Starting with the Nets win in New Jersey against the Los Angeles Clippers the Nets have played a string of 9 competitive games (yes I am last night's game against Milwaukee). However, the Nets have only been able to win 1 of these games. Now there are a number of reasons why, and they have been talked about just about everywhere (including here) , but something that isn't really getting talked about is that role players have been absolutely killing the Nets. Don't believe me? Let's take a look:
Game 1: Nets 103-Clippers 87 - Craig Smith/18 Points 8 Rebounds
Craig Smith is a very nice role player (a terrific screen-setter as a matter of fact), but he isn't an 18 and 8 guy. In fact, his averages are about half of that. Now granted he did play an unusual amount of minutes (due to Marcus Camby's injury), but letting Craig Smith go 6 for 8 from the field with 12 Free Throw Attempts? Now fortunately, nobody else for the Clippers showed up, so Smith's scoring outburst didn't take the Clippers over the edge, but it did start a pretty awful trend.
Game 2: Nets 79-Wizards 81 - Andre Blatche /14 Points (6-6 from the line) 6 Rebounds
Earl Boykins and Nick Young also scored well above their average, but the thing that really bothered me about Blatche's performance was that he was able to excel at something he isn't really good at. Blatche's FTR on the year is .21 (the league average is .298), but against the Nets he was able to get 6 FTs on 7 FG attempts (this winds up being a whooping .85 in terms of FTR) and he made them all. Don't think those 6 points mattered? Look at the final score.
Game 3: Nets 79-Sixers 83 - Rodney Carnery/9 Points 4 Rebounds
Rodney Carney doesn't play too much, and usually he doesn't really have any sort of impact on the game. He plays about 10 minutes a game and scores 4 points per game. Against the Nets he played 11 minutes and put up 9 points on 80% from the field. Now I know that 9 points doesn't really sound like a lot, but when you have a close game, any unexpected points you get can help.
Game 4: Nets 93-Pistons 97 - Tayshaun Prince/15 Points 8 Rebounds
It seems funny to include Tayshaun Prince as an "other guy" but he has really struggled this year. In fact he has only averaged 9.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, and he was even worse in January. His scoring average was only 8.5 per game in that month. Against the Nets he scored 15 points, including the dunk on the lob play that gave the Pistons the lead for good.
Game 5: Nets 99-Raptors 108 - Antoine Wright/18 Points 7 Rebounds
Nets fans remember Antoine Wright, or maybe they don't. He didn't do much in New Jersey, and he hasn't really done anything in Toronto, however he was able to go off on the Nets for 18 points including 3-6 from the three point line (50%) even though his three point percentage for the year is closer to 36%.
Game 6: Nets 87-Celtics 96 - Eddie House/10 Points (All In The 4th Quarter)
Eddie House was struggling the entire game, that is until he banked home a jumper from the wing. That got him going and after hitting two backbreaking threes (and having another one that was good get called back), he finished with 10 points in the 4th quarter and he was the main reason why the Celtics were able to pull away from the Nets late.
Game 7: Nets 92-Pistons 99 - Jonas Jerebko/20 Points (11-11 From The Field)
In a 7 point win for the Pistons, Jerebko was the one pacing them. He hit every single shot he attempted from the field, and he probably could have done even more damage to the Nets if he wasn't in foul trouble the entire game.
Game 8: Nets 97-Cavs 104 - Jawad Williams/17 Points
Jawad Williams is a 4.3 PPG scorer who went off for 17 points against the Nets. That's all well and good if you are containing LeBron and letting the others go off. But when a guy like Jawad Williams goes off when LeBron puts up 32 points, well, that's a problem.
Game 9: Nets 77-Bucks 97 - Ersan Ilyasova/18 Points
I could have put Luke Ridnour here, but he always seems to kill the Nets, so I decided to give it to Ersan here. Ersan, coming off the bench, only played 22 minutes, yet he was able to kill the Nets with 18 points. He was also 2-3 from deep, hitting a big one late (right after a Devin Harris 3 pointer cut the Bucks' lead to 15 - Ersan came right down and hit one of his own, putting the game away for good).