Joe Johnson: Nets lack offensive identity

Brad Penner/USA TODAYThe Nets were down by seven points at halftime tot he Knicks. And then . . .

A 34-16 loss in the third quarter and 24 minutes later the Nets look hapless in a 113-83 loss to the Knicks at Barclays Center. Mikhail Prokhorov is likely not happy about seeing his team's neighbors come to his building and win by 30.

The Nets have already made some major moves re-assigning associate head coach Lawrence Frank to a back office to file daily reports for Jason Kidd's perusal at his convenience. It seems like another major move needs to be made to make this $101 million roster a title contender.

Joe Johnson put it plainly to Rod Boone of Newsday last night, the Nets lack any kind of identity offensively:

Boone also reported that several Nets players said teams kind of come into the Barclays Center, freelance and stomp all over them. Losing to a Knicks team on a nine-game losing streak does not improve morale or confidence.

Offensively, the Nets are 5-14 and have posted an offensive rating of 99.3. That is less than a point per possession. A 108.6 defensive rating only makes matters worse.

The Nets are just a BAD team right now. Injuries have knocked them completely out of whatever little rhythm they have. Guys just are not gelling well together. It has been rough for Brooklynites with big expectations for this squad.

What has made the Nets so bad?

Johnson suggests it is the lack of offensive fluidity. The Knicks went on a 15-3 run to take complete control of the game and the Nets went 1 for 5 with a few turnovers in that stretch. The defense did not help matters giving up point after point in that stretch.

The offense does not inspire much confidence for sure. Take this possession ending with Joe Johnson shooting a contested fadeaway jumper:

The Nets set up a basic pick and roll. A smart decision with Amar'e Stoudemire guarding Brook Lopez and Brook Lopez being slow-footed like he typically is. Johnson comes over the screen to the right and is immediately met by two Knicks defenders, Stoudemire hedging the screen and Carmelo Anthony on the help. Notice that Raymond Felton almost completely ignores both Mirza Teletovic (35.7% 3FG%) and Shaun Livingston (0 for 1 on 3-point shots this year). 

That already puts Johnson at a disadvantage because one guy can adequately guard two by sagging off each and hoping the defense recovers if the ball is rotated to them. Johnson's options already are limited and he has not even really begun the play.

Anthony does a good job forcing Johnson away from the weak side of the defense and J.R. Smith, caught trailing Johnson around the Lopez screen, has rotated over to Teletovic.

Johnson has no options but to hoist a contested mid-range jumper.

What else was Johnson supposed to do? There literally were no options and Stoudemire did a good job keeping Lopez from running to the rim. Then again, Johnson did not give the space for Lopez to do that, Lopez probably could not do that and Stoudemire is there anyway to stop it.

This is not the Nets' best lineup by far. This is a lineup the Nets are going to have to use with Kevin Garnett on limited minutes and Paul Pierce out of the lineup for a while. Joe Johnson is not the best at creating for others.

But the Knicks are not a good defensive team and they defended this pick and roll really well and limited Johnson's options to none.

It happened again as the Knicks got back on this awful fast break pull-up three from Alan Anderson. And again on this Shaun Livingston jumper when the Knicks found it easy to switch on every screen with little challenge to the ball handler. The Knicks did not respect the Nets' jump-shooting ability at all.

The Nets' shooting is average. It is where those shots are coming from that is more alarming to this Nets team. They have nearly as many shots on mid-range jumpers as they do at the rim (444-447). The only problem is Brooklyn shoots 37.2 percent on mid-range jumpers compared to 57.9 percent at the rim.

It is truly boom or bust for this Nets offense. And it is truly awful watching this team.

Brooklyn needs an offensive identity. It also needs some offensive talent. The offense needs guys who can truly spread the floor and give guys the space to attack the basket and give the offense a chance to score some points.

Until then, the Nets will continue to disappoint.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily