|Kris Humphries, PF 46 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 19 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +5
Hasn’t regressed from last year, and a healthy Deron Williams vastly improves his impact. Missed a few good looks from 15-17 feet, but cut to the rim when the lane was open an dunked a few with ferocity. The Sixers have a depleted frontline, but 19 boards is wildly impressive. One complaint” bringing the ball down before rising up, an open invitation for strips.
|Mehmet Okur, C 32 MIN | 3-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | +17
Thank you for hitting some 3’s, even when money don’t call bank. Other than that, see note below.
|Deron Williams, PG 48 MIN | 14-28 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 11 AST | 34 PTS | +12
A promising sign in a Jekyll-and-Hyde season that Jekyll came out against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. D-Will took over offensively when needed throughout the game, attacked the lane, got buckets at the rim, and set up teammates for good shots. The game-tying layup on Thaddeus Young was sublime; the offensive takeover in overtime close to flawless. Not many players can make that happen. Absolutely looked like the best point guard in the game, if only for the evening. Oh, and that poster on Elton Brand wasn’t bad, either.
|Anthony Morrow, SG 41 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +8
Hit shots early, wasn’t a factor late until his huge 3 over Jrue Holiday benefited by Deron Williams innovation, and didn’t annihilate the team’s overall defense. Do what Anthony Morrow Do.
|Shelden Williams, PF 21 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -13
He has emerged as a reliable backup power forward, and played his role to perfection tonight. Got tough rebounds in the lane, drew fouls, blocked shots, and wore out opposing bigs in a way Okur’s just not doing. After point guard, the Nets today are most reliable at the power forward position, and the combination of Humphries and Shelden Williams is the reason.
|Jordan Farmar, PG 29 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | +5
Other than one particularly bonehead play — launching a weak attempt to steal a pass in the backcourt, allowing the one transition opportunity the Sixers had in the first half — he played exactly as you’d expect when he’s doing well: hitting open shots and finding Humphries for good looks. Played a sublime second guard in overtime, though he has to consistently understand that getting a step on one defender does not mean you have the jump on all five. Minor complaints from a major game.
|Larry Owens, F 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Got a huge rebound with 16.6 seconds left in overtime to maintain the three-point lead. Point being, Avery Johnson trusted him on the floor with 20 seconds left in overtime, and he delivered.
Five Things We Saw
- Most of my comments on this game are resoundingly positive. The Nets defeated a great team tonight particularly because they functioned exclusively in their roles; D-Will ran the show, Morrow shot, Farmar created without forcing, Humphries boarded & dunked, the Landlord cleared out the inside, and Okur hit some three-pointers. This is the type of game the Nets play at their best; not one player overextended his usefulness in an overt sense. Not every player was at their best, but as a collective whole, the roster was at its most useful.
- But the Nets nearly gave it away with three major late issues: 1) forcing bad shots down the stretch, 2) sloppy, unforced turnovers, and 3) throwing a double-team 35-plus feet from the basket without legitimately trapping or cutting off any lanes, essentially giving away an open shot. This happened a few times throughout the fourth quarter, egregiously on a three-pointer by Jrue Holiday with 2:30 remaining in the game, giving the Sixers their first lead since early in the third quarter, then criminally with 54.5 seconds left as Elton Brand buried a 12-footer to tie the game again at 80. You don’t half-ass a trap that far from the basket unless you’re begging to lose.
One more negative before we go positive: with the game tied at 80 after said Elton Brand shot, Avery Johnson’s playcall? A clearout for Jordan Farmar.
- The man defense looked as solid as it’s been all season; when the Sixers weren’t running looks off screens and forcing the Nets to make second-level decisions, they stuck to their assignments, ran down the clock, and forced bad shots. Particularly, the Nets (outside of Humphries attacking the glass) were particularly adept at getting back in transition against a superior athletic team; the Nets locked up the lane and forced a fast team to function exclusively in the halfcourt. Jordan Farmar played the passing lanes well, if not a little too aggressively at some times, and Kris Humphries forced Philadelphia’s inside scorers and slashers into bad shots.
- Mehmet Okur is the one exception to the rule above. Viewed as a blessing on arrival, Okur’s poor effort on defense is ignominious; he shows little interest in properly rotating and is invisible defending spot-ups outside of ten feet. Maybe Okur’s back injury limits his already limited mobility. Maybe mother nature and father time are catching up. Maybe he’s ignorant, or apathetic (I don’t know, and I don’t care). Whatever the issue, it’s a major problem. Luckily, he hit his three-pointers tonight, one of them a bank shot he most assuredly didn’t call. When he’s not, little separates him from replacement level.
- It bears noting that the Nets put forth their best defensive effort of the season and a solid offensive effort against the best defense in the NBA without MarShon Brooks. Brooks has become the silver lining of the dark Nets’ cloud in the past few weeks, but there’s more to this roster than his contributions, and we saw it all on display tonight. This is not a criticism; this team is better with MarShon on the floor, and when the remainder of the roster plays like this, there’s a lot of upward mobility.