The Nets lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, 101-88 Wednesday night, with another comeback attempt falling short. This was the last game of a 4-game road trip where the Nets went 2-2, which is not bad at all, but to think what could have been. The Nets’ starters tonight were awful for the most part. They were led by the bench, who scored 55 of the team’s 88 points. Anthony Morrow and Gerald Green each dropped in 20. Aside from Kris Humphries, the rest of the Nets starters had a total of 12 points, and this is what you must blame this loss on.
The first half of the game was very boring and almost nothing happened. The Nets went into halftime down two, but it seemed like much more than that. The third quarter was an alley-oop fest for Portland, and the Nets played little to no defense whatsoever. One of two things happened to them on every play in this quarter. Most of the time they missed a shot and didn’t get back on defense and gave up a fast break dunk/layup, but occasionally, they would make a shot and not get back on defense. It was very frustrating to watch, and Avery must have given the team a good speech at the end of the quarter because they really came out looking like a different team in the fourth.
The fourth quarter team was led by Anthony Morrow and Gerald Green, who were absolutely on fire at the beginning of the fourth. And the defense was stellar as well. They opened the quarter on a 19-4 run to take a 3 point lead, capped off by a Gerald Green 3-point-play. The Nets had all the momentum, and they seemed like they were going to run away with this game. However, the Blazers then began to play basketball again, which was bad news for the Nets. Their rally was led by LaMarcus Aldridge, and they ended the quarter on a 21-5 run to win the game easily by 13 points.
Even though the Nets did not finish strong tonight, their comeback bid was still pretty impressive. They had absolutely nothing to play for, so it is nice to see them keep trying. When Morrow and Green were making their shots in the fourth quarter, it was quite exciting, especially for Morrow who has been in a slump recently. Hopefully this game will take him out of his slump.
Oh, I almost forgot what might be the biggest story from tonight. Deron Williams did not play due to a stomach virus. This meant that Sundiata Gaines had to start, which was very bad news. He played terribly, and the Nets really did not have a point guard for the rest of the game. They alternated between Wallace, Marshon, and even Deshawn. It was painful to watch. Hopefully Deron’s stomach will be feeling better when the Nets return home on Friday. Actually, I doubt it because they are playing the Wizards, a team that will make most people feel nauseous.
Player stats, grades, and notes:
Marshon Brooks: 2 points, 1-7 FG, 0-3 3 pt FG, 2 reb, 6 ast, 4 to, 30 min. Grade: C
Marshon played a little bit better in this game than he had in recent games, though his numbers may not show it. Avery actually let him play in the second half tonight, and he did help them offensively, leading the Nets with 6 assists. He threw one very nice alley-oop to Gerald Green, and his one basket came on an alley-oop dunk. We also saw Marshon’s first attempt at being a point guard, and it honestly could have been a lot worse.
Sundiata Gaines: 0 points, 0-5 FG, 1 ast, 2 to, 19 min. Grade: F
SUNDIATA GAINES SHOULD NEVER START ON AN NBA TEAM. EVER. He plays SO much better when he comes off the bench than when he is a starter, and he really played terribly tonight. Whenever he was in the game, all Nets possessions were the same, and they were very boring. When Sundiata gets the ball, he holds it or dribbles for 10-15 seconds and then either passes it or takes a long, bad, contested shot. It is terrible to watch. Sundiata is good when you need a quick burst of energy, not when you need somebody to run the offense. Luckily, Coach Avery benched Sundiata in the second half, and it helped the Nets.
Johan Petro: 2 points, 1-5 FG, 4 reb, 1 ast, 16 min. Grade: D
Petro opened the game for the Nets with a jumper to give them a 2-0 lead. After that, he did absolutely nothing offensively, and hurt them defensively. For some reason he loves to come out and double team the point guard for no reason, which leaves the man he is guarding completely wide open. I couldn’t count the number of times he did that tonight. Like Sundiata, Johan Petro should never start an NBA game.
