|Gerald Wallace, SF 42 MIN | 3-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +3
Wallace these past two games has been like present-day Jason Kidd — he can’t finish a damn thing but he’s affecting the game in every other way possible. But after 8-31 shooting these past two games, it’s becoming clearer that Wallace can’t function as a legitimate #2 offensively; he’s a jack-of-all-trades small forward. He’s a piece, not the puzzle.
|Kris Humphries, PF 36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 5-7 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | -23
How often has Kris Humphries taken the first shot in a game this season? The percentage must be staggering. Played decently on the offensive end, but my goodness, Josh Smith tore him to pieces.
|Deron Williams, PG 39 MIN | 9-20 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 20 PTS | +1
D-Will abused Kirk Hinrich offensively, particularly in the second quarter. He also hit a few high, arcing jumpers when the defense switched, and tried a dunk so preposterous it ended roughly like this. Brought some fire tonight offensively, but doesn’t have a consistent #2 to defer to.
|Jordan Farmar, PG 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | -12
Had a decent first game back — hit Jordan Williams with a hell of a pass on his first possession, and later hit an open 3 off good ball movement. But not a game to remember by any stretch.
|Gerald Green, SG 27 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -9
Green hit three-pointers and played with a significant energy. Got some big blocks helping from the weak side and in transition. My main regret is that we missed out on another highlight, thanks to a clear-path foul by Jeff Teague, and the indecision on that final rebound made a dismal shot at victory impossible.
|Jordan Williams, F 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +11
Williams ran the floor offensively, got into the lane, and fought for rebounds, even though he didn’t snare many. He looked like a pro-level big man as much tonight as he has all season. He can “play” — without question — it’s more a matter of getting him to play at that level for 25-35 minutes, not just 10-15.
Four Things We Saw
- Josh Smith is an enigma, and his most enigmatic trait controlled the game’s outcome. When Smith utilizes his length, explosiveness, and touch around the basket as his focal point for attack, he’s as close to unstoppable as any power forward in the league. When he falls back on his poor habits and leans further and further from the basket, the Hawks are a very beatable team. Sure enough, the game ebbed and flowed as Smoove toed the line between attack mode and passive mode. He bombed away in the first half — shooting 0-7 from outside of the paint in the first half — and the Nets stayed competitive. He began attacking the lane early in the third quarter, putting the Hawks up 53-48, but then strayed back away before hitting the bench, letting the Nets build the lead to seven. In the fourth quarter, Smith attacked the rim with relentless fury, floor space opened outside the paint, and the Hawks built their victory on it.
- The Nets — and all offenses, really — are at their best when they rely on creating the best look for the team, rather than the best look for the player. In that sense, the Nets had some of the better offensive possessions we’ve seen all season in the second quarter. Crisp, fluid ball movement led to numerous open shots. Solid off-ball screens created open looks at the rim. On Jordan Farmar’s first possession back, Farmar rifled a pass 50 feet downcourt to a streaking Jordan Williams for a layup. The stat sheet won’t reflect it, since the Nets still struggle to make even good looks, but those are the types of shots you’d like to see game in and game out, rather than sporadically in the season’s garbage time. The only notable movement stoppage came, strangely enough, when Deron returned to the game, as he relied on isolations and individual shot creation off the dribble over creating for his teammates. But Deron is so good at that it hardly made a difference.
- Williams and forcing someone else to beat them. Some nights, someone else steps up. Most nights, no one can. The effective strategy in crunch time, proven time and time again, is running an offense and competent ball movement over iso island. The roll play from D-Will to Humphries is indicative of that. But, the Nets’ offense is barely more competent than D-Will’s iso island anyway.
- The race to Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or Thomas Robinson rages on.