We were spoiled for a moment there. Four wins in five games? I bet some of us were talking a mile a minute within our minds about something like, "Well, if they just go 28-11 the rest of the way, they might be HIGHER than 8th. If they can win four out of five, then they can probably go .500 from here on out, right?"
The honeymoon of victories and exemplary play came to an abrupt end this week. Despite the quality win over the Grizzlies, the Nets went back to losing to beatable teams, and many of the players were falling back into their old habits. Let's elaborate below:
When the game began, it looked like the Moscow Nets were about to fall back down the proverbial staricase they scaled over the past week. Rudy Gay was firing away and Zach Randolph was rebounding like another portly western conference PF. Though, as the game went on, it became clear that what appeared to be an efficient Memphis attack was really nothing special. Sometimes the balanced scoring the Nets deploy masks their effectiveness, as it rarely seems like one player is taking over the game and scoring on every possession.
As the game wore on, Anthony Morrow re-introduced himself to the 3-point line and was doing what he does best. The bench truly outlayed the starters in this one, with the announcers pointing out that the second unit has been outplaying the starters in practice recently. The product on the floor showed just that, as we were treated to shades of Sacramento circa November. Great come from behind win. I bet there were more than a couple Nets out their gloating to their Knicks friends after this one.
Woah, I forgot that Reggie Miller came out of retirement. Oh, that was only Mike Dunleavy!!? Well, they're both pretty goofy...but I guess that's no excuse for what happened. The Nets allowed the Pacers to score more points on them than any team has all season - and that includes the OKC overtime thriller. Dunleavy was unfairly good from beyond the arc, and their quarter-after-quarter drubbing of the puffed-chested Nets team was tough to watch.
Brook Lopez put in his typical strong performance on the offensive end, but this game has got to be a new low in terms of rebounding from the center position. One rebound? ONE?! Only four rebounds from Humphries? Three from Favors? What was going on? Awful game mixed with dubious substitutions made this one the worst of the worst thus far. They beat us that badly and STILL fired their coach. Ouch!
Andrew Bogut always seems to have Brook's number. He snared 18 rebounds and blocked seven shots, while our main man B-Diz (ole' Big Disney) put together another line that looks more like a shooting guard's game than a big man's. Humphries again was unable to disgustingly dunk all over the competition and finished with one point, his only one in two games.
Thanks to an anemic second quarter, in which the Nets bricked and misfired their way out of the game, the Nets gave their fans another reason to not get too excited. One odd statistic that jumps out from this one is the lack of a steal from any Net player. Not one steal. You would think at least ONE would happen by accident, right? I can't believe I'm saying this, but..WE NEED YOU FARMAR!
Brook Lopez - The man keeps dropping the ball in the bucket, but for some reason, rebounding isn't something he likes doing. He finished the week with eleven rebounds in three games and if there was a least improved award, he might be a shoe-in. He's not blocking shots, he's not passing the ball, and as of right now, he doesn't look anywhere near the All-Star player we had hoped for for so long. Those 28 points in 29 minutes does look nice though.
Devin Harris - For all the talk recently about Devin's inability to truly be a "point guard," he sort of looked like one this past week. He dished out nine, nine, and sixteen assists respectively, and seemed to find the open man early in games in particular, something that hopefully branches out over the final two to three quarters. Yet, in spite of his Nash-like dime numbers, he wasn't scoring. He only made eight shots all week and only grabbed six rebounds. It's either scoring and slashing or passing and whiffing for this guy.
Derrick Favors - Every game it seems like he comes out strong, grabs a couple of rebounds, and it looks as though maybe - just maybe - he will play extended minutes. Well, not this week. Yes, he has now become a starter, but he isn't playing more than twenty-four minutes on a given night, sometimes less. Keeping the kid on a longer leash might let him get into his groove more. Also, this might be nitpicking, but when he starts to head upcourt after a defensive stop or rebound he does this little hop then begins to run. He needs to start sprinting up the floor. Enough of this 'well here we go again' head drop and hop thing he does after a stop.
