Spurs usher in new year with massacre of lifeless Brooklyn Nets
SAN ANTONIO — It’s one thing when a team ‘quits’ in the figurative sense of the word; it’s another thing entirely when a group literally fails to play 48 minutes of an NBA basketball game.
After a San Antonio Spurs shot-clock violation with .2 seconds remaining in a 113-92 blowout of the Nets, most Brooklyn players left the court thinking the game had officially ended. It had essentially been over after only a few minutes of play on Tuesday night, but all Jason Kidd’s team needed to do was inbound the ball and wait a fraction of a second for the final buzzer to blast.
But Kidd wasn’t allowed to do it himself, nor were the three Nets that remained on the court. A team timeout gave them enough time to bring a couple of players back out of the tunnel, but only while the rest of their mates saw what was going on before electing to retreat to the locker room anyway.
I guess rules are rules, and you have to run out the clock legally, but what’s the point? Brooklyn had already raised the proverbial white flag hours earlier. Beyond what made for a more entertaining end to a game than most expected, this massacre was hardly a New Year’s Eve party-starter, unless you’re into that sort of thing.
The Spurs hit 15 of their 18 attempts in a 39-point third quarter that saw the lead reach as high as 32 points on a Patty Mills 3-pointer with 10 seconds left, capping off a run during which San Antonio scored on 10 straight possessions. The team was scoring whenever it wanted, and the Nets looked like a team without even the slightest interest in trying.
There’s not a ton to take away from a game like this, but it was good for the Spurs to put up a near-40-point quarter of their own after watching so many opponents do it to them lately. The players said as much in the locker room after the game. And for a team that has spoken about ‘confidence’ in recent weeks, getting its first comfortable destruction of another in a while may serve as a spark.
But Brooklyn seemed disinterested not long after tip. For a team with such promise and high expectations to plummet so precipitously is an occurrence the likes of which I can’t recall. A team with Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, a decrepit Kevin Garnett and other notable “on paper” players has fallen in to the worst team in the league pit of discussion. It really is pretty unbelievable. I mean, Kevin Garnett didn’t register a field goal for just the second time since the 1996 season.
Players in the Nets locker room said the Spurs “embarrassed” them tonight. They said the team is still with its head coach, but it wasn’t a vibe you leave with after quotes are recorded.
As the calendar turns, San Antonio sits in second place in the Western Conference with a 25-7 record. Yes, they’ve struggled with the NBA’s elite, but they’ve demoralized the others. That’s something most teams cannot say. And the starters were great on this night
Despite the absolute paltry level of competition, the Spurs’ first group had its best performance in quite some time. It scored at a rate of 141.2 points per 100 possessions while allowing just 64.7 to the Nets, a small-sample-size theater net-rating of 76.5 points per 100 possessions.
Six Spurs scored in double figures, and not a one played more than Tony Parker’s 27 minutes.
But in 2014, we’ll still keep watch of this group’s success. The starting lineup has been mediocre, but maybe this will kick-start things going forward. I can’t stress this enough, however: the Nets might be the worst team in the league. Their defense is nonexistent, and none of the formerly “good” offensive players seem to be worth a damn anymore, save for perhaps Joe Johnson.
So take this one with a massive grain of salt on your margarita on this New Year’s Eve, San Antonio. But, given the Spurs’ schedule, it’s difficult to think of a better culmination to the 2013 calendar.
Enjoy the night, folks, and be safe. Here’s to more big things in 2014. And be thankful for the team you’ve been able to watch since Tim Duncan was drafted. I mean, if you want to be.
But the alternate reality that exists in the NBA was on the other side of the court in the form of the Brooklyn Nets, and they didn’t even want to witness the end of this one.
They couldn’t have cared less whether that final buzzer rang or not.