Could this be the core of a Nets playoff run THIS YEAR? The Nets answered that question tonight with a resounding NO.
The Nets blew a 12 point fourth quarter lead at home to a team with 10 wins tonight in what could be the KHH bloggers’ last Nets event together this year. Things were looking great in the third quarter as the Nets took a big lead into the fourth, but the defense was just too terrible and the shots stopped falling offensively, and the Nets did not show a strong enough will to win. First I will talk about the plot of the game, then some individual player notes, and then the notes and jokes from this game.
Gerald Wallace in his Nets debut
This was a very boring game until the end of the third quarter. It seemed like the Nets always had a lead of between 2 and 5 points and that it was never going to change. We always had a feeling that the Nets would win, because they are the more talented team (it is rare that I can say that) and they are playing at home, but in the fourth quarter, a huge collapse occurred. I will start off towards the end of the third quarter. At the end of this quarter, the Nets jumped out to a 10 point lead with about 2 minutes remaining. However, their defense then just stopped trying and they let the Hornets cut the lead to 5 and it looked like it was going to be yet another Nets end of quarter collapse. But then, something unusual happened. The Nets finished the quarter strong, highlighted by a Morrow steal, pass ahead to D-Will, and a Crash 3 at the buzzer, his first 3 as a Net. After this, everyone in the Rock was happy, it was t-shirt toss time, and the Nets were up by 12, a safe lead when you are playing an awful team at home. But in the fourth quarter, the Hornets started to chip away at the lead. We still felt safe, because it is still the Hornets. With about 90 seconds left however, Jarrett Jack hit a 3 to give the Hornets a 1 point lead. We were shocked, but honestly I was not concerned. Deron will lead the Nets down the floor and figure out how to get them a basket and the Nets will win this game. But Deron did not make shots and layups that he usually can make in crunch time. After a Deron miss, the Hornets had the ball back up by 1. Wallace knocked the ball out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left on the shot clock, so we thought this would probably be a terrible shot by New Orleans and the Nets would have another chance to take the lead. The ball is inbounded to Chris Kaman near the 3-point line. Good. Except that he shoots because he didn’t have any other options, and absolutely swishes a 3. Yes, Chris Kaman swished a 3. After reviewing it, it was ruled a 2-pointer, which is a big difference, but it was still a humungous shot. After another Deron miss, the Hornets got the ball back again and had Marco “Belly” Belinelli hoisted up a long, long 3 as the shot clock was expiring. Swish. 6 point lead, game over. Nets lose in Gerald Wallace’s “much anticipated” debut.
Chris Kaman making an impossible dagger-shot against the Nets
Now before I go any further, I must point out that Kaman’s, Belly’s, and even Jarrett Jack’s shots were all very lucky and should not have went in. Also, Deron would usually make his shots in crunch time because the Hornets defense is not good and Deron should have dominated them. Kaman has never made a 3 in his NBA career (0-16) and it would have been his first, and Belly’s shot was really ridiculous. But this loss really, really hurts the Nets chances of doing anything this year. Coming into this game, the Nets were 5.5 games behind the Knicks and Bucks, and with a Knicks win and Nets loss tonight, they are now 6.5 back with 20 games remaining. That is terrible, and with the Knicks and Bucks improving by the day, I really give them no chance at making the playoffs. I have said this all along. Even if they got Dwight I wouldn’t have expected them to make the playoffs. But at this point, anybody who thinks they will make it is a wishful-thinking idiot. Even though Gerald Wallace is a large improvement over Deshawn Stevenson, he will not make a big enough impact on this team. And when you think about it, this was almost the whole Nets team with the exception of Jordan Farmar, and they were still unable to beat a terrible team at home. You can also say they were without Brook Lopez, but we have no idea if or when he will come back to the team this year. And we definitely can’t wait any longer for him behind 6.5 games with 20 remaining. So, please, do not say Nets and playoffs in the same sentence ever again until next season.
Gerald Green definitely knew that it was Nets "Green Night".
