alone.
It seems that after how easy things came in the opening half the Nets thought the game would continue that way. Avery Johnson spoke of the players needing to come out with the same type of edge on the road as they do at home and initially they did this.
For reasons unknown, they couldn't carry that over to the second half.
Perhaps it's as straightforward as not having Williams.
Getting the start in place of Williams, Jordan Farmar showed exactly why he's a backup point guard. He came out on fire in the first half with 11 assists, but could not keep it going in the second. Sure, he had six assists in the second half—not a bad number—but that wasn't up to par with where he was in the first.
The Wizards made an adjustment to him and Farmar was unable to make one of his own. It's why he normally plays around 20 minutes a game instead of the 35 he played on Sunday.
If he's on the floor too long, his flaws become apparent.
And that's not to blame the loss on Farmar, as the whole team caved in after halftime. It's just hard to believe it would have gone down the same way had Williams, who is nursing a wrist injury, been able to play.
Brook Lopez also deserves some criticism for not being aggressive enough on the offensive end. He again did not assert himself in the paint consistently, although that is not completely his fault.
Lopez's teammates failed to get him the ball when he was calling for it in the post, so they need to take some responsibility as well. To use some coach speak, you win and lose as a team.
This defeat was a team effort.
Hopefully the Nets can figure things out, because Williams will be missing at least the next two games.
We'll find out quickly if any improvements will be made when the Nets host Indiana Monday night.
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