In what seems to be the story of the Nets’ season, a team coming in struggling gets healthy at the Nets’ expense. The Suns came into the game on a 4 game losing streak, blowing a number of different double-digit leads, but last night, the Suns ending up winning by a final score of 118-94. It looked like the Nets were going to hang around for the long haul, especially after the Nets’ responded to a Suns run with a run of their own. In fact the Nets had a lead late in the second quarter, and when is the last time we can say that (It’s all about the little victories at this point)? The Nets were able to get as close as 6 in the third quarter, but the Nets hit their little cold streak and that gave the Suns enough opportunity to pull away.
So why were the Nets so successful in the first half? Well, they prevented the Suns from running, and that is the key to their game. The Nets did this by limiting running opportunities. First, they hit their shots (they shot over 50% in the first half) and this forced the Suns to pull the ball out of the basket and inbound it instead of just grabbing the rebound and running. Hitting shots also allowed for the Nets to get back on defense and keep the Suns in front of them. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you make the Suns walk/jog it up court it makes them less effective offensively. The Nets also limited their turnovers in the first half, and this cut down their running opportunities as well. During the second half though, the Nets missed more shots and committed more turnovers. This allowed for the Suns to get out and do what they do best. Run.
Remember that whole zone defense issue? Well prepare to hear about the zone again after this performance. Brook Lopez was doing a lot of damage to the Suns’ man-to-man defense, and in the middle of the third quarter, the Suns decided to switch it up and throw a little zone at the Nets. They struggled with it, so the Suns stuck with for a large portion of the rest of the game. The Nets weren’t hitting shots from the outside, so the Suns were able to pack it in and crowd Brook Lopez. It was like a vicious flashback, we haven’t seen Brook getting double/triple teamed like that since Yi’s return, and with Yi not really shooting it well from the outside, the Nets had nobody to shoot over the top of the zone. The Nets stalled and the Suns pulled away. Some quick hitting bullets after the jump:
- It was really fun to see Brook Lopez go at it with his brother Robin Lopez. Especially late in the first where they each dunked on each other and after Brook’s dunk they exchanged shoves. Also, at one point in the game, while Robin was arguing a call, Brook openly laughed in his face…good stuff.
- Terrence Williams had a pretty nice game. 19 minutes, 4 points, and 7 rebounds. He looks more controlled out there, and if he continues to play like that, he should start seeing more minutes.
- Kris Humphries has been playing very well, but as the announce crew pointed out, he shoots pretty much every time he touches it. Sure, he is hitting them now, I wonder what is going to happen when he starts missing.
- If this team was going to beat the Nets, last night was their chance. The Suns only shot 4-13 from 3 and only had 18 fast break points. It’s not often that the Suns are limited to numbers like that. If the Nets can limit the Warriors to numbers like these, they have a shot (I know I have said this far too many times).