You’d expect after such a solid win against the Chicago Bulls Monday night, the Nets wouldn’t come out with the same intensity. That’s not a knock, that’s just how it works: some shots don’t fall, teams adjust, and you start falling back to earth.
The Nets faced a solid opponent, well above them in the standings, without their defensive anchor, and beat the living snot out of them for the second straight game. They faltered near the end, letting a 30-point lead in the third quarter dwindle to seven, but quickly forced turnovers and got enough defensive stops to seal the win.
Other than the late, futile Grizzlies run, everything clicked: the rotations were solid defensively, the Nets forced the Grizzlies into multiple turnovers, they spread the ball around to the open shooters, and protected home court without their defensive anchor for the second straight game.
Thought it was one of his better games, even if the numbers don’t pop off the page. Created space off the dribble as the primary facilitator and harrowed Mike Conley into one of the worst nights of his career.
Quiet, effective, visionary, shovel-passer, box-score-filler.
Iso-Joe was somewhat effective tonight in Iso-Mode. Got hot for a brief stretch in the third quarter to push the lead up to as much as 30, but also didn’t force his offense even when he wanted the ball in his hands. Got the ball out to Pierce ion two possessions in crunch time when he could have appropriated the offense.
Got easy looks created for him early and converted them. Even with Zach Randolph out, the Grizzlies start a big frontcourt with Ed Davis at power forward, and Pierce took advantage of his ability to create on the perimeter to help the Nets build an early lead. Suffered an injury to his neck area in the third quarter, but returned without any apparent issues.
Called up Billy King and I’m askin y’all
Which court are y’all playin’ basketball?
Get me in Barclays and I’m gonna ball
Tonight, messed around and dream shook Gasol
Eurosteppin’ on fools every way like M.J.
I can believe, today was a good Dray.
Not his best night.
Struggled entering the game and elbowed Mike Miller but did hit one three and put in a pretty alley-oop from Andrei Kirilenko in a blowout.
The Nets needed a scorer like him, someone who could just explode at any given moment and hit three, four, five shots in succession. Thornton scored 15 straight points in the second quarter in rapid succession on a variety of fast-breaks, and scored over 20 points for the second time in three games. Really good output from the backup guard, who looks like he’s taken a stronghold on Alan Anderson’s spot.
People always talk about Collins making an impact that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet. That’s something that can leave casual fans skeptical of his real impact. But here’s an example of Collins’s understated impact: on his first play in the first half, Collins “posted up” inside, but just as a decoy to push his man as far out of the lane as possible and prevent him from playing help defense. Collins certainly wasn’t looking for the ball.
With the space Collins carved, Deron Williams was able to get past his man and cruise to the basket without having to face help defense for a layup.
These plays are minor veteran moves. They’re what you do when you can’t do anything else. They don’t matter as much as other more tangible things, like Thornton dropping 15 points in the time it took me to write this sentence. But they matter. When you’re not a scorer, your smarts keep you on the floor. That’s what Collins does.
Started for the third straight game with Kevin Garnett battling back spasms and played well for the third straight game, the second against a top-flight defensive center. Did struggle with foul trouble, but he’s rebounding better than at the beginning of the year. Happy birthday, Mason.