By Fred Kerber,
New York Post
The defense has been exceptional. The ball movement has been worthy of a team ranked fourth in assists. And yet, the key for the Nets of late has been the bench.
"Defensively, we've been good. But I think our bench play has been more important," Richard Jefferson said. "Some nights you're not going to hit shots. Some nights the other team is just going to hit shots. They have the ability to score some points. To get extra points, it's funny. ... We weren't playing our bench for a few weeks. We play them for two days, they produce. Some times the answer's simple."
Coach Lawrence Frank agrees, although he sees it has part of a bigger formula.
"It's a couple things. Our defensive intent from start to finish for the most part," Frank said. "Two, is the starts, not in terms of the start to the game but in terms of our intent. The third is bench play. We're getting a huge lift. I mean Vince was a huge catalyst for that. But it's just guys, everyone chipping in and contributing and everyone helping each other out to find a way to win."
One guy who has stood out in the weekend sweep of the Hornets and Rockets was Zoran Planinic, who scored a season-high 11 against the Hornets.
"Zoran was playing well for us at the beginning of the season, and then we as a team weren't playing well. We made an adjustment and I think Z lost his confidence a little bit and that hurt him," GM Ed Stefanski said. "He had a couple of opportunities to rectify the situation and didn't. Now he's getting another chance, so hopefully he takes advantage of it. What Z does for us, at 6-7, is he can get into the lane. He causes matchup problems. So hopefully he can continue it."
Jason Collins played with a band around his left elbow, protecting a four-stitch gash he received in Houston. ... Blazer Sebastian Telfair couldn't exactly shed any light on his cousin Stephon Marbury's feud with Larry Brown. "I didn't know what was going on between them. I don't really follow it. It's just between them so it doesn't concern me," Telfair said. On the Nets' proposed move to Brooklyn, Telfair had this to say: "I would think about playing there." ... Antoine Wright and Cliff Robinson greet students from IS 129 in the Bronx at the Nets practice facility today for a half basketball clinic, half reading session today. Jacque Vaughn will appear at the Target in Fairfield at 2:30 p.m. today, also to promote reading.