Wow. What an exciting and crazy game that could have been won by either the New Jersey Nets or Toronto Raptors. However, in the end it was the Nets and Travis Outlaw that pulled out the 137-136 triple overtime victory for the States-side team and sweep the two games played at the O2 Arena in London. Yes, that's right, I said Travis Outlaw.
Outlaw who has garnered a few nicknames on the internet relative to the disappointment and frustration of fans, hit key free-throws in the third overtime that kept New Jersey ahead for good. Luckily, the Raptors who scored eight straight points after the Nets took a 135-128 lead, didn't have a long shot from Andrea Bargnani (game-high 35 points) drop in. However, back to Outlaw, it wasn't just converting at the charity stripe in the clutch for him, but scoring the last eight points for the team that will keep the fans off his back for at least a few games. Yes, this coming off the bench thing is a lot better for him and the fans. Well, to some degree considering that paying $7 million for a bench player isn't all that desirable. In any case, Outlaw finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in 35 minutes.
Other player production of note include:
For the fifth straight game, Williams ended up with a double-double (21 points/18 assists), scoring the most points since becoming a Net. He played 53 minutes despite two wonky wrists and could have won the game at the end of regulation, but his jumper back-rimmed. However, Williams did tie the game at the end of the first overtime and it was hard not to notice his ability to set screens in this game. The guy is tough and ready to give up his body, which is evident by his playing with messed up wrists. Williams looked more natural out there, as well as the whole team. The players are definitely starting to gel, especially D-Will and this next player.
It was a straight-up treat watching Lopez in this game because he spent most of his time down in the box and his numbers show that - 34 points, 14 rebounds, and eight blocks - and was two rejections from a triple-double. Still, the numbers were impressive, as well as watching him work in the post. This is the Lopez from years past that showed why he has the strong potential to be an All-Star. Plus, he and Williams look like they are starting to get on the same page the more games they play together.
Humphries grabbed 17 rebounds again in the second game of the back-to-back, scoring 20 points. It's getting really hard to not want to sign Humphries after the season with the problem being the projected asking price. But, in the five games since Williams joined the team and Humphries has been starting again, he's averaged 15.8 points and 13.2 rebounds. There has been speculation that the Nets should go after current New Orleans Hornets power forward David West, but how much better is he than Humphries lately, who would probably come cheaper. Something to consider if the Nets don't want to save money for 2012.
Anthony Morrow, who was injured in the previous game, did not play, so Vujacic was selected to start and he rose to the occasion. He hit six three-pointers and finished with 25 points. Vujacic was on point this game, but a streaky shooter is a streaky shooter and once Morrow gets healthy, should start once again. The Nets are in a precarious position with Vujacic as they are with Humphries.
The game was close throughout with 25 ties during the game as proof, but in the end, it was the Nets that won and has to have the fans excited about the team. They're actually fun to watch now. Thank you D-Will for being you. Thank you Mikhail Prokhorov for caring. Thank you Billy King for getting D-Will. But, most of all, thank you Avery Johnson for changing up the offense to utilize D-Will's talents. Cheerio!