The Brooklyn Nets fell 121-107 to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Cameron Johnson knows where they fell short.
“The biggest thing that we take away is we know how we need to play to win,” Johnson said of the Nets’ second-half collapse via the YES Network’s YouTube channel. “And then sometimes this crappy, gutty, and dirty – we’re not playing pretty out there. And that’s how the game starts to favor us. So I just think we need to get back to that and just you know continue to compete at a high level. It’s the NBA you’re not going to win them all, you’re not going to lose them all. Some games go your way, some don’t. But I think it’s a lot to learn.”
Brooklyn saw a 10-point first-half advantage turn into a deficit during a 38-20 OKC third quarter.
Johnson finished the loss with 23 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and one steal. He has been vocal about the challenges of the blockbuster trades that saw the Nets change out 80% of their starting lineup.
He has long been an advocate for the Nets’ to play a feistier brand of defense.
“I think when we’re the aggressor on the defensive end that covers for a lot,” said Johnson via the team’s official YouTube channel after a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on February 26. “When we’re the aggressors, that covers for a lot of that indecisiveness. So, it’s a work in progress and it’s something that I think we’ll be able to build off.”
Brooklyn has still won five of their last seven games. Their defensive rating over the first five games of that span was 101.9, per NBA.com. But, over the last two games, it has been 121.7 while their offensive rating has risen by just 1.4 points per 100 possessions.
Cameron Johnson’s Price Tag Not an Issue…Yet
Johnson is heading for restricted free agency but is expected to garner some outside attention from interested teams. He has already turned down an offer of $72 million over four years and could see more than $80 million on his next deal.
“A 6-foot-8 wing who can shoot 40% from deep with solid defense will command top dollar,” writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “Sources say his floor is $18 million annually, and could easily top $20 million. And with a new leaguewide TV deal kicking in after 2024-25, it’ll make the end of Johnson’s contract a smaller cut of whatever the salary cap becomes.”
Johnson’s draftmate, De’Andre Hunter of the Atlanta Hawks, signed a deal worth up to $95 million over four years, though he was taken seven picks ahead of Johnson.
Current teammate Mikal Bridges was given $90 million by Phoenix before their trade.
At any rate, that is not where Johnson’s focus is at the moment.
“You’ve got to think why you’re doing it in the first place,” Johnson previously told Lewis. “And then you’ve got to think what you’re doing it for, and it’s because, at the end of the day, I love to compete and play this game. …My goal right now is to win games and make a playoff push.
“I’ll let the future take care of itself. I’m not going to sit here and think on it too hard or worry about it too much. I’m really just living in the present, enjoying it. There’s so much I’ve got to think about getting acclimated to a new city. This time of the year is serious basketball and that’s enough for all of us, for any of us, to keep us plenty occupied.”
Loss to OKC Shifted Balance of Power in New York
The loss to OKC isn’t just about keeping the Nets from having an even better road trip. It also sent them back below the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference standings.
With just 13 games left before the playoffs, consistency will be the Nets’ primary focus as they jockey for position.