Nets’ season will end early if they can’t learn to close

St. John's last chance starts now


The ball was in the air and it sure looked good because of course it looked good, because just about every time Kevin Durant lets one fly it looks good, and more often than not it is good. 

The buzzer groaned at Barclays Center and 17,917 fans awaited the verdict, ready to provide a roar that would’ve been the equal of the intensity on the floor the previous 53 minutes. A swish would bring sweet release all the way from the (relatively) cheap seats. And give the Nets a huge boost. 

But the ball didn’t swish. It clanked against the rim and bounced away. The roar was replaced by solemn quiet. The boost went bust. One more time, the Bucks would walk away from Barclays with a heart-stopping win, this time 120-119. The Bucks jumped off their bench. The Nets trundled off to the locker room. 

“We need to win that game,” Bruce Brown said, shaking his head sadly. 

That is actually more than mere platitude, too. The Nets really do need to learn how to win games like this, against teams like this. We are no longer in the abstract with this team. This was the Nets’ 47th game against a team with a winning record this year. They’ve won 19 of them. Soon, every team they play will have a winning record, and there will be real consequences for failing to win those games. 

“We’re a brand-new group, really, playing against the champs,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We really haven’t had a lot of opportunities to play together.” 

Kevin Durant's three-pointer misses to end the Nets' loss to the Bucks.
Kevin Durant’s shot misses as time expires in overtime.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Sorry, but as truthful as that may be it is an excuse that simply doesn’t fly any more. Kyrie Irving may be new to Barclays Center (where the Nets are now a discouraging 1-3 with him in the lineup, which is an even worse percentage than their 17-21 overall home record). But he is now 23 games into his season. His situation is what it is. They have to figure this out, and not on their own schedule.