EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kiki Vandeweghe was asked to describe the Nets’ defense on the final two plays Sunday night and he used some coach-speak, saying “We were supposed to blue it.”
The Nets did, but spelled the other way -- they blew it.
Here was another game the Nets could have and should have won. They didn’t lose because of Randy Foye’s back-to-back baseline jumpers over Yi Jianlian in the final 45 ticks. The Nets fell, 89-85, Sunday night because of everything they did and didn’t do for much of the last three quarters of the game.
“I thought we played 40 minutes of pretty good basketball,” Vandeweghe said.
Forty minutes is good enough for college, not the NBA. The irony is in the pregame, Vandeweghe was talking about how inexcusable it is for the Nets not to play a complete game.
You’re going to miss shots -- especially if you’re the Nets -- but you can’t compound it by giving up easy baskets, open looks and critical offensive rebounds.
There was one important possession where the Nets actually played defense and blocked two shots, but gave up a third Wizards’ attempt on the same trip and JaVale McGee dunked it with 2:54 left to tie the game, 81-81.
Otherwise the biggest things were the Nets’ shooting -- 11-for-42 after halftime -- how they defended Andray Blatche -- they didn’t -- and how they closed the game -- in typical fashion.
It was a game we have seen so many times and so much unlike Saturday’s improbable victory in Boston.
The Nets won that game because they played terrific for the final three-plus quarters, they defended and they took the big lead in the fourth period – and this was against a good team.
The Wizards are not a good team, but they were unfazed when the Nets built a 14-point first-half lead. They kept attacking and the Nets inexplicably let up on both ends.
Devin Harris, the sparkplug in the first quarter with 11 points and eight assists, finished with 18 points and 14 assists. He missed 16-of-19 shots after the first period and the first seven in the fourth before a meaningless layup with two-tenths of a second remaining.
Blatche buried them with a career-high 36 points. That’s two 30-point games against the Nets this season for the relatively unknown Blatche, who is making a case for Most Improved Player consideration.
Foye hit those two back-breaking jumpers over Yi when the Nets blued. What that means is to send him baseline, which they did. But Foye had too much room to get his shot off.
Yi said the wings should have closed and forced him to pass, but with always lethal Mike Miller on the floor and the out-of-his-mind Blatche, it probably was best to keep the ball in Foye’s hands. But he made the Nets pay and pay dearly.
Yi played a terrific game statistically with 20 points and 19 rebounds, but he missed a pair of crucial free throws late and had some typical issues: Getting the ball stripped as he went up and getting beaten defensively.
Typical was how this game ended for the Nets. Despite all their shooting woes, they took a lead late, 81-79 with about 3:40 left. A few stops and a few makes and they have their first two-game winning streak this season.
Instead, the Nets had seven consecutive misses and gave up scores on five of Washington’s last seven possessions, including the two Foye jumpers. The Nets may have blued it, but really, they blew it.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).