Tagged: Tim Duncan

Nets head into All-Star break losing two straight

netsblog021009.jpg

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Vince Carter may have played his last home game as a Net, and if so this is not the way he wanted to go out.
 
Carter was rolling along, seemingly on his way to a 40 or even 50-point night. He had 21 with 10:46 left in the third after scoring 19 during an 8:32 stretch. But these are the Spurs and they know something about defense.

So when they decided to play defense, Carter and the Nets had no shot. They got shots, but they didn’t hit many and they hardly contested any and they suffered consecutive loss No. 13 to Tim Duncan and the Spurs last night.
 
With Carter disappearing as quickly as he exploded — he finished with 25 — the Nets fell apart and fell down a peg after their 108-93 defeat to San Antonio. After their 44-point win over Denver, the Nets go into All-Star break with two straight losses by a total of 32 points.
 
The Nets aren’t as good as they looked against the Nuggets, but they could be as bad as everyone saw against the Magic and Spurs. In both games, the importance of Carter to this team was pronounced, especially against a couple of NBA elites.
 
The Nets didn’t have him against the Magic due to a strained right elbow and they were blown out. They had trouble scoring, naturally, and didn’t make up for it by playing harder on defense.
 
Last night, especially after Bruce Bowen was brought in to contain Carter, the Nets stopped scoring. All of them. The Spurs can do that to teams. But the Nets compounded things by not defending the way they needed to to have a chance.
 
“We just never really had an impact on the defensive end,” coach Lawrence Frank said.
 
Consider this: the Nets were beaten by a big three, which is expected. But the three, in high-scoring order, were Duncan 27, Matt Bonner 22 and Tony Parker 20. That middle one was Matt Bonner with 22.
 
The guy can shoot. Everyone knows that. But even his coach, Gregg Popovich, said Bonner “made a ridiculous amount of shots.” If that’s not an indictment on the Nets’ defense, then what is it?
 
Bonner came in as the No. 2 three-point shooter in the league. As of this writing, after going 4-for-5, he’s No. 1 at 50 percent for the season. How much do you think he loves playing with Duncan and Parker? Bonner is open all the time. He definitely was on this night.
 
So the Nets go into the break on a sour note, although the first part of the season went better than expected. They know what they need to do to get better and make a playoff push in the second half.
 
The first thing is to get healthy. Yi Jianlian, Bobby Simmons and Eduardo Najera are expected to be back maybe even for Tuesday’s game in Houston. The second thing is defend better. It’s a must because the schedule remains tough.
 
Of course, you don’t know whom the Nets will have on their roster by next week. The trade deadline is next Thursday. Carter and just about every Net not named Devin Harris and Brook Lopez have come up in trade chatter.
 
The Spurs are one of the teams interested in Carter. They’ve done fine without him for years and did a great job against him when it counted.

 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)

Despite effort, Nets fall short in crunch time

duncan_250.jpgSAN ANTONIO — The Nets could have ended three losing streaks last night, but there was really only one they cared about.
 
They didn’t want their season-long four-game skid to go to five, which is why Devin Harris played with sore ribs and Keyon Dooling played with a swollen ankle.
 
The Nets played valiantly, well enough to win. But as good as they were — only five turnovers — and as hard as they fought, the Spurs had the best player on the floor and made the plays when they were needed.
 
Too much Tim Duncan and too much Spurs’ savvy proved to be too much for the Nets. They left San Antonio with a 94-91 loss that extended three losing streaks. They’ve dropped five in a row, seven straight in San Antonio and 12 consecutive games to the Spurs.
 
But the Nets also seem to have left San Antonio with an understanding of how to play winning basketball on most nights. If they do what they did Friday night to most teams, the Nets are going to win games again. Maybe even tonight in Memphis.
 
“When we give the type of effort we had we have a chance to win every night,” Harris said. “That’s what you want as a team.”
 
It’s up to the Nets. You can’t have an effort like this and then play lackluster against the Grizz.
 
They should beat the Grizzlies, unless, of course, they expended all their energy in this game. Even so, they have to pull out a win tonight if they want to split this trip, which would be a success. It ends Monday in Oklahoma City.
 
But you have to see how Harris feels after logging 40 minutes and Dooling 24 minutes. Both said they were fine afterward. Harris certainly played as if he was perfectly healthy, finishing with a team-high 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting.
 
“I felt good,” Harris said. “I felt fine. The pad is a little bit different. I took a couple of shots coming off screens, but we changed the pad a little bit so it can handle more pressure.”
 
If only the Nets could have hit a couple of more shots, they would have enjoyed their best win of the season.
 
They had the Spurs in trouble in the first half as they led by eight with a pair of chances to go up double digits, but couldn’t. The Nets lost the lead and trailed by seven in the third period and it seemed Duncan (30 points, 15 rebounds) and company were ready to send them packing.
 
But it was tied with 6:01 left on two Carter foul shots. Then the Spurs went up by six with about 3:20 left, but Dooling and Harris scored five straight to make it a one-point game with 2:13 to go.
 
The fight was there. So were the desire and the urgency. The played as if they were tired of losing and wanted one streak to end, and in the process, two more would have been snapped.
 
But the Nets’ offense sputtered with three chances to take the lead. You can’t do that against the Spurs. They have too many players and playmakers.

So on the next possession, Manu Ginobili, who was so quiet you didn’t know he played, drove and delivered a pass to Michael Finley. He buried the corner three that essentially extended the Nets’ three streaks.
 
“That’s a battle-tested team,” Dooling said. “They made plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”
 
But the Nets played their best game in weeks and maybe it triggered something inside that will carry over to tonight and going forward. Maybe one streak will end tonight.
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)