|Gerald Wallace, SF 40 MIN | 8-14 FG | 10-11 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 27 PTS | -5
In a tight game in the fourth quarter, Gerald Wallace played his ass off. The nickname Crash suits him this evening: he crashed the boards and the floor on numerous occasions on his way to a well-earned double-double. Bullied inside for points, both in the half-court and transition. Knocked down a couple of open jumpers. Defensively, the Nets routinely matched him up on the Cavs’ point guards, which didn’t work too well, causing the Cavs to run pick-and-rolls to switch Wallace onto the guards intentionally. Drew a key foul on Kyrie Irving to give the Nets a chance late, and certainly looked more comfortable tonight. He further erased the sting of watching every botched attempt at filling the small forward role since Richard Jefferson left.
|Kris Humphries, PF 33 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -8
A somewhat quiet double-double from Humphries, though he did execute a couple nice plays — one putback dunk in the third and a nice pick-and-pop later in the quarter. He reverted back to some of his tunnel vision days on shots late in the fourth, and botched a key pass from Deron Williams that ultimately cost the Nets the game.
|Shelden Williams, PF 26 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | -5
If I devised this ranking on effort, Shelden Williams would average an A every game. But he can’t defend players above the rim, and that means athletic 4/5’s like Tristan Thompson just make mincemeat of him once they get off the floor. He rotates well (most of the time) and throws his body well horizontally, but the lack of vertical extension killed him — and the Nets — badly tonight.
|Deron Williams, PG 38 MIN | 8-23 FG | 8-9 FT | 0 REB | 8 AST | 28 PTS | +4
Once it was clear that Deron Williams had to take over, he did — early in the second quarter, after his return from foul trouble. D-Will dropped 19 points in the second quarter alone and carried the team back from a fifteen-point deficit with a barrage of three-pointers, layups, and OH THAT ONE DUNK THAT BROKE THE PRUDENTIAL CENTER. In the fourth quarter, he and Kyrie Irving went toe-to-toe in one of the more exciting matchups this season. Unfortunately, it didn’t end in a victory.
|MarShon Brooks, G 30 MIN | 3-10 FG | 4-6 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | -2
Struggled shooting from the right side, as has been the story this season — Brooks shoots 48% from the left and just 34% from the right, though he attempts almost twice as many shots from the right side. Picked up a sweet dunk in transition, but has taken a major step back offensively since the all-star break.
Five Things We Saw
- The Nets got completely diced up inside. Abysmal communication down low led to the Nets over-switching and trapping inside, leaving big men open for easy dunks off dishes and offensive rebounds.. On top of that — well, on top of everything was Tristan Thompson, who leaped over the outstretched arms of every Nets defender in the first half for easy dunks and layups. The Cavs picked up 40 first-half points in the paint and 66 overall (they average 44 per game), and it’s because the Nets can’t meet them at that apex. Even Samardo Samuels was getting into it.
- I don’t get why the Nets don’t run that curl play more often for Anthony Morrow at the three-point line — or, perhaps, why he doesn’t extend that far himself. His effectiveness goes from “above-average at the lowest-efficiency shot in basketball” to “one of the best shots in the history of the game” with four extra feet out on his curl. In today’s NBA, one tenet to winning games is spreading the floor offensively, and the Nets have one of the best floor-spacers in the NBA on the floor. Why limit that?
- On the other side: Kyrie Irving’s veins are ice. Irving matched D-Will shot for shot in the fourth quarter, even after Deron’s enormous dunk, never fazed, never perturbed. It’s amazing how poised he plays as an NBA player — never mind as a rookie.
- An example of Deron’s excellent feel for the game: On one play in the fourth, the Nets played right into the Cavs’ hand: on a pick-and-roll between Deron Williams and Kris Humphries, the Cavs doubled D-Will at the top of the key. D-Will passed inside to Humphries, who believed he was open — but a double team soon collapsed on him in the rotation and he fired up a bad shot. The next play down the floor, D-Will instead swung the ball to MarShon Brooks on the trap, who hit Anthony Morrow in the corner for an open 3. Morrow missed it, but that’s a much better shot than Humphries flailing at the rim.
- With this loss, the Nets continue their race towards keeping their draft pick this season. Hey, it’s something.