|Gerald Wallace, SF 31 MIN | 7-14 FG | 6-8 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 21 PTS | -8
Tried his damnedest in single coverage to stop Carmelo Anthony. So much for that. Made buckets throughout the game, attacking the rim and posting up Anthony with oddly relative ease. Hit shots inside and out, and given how he ran the offense in the fourth quarter, ended with fewer assists than his passing impact should indicate. But that doesn’t change how much Carmelo Anthony tore him limb from limb in the first ten minutes.
|Kris Humphries, PF 38 MIN | 2-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 15 REB | 4 AST | 8 PTS | -14
Didn’t get into it with Tyson Chandler in a way that could potentially disregard the “respect of the game” clause, which is the first plus. Did most of his damage on the glass, contesting dunks, and finding teammates tonight, despite a poor shooting night. In that regard, he was Net neutral.
|Sundiata Gaines, G 29 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | +7
Made one surprisingly good hesitation move to get a bucket in the first quarter, and exhibited some solid moments of defensive franticity. Hit four threes, probably by accident. But Iso Sundiata is the Sex Panther of basketball plays.
|MarShon Brooks, G 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | -2
Surprisingly invisible tonight. Had one great move in the first quarter, faking a pass to Humphries while driving on a perpendicular angle to the basket, knocking down a short bank shot and-one. But didn’t score again.
|DeShawn Stevenson, SG 33 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | 0
One of his best defensive efforts of the season shutting down Carmelo Anthony. Denied the ball, kept him mostly out of the offense, and forced him into taking the bad shots Melo loves. Unfortunately, that meant you couldn’t expect any help from him defensively. still, weirdly the best player on the floor for the Nets on the strength of that effort, even through a wrist injury.
|Gerald Green, SG 25 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | -20
Tried to do a little too much offensively, taking a shade too many off-balance jumpers. He’s fine when he shoots in rhythm, which he did in the fourth quarter.
|Armon Johnson, G 12 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -9
He’ll get a second 10-day contract.
Five Things We Saw
- A fitting way to end the Cross-Hudson rivalry: an outburst of scoring from Carmelo Anthony in the first in just about every way possible, an early 21-point lead for the opponents, a slow, grueling claw-back that saw the Nets come within ten points a couple of times, but overall firepower that was too much to bear. The cross-Hudson rivalry will never be seen again. The next time these two teams play, it’ll be the cross-Brooklyn Bridge rivalry. Given how New Jersey’s treated the Nets, maybe it’s for the best. Still, and here comes the caveat that’s been pretty standard for about two years: the Nets competed without their two best players on the floor.
- For the second straight game, Nets fans were vastly outnumbered in their own arena, this time by their cross-Hudson rival. Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony got the loudest cheers of the night, and crowd engagement ebbed and flowed with New York’s rhythms. This one was slightly more understandable — the price you pay for choosing an arena right off the New York Penn train line is that you make the arena insanely accessible from New York when your fans are as apathetic as a metaphor I don’t care enough to make.
- The starting point guards were Mike Bibby and Sundiata Gaines. I committed two turnovers just writing that sentence.
- I expected the rookie matchup to be more intense. I laughed when the Knicks drafted Iman Shumpert, thinking him too poor a shooter and too weak a distributor to fit into an NBA offense. But offense is hardly what he’s utilized best; Shumpert’s developed into one of the premier perimeter defenders in the NBA already. He certainly outplayed MarShon this evening.
- Before the game, I wondered if the Nets would try out a set-and-1 defense, with Wallace guarding Melo and everyone else set up in a diamond or box set. I’d completely forgotten that the Nets are terrible defensively and their best plan of action normally requires leaving the lane wide open for anyone and everyone to get easy shots at the basket. Once DeShawn Stevenson took the assignment, all that changed, but it was too little, too late.
Outside of Melo’s first-quarter deconstruction, when he took the time to score in everyone’s face he pleased, the Knicks utilized ball movement around the perimeter to free up open looks. Once they had the Nets scrambling to rotate, all it took was three to four passes before they found an easy, open look for three. The Nets are 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, and it showed tonight.
By the way, MVP chants for Carmelo Anthony began ten minutes into the game. By which time Carmelo Anthony had 21 points.
Just one more home game. And this will all be over.