How `bout them apples?
--A quote from the game preview: "The only way to win this game would be for us to absolutely outscrap and outhustle them every minute we're out there. New Jersey is very, very solid but not that opportunistic (because like most good teams they don't have to be). If we see ten different Blazers diving on the floor, throwing themselves around, willing themselves to rebounds, and making the most of small opportunities, if that surprises New Jersey, and if they're somehow having an off night, then I could maybe see us getting some kind of emotional miracle win." Long story short, that's exactly what we saw. That's why we won...superior concentration, superior energy, superior desire. It came out in a lot of ways (assists, rebounds, steals) but it was all due to that.
--Our game plan early was obviously to take pressure off of Zach. The first play we ran was for Martell. The second shot went to Aldridge. After that we spread it around. It was a good game plan too.
--We did an excellent job of sharing the ball tonight (with a couple typical exceptions). We also had a lot of movement and screen setting. This benefited the alternate scorers. The Nets' broadcast guys flashed a stat that said we had 10 assists on our first 12 buckets. Way to go!
--We did a magnificent job on Vince Carter during the first half. Udoka held him up long enough for a double team to come. He had a hard time scoring and it really took the starch out of their offense.
--Our transition game was also good for most of the game. We really hustled back on defense. In the first half we were half-running the ball up the court instead of walking it.
--Nate subbed often, keeping fresh people in the game. Our guards did look a little fatigued during the second half but he really extended their shelf life tonight. Also SOMEBODY obviously got to this team overnight. I'm assuming Nate had something to do with that. Smart game plan, good execution, nice game. Bravo.
--Other people had flashier stats, but this was really Jarrett Jack's game. 12 points on 80% shooting, 8 assists, no turnovers, good hustle in transition, and much like Udoka on Carter, he held up Jason Kidd long enough to get some help. Even more importantly he ran the offense. He kept his head and got the ball to people in the right spots. He penetrated, dished, and hit the shot when he had to. This was maybe his best game of the year (which might well make it the best game of his career). I swear Sergio's little run this week opened up some doors for JJ, or at least lit a fire under him.
--Speaking of Sergio, he only played 3 minutes and got 1 assist. The league has the book on him now. They zone up, sagging way the heck off of EVERYBODY, when he comes in the game. He will not take the shot and the perimeter guys that were in with him (Juan and Travis) wouldn't take deep shots either. That led to a couple of back-to-back 24 second clock violations on our part and Sergio's quick yanking. It's time for him to make an adjustment or say bye-bye to the court. Also we probably need to keep a perimeter guy or two in with him.
--Let's talk about Jamaal Magloire for a second. He played 14 minutes and had 9 points and 5 rebounds. When he came in he posted Krstic deep, within four feet of the bucket, and hit nearly every shot he took (after catching the ball). This is the Jamaal we need to see. It was his best game of the year too.
--Hello Lamarcus! He was on fire out there, dominating for parts of the game. His turn around shot was deadly. It did look like an Olajuwon or `Sheed move there for a minute. He played really good defense and was seldom out of position. Nate played him 34 minutes as a result. I'd like to see him continue that for about a month and then assume more responsibility for the post offense to see how he handles double teams. If the boy can pass a little too I'm going to get really excited. Small steps though...
--Ime Udoka played his usual quiet-but-extremely-helpful game. 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and some darn fine defense. Don't let anybody fool you about this: he's a big part of almost every game we do win. He has disappearing nights too, but that's usually when the rest of the team is crumbling around him. He's not a savior in any sense. But when you're playing smart he's a great guy for holding up his end and a little more.
--I'm not sure what to say about Zach. I loved his 16 rebounds, 15 defensive. There were a couple of those that were hard-fought too. Bravo, and due credit. But he also reverted to Me-Bo on the offensive end big time tonight. He was holding the ball, going against double and triple teams, and generally making me pretty frustrated. We built up that enormous lead by playing great team ball in the first half. It was almost like he looked at the stat sheet at halftime, saw he only had 9 points, and decided to shoot everything he put his hands on. It didn't end up hurting so you can't be too upset, but had the Nets managed more of a comeback it would have become an issue...not so much because I mind Zach scoring, but because the offense just stalls when he's getting a steady diet of those kind of shots. One particularly interesting moment came between 3:18 and 3:12 of the 3rd quarter if you have the game on tape. We had pushed the ball down and Lamarcus Aldridge (who, as we said, was having a fine night) had gotten deep, quick post position on his man, just like you're supposed to. This was real, live Shaq-type position. He had his guy sealed off, pinned down, and would have mailed him home to momma had he gotten the ball. The perimeter player was getting ready to pass to him when Zach cuts through the lane diagonally, bringing his defender in tow, and steps right into Aldridge's space. Then he proceeds to stand there, two feet behind him, trying to wave Lamarcus off. Since the spot was now so hopelessly clogged there could be no entry pass and they had to clear out. It was like the bad old days with Patterson, Miles, and Zach, all of whom would pile all over each other trying to get the ball for themselves. Ugh.
--The Nets wore their alternate red road jerseys to introduce them to the crowd. Maybe wearing our home whites gave us a psychological advantage? Somehow I think those Nets reds didn't sell too well after this game...
--Great, great comeback game. What more needs to be said? It'll be nice to get a breather and then get back home.
Update [2006-11-19 4:5:56 by Dave]: Silly me! I forgot to mention Martell Webster, who was a surprise starter in place of Stephen Graham. Though he only shot 2 of 9 for 7 points, he was more aggressive tonight than we've seen him, which is good. He recorded 4 rebounds and 4 steals which showed he was more into the game. For some reason I think almost every shot from Martell is a good shot. I guess I should break myself of that habit, but the ball looks so sweet every time it leaves his fingers.