Now on to the individual player performances. Deron had a pretty good game until the end of the fourth quarter, finishing with 20 points and 12 assists. However, he only shot 9-24 (I called he would have a bad shooting game). He had his share of nice dishes though, mostly to Morrow and Gerald Green. I predicted a big game from Marshon, who only had 10 points, but he played a whole lot better than he did last night. This is the kind of performance I would have expected from him before the start of the season when my expectations got raised. The Hump only had 8 points on 3-10 shooting and no Hump Dunks, but he did have 16 rebounds (I predicted at least 15) and a big Hump Block. A very typical game from Kris. In his Nets debut, Gerald Wallace was honestly disappointing to me. I know that he is a huge upgrade over Deshawn, but 11 points on 3-9 shooting just isn’t that good for a starting small forward. He is known for his good defense, but Trevor Ariza, who he was guarding for most of the game, still had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists on the night. Wallace only had 3 boards and 3 assists. Moving on to the bench players. Morrow did exactly what Net fans expect he would do tonight. Knock down open shots. He was playing against a bad defense and was getting open looks all night. He was 8-13 from the field, 4-4 from 3, and did not do much else. This is exactly what the Nets expect from Morrow every night, but he does not always do this. He did it tonight and we can’t ask him for anything more. It was “Green Night” at the Rock, and Gerald definitely took notice, especially in the first half. He had 16 points for the game, and 12 in the first half. He also had one humungous block in the fourth quarter that was probably goaltending, but I think the referees were so impressed with how high he got that they just didn’t want to call it. Johan and J-Will played way too many minutes tonight. Even though they only played 15 minutes combined, it was 15 too many. Between them they had 0 points and 3 fouls. So typical. After his terrible 2-13 shooting performance last night, Sundiata was benched by Avery in favor of Jerry Smith, who made his home debut. I was not impressed by Jerry, but Sundiata is starting to piss me off a little bit with his bad decision making, low shooting percentage, and turnovers. His fourth quarter garbage time efficiency cannot save him from Avery. The bottom line is that the Nets need Farmar to come back now. Another surprising benching was Deshawn, who had been a starter for pretty much the entire season, including last night. He did not play a minute tonight and was most definitely angry about it. I guess Avery doesn’t like half court alley oops that go in the basket. But seriously, I’m glad I didn’t have to witness any disgusting Deshawn 3-pointers tonight.
Now for some jokes and notes:
- It was truly an adventure getting to The Rock tonight. First of all, it was St. Patrick’s Day, which meant that Penn Station would be even more crowded than usual. Secondly, Raphi somehow thought I wanted him to meet me at Penn Station instead of 72nd street as usual, and this caused us to miss our 6:39 train and instead had to take a disgusting 7:03 train after the 6:53 train got delayed and never arrived (LOL). When we finally got to Penn, there was a humungous (I like that word tonight for some reason) crowd of people formed around the gate to the track (very few of them going to the Nets game) and it would have taken us at least 5 or 10 minutes to get through all of them onto the train. So instead, we attempted to take a Penn Station elevator downstairs. Disgusting, I know, but what can you do. There was a crowd around the elevator too, but we got on the second elevator to the track level, but just barely. A woman already in the elevator didn’t want me to get on it because she thought it was too crowded. She was obviously very drunk and I was not going to listen to her. As soon as the doors closed, she said “I’m going to throw up”. Thank God she did not. After the doors closed, the elevator did not move for 5 seconds and then jerked downwards very quickly. I was sure it was broken, but somehow we ended up on the track level. It probably broke when the next round of people got on it. On the way back after the game, we got to the Newark Station at 10:30 (because it was an 8 PM game for some reason) and there was not another train to New York for 40 minutes. There was no way we were going to be waiting in Newark for that amount of time, so we were forced to take the Path. It actually went surprisingly well for Path standards, and we got home at a somewhat reasonable hour.
This is how Penn Station looked tonight.
