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Nets improbably force OT again, but fall to Bobcats

Someway, somehow the Nets forced overtime in Charlotte on a night where they just couldn’t buy a shot. Apparently, they love overtimes, having played three of them in their last game Wednesday night against Oklahoma City. The gritty Nets, who almost always seem to hang around no matter the circumstances, got outscored 12-5 in overtime by the Bobcats, however, and added another “close, but no cigar” to their 6-14 season with a 91-84 loss tonight in Charlotte.

Winning time: In a game where offense was at a premium, Tyrus Thomas’ jumper with 46 seconds left in OT to put Charlotte up five was a killer. That, and the Nets not making a field goal for the first four-and-a-half minutes of the overtime period.

How the game was won: Both pitchers were really dealing tonight, so neither team could do much to get on the board. Oops, wrong sport, but you get the point. This was an ugly one, with both teams sporting shooting percentages that made it look like they were shooting on those super-bouncy, not perfectly round rims one would find at a carnival’s basketball game (36 percent for Charlotte, 32 percent for New Jersey, so neither side was going home with a stuffed animal tonight).

To illustrate how hard points were to come by, here’s a few peeks at the scoreboard throughout the game’s timeline:

  • Halfway through the second quarter: Bobcats 24, Nets 22
  • Halftime: Bobcats 33, Nets 32
  • End of the third: Bobcats 60, Nets 48
  • Five minutes to go in regulation: Bobcats 69, Nets 60
  • End of regulation: Bobcats 79, Nets 79

Neither team cracked 80 after 48 minutes of basketball. Even after the Nets, who rank in the bottom-five in points scored per game, got the five extra minutes of overtime, they still missed their season scoring average (94.7) by over 10 points.

Was it just missed shots left and right that doomed the Nets? Larry Brown would tell you that it was all part of his plan tonight. With Devin Harris missing his second straight game with a knee strain, the Bobcats’ head coach decided to let anyone on the Nets beat him but Brook Lopez. The Nets’ leading scorer, in turn, was smothered all night. By the time he was first taken out of the game, about 10 minutes in, he had no points, no rebounds, no assists and no shot attempts. Pretty incredible for a 7-footer who averages just under 20 points per game to be such a non-factor for such a long stretch. In 39 minutes tonight, Lopez took just 10 shots from the field (his average is over 16 shot attempts per game).

With Lopez very much taken out of the game and the middle packed – Charlotte amassed a whopping 12 blocks tonight – Brown dared the Nets to shoot from deep, and shoot they did (make him pay, they did not). The Nets were an abysmal 5-for-25 for three tonight (20 percent). Outside of Anthony Morrow’s respectable night from the outside (3-for-8), they were 2-of-17, “led” by Travis Outlaw’s 1-for-8 shooting and Jordan Farmar’s 1-for-5 performance. As previously mentioned, the Bobcats didn’t exactly set the world on fire tonight, either, but they made their chances from beyond the arc count, going 7-for-15.

New Jersey did manage to beat the odds again tonight, forcing overtime when the game seemed lost. Down five entering the final minute, the Nets rallied as Morrow hit a two and Farmar knocked down a three, which sandwiched two free throws by Stephen Jackson. With Charlotte up two with 16 seconds left following Farmar’s 3-pointer, Gerald Wallace missed two free throws, but Lopez caught a little shove as he went for the rebound and knocked the ball out-of-bounds. After nearly forcing a five-second violation (which didn’t occur because of a Charlotte time out), the next inbound attempt was also challenged heavily, and ended up with Travis Outlaw making an interception near mid-court and getting fouled as he came down with the catch. He sunk both free throws with just nine seconds left and the Nets forced D.J. Augustin into a sloppy attempt at a game-winner to force the extra frame. Despite the valiant push to stave off the loss, the Nets didn’t have enough left to push for the victory.

Player of the game: In a game like tonight’s, a team needs someone to do the dirty work, and that’s exactly what Gerald Wallace did for Charlotte. He grabbed 13 rebounds and rejected five shots to go along with 12 points, and finished as one of three Bobcats to earn a double-double.

Key stat lines:

Charlotte (7-12)

  • Stephen Jackson: 12-of-13 free throw shooting, 25 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
  • Boris Diaw: 11 points, 16 rebounds (career high), 8 assists
  • Nazr Mohammed: 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • D.J. Augustin: 15 points, 6 rebounds
  • Tyrus Thomas: 12 points, 2 blocks

New Jersey (6-14)

  • Travis Outlaw: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals
  • Anthony Morrow: 19 points, 4 rebounds
  • Jordan Farmar: 6-of-18 shooting, 16 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds
  • Brook Lopez: 3-of-10 shooting, 13 points

One takeaway from tonight’s game: I don’t want to seem like I’m oversimplifying things by saying this, but Devin Harris, get well soon. But so that statement’s not taken the wrong way, it’s an indictment of the Nets’ inability to score in late-and-close situations, and not of how Farmar has filled in as the starting point guard. While he didn’t have his best shooting night tonight (then again, who on either team did?), he played confidently and took care of the basketball despite handling it a ton over the last two nights. He totaled 19 assists between the two games while turning it over just five times, to go along with 44 points. No one wants to see their star players get injured, but if Farmar can continue playing this well once he slides back into his reserve role, Harris’ (hopefully brief) injury stint could yield at least one positive long-term effect.

Notes: New Jersey scored 16 points in each of the first three quarters of tonight’s game … The Nets had 32 points at halftime, beating their previous season low of 35 points against Detroit, a game they eventually won … The Nets’ bench scored just 12 points on 4-of-22 shooting … Farmar started hot, scored eight points in the first six minutes of the game. He scored just eight more over the other 30 minutes he played … Avery Johnson, trying to find a fit for all his power forwards, played Troy Murphy and Derrick Favors together on the front line along with Johan Petro at one point tonight … Charlotte out-rebounded New Jersey 62-48 … The Nets will play the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon at the Prudential Center.

Tags: Anthony Morrow Avery Johnson Brook Lopez Charlotte Bobcats Jordan Farmar Recaps Travis Outlaw

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