Lebron James put on an unbelievable fourth quarter performance as the Nets fell to the Miami Heat, 101-98 on Monday night. Lebron scored the last 17 points of the game for Miami, who never held a lead in the game until the very last minute when Lebron’s take over was in full effect. The Nets were ahead by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, and were leading up until the last minute. The very shorthanded Nets had absolutely no answer for Lebron down the stretch, and even though they gave a very good effort tonight, they were unable to steal an upset victory.
Even though the Nets lost this game, if there was ever a moral victory, this would be it. The Nets were playing without their three best players in Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, and Brook Lopez, and shouldn’t have had a chance to be in this game. Dwyane Wade didn’t play for Miami, but Bosh and Lebron definitely did. The Nets were led by Kris Humphries, who had one of the best games of his career offensively. He was able to score at will and drew a ton of fouls tonight. This is a Hump that we haven’t seen recently, but one that I hope to see more of in the future. Marshon Brooks also had one of his best games. Even though turnovers were again a problem for him, his stats were excellent tonight. Gerald Green, after not scoring a point in the first half, exploded for 11 in the third quarter and 15 in the second half. I have a deep feeling of disappointment right now, but the Nets have nothing to be ashamed of. They played their hardest in a meaningless game against a far superior team. That is all you can ask for.
I would like to take a moment to praise Lebron James. He has taken a ton of heat (no pun intended) for his weak 4th quarter performances since he landed in Miami before last season. Dwyane Wade wasn’t playing in this game to bail him out, so Lebron had to take over himself. People who say that Lebron can’t take over a close game are flat out wrong. He is just a very unselfish basketball player and would rather pass than shoot. Coaches love those types of players, and Erik Spoelstra is very lucky to have a guy like Lebron. After Lebron checked into the game with a little over 5 minutes remaining and the Nets with the lead, he completely took over the game. He drew fouls, got and-1′s, made difficult fade-aways, made layups, finished on offensive rebounds, etc. He really did it all. The Nets sold out the Prudential Center tonight. No, that’s wrong. The Heat sold out the Prudential Center. More than half the place was full of fake Heat fans who were chanting “Let’s Go Heat” when Lebron was taking over at the end of the game. They were also chanting “MVP” when Lebron was at the foul line. I don’t know where all these people came from, but there are way too many fake Heat fans in New York. New York should be ashamed of itself. I have absolutely no respect for these people, but they are right. Lebron should win MVP. He is the best player in basketball. Period. No Net, not even his arch-rival Deshawn Stevenson, was able to guard Lebron tonight.
Speaking of Deshawn, what are you doing?!? With 13 seconds left and the Nets down by 3, the Nets were inbounding the ball without any timeouts. In a situation like this, if you can’t inbound it cleanly, you have to at least try to throw it in and maybe get a lucky bounce. Deshawn didn’t even attempt to pass it in and got a 5-second violation. That is not what you want from a 10-year veteran. You also have to give some credit to Miami’s defense, who forced the Nets into many bad shots in the last 3 minutes or so.
Luckily, this game was completely meaningless for the Nets, and even though I am disappointed they were unable to beat one of the NBA’s best teams, the feeling will pass. This helps the Nets in the draft lottery a bit, and more importantly, Deron Williams had to be impressed by his team’s performance. He obviously thinks that the Nets don’t have a lot of talent right now, but he has to be pleased with the way they competed tonight. Hopefully, he sees something in these players that will convince him to stick around in Brooklyn for a few more years. This same Heat team beat the New York Knicks across the river last night, but the Nets obviously played better against Miami than the Knicks did. The Knicks were a complete 1-man show with Carmelo Anthony, which means bad things come playoff time. The Nets put together a team effort tonight even without their leader and best player, and were almost able to beat one of the NBA’s best teams.
(Click here to check out our live game notes. This is useful if you were unable to watch the game or want to look back at some of the more important plays.)
