Two bad teams on lengthy losing streaks clashed last night, & the result was some frequently unsightly ball. The Nets were able to find their game from long range in the second half, build up a solid lead, & hold off the Raps’ comeback for the win.
Fresh injuries & Amir Johnson’s suspension left the Raps’ roster in tatters. Quincy Acy was recalled from the minors in order to make the minimum number of 9 dressed players. Poor Quincy’s trip was in vain; he was the only Rap not to hit the floor. The threadbare lineup surprised the Nets, & the Raps took a Q1 lead. Jonas Valanciunas collected good passes from his ‘mates under the hoop & finished strong. Ed Davis hit several of his vastly-improved jump shots, on his way to an 11-point Q. The Nets needed a Deron Williams 3-ball at the buzzer to stay within 7. However, DeMar DeRozan was frequently being double-teamed & couldn’t manage his first bucket until late in Q2. To his credit, he passed well out of the pressure, but the Raps couldn’t take advantage. Neither team looked like it had any idea how to shoot. A dreary Q ended on another buzzer-beater, this time Aaron Gray tipping in a DeRozan miss. The Raps’ lead, briefly 10 points, was still 8.
The Nets came to play in Q3, scoring 31 points, many of them on the Raps’ nemesis, the uncontested 3-ball. Earl Watson & Joe Johnson, on his way to 23 points, were particular trouble. Andray Blatche has resurrected his career after being paid to go away by Washington. He has stepped into the void left by Centre Robin Lopez’s injury & was 7/14 last night. (Don’t send me any “let’s trade for Blatche” notes, please: several times he had a mismatch of half a foot in his favour, yet was content taking fadeaway jumpers. “Gotta be careful; Jose Calderon might block my shot.” No wonder he never made it to the free throw line.) The Nets’ roster is odd: while having one rebound-happy undersized Power Forward is a fine idea, why would you need 2 (Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries)?
Raptor confusion & ineptitude continued well into Q4, as the Nets pulled out to a 15-point lead. In fairness, the Raps clawed back, led by Davis, who ended with 24, & 12 boards. His and-1 hook shot brought the Raps within 4 with 17 timeout-filled seconds to play. The Raps’ last chance was a 3 by Lucas, & he missed, as he’s been doing all season. A Nets’ victory, however sloppy, was in the books.
Calderon was dishing all night, & ended with 15 assists & 10 points. Raps’ distance shooting was dreadful, again – 4/18.
The Mavericks visit the ACC on Friday night.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.