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Burnt Cookies

By Jeff Koch on February 7, 2014.

San Antonio 89, Brooklyn 103

There’s a recipe to pulling off these short-handed victories. You need to catch the opposing team asleep, probably in large part because their focus has waned facing an ‘inferior’ opponent. You need some hot shooting, particularly from the outside. You need to convert all of your lucky chances and free chances, and win a majority of the 50/50 balls. You need to turn it into more a grind-it-out game. Meaning you also need to play good defense and/or find the other team on a particularly poor shooting night. You probably need at least one or two of your players to play out of their mind and pick up a large slack of the scoring. Finally, you need to be almost perfect, with every player having an above average to good night, executing the offense and defense, and staying focused for the full 48 minutes.

As we know, it can happen. The Spurs are quite good at it, actually. But for every almost-victory against Miami in Miami or upset against Golden State short-handed, there is the 40-point embarrassment that the team suffered in Portland a few seasons ago (a game for which I was sitting court side).

The game against Brooklyn started well enough. The first quarter was great, as most ingredients of that recipe were coming into play. The Spurs looked sharp, were hitting shots, and were cutting to the basket and moving the ball. The offense looked good. The defense looked good, too, helped along by Brooklyn’s lackadaisical and sloppy play. And they were missing shots. In the second quarter things neutralized a bit; the Nets amped up their energy and the Spurs lagged a bit.

The dreams of an upset died in the third quarter, though, as the Nets went supernova as a team, hitting their first 10 out of 11 shots and barely cooling off from there, scoring 35 points in total. The Spurs rallied a bit near the end and fought valiantly, but shorthanded and tired, this team wasn’t going to be able to keep up in an offensive battle. They fought tough until the end, but the tank hit empty long before the last buzzer, and the Nets cruised to an easy victory.

The team probably never had much of a chance. Being depleted already, most of the team was still tired from last night. One of the keys to the earlier upsets was that the players who did play were rested and playing with something to prove. Last night a large portion of the team was still tired from the 2OT victory in Washington. I was proud of the way the team played, but once Wednesday’s game went an extra 10 minutes, Thursday’s loss was almost a foregone conclusion.

Playing without 5 of your 7 best players on the road on the second night of a back to back is usually a recipe for defeat.

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