Player stats, grades, and notes:
Marshon Brooks: 24 points, 10-17 FG, 7 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl, 5 to, 37 min. Grade: A-
Statistically, this was Marshon’s best game of his career. He shot the ball very well, and even passed and rebounded well. The only problem was his decision making. He had quite a few dumb decisions and turnovers. Even though he shot 10-17, a few of his shots were lucky and wouldn’t have went in most nights. He also had some very bad turnovers, but the good thing is that he is very aware of his turnovers and is trying to improve. When Marshon ran the point today, it was better than it had been in most games. The kid is improving.
Sundiata Gaines: 11 points, 4-10 FG, 4 reb, 7 ast, 2 stl, 1 to, 33 min. Grade: B-
It could have been a whole lot worse. Sundiata’s 11 points and 7 assists helped and didn’t hurt the Nets tonight, even though Sundiata is very boring to watch. He really has to stop dribbling for 15 seconds at the top of the key just waiting for the play to develop. He has to attack. In the fourth quarter, he took one very bad long 3-pointer. Most Nets possessions, I was just hoping that Sundiata would pass it as soon as possible, because when he holds it for too long, nothing ever happens. He often kills the Nets offense.
Jordan Williams: 2 points, 1-5 FG, 4 reb, 1 stl, 2 to, 32 min. Grade: D
Huh? After his first NBA double-double, J-Will was exposed as a phony in this game. I’ll tell you why. Remember Mikki Moore? Well, if you don’t, he is my all-time favorite Net (who by the way was just signed by the Golden State Warriors today out of the D-League. Yay.). He was only on the Nets for one season, but that was the best season of his career. I loved him for his hustle and his ability to finish around the rim. The next year, he signed a huge 3 year, 18 million dollar contract with the Kings and did almost nothing. Why would this happen? For one reason. Jason Kidd. Kidd had the best court vision in the game and was able to find Mikki at the rim. Most point guards can’t do that. Big men love playing with point guards like that because it makes their jobs a lot easier. Once Mikki left Kidd, he had nobody to feed him pinpoint passes, and he was unable to create for himself. I’m afraid J-Will might fall into the same category as Mikki Moore. This was J-Will’s first career NBA start, and it just happened to be a game that Deron didn’t play in. Jordan was unable to create shots for himself, and therefore had a very bad performance. He was on the court for most of the game, but wasn’t able to do anything. He couldn’t even grab rebounds. Sorry, J-Will but you are officially exposed.
Gerald Green: 15 points, 6-17 FG, 3-9 3 pt FG, 3 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 4 to, 35 min. Grade: B-
I expected big things from Green in his first start as a Net. Instead, I got the opposite, at least in the first half. Green went scoreless and was missing shots he usually makes. However, in the second half, he quickly turned it around. He sparked the Nets rally which gave them a 13 point lead in the third quarter and was one of the few Nets who I trusted to have the ball in his hands down the stretch. Green wasn’t great tonight, but you can’t expect 25 points a night from a D-League call up. He also didn’t do a terrible job guarding Lebron. Until the last 5 minutes, that is.
Kris Humphries: 29 points, 12-16 FG, 5-8 FT, 8 reb, 2 ast, 1 blk, 0 to, 40 min. Grade: A+
Nobody will remember Humphries’ performance tonight because he was overshadowed by Lebron, but he really played terrifically. He shot the ball extremely well and Chris Bosh could not guard him. His rebound numbers were a little bit down, but that is completely fine if he scores 29 points. He made some big buckets in the fourth quarter as well, including making jump shots. His jump shot is usually inconsistent, but it was very good tonight. Bosh put together a fine performance himself, with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
After tonight, the Nets will be off until Wednesday when they “host” the New York Knicks in Newark. If you thought that it seemed like a road game tonight, just wait until Wednesday when Knicks fans invade The Rock. It makes me sick, but what can you do? The Knicks are fighting for a playoff spot, so expect a ton of their fans to make their way across the river. Hopefully Deron and Gerald Wallace will play in that game. I really hope they beat the Knicks, and it would be awesome if beating New York is their last ever win in New Jersey.