In the third game of summer league, Nets fans were treated to one of the more exciting and well-played Summer League games so far, and it ended well in a 94-91 Nets victory. It came down to the wire – Terrence Williams split a few free throw chances to give the Magic an opportunity, but Patrick Ewing Jr. inexplicably tried to spot up from 40 feet away at the buzzer instead of passing it to a closer man and the Nets came away with the victory. Let’s break it down.
Firstly, I have to talk about the star of the game. Damion James was flat-out excellent. He was working extremely well off the ball, coming hard off screens and continually getting himself open for jumpers. His 30-point night was no accident. His jump shot form was very smooth – his form was picture perfect on most of his makes. He continually set up his body straight on towards the basket without falling away or leaning while shooting the ball in one fluid motion. On his few misses, you could see him either fading away from the basket or catching and shooting without setting his feet properly. He also showed good form in the post, attacked the basket well, and threw down one particularly impressive dunk over two defenders in the second quarter.
Terrence Williams was certainly an enigma last night. While he started off well – scoring early with a gorgeous slash and finish, as well as two jumpers off the pick and roll (the Nets preferred attack for most of the game), he completely fell apart scoring-wise after that. T-Will was forcing bad shots (and missing), attacking the basket with reckless abandon, and trying to use his physical advantage at PG to post up smaller players but with nothing to show for it. He was able to finish with 22 points, but it took him 26 shots do to so. As you can see in the video, he starts off strong with those six quick points, but soon after falls back on his still-shaky jump shot and misses an awful lot of them. Most of his other misses are of this variety. What’s clear to me is that when he can set up his shot and is facing directly towards the basket, he’s much more effective than shooting fadeaways or leaners.
Of course, there’s a good chance that T-Will is just experimenting with a lot of different looks, since it’s just summer league. Also, his non-scoring game was on point as usual – he was attacking the glass and showed excellent court vision (his assist number should have been higher, if not for maybe half a dozen missed shots on open looks). Plus, at the end he was the guy everyone deferred to to make the clinching free throws. But it is something to think about.
And, of course, he had his jam:
Derrick Favors came out of the gate strong, but was taken out of the game’s rhythm due to foul trouble. Now, I know it’s hard to do that in a game with unlimited fouls, but it’s true. Favors played limited time in the first half and still had five fouls – most of them touch calls – at the 4:54 mark in the second quarter (and remember, quarters are only ten minutes long in summer league). He ended up playing 25 minutes, but only had two field goals (both in the first quarter) and led the team with five rebounds and seven fouls. His two post moves that resulted in scores were solid moves: the first a quick turnaround jumper over his defender, and the other a gorgeous spin move and scoop for the layup.
Regarding the other players: Ben Uzoh had a solid game, showing his nice touch and reliable shot from outside. He knocked down three threes, one of them contested and the other two the result of awesome drive & kicks by Damion James and Terrence Williams. Brian Zoubek had a Jason Collins-like game – he was excellent setting screens in the pick & roll (the most used offense by the Nets yesterday), played solid man defense inside, but had trouble rotating to quick, slashing guards. Joe Crawford had a field day today on the Nets defense (29 points on 10-13 shooting), and many of his points came because no interior defender rotated over to help. The Nets were also poor defending Crawford outside as well – he just had a career day. Connor Atchley and Garret Siler both provided solid minutes off the bench – Atchley showed his versatility in hitting some jumpers outside and working well around the basket, getting one putback off an offensive rebound; Siler just overpowered everyone with his giant body and had eight points and three offensive rebounds in just nine minutes of play.
The Nets got a solid victory in this game, but they had some things to focus on as well. Our transition defense was poor (Orlando scored a lot of points on fast breaks after missed shots and turnovers), as well as our help defense inside – multiple layups weren’t contested well, if at all. Outside of T-Will everyone was shooting good shots, and T-Will was still contributing on both ends of the floor with the rest of his game.