The Nets lost to the Utah Jazz, 105-84 on Monday night (my prediction was 104-87, just saying) despite 20 big points from Gerald Green. Utah was led by their big men, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, who severely outplayed Kris Humphries and Shelden Williams, who had 6 points combined. This was an important game to two Jazz players, Devin Harris and Derrick Favors, who were making their first ever return to Newark since being traded to Utah last season. Harris had 9 points and 11 assists and Favors chipped in with 4 points and 5 rebounds. This was yet another blowout loss for the Nets in this season which is becoming more and more hopeless.
This was not a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination, as the Nets really were unable to make shots tonight. In the first quarter, it seemed like the Nets would never score after taking a 1-0 lead. They did not score again for at least 4 or 5 minutes and the game already looked like it was over. Somehow, the Nets were able to come back and take a 17-15 lead after one quarter, even though it seemed like them got terribly outplayed. The second quarter was dominated by the Jazz, as they outscored the Nets 34-15. The Nets only scored 32 points in the first half, which will not cut it in the NBA. The Nets were turning the ball over and the Jazz were getting easy fast breaks. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap were doing a great job of finishing around the rim. The Nets just couldn’t buy a bucket, especially D-Will who was 1-9 in the first half. Gerald Green led the team with 12 points in the half, but no one else had more than 6. The 3rd quarter was another story. The Nets offense came out firing and they scored 33 points in the quarter, more than they scored in the entire first half. D-Will was trying to get more easy looks at the rim and he took less jump shots. This worked to some extent. Gerald Wallace also had a pretty good quarter, and the Nets were only down by 7 heading into the fourth in a game where they were at one time trailing by over 20 points. However, Utah blew the game open in the fourth and the Nets were unable to keep their momentum. Devin Harris and rookie Alec Burks made some difficult shots to put the game away, and the Utah big men continued dominating the Nets. The Nets are now 6-19 at home this season.
The good news that comes from this is that the Nets took another step towards getting a top 3 pick by losing this game tonight. This will be the case for the rest of the season, but it is really the only importance of the rest of the Nets’ year. Now lets look at what some teams in contention with the Nets did tonight. Toronto, tied with the Nets lost. Charlotte lost. Detroit beat Washington. Sacramento is leading Houston by two in the fourth quarter. That is an especially important game for the Nets, who want Houston to win (and make the playoffs so that they will get Houston’s pick), but also want Sacramento to win. New Orleans plays later tonight. Make sure to look at the standings tomorrow morning to see how all those teams did.
Player stats, notes, and grades:
Deron Williams: 17 points, 7-21 FG, 2-5 FT, 1-7 3 pt FG, 11 ast, 4 reb, 5 to, 40 min. Grade: C-
Deron really shot terribly in this game. He couldn’t make his foul shots, but then again, none of the Nets did. They shot 60% as a team, and Deron didn’t help. He did have some nice passes in the game, highlighted by an alley-oop to Gerald Green, but 5 turnovers is too many. He seemed frustrated at times again tonight and he really does not like shooting in the Prudential Center. My advice to him is shut up. Utah didn’t have a problem tonight, shooting 52% from the field and 89% from the foul line. Man up and say that you had a bad game and need to play better. Don’t blame it on the surroundings.
Marshon Brooks: 10 points, 3-10 FG, 3 reb, 2 to, 26 min. Grade: C
Another disappointing game for Marshon. He needs to shoot better than 30%, and he seems to do that a lot. He did do an OK job of getting to the foul line today, but he needs to make more shots. He was not very much involved in the offense, and I’m surprised he even had 10 field goal attempts. This means that he has been shooting too much. I am slowly starting to lose hope in him, but he still has time to turn it around.
Gerald Wallace: 14 points, 4-11 FG, 3 reb, 2 ast, 35 min. Grade: C+
Crash is just one of many Nets who needs to raise his field goal percentage. He misses a lot of layups, and missed some open shots as well tonight. He did a nice job of drawing fouls, but he is a former all-star and the Nets need more from him. Also, just 3 rebounds? Come on.
Kris Humphries: 2 points, 0-6 FG, 10 reb, 23 min. Grade: D-
This was one of the worst games I’ve seen The Hump play. He still managed to get 10 rebounds, but he was just dominated by the Utah bigs. No field goals tonight for Humphries, and he only got to the foul line once. He was not involved in the offense at all, and defensively he wasn’t special either. I think this will be a one-time thing and he will play better in his next game, but he did not play well tonight.
Gerald Green: 20 points, 7-14 FG, 4-8 3 pt FG, 4 reb, 3 stl, 1 blk, 30 min. Grade: A
Finally some positives from the Nets. Green had a monster game, especially in the first 3 quarters. He had a highlight reel ally-oop and a highlight reel block as well. He made 4 out of the Nets 5 3′s tonight. Aside from Green, the rest of the Nets shot 1-13 from 3. That’s awful. He was the Nets only scoring option for much of the night and deserves all the credit for this not being even more of a blowout. The only reason he doesn’t get an A+ is that he was 2-6 from the foul line.
Jordan Williams: 13 points, 5-6 FG, 3-8 FT, 6 reb, 2 stl, 20 min. Grade: B+
Don’t look now, but Jordan Williams is becoming a quality player off the bench for Avery Johnson. He did an excellent job of finishing around the rim tonight and drawing fouls, though he didn’t make his foul shots. He also had 6 rebounds, which is very good for him. His defense is still very questionable, but he has had a nice offensive touch in the last couple of games. I doubt he will ever be an NBA starter, but I can see him as a 7th or 8th man down the line.
Johan Petro: 4 points, 1-7 FG, 7 reb, 2 ast, 14 min. Grade: C- (A for Petro standards)
Along with Deshawn Stevenson who had a very forgettable game, Petro made his return to the rotation today. This is because of all the injuries the Nets had, and they only suited up 10 players, but Johan (pronounce the J, please) will take it. He is really the most uncoordinated pro athlete I have ever seen. I remember he had one play in the first half where he got a great pass from Deron and bounced it off the backboard when it could have been a dunk. His only field goal of the game came on a 2-on-1 fast break led by D-Will. I thought Deron would just shoot it himself rather than give it to Petro who would probably just bobble it out of bounds. Instead, Deron actually passed it, and Petro finished it with what Ian Eagle called a “French Flush”. I like it. Petro’s 7 rebounds helped, I guess.
The Nets will be back at home again on Wednesday when they host the Pacers, their 6th home game in 7 games. Over that stretch they have been 1-5, mostly playing against very bad teams and they only beat the Bobcats. Ouch. We will see if they can beat one of the eastern conference’s better teams on Wednesday.