The Difference: Thoughts On Nets-Hawks

Going “The Difference” bullet-style for tonight’s recap, with one bullet point for every point the Nets won by:

  • A blowout against the Charlotte Bobcats is one thing. A blowout against the Washington Wizards is one thing. But a big win against the Atlanta Hawks — even a Hawks team that’s a little undermanned — means a little more. This was as complete a full-team effort as the Nets have had in some time, particularly in the second and third quarters.

  • Even though the Nets took over in the second quarter — outscoring the Hawks 28-14 — I actually thought their offense in the third was more impressive. Whenever the Hawks threatened, the Nets seemed to execute their offensive sets perfectly, finding either a cutter or an open shooter on multiple possessions to maintain and extend the lead. Really refreshing offense to see against a team like Atlanta.

  • Andray Blatche had his ridiculous bag of tricks on full display tonight. I’m not sure he took one high-percentage shot all game and he was 9-11 from the field, 9-10 if you discount a last-second heave in the first quarter.

  • Joe Johnson has yet to look comfortable playing the Atlanta Hawks: he even airballed one open three in the second half, to the utter delight of the nine Atlanta Hawks fans in the crowd.

  • In a blowout where Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo emptied the bench at the end, Kris Humphries was still a DNP-CD.
  • Reggie Evans has struggled with the team’s best players this season, but has reversed that trend in the last few games by limiting his game; they’ve still, perplexingly, gone to Evans in the post more than once in each game, but for the most part he’s gotten back to basics: rebounding, playing smart pick-and-roll hedge-and-recover defense, and getting the ball out of his own hands as quickly as possible. He’ll never be a great man defender against long, skilled forwards, but if he’s playing 23 minutes often, those weaknesses shouldn’t be overly exposed.

  • After three straight games with 20 or more turnovers, the Nets turned the ball over just nine times Saturday night.
  • Tornike Shengelia did almost everything right in his very limited garbage time on the floor — except he missed all three layups. Whoops. I’ve said a few times that Shengelia has a bit of Gerald Wallace’s game in him — they’re both all-around forwards that can drive and defend, but have issues shooting from deep — but hopefully he doesn’t take on that particular trend.

  • Speaking of said trend, Wallace missed four layups tonight. He did make three, and one huge slam in the first half.
  • Deron Williams looks different. I know it’s a small sample size of the last two months (and an even smaller one within that sample of the last two weeks), but Williams has been quicker, his shot form & release look better (one thing in particular: the arc on Williams’s shot seems more consistent than the first two months), and he’s getting to the rim more. Williams’s numbers took a bit of a nosedive because of some missed layups in the fourth quarter, but considering how he controlled the offense throughout the game, this is the type of point guard the Nets would like to see all the time.

  • Josh Smith shot 5-12 from the field: 4-7 from within 5 feet and 1-5 from outside of it. If at least one team believes he commands a max contract, there’s a good chance the Nets dodged a bullet by not having good enough assets to acquire him.

  • Former New Jersey Nets legend Johan Petro scored 10 points in the first quarter, matching his season high for a full game. Not only did he not score for the rest of the game, he barely played at all. He was also the only Hawks player to shoot over 50% for the game.

  • One hilarious and odd moment came during a jump ball; after Brook Lopez barreled into Ivan Johnson to cause the jump, Lopez grabbed Johnson’s arm rather than jumping when the referee tossed the ball in the air. Johnson retaliated by coming down on Lopez’s arm, Lopez twisted away, and the referee called a foul on Johnson. It was, frankly, a bad call, but it made me laugh to see Lopez not even attempt to win the jump, and instead, just hold Johnson down.