Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Game 36 Recap: Nets 93, Mavericks 92

Hey Otis Smith, you watching the game? Behind a monster effort by Brook Lopez, to the tune of 38 points on 17-for-28 shooting, the Nets snapped their 11-game losing streak in Dallas by taking down the defending champs. The key to this game was the great start New Jersey got off to by taking a 28-23 lead after the 1st quarter. The Nets would be able to hold that lead for about 2 quarters but ended up giving the Mavs their first lead of the game with around 2:20 left in the 3rd.

The Nets were able to rebound from blowing their lead, which was as big as 13 points, by taking a 10-point, 89-79 lead with 5:35 left in the game on a slick Lopez lay-up. Then came a 8-0 Dallas run that tightened the Nets' lead to two points. The Mavs ended up taking the lead yet again a minute later on a Jason Kidd 3-pointer. Normally, the Nets would have folded after that point in the game but they went with what was working the whole game, the entry-pass to Brook. Just moments after Kidd's three, Brook got fouled on a lay-up attempt and calmly sank both his free throws, returning the lead to the Nets.

Here is when it got really dicey. With 25 seconds left, Kidd missed the go-ahead three but the Nets would promptly turn it back over to Dallas, giving them a chance to regain the lead. They would not be able to do this as DeShawn Stevenson, just hours after receiving his championship ring from last season, smothered Kidd on yet another 3-point attempt as the former Met point guard clanked it against the backboard as he missed the shot.

Game 36 Preview: Nets (10-25) at Dallas Mavericks (21-13)

D-Will is a Dallas-area native and going home to play the Mavs will no doubt stir up rumors of him and Dwight Howard teaming up in Big D next season. My take, don't believe the hype.
In their first game after the All-Star break, the Nets take on the defending-NBA champion Dallas Mavericks down in Texas later tonight. Both teams have been bit by the injury bug as the Nets will probably be missing Mehmet Okur and Jordan Farmar while Dallas will be without the services of Lamar Odom, who has been mainly ineffective with the Mavs since coming over from the LA Lakers in a preseason trade. Brook Lopez is expected to play around 30 minutes in this contest between two teams that have multiple players that have played in both Dallas and New Jersey with Vince Carter and Jason Kidd being the most notable.

Background on Dallas
As most of you know, tonight's game with the Mavs will be the backstory to the Dwightmare situation that is going on right now, with the Nets and Dallas implicated right in the middle of it. The Mavericks scrapped much of their championship-winning team last offseason in order to have enough cap room to be able to sign Dwight Howard and/or D-Will by the summer. Don't get me wrong, they are still a good team but without key pieces like Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson out of the picture, Dallas is much less formidable than they were at this time last year. Dirk, Kidd, Terry, and even Marion are all still there but this Mavs team is very different from a year ago.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mid-Season Primer: Where Exactly Do the Nets Stand At the Mid-Point of the Season

Deron has been the only consistent positive force for the Nets this entire season and at points, it seems like its too much for him to handle but at other points, it seems like he thrives on that adversity and uses it to improve his game
Record: 10-25

Standings: 5th in the Atlantic Division, 13th in the Eastern Conference, 27th in the NBA

Much like last season, this condensed 2011-2012 Nets season has been riddled by injuries, underperformance, and trade rumors. Even though Deron Williams has played in all games except for one, New Jersey is still close to the bottom of the NBA but has been playing better basketball of late. Not having Brook Lopez for the first 32 games of the season was heartbreaking for a Nets team that clearly suffered from lack of a proven post-scoring center. Meanwhile, New Jersey has suffered more injuries across the board as coach Johnson has had to use a league-high 17 different starting line-ups due to the multitude of injuries.

The position of obvious weakness for the Nets has been at small forward where the first three guys on the depth chart are all out for the season with injuries after under-performing when they were healthy. Shawne Williams, Keith Bogans, and Damion James were all given their chance to start this year and either lost their jobs due to underperformance (Williams) or gruesome and out-of-the-blue injuries (James and Bogans). The Nets simply haven't been able to catch a break at that position the whole season but with the recent signing of Gerald Green from the D-League, that might all change.

Nets Sign Gerald Green from the D-League

Green is a complete player who can help the Nets in countless ways on the court
In order to replace Andre Emmett's roster spot after his 10-day contract ended, the Nets signed former NBA player Gerald Green, who won the 2007 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, from the D-League's Los Angeles D-Fenders. By signing Green, the Nets look to finally stabilize the low-performing small forward position which has plagued the team all season. Green has been tearing up the D-League in his relatively short stint with the D-Fenders and even was the MVP of the NBDL's All-Star game that took place on Saturday afternoon.

So far this season, the extremely athletic Green has averaged 19.1 PPG and 4.6 APG in addition to nearly lights-out shooting (48% FG, 46% 3PT, 84% FT). He provides the Nets with an athlete that can simply jump out of the arena and this skill can help dividends on offense as well as on defense. More than anything else, New Jersey just needs a player who can shake things up and hopefully push the incumbent members of the team to push themselves more to maintain their playing times.

Overall, I love the signing and I think that Green will be a great addition to this Nets squad. He already has substantial NBA experience so his learning, or developmental, curve won't be as steep as those of other D-League call-ups who only had minor cups of coffee in the NBA prior to being called-up by the Nets. Look for this guy to make a difference down the stretch of this season.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Deron Goes Nuts But East Still Loses All-Star Game

There was some questioning of D-Will inclusion in the All-Star Game but quieted the critics with his performance
Even though he was the last player on the Eastern Conference team to enter the game, Deron Williams certainly made his presence felt in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game which the West won by a score of 152-149. In only 18 minutes, D-Will scored 20 while making 8-for-11 from the field, along with 4-for-7 shooting from behind-the-arc. Deron was one of only six East All-Stars to score double-digits in points and showed that he truly is among the NBA's elite players.

Not surprisingly, the game's two leading scorers with 36 points each were Kevin Durant, who was named the MVP, and LeBron James. Dwyane Wade compiled only the 3rd triple-double in the game's history as the Miami Heat were certainly well represented in Orlando tonight.

Trade Speculation Candidate: Anthony Morrow

When he gets hot, Morrow is the most dangerous 3-point shooter in the NBA
In this truncated season, Anthony Morrow hasn't been amazing for all 35 games but has been one of the Nets' most reliable players on the offensive end. However, he could become a casualty of New Jersey's quest to clear cap space for this upcoming offseason as his 2-yr, $8 million contract, identical in pay and length to Jordan Farmar's, is one that GM Billy King would love to get rid of in a trade for an (hopefully) expiring contract that might be able to fill some of the production void left by Morrow's departure.

