Friday, January 20, 2023

Nets star could be in hot water after the latest decision

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The turning point of the Brooklyn Nets’ Jan. 19 loss to the Phoenix Suns came in the closing moments of the third quarter when Ben Simmons assessed his fifth personal foul on a running canvas. Simmons, visibly upset by the call, said something to the referee, who made the call and got his first technical foul assessed. He then proceeded to anger the referee as he came on the bench, earning him his second technical, an automatic ejection. After the game, Simmons gave reporters more insight into why he was so upset about the call.

“I think you’re going to call the game that, then you have to be consistent. I think it’s been like this all year. I think if you’re going to call it a moving election, you have to be consistent on both ends. Ditto for the holding company,” Simmons said of the New York Post.

“It’s difficult. I’m going to be physical. I’m a 6ft 10 guy who likes to guard certain guys. I’m going to be physical. I’m not going to tone it down because the umpires don’t want to see the physicality. I’m 6 -10, 240, and I guard these guys. It is what it is. Of course there are specific calls you need to make, but… I don’t know.”

Simmons could be in hot water for publicly criticizing the referees after the loss. This can be punished with hefty fines. Last year, Sixers star Joel Embiid was fined $15,000 for this.

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The Nets came into their matchup with the Suns fresh from a loss to a 14-win San Antonio Spurs team. Though Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were absent from the competition, it was one of their more disappointing losses of the season. Now against a Suns team without two of their best players in Devin Booker and Chris Paul, plus Kyrie returning to the lineup, the Nets had a great opportunity to end their losing slide.

But the nets came flat against the Suns, especially on defence. They let Phoenix score at least 30 points in the first two quarters and put them past the eighth, helping their comeback effort fall short. After the loss, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn expressed his disappointment with his team’s performance

“Yes, really unlucky, our start. I was really looking forward to the challenge for this group, to see how we reacted after losing in San Antonio,” Vaughn said, via the New York Post. “We talked about every possession having meaning and value and what you, as a teammate, are being asked to do every single possession. … We certainly didn’t come to play at the start of the game.”

Kyrie echoed a similar sentiment as his coach.

“We want to make a consistent effort,” added Irving. “Well, Jacques is right; We put ourselves in a hole, we’re 10, 12 behind, we give the other team confidence and feel like they’re playing a little bit more freely. When we started locking ourselves in and coming back, we can make anything happen. But sometimes the hole is too big to come back.”

After losses to an undermanned Suns team and a San Antonio Spurs team that could be headed for the draft lottery, it’s increasingly uncertain when the Nets will snatch their lost carriage. Especially since their next three opponents are the Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, and Philadelphia 76ers, all teams many expect to make deep playoff runs.

When Durant went down on January 8, many of the Nets players insisted it wouldn’t be the same situation as last season when the star forward sprained his MCL. But up to this point it’s been a repeat of the same horror story for the Nets, as without the services of their best player they are clearly a non-contender.

It seems like forever since the Nets owned the NBA’s longest winning streak this season. Under the guidance of new coach Jacque Vaughn, click on all cylinders and play an inspired save. But now they appear to be fighting for their lives, trying to avoid crashing to bottom in the Eastern Conference like they did last season.

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