When the New Jersey Nets played the Toronto Raptors on Saturday (to a win of 97-85), I didn't expect much, honestly. The teams are about the same in talent (the Raptors are more talented, overall), the chemistry of the clubs is still iffy, and it's hard to gauge if two teams that are struggling are actually making true on-court strides. In the case of the Nets, it's clear that strides are being made, at least on an individual level. Here's a brief analysis of what I saw from last night.
- Thank God for Anthony Morrow. Previously in a slump for the early season, he was electric, scoring 24 points and making 6 of 10 three-point shots. I personally don't trust MarShon Brooks just yet, and Morrow is the best option to really help the team at shooting guard. His shooting is so valuable, and normally, when he's good, he's very good from the arc, and that's a necessity.
- Deron Williams is carrying this team almost entirely, and he played 39 minutes without much help from behind him. He played ably, shooting 33%, but scoring 24 points in the process. I also got a glimpse of his post moves and it's clear that he can really exploit some defenses that way, and it could be a help to him.
- Kris Humphries, as flawed as he is, does have true discernible talent, and it's his ability to rebound that enables him to be most productive. 16 rebounds were his great contribution to the Nets, and though he only scored 6 points, it's wasn't totally necessary for him to be an offensive force (though it would be greatly helpful in the not-too-distant future). He kicked butt against a young, talented Raptors frontcourt, and it's duly noted.
- DeShawn Stevenson has become a bit of a goon in the comic sense. He's like a Dick Tracy character who seems to make an appearance with some sort of weird expression that leaves the audience wondering why he's even in the gang...but then he does something that explicitly adds to the cast and you remember he has a purpose (albeit less glam). Despite the ubiquitous "I Can't Feel My Face" motions and other myriad hand and facial gestures, Stevenson made me (and Toronto) remember that he can ably shoot and make shots, and that he still is a sound defender. With 15 points contributed solely from threes, it's good to know that he does do something that counts for something.