The Nets’ second half against the Pistons might have been the best half of basketball the Nets have played all season (it was the most points they scored in the half). Even with this surge, the Nets tried really hard to give the game away at the end. There was a few turnovers, combined with a few threes from the Pistons and the lead got cut to 6. After a steal from Keyon Dooling, the Nets were able to ice the game from the line.
The main reason the Nets were able to come away with the win was the play of their frontcourt. Brook Lopez put in 37 points, but the real surprise was Yi Jianlian. Right from the start, Yi looked aggressive and knew what he was going to do with the ball before he even got it. Yi was able to get himself to the line (7 FTA), knock down his threes (2-2), and he was knocking down his jumpers. Yi’s ability to have games like these is the reason the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him so high, and it’s why the Nets were willing to take on Bobby Simmons contract to get him. Yi has just been unable to take the next step, which is doing it on a consistent basis. When Yi has things working for him, it makes the game so much easier for Brook Lopez (and this is why I think a guy like Chris Bosh would be a perfect fit as a Net), and it really showed yesterday. In his postgame recap, Ben Couch had an interesting quote from Brook Lopez about it:
“He’s been really working. We really jelled together and it’s improved. Now we get to the point where you can have us both in the game at crunch time and play off the two of us.”
Devin Harris also impressed me with his play. Usually when you see him have a low scoring game, it is because the shot isn’t falling and he will end up with a 1-15 night or something like that. Last night, Devin felt the shot wasn’t working and decided to get his bigs involved. He only attempted 4 shots the entire night, but he was able to rack up 12 assists. I think games like these are important to his development as a “true” point guard. He was able to gauge the Nets’ offense and what was working and took advantage of it. He was also dedicated to getting Brook Lopez the ball throughout the game, not just in the first half (which is something that has happened all year). With another game against a small/injured front-court (the Chicago Bulls), hopefully we can see this again.
One more thing on the Nets’ near collapse. It was obvious that they were playing tight late, trying to hold onto that elusive ninth win. If the Nets end up in that situation once again, I think they will handle it much differently. Now that they got win number 9, all the pressure is off of their shoulders. You can sense it in the way they celebrated/congratulated each other after the game and when listening to Brook Lopez and Devin Harris talk to reporters after the game. Without the whole W.O.A.T situation hanging over their head they don’t have to think and they can just play basketball. That’s when the game comes easy. When you don’t have to think and you can just play.
Some more thoughts after the jump…
- Terrence Williams had himself another complete game. 13 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds. If you told me at the beginning of the year that he would be playing this well at the end of the year I would have called you crazy. He has always had the ability, but it looked like it was going to take him a while to grasp it. He’s developing ahead of schedule, and it is fun to watch.
- 30 assists on 40 makes. 75% of the Nets’ baskets last night were assisted. That was the main reason the Nets shot 57.1% throughout the duration of the game. With such a high assist rate, it means that guys aren’t going 1 on 1 working for their shots. Easier shots means higher shooting percentage which means more points. It also means less chances for the opposition to get out and run.