Honestly, Anthony is one of my favorite Nets right now and I would hate to see him go to another team but the truth is that may be necessary for New Jersey to acquire big-name free agents this summer (I think you guys know who I'm referring to explicitly). Let's take a look at two potential trade scenarios which could benefit the Nets, and the other team involved, in both talent and salary cap perspectives:

All-Star Saturday: Armor Do Well, the Nets Not So Much

The nice tribute Morrow made to Petrovic, a great shooter in his own right, didn't help him much in his debut appearance in the 3-point contest
In today's All-Star weekend festivities (ok, it was yesterday), the Nets and their D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor, were really busy. On the D-League side, three Armor players (JameSon Curry, Jerry Smith, and Jeff Foote) played in the D-League All-Star game while L.D. Williams played (and won) in the dunk contest that took place at halftime of the game.

In the game, the East team (with all three Armor players) ended up losing 135-132 to the Western Conference D-League All-Stars. Curry scored a game-high 25 points off the bench on 10-for-16 shooting along with 8 assists. Smith started the game and scored 14 while Foote grabbed 7 rebounds but couldn't find his groove at the offensive end. In a weird note, Andre Emmett, whose 10-day deal with the Nets ended on Wednesday, played on the Western Conference team and scored 15. Emmett wasn't on the East squad because New Jersey didn't call him up from the Armor, but rather the Reno Bighorns.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Trade Speculation Candidate: Jordan Farmar

Add caption
This post will be the first in a series that I will do highlighting potential trades involving Nets players who have a good chance of being dealt by this season's trade deadline, which falls on March 15th. Today's focus is point guard Jordan Farmar.

Since the Nets signed Farmar as a free agent from the Los Angeles Lakers two offseasons ago, he has emerged as a quality back-up point guard who could probably start for a few NBA teams. Farmar is good at leading the New Jersey offense and, so far this season, he has been prolific from 3-point range, shooting threes at a high 47 percent rate. However, the Nets would like to get rid of Jordan's 2-yr, $8 million contract to clear out cap space to spend this offseason, hopefully on Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Let's take a look at three trade scenarios that would get rid of Farmar's contract, improve the Nets team, and clear cap room for this offseason.

Trade #1- Nets trade Farmar and a 2012 2nd-round pick to the Milwaukee Bucks for SF Carlos Delfino
Obviously, this trade helps out with the Nets urgent need for a healthy and somewhat talented small forward as Delfino is a good all-around player who is known especially for his shot. Nets fans may know Delfino because he irrationally always performs well against New Jersey and it would be nice to not have to face him anymore on the opposing side. Another bonus is that his contract ends after this season so if Delfino just doesn't work out in Avery Johnson's offense, the team can just let him go and have his salary come off of the cap for this offseason.

Milwaukee would want to do this trade because Farmar is a total upgrade at back-up point guard for the Bucks. Right now, Shaun Livingston and Ben Udrih are Milwaukee's current reserves at point guards. Livingston just isn't the player he used to be after multiple injuries and he doesn't provide much anymore on offense or defense. Udrih is actually a solid player (A good comparison would be Goran Dragic on Houston; both are lefties with really good shots, especially from three-point range) but his $6.925 million contract is one that Milwaukee wants to get rid of badly. Udrih will probably be amnestied after this season so Farmar would be the Bucks' #1 back-up behind Brandon Jennings next season and he would help Milwaukee out a lot with scoring, which has been a major problem for that team the whole season.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Game 35 Recap: Magic 108, Nets 91

Ok Dwight, we understand you're a beast and all on the basketball court. Just come to New Jersey already, the suspense is killing me and all other Nets fans
In their final game before this week's All-Star break, the Nets were simply outperformed by envied trade target Dwight Howard and his current (hopefully not for long) team, the Orlando Magic. The Magic got off to a quick start in the 1st quarter by taking advantage of effortless and lackluster defense by the Nets. After 12 minutes, Orlando held a 34-17 lead and they would be to hold that lead, for the most part, throughout the rest of the game. 

New Jersey actually was able to show some life in the 3rd quarter as the Nets used 12 consecutive points by Deron Williams to cut their deficit to 8 points. Similarly to Monday's game against the Knicks, D-Will found his stroke from behind the arc and took advantage of it to give some life to his team. However, that offensive burst ended rather quickly as Orlando, behind a few 3-pointers from Chris Duhon and J.J. Redick, was able to rebuild its lead back up to 17 points by the end of the quarter. 

The 4th quarter was much the same as the 3rd as the Nets were able to cut the deficit to 13 but the Magic stymied the late comeback attempt and cruised on through to quarter to help secure their lead, and eventually, the win. The hyped match-up of Dwight Howard and Brook Lopez was rather easily won by Howard who racked up 20 points and 17 rebounds while Lopez managed 15 points but was of no help defensively or in rebounding, as he had a measly four. In fact, rebounding was a huge issue for the whole Nets team and it was a major reason why Orlando had such an easy win. No Net had more than six rebounds as the whole team was outrebounded by a margin of nine boards. This has been a major issue with New Jersey all season and usually the team loses when they don't rebound well and vice versa when they win.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shawne Williams Done for Season

No preview for tonight's big game with the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard at the Prudential Center but I do have some injury news to share. As expected, Shawne Williams' foot injury and resulting surgery will keep him out for the rest of this season. Williams' season-ending injury is the Nets' league-leading 3rd so far from this condensed 2011-12 NBA season as he joins Keith Bogans and Damion James as the other injury victims.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Netlinked 2/21/12: Morrow loses some teeth, Shawne Williams needs surgery, Deron to the Skills Competition, and Much more

In the aftermath of last night's rousing Nets win over the hated Knicks, it was found that Anthony Morrow got a few of his teeth knocked out because of a dirty Carmelo Anthony elbow that didn't even get called a foul. The play in question was late in the 4th quarter and looked pretty serious but it obviously wasn't that bad if Morrow was able to re-enter the game just a few moments later. He is probably going to be able to play on Wednesday against the Magic.

Another Net got some injury news yesterday, albeit it was worse than Morrow's. The Nets have announced that Shawne Williams, who hasn't played since February 11th, will require surgery on Wednesday to remove a piece of bone in his left foot. A timetable isn't known on his return but I would give him all the time he needs. The Nets need healthy bodies but Williams has been so bad this year that I would rather have one less player than have him suit up and play.

We also have some news regarding the Nets involved in this week's upcoming All-Star festivities. First off, Anthony Morrow will pay tribute to the late Nets great Drazen Petrovic, who died in a tragic car accident in 1993 when he was only 28 years of age. Anthony will wear Petrovic's number 3 during the 3-point shooting contest.

After the jump are some more Nets news tidbits...

