Rapid Reaction: Pacers 108, Nets 94

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Indiana Pacers 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
94 New Jersey Nets

Game Grades

Shelden Williams, PF
1-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -12

Yes, Shelden was 1-9 and only grabbed 6 boards in his Kris Humphries fill-in role, but I didn’t think he actually played all that bad. He made some good defensive stops and had some big blocks in the first quarter. Look, this guy is nothing more than a bench player and Hump was clearly missed in the paint, but I don’t think Shelden Williams totally sucks.

Damion James, SF
4-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -9

Not a completely terrible performance from Damion tonight. Shot the ball pretty well, had some nice blocks and played tighter D than he has in the last week. I’d like to say that I wish they’d play someone else, but to be honest, I don’t really know who that’d be.

Mehmet Okur, C
3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | -17

Okur made a couple of three’s and grabbed some boards, but overall this guy was just plain slow. He missed a lot of blocked shot opportunities and didn’t really box out or play aggressive low-post defense. For Okur tonight, it wasn’t really what he did, it’s what he didn’t do.

Deron Williams, PG
6-14 FG | 9-11 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 22 PTS | -10

This is the Deron we’ve been missing since the opener against Washington. D-Will had some great looks and made some great shots. He tried to take over the game in the last ten minutes, but as a point guard, there’s really only so much he can do. Deron played a lot less off the ball than in the past few games and this worked out better. We know he’s a decent shooter (a little better than his 6-14 represents), but he truly thrives as a distributer–and tonight showed a more polished version of this offensive style. I just wish that his teammates were a little better.

Sundiata Gaines, G
4-6 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | -7

Gets a plus for not playing 34 minutes. This is exactly how Avery Johnson should be playing Gaines–off the bench for some needed energy and fast-paced offense. Gaines isn’t a bad point guard by any means, he’s just been overused. Tonight, playing him in the 10-15 minute range was the right move and he was able to provide the Nets with some good fast break offense. Not at all the distributer that D-Will is and had a couple of missed opportunities in that regard. Next step: quit starting him.

Anthony Morrow, SG
1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | 0

What happened to Anthony Morrow? Prior to this season, we all knew what we were getting with this guy–good shooter, not much else. But now, he can’t shoot. He kills the Nets momentum on every drive. He does’t just miss shots, he shoots bricks and air balls. He simply isn’t good. Defensively–he screws up the perimeter rotation and gave Paul George wide open three after wide open three. Not sure what’s going on here, but his shot is just plain bad.

Johan Petro, C
1-3 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -2

Missed layups, easy jumpers, wide open looks from Deron Williams and can’t rebound. 21 unmemorable minutes.

Marshon Brooks, G
8-17 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 21 PTS | -14

This guy is a stud. Shot well, rebounded well, displayed some terrific athleticism and just completely stole the show for the third, possibly fourth game for the Nets this season. He needs to be starting and getting even more minutes. I just want to see him taking 17-20 shots every night. It doesn’t matter that he misses sometimes–he plays with a confidence and a hustle that is just fun to watch. From what I could hear, the home crowd loves him. Just keep this kid in the game and let him go to work.

Five Things We Saw

  1. The Nets shooting woes continue. The fifth straight game of under 40% shooting is just embarrassing. The Nets are not only forcing bad shots in traffic, but also aren’t aggressive in the paint and rely on second and third shots to put the ball in the basket. They take too many three’s (7-28) and Anthony Morrow sucks.
  2. Kris Humphries was missed. Without the Hump (and even Brook Lopez) the Nets have absolutely nobody who can rebound consistently. Shelden Williams was clumsy under the rim and Okur is too slow and too unathletic. There is something seriously wrong with your low-post offensive and defensive game if MarShon Brooks–a rookie shooting guard–leads your team in rebounds, with seven mind you.
  3. Defensive rotations. Anthony Morrow and Damion James were both pretty terrible at defending the perimeter. The Pacers didn’t just shoot 61% from behind the arc, they were left completely wide-open. I’ve never seen anything like it. Indiana just had so many chances to make three’s and took advantage of every one. It’s pretty hard to come back from a fourth quarter deficit when your opponent is completely dominate from three point range–which is exactly what the Pacers were.
  4. Improved offensive discipline. Onto something positive–the Nets were a lot less sloppy with the basketball tonight. The turnover-happy Nets limited themselves to just ten turnovers and seemed to have better chemistry overall. I liked what Avery said before the game–the lineup will change, Deron will get better, the team will look different soon. The Nets are clearly suffering from a lack of practice time and they are only going to improve from here as a team. They took a step in the right direction tonight.
  5. Who are the Nets going to beat? They get blown out by the Hawks, Magic, Cavs and Pacers–Celtics and Raptors (who just beat New York and haven’t looked all that bad so far this season) coming up. Deron is getting frustrated and the offense can’t score points. Something has got to give. Looking at the schedule ahead and given the state of the team, I don’t really see a winnable match-up until January 22nd versus Charlotte. Is a 1-15 start really that attractive for a certain All-Star center looking to be traded before the deadline? Yikes.

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