I am a crazy optimistic person. I am so optimistic in fact, that I thought there was a chance that the Nets would come out last night, guns-a-blazing, a win one for their fallen coach. Brook Lopez and Sean Williams would then lift assistant-turned head coach Tom Barrise on their shoulders as the crowd chants Rudy! Rudy! Rudy…oh wait…sorry, I got my sports movie moments confused for a moment. Anyway, the Nets didn’t win, but they did in fact keep it closer than was expected. Sure, some of it had to do with the fact that Kobe didn’t play a minute in the fourth quarter, but Kobe only scored 30 points though (sarcastic) and the Nets did some good things (not sarcastic).
From the start, the game had a weird feel about it, and you couldn’t tell if the Nets were mailing this one in, or if the talent gap between the Nets and the Lakers was so great it just looked like the Nets weren’t trying. Again, it could be the optimist in me, but I tend to believe it was the latter. Why? Well, the Nets were all over the court from opening tip to final whistle. You know Brook always goes hard, but Devin was diving on the floor late in the game (under 2 minutes left), Sean Williams was running up and down challenging dunk attempts. Hell, even Rafer Alston gave up a hard foul on Shannon Brown when he spotted up for a 3 with 10 seconds left.
Speaking of Rafer, we can start talking about the negative with him. He had another poor game today going 2-8, including getting blocked as he jogged to the rim going for a lay-up as time expired in the first (Jordan Farmer, who was hustling all the way blocked him of course). Also, he had another one of those “dribble it off my foot and out of bounds” moments that always seems to make it on Sportscenter. CDR too had a poor game, part of it probably had to do with Kobe defending him, but he did seem to be pressing as if to break the win streak every time he touched the ball. He only got 1 shot in the second quarter. How can your second best option at this point only get 1 shot in 12 minutes? Oh well, this is his first poor game in a while, so he gets a pass here. Bobby Simmons still can’t make wide open 3s anymore and it is getting so bad, teams start to close out on him, realize it is Bobby Simmons and go in for the rebound. No joke. It happened twice last night. After the jump, I get into the other positives (yes, there were multiple positives) in bullet format:
- Devin Harris seemed to feed off the solid play he had in Sacramento (the second half) tonight, and he played pretty well. He was able to get into the lane and draw some more fouls. Devin went 6-12 (including 3-6 from 3) for 16 points.
- Speaking of returning to form, Courtney Lee probably had his best game as a Net, and it was pretty obvious that he is now 100%. Lee was active, and most importantly he was hitting shots (6-9). The fact that he was hitting shots gave him opportunities to drive to the lane, where he was finishing as well. If he can shoot around 50% and put up 15 points every night, I will be happy.
- It is almost redundant to list Brook as a positive at this point. Brook had another double-double going for 26 and 12 despite facing double teams every time he touched the ball. He got to the foul line often (due to those double teams) and he converted. 8 of 15 from the field and 10 of 12 from the line.