Game 34 Recap: Nets 100, Knicks 92

This simply says it all, D-Will shows Lin who the best point guard in the Tri-State area is   Photshop creds to @NJ4Life of SBNation
Simply wow. I have to keep this recap a little short cause its kinda late but all you need to know is that the Nets, especially Deron Williams, walked into a jam-packed MSG and shut-down the confident Knicks who had won 8 of 9 games overall and the last 5 meetings between themselves and the Nets. Carmelo Anthony's return from injury was also spoiled but he was mainly ineffective in the New York offensive system.

Overall, it was a really physical and scrappy game but was taken over and decided by the unconscious shooting effort by D-Will, who scored a season-high 38 points with a career-high eight 3-pointers. After a slow start to the game in which New Jersey found itself down 13-3, the Nets mounted an extended 77-48 run which extended their lead to 19 points by the end of the 3rd quarter. In the 3rd, Deron simply went off from long-range and built up the large lead with 18 points, 10 of which came during a one-minute span of the quarter. During that minute, D-Will hit three 3-pointers and even a free throw to convert a 4-point play off of one of the shots.

Jeremy Lin got his 21 points on poor 7-for-18 shooting along with 9 assists and 7 rebounds but mainly seemed to be bottled up by D-Will and the other Nets to guard him, especially DeShawn Stevenson who played his best game as a Net. DeShawn hit a few huge 3-pointers in the 1st half to give the Nets their original lead. He ended up with 14 points while Marshon Brooks found his shooting stroke again with a solid 18-point performance. Kris Humphries controlled the interior with 14 points and 14 boards as he and Shelden Williams were able to relatively limit Amare and Tyson Chandler's rebounding and scoring impacts on the game. The duo also got Chandler in early foul trouble which made the game much easier for the rest of the team.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Game 34 Preview: Nets (9-24) at New York Knicks (16-16)

Personally, I think that Lin is more hype than actual talent.  Boy do I hope that I'm right.
The Nets look to rebound from one of their worst performances of the season, a crushing home loss to the injury-plagued Milwaukee Bucks, against the Linsanity-led Knicks. Even though Brook Lopez made his season debut last night in the loss, Avery Johnson has said that he will hold the star center out of tonight's game, so the Nets will be once again without a true 5. That might be a tough task as the Knicks have a solid rebounding and shot-blocking center in Tyson Chandler who will pose a major match-up problem for New Jersey. The Nets also might have trouble in containing Jeremy Lin, who started his crazy tear through the NBA two weeks ago in a win over this very New Jersey team. Oh yeah, and New York also has Amar'e Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony, who is coming back from injury. Yes, it would be accurate to say I'm not the most confident that the Nets will leave MSG with a win later tonight.

Background on New York
As mentioned above, the Knicks are on a completely different spectrum than the Nets are right now as they have won eight of their last nine games, don't have any injuries to important players to deal with, and have multiple scoring weapons that they can count on. With the recent signing of swingman J.R. Smith, New York has tons of weapons that can score and shoot at lethal rates which is terrible news for the Nets, who haven't been able to guard the perimeter well the whole season. There is a silver lining for the Nets as the Knicks still haven't put together great chemistry with all of their new pieces. New York also has an odd propensity for home losses to really bad teams like the Bobcats, Raptors, Bucks, and even the Hornets, a category in which the Nets definitely apply. 

Game 33 Recap: Bucks 92, Nets 85

Yep, tonight was so bad this guy got 29 points and 25 rebounds.  #Ersaninsanity
If you look up "let-down game" in the dictionary, I'm sure you'll find the recap of this game. One night after an awesome, losing streak-breaking win over the NBA-best Chicago Bulls, the Nets laid an enormous egg and spoiled Brook Lopez' return against the lowly Milwaukee Bucks, who were missing some of their better players due to injury. New Jersey just couldn't get anything going on either end of the court as they shot a dismal 34 percent from the field, 22 percent from behind the arc, and a pathetic 67 percent from the free-throw line. They also couldn't keep up with the Bucks' Ersan Ilyasova, who had career-highs in points and rebounds with 29 and 25. A simply awful performance overall.

Milwaukee got off to a quick start in the 1st quarter and built up a 6-point lead after 1  and extended that lead to the high-teens by the 3rd quarter. Unlike the Chicago game, a game in which the Nets made tons of shots early on, New Jersey found a lid on the rim for basically the whole game and couldn't even convert on many wide-open jumpshots, lay-ups, and even free throw attempts. Brook's return didn't help much as his rust was obvious, evidenced by a 2-for-7 shooting performance while missing six of 11 free throw attempts. His lack of rebounding and interior defense really crutched the Nets' comeback effort which soured late in the 4th quarter with a few 3-pointers by Brandon Jennings and Carlos Delfino.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Game 33 Preview: Milwaukee Bucks (12-18) at Nets (9-23)

Brook Lopez finally makes his long-awaited season debut later tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Prudential Center. Brook, who has missed all of the Nets' 32 games this season, will undoubtedly make an enormous impact on the team and will also give them a very good chance of beating the severely injured Bucks who will probably be missing two important big men to their offense due to injury, center Andrew Bogut and veteran power forward Drew Gooden. For once, the Nets are playing better basketball than their opponent as they are coming off a huge upset win yesterday over the Bulls in Chicago while Milwaukee is in the midst of a 4-game losing streak. I think I'm feeling confident about this game.

Background on Milwaukee
The Milwaukee franchise is in a state of uncertainty right now as star point guard Brandon Jennings has openly talked about leaving the team for a bigger market, veteran guard Stephen Jackson has said he barely has a relationship with coach Scott Skiles, and, oh yeah, that whole "being really bad on the court thing too." Going back even further than their current losing streak, the Bucks have lost seven of their last nine games and it doesn't get any easier for them anytime soon. Without interior cog and franchise center Andrew Bogut due to injury, Milwaukee will have to play seven of their next eight games (not including the Nets) against teams with over-.500 records. If you thought that the Nets were in some trouble, then you should look at the Bucks and really reconsider that statement.

Injury Update: Mehmet Okur Out Until After All-Star Break

This isn't really breaking news but per The Record's Andy Vasquez (part about Okur is at bottom of the article in the link), Nets' injured center Mehmet Okur's back injury will keep him out of game action until after the All-Star break. Okur has missed 13 games already with his injury and at some points during the recent losing streak, the team has sorely missed his size on the interior and his ability to stretch the defense with his solid jump-shooting ability.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Game 32 Recap: Nets 97, Bulls 85

Kris Humphries is quickly turning into a dependable and efficient interior scorer for the Nets. When Brook come back, it'll be scary at how much better Hump will play when he isn't the sole focus of the bigs of opponents.
As I type this recap of today's streak-busting game vs the Bulls, I am still in an irrational shock after the events that transpired this past afternoon at the United Center. The Nets, yes the same team that has lost two games to the Pistons and once against the Raptors already this season, snapped their season-high 8-game losing streak by beating the NBA-leading Chicago Bulls by a score of 97-85. This game was decided in the first 5:06 of the 1st quarter as during that time period, New Jersey simply exploded out to a 22-3 (not a typo, the Nets did score 22 out of the game's first 25 points) lead, a lead which they would hold throughout the afternoon until the end of the 4th quarter.

