With about 2:45 left in the game and the Clippers down one, the Nets come down with the ball and run a high S/R with Jason Kidd and Mikki Moore.  Moore gives Kidd a solid screen on Cassell at the left elbow, and Elton immediately picks Kidd up on the switch at the free throw line.  Kidd’s ball fake initially buys him a little more space, but on the release, his shot is rejected with serious authority by Elton.  Only problem?  Sam Cassell has done nothing to deter Moore – whom he picked up on the switch – from swooping in, grabbing the ball and going back up with it.  Mobley comes over to try to strip Moore, but at that point, there’s not much for him to do but pick up a foul.  Moore sinks both free throws to put the Nets up three with 2:28.

So what happens next?  After Corey Maggette throws an uncontested pass five feet above Sam Cassell into the backcourt, the Nets get the ball back.  Carter holds it up top against Maggette.  VC then puts his head down and drives with his right directly toward the basket.  Elton Brand is there to meet Carter and, for the second straight possession, Elton blocks a Net layup.  But once again, nobody bothers to pick up Mikki Moore.

At this point, Elton chews out both Maggette and Thomas.   Maggette has to know when Elton moves out to contest the shot that he essentially has Moore on the switch.  And Thomas has to know that one of his primary responsibilities coming over from the weak side is to control the glass. On a really good team, both guys are mindful.  On a decent team, at least one of the two can be counted on to get the job done.

If it were earlier in the season, I’d be tempted to believe that Elton’s measured eruption was a good thing.  Unfortunately, I don’t get the impression that Elton feels like there’s any motivational tack in the world that could get Maggette and Thomas to grasp the anguish that comes with trying to lead a team of guys whose most fundamental understanding of the game can be summed up with the words, “I’m open.”  

Meanwhile, Chris Kaman continues to be a miracle in athletic dualism.  Is there a big man in the NBA who has a more instinctive feel for his own biomechanics, yet has absolutely no idea of what’s going on around him?  You look at a set like [1st, 5:01] where, on the right block against Moore, back to the bakset, Kaman dribbles with his left, then spins baseline, drives with his right, then switches back to the left hand for a reverse layup, and you say to yourself, “How is this guy not going to be one of the three best centers in the NBA?”  And then, five minutes later, you watch him muff at least three or four shots that you’re certain he’ll sink the next time he gets them…only you’ve been telling yourself that for the better part of fourteen months now. The only solace we can take is that, on the road trip, Chris is 20-40 from the field with only two turnovers.