Stephen Graham - Not much to say other than, really Avery? I know he found chemistry with the starters, apparently, but let's reintroduce this guy to the bench. He simply isn't an impact player. Sure he didn't play big minutes, but he should be playing almost no minutes. Once Damion James is back and healthy, I simply don't see a way for Graham to be relevant. He just isn't very good.
Travis Outlaw - During the week that Sports Illustrated declared him the worst signing of the offseason, he did, basically, nothing to dispell that thought. He played over twenty minutes a night, shot ugly off-balance jumpers, and was unable to involve others on offense. He plays over thirty minutes per game and averages exactly one assist, 0.38 steals, less than half a block, and his shooting percentages are abysmal. This one is going to sting for a long time. Yes, he's only 26, but isn't this supposed to be his prime?
Anthony Morrow - An absolutely beautiful shooting display against the Grizzlies last Wednesday. He's playing more minutes than expected and sooner than expected. It's only a matter of time until he starts and Graham sits back down on the bench for good. However, for his talent at shooting the ball, you'd kind of like him to take a few more shots from deep. He seems to pass up a lot on the perimeter; shots that Vujacic would jack up in a heartbeat. Maybe he just doesn't have his full hammy lift back yet.
Kris Humphries - Nothing to complain about against the Grizzlies. He put up efficient numbers and played well against the talented Memphis front line. It's the later two games that have us cringing on NetsDaily. He played like the Kris Humphries of 2004-2010. He was bound to have a terrible game sooner or later, it's just disheartening that those ugly games had to come at a time when the Nets were, presumably, surging. Let's all hope he bounces back. It's necessary.
Sasha Vujacic - Was in no way a killer week, but he, like the rest of the backups, played excellent ball against the Grizzlies. His minutes were shortened in the two losses and his impact on the game wasn't as pronounced. He looks visibily more effective - his pace, positioning, and even shooting - when Farmar is paired with him. Losing Jordan for those two losses didn't look so good for Sasha "Finally My Fiancee Can Watch Me Play And Add To The Ridiculous Amount of NBA WAG's At Nets Games" Vujacic. Yes, that is, so I've gathered, his official nickname.
Johan Petro - Keep the man's minutes down and he'll reward you with meager, but not awful, returns. Yes, he shoots that ugly, hitched, slow arching jumper from the foul stripe, but he also hasn't completely been terrible lately, and for that, we commend you!
Jordan Farmar - Wait, isn't it Harris who is the injury prone point guard? Wasn't this the very reason we got this guy? Oh well. Come back soon. At least you got to sit on the bench during two losses and probably think to yourself "If I had been in the game, this would have been a blowout in the other direction." I'm certain Farmar was thinking that.
Ben Uzoh - Ben Uh-oh. Not the man you want to see when your team is getting creamed. Hopefully, Farmar will return soon.
Quinton Ross - Played fifteen garbage minutes against the Pacers. In that time he scored four points, had one assist, and the rest of his statline is immaculately blank - just like a Ross to do that.
Troy Murphy - It must be awesome to be paid millions of dollars and told to stay home. Dream job? Perhaps.
Damion James - Let's hope you T-Will the entire D-League and come back better than ever.
THE PETITE GENERAL
Avery Johnson - Can't blame him too much for Indiana blowout. He wasn't the one missing everything and allowing the opponents to swich EVERYTHING. He is, however, a stubborn game manager, and rarely let's players get into a flow. Micro-managing is something he needs to work on, because when will it be time to just let Favors fly for thirty-five plus minutes? I hope that day is soon. I'd love to see a Nets game where Favors puts up monster numbers. He just needs the minutes. Oh, and publically stating you want Humphries back? Odd move. Let's see how that develops. He's good, but let's not drive up the price with our declarations of love.
Let's stick it to Carmelo tonight in Newark. Go Nets!