The Nets never trailed in this one, and although it became very antsy at some points, the lead was basically 10 or more points throughout the game. As has been the story in basically every game the Nets have played recently, Deron Williams and Kris Humphries were the main forces offensively for New Jersey. D-Will hit five 3-pointers int he first half en route to a 29-point, 8-assist performance and Hump hit his first five shots from the field, which put him well on his way to a near-career high game with 24 points and 18 boards. Marshon Brooks also seemed to find his shooting stroke at some points and ended up with 19 points on the afternoon.

Enough with the offensive stats, let's take a look at how the Nets were able to keep their big lead as the game progressed one quarter at a time. The normally efficient Bulls were held to 39 percent shooting from the field by a Nets team that seemed determined to play their best defensive game of the season, which they probably did accomplish. Chicago only hit three 3-pointers out of 13 attempted as their long-range shooters were mostly blanketed by New Jersey.

Game 32 Preview: Nets (8-23) at Chicago Bulls (25-7)

If Brook actually does make his return, then the Nets might have a real shot at snapping their long losing streak. If not,  the streak will continue.
Update: As per the Nets' PR Twitter account, Brook will make his season debut tomorrow night at home against Milwaukee and will not play this afternoon. Derrick Rose will also still be out for the Bulls. Not exactly shocking news regarding Rose but it does give the Nets some semblance of a chance at a win. Nah, I'm just kidding, no way in hell we beat the Bulls today.

For once, the Nets might be the team that is actually getting positive news about their injury situation as there is a roughly 50-50 chance that center Brook Lopez, who hasn't played a game this season due to a broken foot suffered in the team's last preseason game, will return for New Jersey as they face the NBA-leading Chicago Bulls in a Saturday afternoon matinee at the United Center. Even though the Bulls are missing their best player, reigning MVP Derrick Rose, they have the overwhelming talent and momentum advantage over the Nets. The Bulls have won two games in a row overall and are looking to sweep the three-game season series between them and the Nets while New Jersey is looking to snap a season-high eight-game losing streak. Even though Brook might make his first appearance of the season later today, the Bulls are still the class of the NBA even without Rose in the line-up. 

Background on Chicago
Thanks to coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls have turned themselves into one of the best teams int he NBA, mainly predicated by their defensive prowess which has been instilled by Thibodeau. Without having Derrick Rose for the past four games (three of which were Bulls wins), Chicago has had to win with back-ups like C.J. Watson and John Lucas III playing big minutes in addition to simply being forced to shut down opposing teams on offense. Like the team the Nets most recently lost to. the Indiana Pacers, much of the Bulls' strength have been from the extreme depth that they possess as they have reserves who would be solid NBA starters for other teams that excel on both sides of the ball (Kyle Korver might just be the best pure shooter in the NBA while Omer Asik piles up rebounds with the NBA leaders). Because of this, they are a hard team to game-plan for especially without their star point guard Rose who serves as the offensive focal point for Chicago when he is in the game.

Brook Lopez Questionable for Today's Game In Chicago; Wait, What?

We missed you Brook. Like, we seriously really missed you and are begging that you can be as good as you were last season. Sorry for seeming a little obsessive, but we really, really missed you Brook.
According to a tweet by the Nets' public relations official Twitter account, the injured Brook Lopez has about a 50-50 chance of playing in today's afternoon game against the NBA-leading Chicago Bulls. When a player is considered to be "questionable" in mostly the NFL and NBA, they are likely to be given a 50-50 shot of playing in the said game.

With that being said, I was utterly surprised and simultaneously energized after seeing this tweet simply because this Nets team needs someone like Lopez to end this eight-game losing streak. Finally, it seems like this team might be getting a break regarding injuries as Lopez as already missed 8 weeks since his foot surgery which acts as the latest expected return date for Brook after his doctors prognosticated between a "6-8 week" recovery period. If he does indeed play tomorrow which is unclear at the moment, then Lopez will have missed the Nets' first 31 games of the season, 31 games in which the Nets have only had 8 wins and have been desperately lacking a consistent interior post-scoring presence which Brook definitely provides on the court.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Game 31 Recap: Pacers 93, Nets 88

Danny Granger, who returned from injury tonight, was the spark behind the Pacers' win
The Nets' longest winning streak of the season was extended to eight games tonight at the Arena Formerly Known as Conseco Fieldhouse as the Pacers won 93-88. Much like their game the night before, New Jersey was able to keep the game pretty close throughout and even held an 8-point lead after the 1st quarter. The Nets found themselves with a 1-point lead after the 3rd quarter but in the 4th, Indiana was able to break away from the overmatched New Jersey team with important contributions from back-up point guard and Long Island native A.J. Price and the aforementioned Danny Granger, who showed no ill effects from the injury he returned from in the game as he scored a game-high 32 points.

I can't really fault the Nets' effort in this loss as they faced a Pacer team that matches up extremely well to a height-challenged roster than just doesn't have the healthy bigs right now to defend players like Roy Hibbert and David West. Without Brook Lopez and Mehmet Okur, two 7-foot centers, due to injury, the Nets don't have the size to collect all of the defensive rebounds which the athletic Pacers were able to scoop up and turn into 2nd-chance points. Overall the rebound numbers between the two teams were comparable (39 for NJ, 40 for IND),  but the difference can be found in offensive rebounds, a category in which the Nets were outgained by six. Those additional offensive rebounds helped to account for the six more FG attempts and 10 more FT attempts that Indiana had in the game. 

Not surprisingly, D-Will had another big scoring game with 29 points but just wasn't able to find his teammates open for good shot attempts as the star point guard only had four dimes. Kris Humphries rebounded from a tough game on Wednesday against Memphis with one of his best performances of the season with 24 points and 10 boards. Hump's mid-range shot looked to be spot-on in the game and he also helped his shooting percentage with a few open dunks that Kris created with nifty pump-fakes he put on his defenders in order to get to the hoop. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Game 31 Preview: Nets (8-22) at Indiana Pacers (17-12)

With his breakout play and athleticism he has shown in his sophomore NBA season, Paul George has established himself as one of the better young small forwards currently in the league.
Update: Danny Granger will play for the Pacers and Shawne Williams will be out for the second straight night for the Nets, according to Mike Mazzeo.