Kris Humphries: 21 points, 7-13 FG, 7-7 FT, 11 reb, 4 off reb, 1 stl, 1 blk, 3 to, 39 min. Grade: B+
Like I said in my preview to this game, the better power forward’s team will win the game tonight. Humphries did not play badly, but LaMarcus Aldridge clearly outplayed him in this game. The Hump actually was very good offensively tonight, and made all 7 of his foul shots, but it just wasn’t enough. The rest of the starters played too badly for the Nets to win this game. The Hump fought hard tonight like he always does, despite all the boos.
Gerald Wallace: 8 points, 3-12 FG, 9 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl, 1 to, 32 min. Grade: C
One stat that you won’t see above is a very disturbing one. Wallace’s +/- tonight was -38. That is beyond awful. At the beginning of the fourth quarter when the Nets made their run to take the lead, it surprised me to see Wallace on the bench. When he reentered the game, I thought to myself, “Wow, this will only make the Nets play better and they should win this game”. The opposite happened and Portland blew them out. Wallace did not play with as much passion in this game as he usually does, and this is surprising because he was playing against his former team. He still can’t make a layup.
Anthony Morrow: 20 points, 7-18 FG, 3-6 3 pt FG, 2 reb, 3 ast, 2 to, 34 min. Grade: A-
This was Morrow’s best game in a long time. When he got hot in the fourth, the Nets had the lead. In the second half of the fourth quarter, he cooled off and this is when the Nets lost the lead. He shot 3-6 from 3, but he was actually better than that because 2 of those shots came in the last minute, which was garbage time. Morrow did what he gets paid to do tonight, and you can’t ask him to do anything more. He also got fouled on yet another 3 point attempt. This year, the Nets have been fouled on 3 point attempts 35 times, led by Deron and Morrow. The next best team has been fouled on a 3 point attempt 16 times. That is unbelievable.
Gerald Green: 20 points, 9-18 FG, 7 reb, 2 ast, 2 to, 31 min. Grade: A
Where would the Nets be right now without Gerald Green? It really amazes me that a guy who was in the D-League a month ago is now taking 18 shots in an NBA game. And most of them were good, high percentage shots that should go in. In the first half, the Nets offense stalls quite a bit where they have absolutely nothing going for them. Enter Gerald Green, who takes the ball away from Sundiata or Marshon and actually does something with it. He is so vital to their offense. He also had some nice alley-oops tonight.
Jordan Williams: 7 points, 1-2 FG, 5-6 FT, 8 reb, 1 blk, 2 to, 23 min. Grade: B
J-Will has a strange ability of getting to the foul line, and he made the most of that opportunity tonight. Also, his 8 rebounds were a big boost and he had a very big block in the third quarter. He is turning into a solid role player.
Deshawn Stevenson: 8 points, 3-6 FG, 2-4 3 pt FG, 2 reb, 17 min. Grade: B
What a weird game for Deshawn. He came into the game in second quarter garbage time, a typical time for him to enter the game. However, it is not typical what he did. In under 2 minutes, he scored 8 points on consecutive possessions. And the shots got harder as he went along. First, he hit a completely wide open 3, which he rarely is able to do this year. Next, he hit a contested 3, which he has never been able to do this year. Then, he hit a fade-away jumper off of his left foot to complete the run. I don’t think he’s been able to make that since he was 20 years old. The next possession he shot again, bricked, and was done for the night. Thanks, Deshawn.
With all of the disastrous injuries the Nets had coming into this road trip, especially at center, and at point guard tonight, they should be happy to leave at 2-2. But, it’s hard not to think what could have been. They really had a good chance to go 4-0, as they played close games in the fourth quarter each of the last two nights. The Nets will return home on Friday to battle the Washington Wizards. The last time these two teams met up, I was there and the Nets got blown out by almost 20 points. I expect a different result on Friday.
Topics: Anthony Morrow, Avery Johnson, Deron Williams, Deshawn Stevenson, Gerald Green, Gerald Wallace, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams, Kris Humphries, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marshon Brooks, NBA, New Jersey Nets, Portland Trail Blazers, Sundiata Gaines