“Put that Paramount shawarma down! Paramount shawarmas are for closers only,” yelled Eric Khoury at his players, inside a parallel universe locker room.
None of the 905 players were actually chowing down on shawarmas post-game (though I’ve seen Chipotle be the post-game food of choice), but the tension was probably as high as that infamous Glengarry Glen Ross scene.
“ABC. Always Be Closing,” commanded Alec Baldwin. And that, the 905 failed to do last night, losing to the Long Island Nets, 132-128, in overtime. The 905 had 15-point leads in the first and third quarter, RaiQuan Gray was ejected at the start of the third (Long Island were left with seven players), and the 905 had a 14-point lead, 108-94, at the end of the third.
Perhaps, the 905 got too comfortable, too early. They ate their proverbial shawarmas too soon. The 905 scored 16 points in the final frame, giving up 30 to the Nets. The 905 were in a similar position against Greensboro on the road, where their 12-point lead at the start of the fourth came close to slipping away.
The 905’s transition D was non-existent at times. The corner 3 is the easiest, most coveted, efficient shot in basketball — and the 905 gave it away for free 99 cents. In the third possession, Chris Chiozza — who had a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 19 dimes — attacked the basket instead of shooting the three because the lane was so open.
The 905 limited turnovers in the fourth, but they were blocked on five shot attempts. Late in regulation, Ron Harper’s hero-ball three and Jeff Dowtin’s triple weren’t the best offensive options, and Chorizza’s finger roll with four seconds left in the fourth, leaving Reggie Perry in the dust, forced the game into overtime.
Coach Khoury wants to limit coin flips, but last night was self-imposed. The seven-point target score made for some exciting overtime basketball (shout out to Dr. Nick Elam for pioneering this rule change), but the 905 shouldn’t have gone there in the first place.
The 905 are close to halfway into the Showcase Cup season. They’re seven games into the 16-game (plus two games) Showcase Cup. There’s lots of positives, but let’s hope they’ll learn to ABC, so we’ll witness less coin flips.
The 905 play the Nets again on Wednesday night, 7:30 pm at Paramount. Watch it on NBA TV or purchase your tickets here.
The Nets played without RaiQuan Gray in the second half, and had a 7-man roster. The 905 capitalized on this in the third, but due to some poor defensive transitions (see above) and shot selections, they gave up their lead in the fourth, allowing the Nets to tie them.
With Kenny Wooten out, Perry was the biggest inside defensive presence. Perry hit two triples in limited minutes in the third quarter, bu the 905 had their best offensive quarter. Midway through the fourth, when the Nets inched within two points, the 905 played great team offense, sharing the ball. Dowtin hit a triple, Gabe Brown hit another, and that ball movement deserves another look:
Harper finished with 16 points and Dowtin finished with 25, shooting 2-for-6 from beyond the arc. Dowtin continues to put up in-game 3s in high-stake scenarios, and let’s hope that prepares him for The League.
Brown deserves a shawarma for his contributions. He had a team-high 16 plus/minus, and 16 points on 70% shooting (3-for-4 beyond the arc).
He was great on the other side of the ball too — in this first play, he recognizes the pass coming to Chiozza, closes out in time, prevents an easy dribble drive, switches on the low man, and gets a block.
In the second play, he prevents an easy post-up play by 6-foot-10 Kavion Pippen, forces him to swing the ball out to Chiozza, and then meets him at the rim as he penetrates the paint (the Nets still make the bucket because the right corner 3 was left wide open in this half court play).
In the third play, Brown’s chasedown attempt is impressive, even though the and-one meant three points were given away. Lastly, that big block in transition is self-explanatory.
Perry had 18 points on 6-for-20 shooting and 14 boards. He hit two triples in the third quarter to push the lead to 10 and 13, but being blocked twice demoralized Perry in the fourth. After being blocked for the second time, he unleashed in his frustration at the refs, and got a technical. His frustration’s evident as he throws his “Where’s the foul, ref!” hands in the air after drives, and jogs back nonchalantly. Pouting on the baseline after a non-call only leads to easy transition buckets for the opponent.
We all know Perry can hoop, but his trajectory back to the NBA will depend on his growth between the temples. He needs to be able to play through non-calls and forget about the whistle when he’s inside the paint. To his point in the post-game, 9 of his 17 shot attempts were inside the paint, and he only went to the charity stripe once in regulation. But he’ll need to learn to play without focusing on the whistle.
Chiozza was a lot faster and quicker than Perry, however, Perry was guarding Chiozza when the game was on the line. In OT, Perry blocked Chiozza as he drove inside. Not saying Perry is comparable to Achiuwa, but this reminded me of a healthy Precious clamping down on guards near half court at the start of the season. Defensive assignments, like this, are invaluable for Perry.
Some Bright Spots
Melvin Frazier had 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting and grabbed 7 boards. He had two great plays:
1. After turning the ball over on an offensive foul in Q3, Frazier vindicated by getting an and-1
2. After Kaiser Gates hit a three in the fourth, Frazier gets another and-1 to push the lead up to eight (see below)
For all the shooters out there, keep your eyes on Ryan Hawkins. He can catch and shoot from anywhere on the floor; he went 3-for-4 from downtown last night, and that stroke looks ohh-soo-sweet.