After a disheartening loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last night in NJ, the Nets look to snap a season-high seven-game losing streak against the team that has had their number in recent meetings, the Indiana Pacers. Indiana is also mired in a season-long losing which currently stands at five game and the Pacers are also coming off a brutal loss last night, which was against the subpar Cleveland Cavaliers. The difference between Indiana and the Nets, two teams playing their worst ball of the season right now, is that the Pacers have depth while the Nets do not as Indiana can run out around nine suitable rotation players every game while the Nets are lucky to get five solid (and healthy) players per game.

Background on Indiana 
The Pacers, widely considered a darkhorse contender in the East, are one of the most team-oriented clubs in the NBA as they draw most of their success from their extreme depth rather than the talents of one specific star player. In previous years when Indiana wasn't as good on the court, small forward Danny Granger, who is day-to-day for tonight's game, acted as the team's de-facto star. However, in recent years, Granger has taken a bit of a step back on the offensive end of the floor in order to help the rest of the team develop as a cohesively strong unit that can win a lot of games and even make waves in the playoffs. Disregarding the current losing streak, Indiana is a very dangerous team mainly because of their massive depth and the talented players that make up that depth.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Game 30 Recap: Grizzlies 105, Nets 100

Marreese Speights, of all people, absolutely dominated the  Nets on the boards tonight
I have simply run out of adjectives to describe the wretched way in which this Nets team loses games so for tonight, I'll create my own: excruciatinglyhorrendous. Yep, that pretty much sums up this 105-100 loss that the Nets suffered against the Memphis Grizzlies at Prudential Center tonight. The loss was the 7th-straight for the Nets and was actually very close throughout but later in the game, the Nets simply couldn't preserve a 4th-quarter lead that was as big as 5 points with 7:11 left.

To get to that point of the game, the Nets and Grizzlies switched off undergoing extended scoring runs which served as the multiple lead and momentum changes of the contest. The Nets had longer runs of 15 unanswered in the 1st, 13 unanswered in the 2nd, and even 11 unanswered in the 3rd. Memphis fought off all of these runs with multiple smaller runs of their own and found themselves down by 5 points roughly halfway through the 4th after an Anthony Morrow jump-shot.

Propelled by smothering defense by Memphis, disastrous decision-making by themselves, compounded with poor offensive sets and shot attempts, the Nets gave back the lead to the Grizzlies via a 9-2 Memphis run culminating in a wide open Tony Allen 3-pointer which made the score 95-93 in favor of the Grizz. Then, Marshon Brooks and Deron Williams promptly committed two turnovers each in the last 2:40 of the game which allowed Memphis to secure the win.

Game 30 Preview: Memphis Grizzlies (15-14) at Nets (8-21)

Selected to his 1st All-Star Game this season, Marc Gasol will be tough for the undermanned Nets to guard
UPDATE: As per ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo, Shawne Williams will miss tonight's game (sore shoulder) and DeShawn Stevenson will return from his knee injury and will indeed start tonight. I think that's the happiest feeling I have had regarding the Nets in awhile. 

The Nets look to break their current six-game losing streak against the Western Conference fringe-playoff team, the Memphis Grizzlies. The injury-depleted Nets will be helped out by the presence of recent D-League call-up, small forward Andre Emmett who has shown in the NBDL that he can do basically everything on the court to help teams win games as he can shoot, score at the hoop, rebound well, and even has solid court vision of the passing lanes. I'm not saying he's the savior, actually, he's far from it. However, he will undoubtedly help this team out in at least some way, even if that impact is only felt in a few minutes of playing time.

Background on Memphis 
Like I said above, the Grizzlies are a talented team, but in the tough Western Conference, they are only tied for the 8th-seed with Portland. If Memphis was in the East, they would have been the 8th-seed outright and two games in the loss column out of the 7th-seed. I like to compare Memphis to the Atlanta Hawks because both teams have tons of talent on their respective rosters but seem to underachieve year-in and year-out. It is also important to remember that, like the Nets, the Grizzlies are missed their best big man, power forward Zach Randolph, due to injury so the whole "injury" excuse doesn't seem to be in play this game for the oft-injured Nets.

Netlinked 2/15/12- Brook Practices, Armor GM on NBA Today, Armor on a Winning Streak

The Nets need Brook back healthy soon, or else this losing stretch will continue through the whole month of February
Finally some good news: Brook Lopez has finally returned to practice for the first time since breaking his foot right before the season and according to the Nets' [current] franchise center, his injured foot felt good. Since the injury nearly two months ago, Brook has missed roughly eight weeks of action which could serve as a nice indicator of his possible return as the original prognosis for the injury was that Lopez would miss 6-8 weeks. I'm sure that with a player as important to the Nets like Lopez is, both as an on-court talent and as a trade asset, the team's medical staff will be as cautious as possible in determining his return which hasn't officially been set yet. I'm hoping for a return to the court for Brook on February 28th, when the Nets return from the All-Star break in Dallas against the Mavericks.

The general manager of the Nets' D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor, who happens to be Milton Lee, appeared on ESPN.com's NBA Today podcast as a guest to discuss the day-to-day operations of the D-League and what its like to be a GM of one of the teams. I highly suggest you guys listen to the podcast as it is very informative as are the rest of the NBA Today shows which go in depth on topics concerning the NBA as a whole.

The team that Lee runs is also doing very well on the court right now as his Armor squad  extended its current winning streak to five consecutive games after a blow-out win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Sunday night. Six Armor players scored double-figures in points in the game and that group of players was led by 7' center out of Cornell named Jeff Foote was incredibly efficient on the evening, making eight of his 10 field goals in the Springfield win. The streak is the Armor's longest of the season and they being so successful because of the scoring depth of the team which is highlighted by six current Armor players averaging at least 10 points per game, including Dennis Horner who started the year with the big-league Nets but was sent to Springfield after playing only a total of 16 minutes with the team.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nets to Sign Andre Emmett from D-League; Waive Keith Bogans

Emmett in action for his former D-League team, the Reno Bighorns
In order to bring in another healthy body into the roster mix for the injury-depleted team, the Nets have called up small forward Andre Emmett from the D-League according to ESPNNewYork.com. In order to make room on the team's roster for the 29-year old swingman, the Nets have waived injured shooting guard Keith Bogans, who is currently injured for the rest of this NBA season due to a fractured ankle and torn deltoid muscle in his leg. It is expected that Bogans will be ready for training camp in 2012 to start next season.

