Nets fight for their playoff lives

nets320_032009.jpgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.– The sight of Dwyane Wade in his uniform and Devin Harris in a suit could have made for a long night for the Nets. But it wasn’t, not with the Nets grasping the importance of the game and the subs rising to the occasion.
 
Wade has destroyed the Nets this season, averaging 35 points in three Miami wins. He was a game-time decision because of a hip flexor that kept him out of the previous game and when it was decided he would play, the Nets needed to lift their games.
 
It didn’t matter that Wade wasn’t himself. The Nets had to play the game as if he was the MVP candidate he is because even on an off night he scored 27 points. The Nets have to approach every game the way they did their 96-88 win over the Heat on Friday night.
 
The Nets are still in 11th place in the East, now two games out of the playoffs, but the only way they will have a chance is to play with the effort they played with against the Heat.
 
The Nets showed resilience, beating the Heat on a night when Vince Carter missed 13 of his 18 tries, and withstanding a second-half run by Miami, which fought back from 14 down and tied the game in the fourth.
 
In March, against good teams, close games usually end up in gut-wrenching losses for the Nets. Throughout the season, against Wade and the Heat, close games usually ended up in disappointing losses for the Nets.
 
Maybe Wade’s health had something to do with it or maybe the Nets grew after all they’ve been through lately between the 0-4 West Coast trip and narrow defeats to the Hornets, Celtics and Magic. Whatever the case, the Nets made the plays late on a night when Carter made one fourth-quarter field goal.
 
The Nets were carried by Jarvis Hayes and Chris Douglas-Roberts. The first isn’t too surprising. Hayes has hit big shots this season. But, Douglas-Roberts wasn’t really in the rotation before Harris was hurt. Now he’s a go-to guy?
 
That’s pushing it a little. OK, a lot. But it’s hard to have a better fourth quarter, off the bench, as a rookie, than Douglas-Roberts had. He was 2-for-2 from the field, including his first NBA three, 4-of-4 from the line, had four rebounds, two assists and one steal.
 
Four of his points came when the Nets turned a tie game into a nine-point lead. His last five points came in the final 1:10 with the Nets up five.
 
In all, Douglas-Roberts had a career-high 18 points, matching the total of Hayes, who also had nine in the fourth.
 
“The bench was tremendous,” coach Lawrence Frank said. “Those guys hitting huge shots, Jarvis and Chris. But just the trust we showed late in the game — I loved it.”
 
This isn’t going to be an every night thing for the bench, although it will help the Nets’ chances at a playoff spot. But the biggest thing was the way the Nets played. It’s the only chance they have of winning games, especially with the schedule they’re facing.
 
Their next three games are against LeBron James — they play a home-and-home with Cleveland — and Kobe Bryant. The Nets can only hope they’re not themselves the way Wade wasn’t entirely himself.
 
But, the Nets would help themselves if they play with this same type of effort and intensity, same focus on defense, and if they stay calm and mentally tough. That’s the only shot they have of staying in the race.
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).

3 comments

  1. luousa@gmail.com

    NETS did play two great games!

    Carter is the leader and organizer of NETS, a super team player! As far as he is playing, NETS has five players on court to play the game. Hayes, Roberts, Lopez, Dooling, etc. did their great jobs. Hayes is very matural player. Roberts really made a surprise!

    Last night the NETS had a real win, not by a last second shoot, almost 10 points lead.

    One big difference of last two games than preview loss games (even lost to Clippers!), is: Moving. Both the ball moving and player’s moving on court. Carter had the team (5 players on court) to play against Knicks and Heats. In all the loss games, it seems only one player on court, other four players just stand statiscally on court.

    If NETS want a chance of playoff, it MUST give the team to Carter, then the five players on court can work as a team: Keep moving, shooting in offense and agressive in defense.

  2. jpmonaghan@prodigy.net

    Has anyone noticed that the Nets are playing much better team basketball since Harris went down? He’s a nice player, very fast and an excellent shooter at times, but a point guard is supposed to make the others better as well and he fails that test. His dribble-dribble-drive style of play leads to too many lost balls, wild passes, and turnovers (twice each in the last few minutes of the last three games he played) , and if he gets the ball out it is often too late and the others have to rush their shots.
    Perhaps the biggest problem is that he has marginalized Vince Carter: it’s no surprise that Carter has excelled since Harris went down. I guess it is the coach’s job to get him to play more of a team game and to utilize their best weapon – Carter – more.

  3. luousa@gmail.com

    Harris has excellent skills to get fouls from his offense, fast speed, ball control and one on one offense. The coach should find a best way to use his these talents. However, NETS cannot lean on a 6’3″ point guard for EVERY game, one or two games are possible. Harris is not Michael Jordan.

    The best height for NBA player should be between 6’5″ and 6’10”. In those loss games, Harris was very busy in drippling, but the other three and a half players (LOPEZ did some screens) just standed statically on court to watch, no moving: neither palyer moving, nor ball moving.

    If the ball and players are lack of moving, it is too hard to win. NETS should learn from Celtics’ games: how their players on court moving and how their passing the ball to each other.

    NETS do need to fully use LOPEZ and CARTER, as well as Harris, Hayes, Simens, Dooling, Yi, Hassel. Frank should make sure that five players on court aggresively play as a TEAM in both offense and defense, not as static individuals .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s