The Nets fell to the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night, 91-87, despite a furious 4th quarter comeback to tie the game in the final minutes. Despite being outplayed for most of the night, the Nets really had a chance to win this game in the end, but got some unlucky bounces and were unable to close. However, there were plenty of positives from this game. The Nets were able to hang around throughout the night, and did not give up when they were down by over 15 points. This is definitely a different team than the one we saw in the beginning of the season, but the Lakers played a little bit better than them in the end tonight.
In the first half, the Nets played very little defense and gave up 58 points. Pau Gasol was able to score at will on Johan Petro and Ramon Sessions dominated Deron Williams. Kobe didn’t do all that much, but he didn’t need to, as the Lakers held a comfortable 13 point lead at halftime, and it felt like more than that. However, the second half was a completely different story. The Nets defense was SO improved, and they only gave up 33 points in the half and 13 in the fourth quarter. That is excellent. I was very impressed with the improvements I saw in the second half of this game. Credit goes to Avery Johnson here. The offense just needed to do a little bit more.
The Nets went into the fourth quarter down by 12, but they were not out of the game. This is something we have seen many times before when the Nets play against good teams. Usually, they are not blown out. Instead, they get somewhat out of the game early, and are losing by 8-17 points throughout the game. Usually they are not able to get out of this funk and come back from the deficit, and whenever they appear to be making a run, their opponents hit a big 3 or force a huge turnover. This happened many times tonight, but in the fourth quarter, the Nets actually completed their comeback to tie the game at 86 after being down by as many as 17. Then, after the Lakers took a two-point lead, Gerald Wallace got fouled and was going to the line where he made 1-2. The Lakers got the ball back and that is when things got interesting. With 2 seconds left of the shot clock, the ball went out of bounds and it was called off of the Lakers. However, the replay showed that it probably went off of Deron’s shorts and the ball went back to the Lakers. Then, the Nets defense finally fell apart. They lost Kobe on the inbounds pass, who was given a wide open long 3 point attempt. It seemed like it was going in, but then popped out. But it then hit every part of the rim before going through and turned a 1-point game into a 4-point game with 6 seconds left. It was very lucky and could have easily popped back out, but that doesn’t matter now. Game over.
This was a tough loss for the Nets because their effort was excellent and they were really in a game that they shouldn’t have been in until the very end. Their defense improved so much from the first half to the second half, and if they can play D like that every game for TWO halves, they will get plenty of wins in the rest of the season. This was definitely a moral victory for the Nets.
Player stats, grades, and notes:
Deron Williams: 20 points, 6-15 FG, 6 ast, 3 reb, 1 to, 32 min. Grade: B
Deron was pretty quiet early on in this game, but he picked it up late to reach 20 points. In the first half, he shot very poorly and was outplayed by Ramon Sessions. This should not happen. His defense was very poor, but he also led the Nets’ defensive turn around in the second half. In crunch time, Deron caught fire, which has been rare for him this season, knocking down 2 huge 3′s, one of which tied the game for the first time. One interesting note is that Coach Avery only played Deron 32 minutes tonight. I wonder why. Maybe if he played the whole game and taken some time away from Sundiata, the Nets would have won.
Gerald Wallace: 19 points, 7-13 FG, 3 reb, 5 ast, 0 to, 42 min. Grade: A-
Gerald Wallace is turning into the do-it-all guy for the Nets. He didn’t have a great rebounding game, but he played good defense throughout the night, and made countless good hustle plays. He even had to play some point guard tonight with Sundiata playing terribly. He also shot the ball well tonight, which we haven’t seen in a while. As he did in the Warriors game, Crash refused to let the Nets give up tonight even when they were down by 15 or more points. He keeps this team moving on, and I think he is a better leader than Deron. Keep up the good work, Gerald, and this team should get some wins.
Kris Humphries: 18 points, 8-15 FG, 15 reb, 7 off reb, 3 ast, 1 to, 2 stl, 1 blk, 39 min. Grade: A-
Amidst all the boos from the Hollywood crowd, The Hump had yet another good game on the road. He was a monster on the offensive glass and kept plenty of possessions alive. He was also able to score quite a bit in this game and had multiple Hump Dunks. Don’t be fooled by Pau Gasol’s 22 point, 12 rebound game. That was all Petro’s fault. The Hump actually played excellent defense on Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy when he needed to.
Johan Petro: 0 points, 0-8 FG, 6 reb, 1 ast, 21 min. Grade: F
Snap back to reality. Petro, after having two of his best games of the season, has fallen back down to what we like to call Petro-earth, which is hell, because it is so much lower than normal earth. He shot 0-8 in the game, was unable to finish ANYTHING around the rim, and his defense was even worse. In the first half, the Lakers scored 58 points, and at least 20 or 25 of them had to be Petro’s fault. Whether it was coming out to double team a guard at the wrong time, or just getting flat out beat by Gasol, Petro could not have played worse. At the beginning of the second quarter, Petro went down with some sort of face/eye/I have no idea injury and never returned. It is not a coincidence that the Nets began making their run when this happened. They often had to play very undersized after he went down, and had nobody who was able to guard Gasol, but they still played much better than they had been when Petro was in the game. He really makes them so much worse, both offensively and defensively.
Gerald Green: 13 points, 5-11 FG, 6 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk, 27 min. Grade: B
I really don’t understand Avery Johnson’s use of Gerald Green. In this game, he came in towards the end of the first quarter and was the Nets’ leading scorer by halftime, making many of his lethal mid-range jumpers. Then, in the third quarter, Avery takes him out and he barely plays. Leave him in, Avery! He was pretty much the team’s offense in the first half and you have to give him a chance to play. When he came back towards the end of the game, he had cooled off a lot and was a different player. His 6 rebounds were a boost for the Nets, though.
Anthony Morrow: 8 points, 4-11 FG, 0-5 3 pt FG, 2 ast, 2 stl, 27 min. Grade: C
Morrow’s stats aren’t terrible, and he actually played very good defense at the end of the game, but none of this really matters. Why is Anthony Morrow in the NBA? Because he can make 3′s. Did he make a 3 tonight? No, he was 0-5. That’s all you need to know. He gets paid to make 3′s, and he didn’t make one. I’m sorry if I’m being harsh, Anthony, but you know it’s true. Make your open shots.
Note that Marshon Brooks is not listed above. He has become so irrelevant that he doesn’t even deserve to be graded tonight. Step up your game Marshon. Also, a few more notes on stats: The Nets were outrebounded 50-38, but they somehow had a season low 6 turnovers while the Lakers had 16. Interesting.
This loss snapped the Nets’ longest winning streak of the season at 3 games. It was good while it lasted, but I really do think that the Nets will play better for the rest of the year, and another 3 game winning streak may be approaching soon. This game was the definition of a moral victory, and I expect the Nets to take the good energy and defense they displayed at the end of this game into Portland tomorrow, where they will hopefully get another win to improve to 3-1 on the road trip, a rarity for them. FRWD will have you covered, with a game preview, live game notes, and a recap. We will see you then.