I don't know much about Emmett as a player but Scott Schroeder of the D-League blog Ridiculous Upside does. According to Schroeder, Emmett is an all-around solid player who can score (23.7 PPG this season and 53% FG), shoot long jumpers (46% 3PT), rebound (6 RPG), and even pass the ball a little bit (3.4 APG). I like the move because the Nets badly need a breath of fresh air and if Emmett can provide any sort of spark for the Nets, then that would be a major plus for a skidding, offensively-challenged team like they are right now.

The Emergence of Jordan Farmar and How it Has Kept the Nets Somewhat Competitive

In his nearly two-season stint with the Nets, Jordan has shown that he can be more than just a decent
back-up point guard as was his role with the Lakers
There is no doubt that this season has been an incredibly tough one for the Nets on the court. They have suffered an unheard amount of injuries early on, they haven't been able to score consistently at all, and, maybe worst of all, they have been absolutely atrocious on defense and are even being considered one of the worst defenses in the NBA of the last 20 years.

There have been a few bright spots with this team, mainly in the play of Deron Williams and Kris Humphries and the emergence of rookie shooting guard Marshon Brooks as a prolific scorer. Another bright spot who isn't getting the credit that he deserves is point guard Jordan Farmar, whom the Nets signed in the 2010 offseason, right after Farmar had been a reserve point guard for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers from 2006-2010. During that timespan, Jordan won two NBA championships with LA but wanted more playing time, leading to him signing with the Nets.

Last season, in his first year as a Net, Farmar backed up Devin Harris and later D-Will. He saw his minutes jump nearly seven a game from his final season in LA and even though he averaged a career-high 9.6 points per game, Farmar did not shoot for a high percentage at all and seemed out-of-place at times. Jordan shot a career-low 39 percent from the field in 2009-10 and was even worse from behind the 3-point arc at nearly 36 percent.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Anthony Morrow Makes First Career NBA 3-Point Shooting Competition

I'm not sure how Morrow hasn't been invited to the contest before, but regardless, I'm picking him as my favorite to win
According to the Star Ledger's Colin Stephenson, Nets' shooting guard Anthony Morrow has been invited to participate in the annual 3-Point Shooting Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend, which takes place later this month in Orlando. Frankly, this invitation is definitely deserved and is long overdue for a sharpshooter like Morrow who is the 2nd-most efficient 3-point shooter in the history of the NBA, just .011 percentage points behind leader Steve Kerr.

Morrow' invitation means that the Nets will have three of their own players participating in All-Star Weekend in addition to three of the Springfield Armor's, the Nets' D-League affiliate, players who will be playing in the D-League All-Star Game. Marshon Brooks will be playing in the Rookie/Sophomore game and, of course, Deron Williams will be playing in the actual NBA All-Star Game. For the first time in awhile, I will actually be able to have a rooting interest in that weekend's festivities because I can't stand rooting in games/contests that no Nets are in. Fans/selection committees, you done good!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Game 29 Recap: Spurs 103, Nets 89

In a game that the Nets never led in, they also happened to get handedly beat by one of the best teams in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs. After a tight 1st quarter in which San Antonio outscored the Nets 24-22, the Spurs extended their lead with a 31-point 2nd quarter after which they held a 55-40 lead by halftime. The normal issues of bad shooting and terrible defensive rotations plagued the Nets throughout this game as they couldn't dig themselves out of the 15-point deficit they facd after two quarters.

Not surprisingly, Deron Williams was the only Nets player who provided consistent offense during the game as he scored 27 points to go along with eight assists. Like the rest of the Nets, at some points in the game D-Will settled for long, contested jumpshots that just didn't fall the whole game. Even though he did have eight free throw attempts, Deron definitely would have been more effective if he drove to the hoop earlier in the game instead of talking 3-pointers, of which he only 25 percent of last night.

As a team, New Jersey made it to the free throw line for the first time at the 3:28 mark of the 2nd quarter. As it hasn't done in recent games, the Nets' 3-pointers didn't fall as they were a dreadful 7-24 from behind the arc against the tough Spurs team. By settling for bad shots that didn't fall instead of driving to the hoop to draw fouls, the Nets blew multiple chances on the offensive end to get easier points at the foul line than harder points from 25 feet away from the basket.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Game 29 Preview: San Antonio Spurs (18-9) at Nets (8-20)

I miss RJ and I wish the Nets never traded him away. Damn you Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian!
The Nets look to snap a five-game losing streak tonight against the San Antonio Spurs who are getting their best pure scorer, Manu Ginobili, back from injury for the game. Ginobili has been out since Jan. 2nd and there is no news on whether the Argentinian will be starting of if he will just play a few minutes to shake off the rust. On the other hand, the Nets are receiving no good injury news for tonight as they will only have 10 healthy players dressed for the game. Uh oh.

Background on San Antonio
The Spurs are riding a season-high six-game winning streak right now with their last two wins, coming over Memphis and Philly, being on their annual Rodeo road trip, which is always their longest stretch away from home for the whole season. Their recent stretch of good play has gotten them into the 1st spot of the Southwest Division, two game above their cross-state rivals, the defending champion Mavericks and the Rockets.   San Antonio was playing well even without Ginobili but, of course, they are a much more explosive team when Manu is in the line-up. The Spurs are a perennial contender, while the Nets couldn't be more the opposite. Uh oh.

Netlinked 2/11/12- Nets Get Crushed by Detroit, Ginobili Returns for Spurs, Nets Front-Runners for Dwight?

Ginobili always seems to have big games against the Nets, hopefully he doesn't continue that dominance tonight
I wasn't able to watch last night's game against Detroit which is why there wasn't a preview or recap for the game. Hopefully this makes up for it:

Last night, the Nets got absolutely ran out of the arena by the surging Detroit Pistons for the second game in a row in a 109-92 loss. The return of Marshon Brooks from a toe injury was spoiled by an incredibly lackluster effort by the Nets in a game that they trailed by 19 points at half-time after only 33 points scored in the 1st half. In their 5th straight loss, the Nets were simply outplayed Pistons team that was rejuvenated by big performances by Greg Monroe (18 pts, 11 rebs), Jonas Jerebko (20 pts), and Rodney Stuckey (19 pts).

The Nets have a quick turnaround from last night's game as they take on the Spurs at the Prudential Center tonight (I will be in attendance). San Antonio will get a huge boost from the return of Manu Ginobili, who will play for the first time since breaking his hand back on January 2nd. I really don't think that the Nets will have a chance tonight but in this compressed season, anything can happen (My full preview for the game will be up later).