- Now I will talk about our seats for this game. We waited until the last minute as usual to get tickets to this game on stubhub, and were hoping that something would open up in lower center. Nothing did, and we were forced to buy $2 tickets for lower baseline. What a ripoff. Raphi brought his Raptors tickets for section 7 (lower center) and we were planning on moving over there. We took seats in section 6 after avoiding a security guard, and were going to move over to section 7 at the first opportunity. We saw her look at us, but we didn’t think she would actually care. After sitting in section 6 for 5 or 10 minutes and preparing to move over one section, she came over and asked for our tickets. I was absolutely shocked. How did she know? She kicked us out and we went to our real seats, but for very briefly. At the first timeout, it was the first of two t-shirt tosses (throw aways), which are excellent times to move down because of all the chaos over getting a terrible, advertisement-ridden throw away t-shirt. We moved down with ease and sat in the floor risers for the entire game. However, on our way down, I took a quick break. To catch a throw away shirt, my first of the year after catching many last year at both Nets and Mets games. It was a great moment. It is even a pretty good shirt, after some terrible shirts sponsored by the New Jersey hospital last year. It has the Nets “35 years” logo on it, which is a pretty cool think to have for a die-hard Nets fan, I guess. The only problem is that under that it has a disgusting, rainbow advertisement for Party City. Raphi recommended that I bleach it out. It is a possibility. Whatever. For a moment, I would like to go back to talking about when we got kicked out of our fake seats, which were not much better than our actual tickets. The Nets sold 11,000 tickets to this game, which means that there were 7,000 empty seats. There were actually much more than that because I’m sure some people bought tickets to this game thinking that it will be Dwight’s debut and decided not to show up because he wasn’t playing. A few years ago at the Izod Center, during the 12-70 season, ushers did not care at all if you moved down. But now, even more than last year, they are cracking down on move-downers, and it is very annoying. I think they are trying to become more professional in preparation for the move to Brooklyn, but it is just making them lose fans. Seriously Nets, stop with the ushers. Nobody cares about this team and it doesn’t matter if some people move down a few rows to take what would have been an empty seat. It is actually the reason why I am a Nets fan and not a Knicks fan; you can get cheap seats to Nets games and move down, while at Knicks games you pay a ton of money to have a bad seat and can’t move down. I hope and pray that the Nets will not sell out games next year in Brooklyn and that we will be able to continue buying cheap tickets and moving down.
Empty seats at The Rock. Even though this picture is of the upper level, the lower level has plenty of empty seats too.
- It was extremely hot, literally, in the Rock tonight. I don’t mean that the building was a happening place where people were going crazy. I mean that it was literally at least 75 degrees, a very uncomfortable temperature. I’m not sure why this happened, and I think the players were probably pretty uncomfortable. Once on “Rock Vision” they showed a woman fanning herself with her hand. Such a joke.
If only it could have been another Night of Chinese Culture, we would have been able to use these.
- The Hornets wore their disgusting yellowy mustardy jerseys tonight and they were very hard to watch. Those uniforms really are trash and I don’t know why any Hornets fan would ever buy one. The combo of Chris Kaman and that jersey made them even more disgusting. How did they beat the Nets while wearing that?
Chris Kaman wearing his disgusting Hornets uniform.
- I think that Chris Kaman saw us making fun of him on this blog and was out for vengeance tonight. He scored 20 points, including that huge almost-3. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but he is a quality NBA player and he earned it tonight. I will shut up about for a few days.
This was the last event that two KHH bloggers will attend together until May. It was also Raphi’s last ever Nets game at The Rock, but he is sure to return for other joke events (Liberty, anyone?). However, I still have plenty of amazing Nets action ahead of me at The Rock, featuring tons of joke teams including the Cavaliers on Monday, George’s Wizards on Wednesday, and Charlotte and Bob’s Cats on Saturday! Hurray! I would have expected the Nets to win at least 2 if not all 3 of those games, but after tonight, I really don’t know. For Raphi, the Nets had a great run at The Rock, and the Nets will definitely miss him attending their games. The Nets went a classic 0-5 when both KHH bloggers attend their games this season. Luckily, I will be going by myself for the next 3 games. When I go without Raphi, the Nets are a perfect 1-0!