Tagged: comeback

Nets come through despite struggling stars

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MILWAUKEE – The Nets showed what it’s going to take for them to be a playoff team. Even on a night when their two best players don’t have it, the Nets have to find a way to get a win.
 
Considering the importance of the game, where it was and what Vince Carter and Devin Harris were doing to their own and the team’s shooting percentage, this had to rank as one of the most impressive victories of the season.

 They left the Bradley Center with a 99-95 win that really counted double because they moved within one-half game of Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot and to a 2-1 edge in the season series.
 
The first tiebreaker if the two teams are deadlocked at season’s end is head-to-head battles. They play for the last time on March 30 at the IZOD Center.
 
Back to this game: the Nets normally can’t survive nights when Harris has more turnovers (five) than field goals (three) or when Carter misses 75 percent of his shots.
 
But the Nets were able to withstand Carter’s 5-for-20 performance and Harris’ 3-for-14 effort that was influenced by an apparent asthma attack and come back from 10 down in the third because they defended and got the proverbial contributions from everybody.
 
The Nets’ zone defense was effective if not stalwart. They held the Bucks to 38.5 percent shooting, and Richard Jefferson was just 4-of-18 from the field.
 
Rookie Brook Lopez was a stud with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. But the Nets don’t win this game without the bench.
 
Ryan Anderson, who hadn’t played the prior two games, was a perfect 3-for-3 and scored 13 points off the bench in 13 minutes over the third and fourth quarters. And Keyon Dooling, playing with an arthritic hip, and Jarvis Hayes, with partially torn ligaments in his left thumb, buried huge buckets in the fourth period.
 
Dooling hit two 3-pointers early, and Hayes sunk another trey off a Carter feed with 18.5 seconds left that gave the Nets the lead for good, 93-90.
 
“Ryan came in and gave us a huge lift after not playing the last couple of games,” Hayes said. “He came in with sense of urgency and he kind of picked up everybody else. We fed off his energy in the second half.”
 
Coach Lawrence Frank called each of the three bench guys a “game changer,” which they were.
 
If the Nets lost this game, they would have been in 10th place, 2 in back of Milwaukee and been behind in the season series with games upcoming against the Celtics Wednesday night and in Orlando on Friday. So this was as close to a must-win in March as there is.
 
“We’re all jockeying for that same position,” Dooling said. “That makes it more gratifying.”
 
“It’s big for a lot of reasons — just the time of the season when we need wins, when we could have easily folded,” Carter said. “I’m glad to see guys come together and play well.”
 
It’s not always going to be like this. As long as Harris is healthy, and this isn’t a recurring thing — he has exercise-induced asthma and said he never had it as bad as last night — the Nets’ stars aren’t going to shoot like this on most nights. But it’s important that their teammates picked them up.
 
The bench guys came in and were game changers. They may wind up being season changers.
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)

Better late than never

carter_350.jpgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Nets and their fans can get used to this. But not exactly how it happened Monday.
 
The Nets had to do it without Devin Harris in the second half, which they hope doesn’t become a common occurrence. The bottom line, though, is they got it done.
 
It was another come-from-behind victory. It was a first for this season. It was a 98-90 win over the Sacramento Kings that gave the Nets the first back-to-back home victories of this season.
 
“Yeah,” Jarvis Hayes said, “that’s a first, huh?”
 
Amazingly, it is. It took the Nets 19 games but they have a home winning streak. And think about what it took for the Nets to have a home winning streak.
 
They needed to come back from 20 down Friday against the Hawks and needed a Vince Carter 30-foot jumper at the buzzer in overtime to win the first game.
 
Last night, they needed to come back from 13 down, without Harris, and needed Yi Jianlian’s first 20-10 double-double in nearly two months to get the second one.
 
They also needed a stalwart second-half defensive performance to limit Kevin Martin, who embarrassed the Nets with 25 points in the first half.
 
The biggest things they should take out of this is that they can play this kind of defense, and Yi can have games like this. Forget that they’ve been few and far between, especially the Yi part.
 
But the Nets have to make sure they have another strong game Wednesday and do what they can to get Yi involved because it looks like they could be without Harris on Wednesday when Memphis comes to town, and they go for an unprecedented three wins in a row.
 
“We’ve just got to keep it going,” Hayes said. “Collectively, I think we’re playing better defensively. When you have off nights, defense will keep you in the game. On some nights, offense can go up and down, but if defense is consistent, you’ll be in almost all the games.
 
“We’ve played pretty good defense the last four or five games. We just got to keep up the intensity.”
 
The Nets have to try to make sure they don’t fall behind big again, though.
 
You can only come back from that so many times. If they wouldn’t have done so against the Kings, losers of 11 straight road games now, this would have been an awful defeat for the Nets, even if they didn’t have Harris after halftime.
 
They made sure it didn’t happen, though, by holding Martin to 11 points after halftime, and by limiting the Kings to 35 points in the second half – two fewer than Sacramento scored in the second period.
 
The Nets made sure it didn’t happen because Yi played big with 22 points and 13 rebounds, including some huge offensive boards. And because Carter was the perfect playmaker with 17 points and five assists in the second half. And because Josh Boone rebounded and defended, and Keyon Dooling defended and knocked down shots and because Trenton Hassell defended.
 
All of that went into this win against a team that fell to 8-27, which is why it would have been terrible if the Nets would have lost. But they battled and fought and everyone contributed in Harris’ absence. Now they have a home winning streak – two months after their first game here. You know what they say: better late than never.
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)