Finally, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com writes that he believes that a resolution to the Dwight-mare will occur in the offseason and doesn't think that Magic owner Richard DeVos wants to trade Howard at all. He also mentions that he still views the Nets as Dwight's current favorite destination for free agency. I hope he's right, this whole saga is taking its toll on Deron Williams and the rest of the team and might even be partly to blame for the poor start of the season.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Deron Williams Named as Reserve for Eastern Conference All-Star Team

The Feb. 26 game in Orlando will be a nice place for D-Will to show that he is among the NBA's elite
For the 12th time in Nets franchise history, they will have a player represented in the NBA All-Star Game as Deron Williams has been named to the Eastern Conference team as a reserve. The All-Star appearance is Deron's third in as many seasons and enters himself among the ranks of other Nets players to have made the All-Star team like Vince Carter, Devin Harris, and Jason Kidd who did it recently along with Stephon Marbury, Kenyon Martin, Derrick Coleman among others.

With per game averages of 20.9 points and 8.6 assists this season, Deron is the only player in the whole NBA who is currently averaging 20+ points and 8+ assists per game. There was some doubt before the announcement of the rosters if Deron would indeed be chosen as a reserve or not which I thought was a preposterous idea. D-Will is, in my opinion, the third best point guard in the NBA, after Derrick Rose and Chris Paul, and the fact that he might not make the All-Star game because of the Nets' poor record is simply ridiculous because team success should be an important consideration for MVP but not for something like the All-Star game.

A full list of both rosters can be found here.

Keith Bogans Fractures Ankle and Tears Ligament, Is Done for Season

Bogans is yet another casualty of the absurd amount of injuries the Nets have suffered so far this season
After playing only five games for the Nets since being signed a little more than a week ago, shooting guard Keith Bogans, who fractured his left ankle and tore his left deltoid ligament in last night's loss to the Pistons (recap here), is out for the season with his injuries. Bogans suffered the two gruesome injuries in the 4th quarter of last night's game when he awkwardly stepped on his foot while trying to defend a Greg Monroe dunk attempt. Bogans, an 11-year NBA veteran, was averaging around 4 points and 2 rebounds a game for the Nets in his limited stint with the team.

The injury is simply devastating to Bogans' NBA career and really hinders the Nets' depth as a whole as the team only has nine healthy players on the roster right now. Bogans is 31 years old and as been very injury-prone throughout his career so a freak injury like the one he suffered last night could be a potential signal to Bogans and the rest of the league that Keith's body just can't take the strain of the physical NBA anymore. Personally, I expect to hear a retirement announcement from Bogans soon as I think it would be the best option for himself in order to preserve the physical health he has now instead of risking the loss of it with another NBA season and, potentially, another terrible injury.

Losing Bogans is too bad because I liked his style of play defensively as he seemed to be one of few Nets at times to show any semblance of defensive prowess or even effort. As for who the Nets will either sign or call-up from the D-League to replace Bogans, I think that the best choice would be to simply call Larry Owens, whom the Nets waived to make room for Bogans, back up to New Jersey but as the D-League rules allow, the Nets can basically call-up any D-Leaguer from any of the NBDL teams that hasn't been sent down by an NBA team.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Game 27 Recap: Pistons 99, Nets 92

Another day in the life of a miserable Nets fan. In their absolutely worst performance of the season to date, the Nets lost to a terrible team in the Detroit Pistons who only had one road win and six total wins coming into this game. The Pistons, who benefited greatly from Ben Gordon's return from injury, jumped out to a big, double-digit lead int he 2nd quarter and extended it to a game-high of 18 points in the 3rd quarter. In a rare positive sign from this game, the Nets came back from that lead and cut it to 2 points with 8:27 left in the 4th. The Piston lead remained at a few points until a Brandon Knight 3-pointer at 4:26 put the Nets down six and essentially clinched the win for Detroit.

As usual, the Nets' big scorer in this game was Deron Williams who righted his shooting stroke with a 34-point, 6 3-pointer, 8-9 free throw outing. For much of this game, Deron, like normal, was the only Net who showed any sense of life on offense when the Nets were down big and fighting to come back in the game. Jordan Farmar continued his strong play with a couple of big shots leading to his 22 points of the bench coming on 8-13 shooting from the field. D-Will and Farmar got no help from their sharpshooters as Shawne Williams and Anthony Morrow combined for a pitiful 10 points on 5-24 shooting from the both of them. Morrow, playing with a heavy heart due to his grandmother's recent passing, could be excused for the performance but Williams definitely cannot be. He has been disgraceful in recent game and there is no reason that he should be on the court anymore.

Game 27 Preview: Detroit Pistons (6-20) and Nets (8-18)

Stuckey is one of the few Pistons who is healthy for the game and is a solid offensive player
The Nets look to break out of another losing streak as they take on the Detroit Pistons tonight at the Prudential Center in Newark. Anthony Morrow will return for the Nets tonight as he has come back from his home state of North Carolina for his grandmother's funeral. Each team is going through a tough time with injuries right now as Mehmet Okur, Brook Lopez, Marshon Brooks, and DeShawn Stevenson are all unavailable for the Nets tonight while the Pistons probably won't have Ben Gordon, Will Bynum, or Charlie Villanueva for this game.

Background on Detroit

The only difference with Detroit right now and when the Nets beat them a week ago (my preview for that game here, quick recap here), is that the Pistons are on a 2-game winning streak after home wins against Milwaukee and New Orleans. Heading into last week's match-up between them and the Nets, the Pistons couldn't have been playing worse basketball as they entered the game on a 6-game losing streak and left New Jersey on a 7-game losing streak. Now, with their two recent wins, Detroit's play is looking up a bit and even with all of their injury troubles, they look to be a tough opponent for the banged-up Nets.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Game 26 Recap: Bulls 108, Nets 87

(Mostly) no Derrick Rose, no problem for the Bulls
Well, this was bad. The Chicago Bulls absolutely demolished the Nets tonight in a 48-minute effort that I don't think I've ever seen before. The Bulls started the game scorching hot and simply couldn't miss in the 1st quarter, building a 35-14 lead after the first 12 minutes of the game. The rest of the game was basically even after the 1st quarter even when Derrick Rose left the game in the 2nd and wouldn't return due to back spasms. Chicago didn't budge an inch without their superstar point guard and continued to trade baskets with the Nets the rest of the way en route to a very easy 21-point victory.

The Bulls controlled this game in every aspect imaginable from early on as Chicago shot nearly 15 percent better from the field than the Nets did, made six more 3-pointers than the Nets did (and took two less attempts), shot for a higher free-throw percentage than New Jersey, and even took the Nets to town on the fast-break, with 23 points coming on the fast-break as opposed to the Nets' eight. In a way, the demoralizing loss was kind of excusable simply because of how decimated the Nets' line-up was with only nine available players, including Anthony Morrow who has been extremely hot of late. However, the complete lack of effort and awareness most of the Nets showed in this game was inexcusable especially on the defensive end.

Game 26 Preview: Chicago Bulls (20-6) at Nets (8-17)

Shawne Williams is going to need to hit his open looks from 3-point range tonight

The Nets look to snap a 2-game losing streak against the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls. After recently getting small forward Luol Deng back from injury, Chicago is basically back at full strength unlike the Nets who will only have 9 players available for the game tonight. Anthony Morrow (death in family), Marshon Brooks (toe), Mehmet Okur (back), DeShawn Stevenson (knee), and Brook Lopez (foot) are all out which means that many of the Nets back-ups (like Johan Petro, uh oh) will have to play a lot minutes tonight.

Background on Chicago 
The Bulls are the class of the Eastern Conference and the NBA in total as they have all of the major components of a championship-contending team in a star point guard (Rose), knockdown shooters (Korver and Hamilton), post-scorer (Boozer), rebounding and shot-blocking center (Noah), extremely talented glue guy (Luol Deng), and bench players/complementary players who do the rest (Brewer, Asik, Watson). These assets make the Bulls very hard to beat as they can produce points from many different sources instead of just from star point guard Derrick Rose.

Where the Dwight Howard Situation Stands Regarding the Nets

I can't wait for the Dwight situation to reach a resolution, the suspense is killing me
If you're a Nets fan that watches a lot of NBA coverage on TV and reads up on the recent happenings and rumors about the Association, then you are probably very excited or nervous about the Dwight Howard situation right now. As of right now, Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith has kept his stance of not trading the star center and according to what he has told the media, Smith thinks that Dwight will end up re-signing with the Magic this offseason. As a result, he says that he has no plans to trade him.

This current development leaves the Nets in a very tough place regarding their pursuit of Howard. GM Billy King can go the route of upping the team's potential trade offer to Orlando by adding draft picks or young players (unfortunately for Nets fans, MarShon Brooks would fit this category) to the deal. By going this direction, the Nets would most likely trade for Dwight around the March 15th deadline but would probably lose Brook Lopez, Marshon, Morrow, Humphries, and possibly a first-round pick or two in the process. However, he will have reached his desired destination of New Jersey and will most likely sign a long-term extension with the Nets. That means that he and Deron Williams, serving as superstar anchors, would lead the Nets into Brooklyn with one of the Eastern Conference's most intimidating teams.

Of course, the positives of the Nets giving up the farm for Howard would be that Dwight and Deron would be safely with the Nets for the foreseeable future instead of teaming up with another franchise. Billy King will have realized his goal of building a super-team and will have turned this franchise into a playoff contender and possible championship team. However, with the in-season trade for Howard, there are certainly downsides when compared to waiting for free agency to sign Dwight.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Anthony Morrow to Miss Monday's Game vs the Bulls

Due to the death of his grandmother, shooting guard Anthony Morrow will miss Monday's Nets-Bulls game in order to attend her funeral, according to ESPNNewYork. One night after his career-high scoring effort against the Timberwolves, Morrow was mainly a non-factor in last night's loss to the Knicks (sorry, I didn't have enough time for a recap). Regardless, the news that he won't be available for Monday brings the Nets down to 9 players who will be able to play on Monday against one of the best teams in the NBA. Looks like this losing streak won't be snapped soon.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Game 25 Preview: Nets (8-16) at New York Knicks (8-15)

For the Nets to leave MSG with a win, Deron is going to need to make his shots
Each of these teams looks to right their respective ships tonight with a win against their hated rivals and soon-to-be crosstown foes when the Nets make the move to Brooklyn next season. We will see if Anthony Morrow can continue his unconscious shooting stretch and if the vaunted Knicks "Dream Team" with Amare, Carmelo, and Chandler can beat a team that most people view as their subordinates but are only a half game back in the standings.

Background on New York
In my opinion, the Knicks are the most disappointing team int he NBA right now as they undoubtedly have a ton of star-power and aren't seeming to be doing anything with it. The Knicks, with stars Amare Stoudamire, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler, are only a half-game ahead of the Nets in the standings even with the Brook Lopez injury and the fact that on most nights, the only consistent Nets' scorer is Deron Williams. With that being said, the Knicks still have a lot of talent of offense that, against a poor defensive team like the Nets, might usurp their widely-noted struggles on defense. The Knicks haven't been playing well lately, but they are very dangerous nonetheless and aren't a good match-up for the Nets at all.

Game 24 Recap: Timberwolves 108, Nets 105

Morrow couldn't miss from beyond the arc, too bad he wasted that performance in a loss
Despite a career-high scoring output by Anthony Morrow, the Nets lost a tight game to the Timberwolves last night at the Prudential Center. Coming off an ankle injury that forced him to miss Wednesday's win over the Pistons, Morrow was simply unstoppable against Minnesota as he hit a career-high eight 3-pointers, hit 13-20 shots from the field, and was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line en route to a 42-point effort, the most for his career. Morrow didn't much help as the rest of the Nets didn't shot well at all from the field; Deron Williams managed 12 points and 14 assists on 5-18 shooting while Kris Humphries scored 16 on 5-14 from the field.

On the other hand, the Timberwolves got scoring from multiple sources as five of their players were in double-figures in the points category, led by Nikola Pekovic's career-high 27 points and 11 rebounds. The still-undermanned Nets had no answer for 6'11" Montenegrin who used his big size to his advantage down in the paint as he made 11 of his 14 field goals. Kevin Love also netted a 20-10 double-double while Spaniard point guard Ricky Rubio notched his own double-double with 10 points and 10 assists while adding six steals.

The Nets showed a lot of fight in this game as they were down by double-digits in both the 1st and 2nd-halves; by 14 in the 2nd-quarter and by 11 in the 3rd-quarter. In both those circumstances, the Nets were able to bounce back and regain the lead by the end of the 1st-half and with 9:36 left in the 4th on a Morrow 3-pointer set-up by an absolutely dirty between-the-legs pass from D-Will. For the rest of the game after the 9:36 mark, the lead changed a few times and the margin stayed at five points or less.

The Nets found themselves down by 3 with 1:23 remaining after a Luke Ridnour 3-pointer when Deron committed one of his six turnovers for the game. After a few Ridnour free throws, Morrow hit his 8th and final 3-pointer on a 4-point play to cut the Minnesota lead to 104-103. Some free throws and shots were exchanged and the Nets were down 108-105 with 10 seconds left when D-Will made his worst play of the game, and posibly of the season, as he got the ball stolen from him while trying to pass to Morrow for the game-tying shot. Ricky Rubio ran the clock out and the Nets had suffered another brutal home loss.