Preview and chat: The New Jersey Nets

Kurt —  December 22, 2006

Those Super Subs: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a game-flow chart (from the amazing popcornmachine.net) as definitive as the one from the Laker win in Minnesota. When the starters were on the floor the Lakers struggled, when the bench guys came on so did the Lakers.

Here’s why that matters tonight: when the Lakers met the Nets last month, it was the Laker bench that sparked the big runs. (To be clear, part of that was due to Kwame Brown, who was coming off the bench back then and was a team best +9.) After Wednesday night, you have to feel a little more confident about this one.

One other note about the subs big night. Give a little credit to Phil for just staying out of the way and letting it happen. Too many coaches would have either stuck with their standard rotations or brought Kobe back in the middle of the run because, well, he’s Kobe. Phil let it be and the Lakers got the win.

Cook starts. Brian Cook replaced Radmanovic in the starting lineup in Minnesota, and he earned that right — for the four previous games Cook had been in the positive when on the court, Radmanovic in the negative. That switched against Minnesota, but I wouldn’t change back — it appears that the second unit with RadMan, Evans, Farmar and Bynum have some chemistry, I’d like to see how that plays out over the next few games.

Iverson in Denver. My gut reaction is this is going to work (for them, it’s bad for the Lakers if the West gets even deeper). Iverson fits the system well, he likes to play at a fast pace and Denver is playing faster than the Suns so far this season. Also, while Iverson has a reputation as a ball hog, 17,7% of his possessions this season ends in an assist (for some comparison, Kobe is at 15.5, Odom at 20.6 and Walton at 25.4). He can pass, but in Philly he had no finishers around him, now he’s got a team full of them.

As for the egos, this could be like the earlier days of Kobe and Shaq – they will get along fine if they are winning. If they have a few years of big success that could fall apart, but I think Nuggets ownership and fans would accept that.

Better than their record indicates. Right now the Nets have an 11-14 record, but they are playing better than that – they should be 13-12, which actually be fourth best in the East.

Last meeting.
Last month, Vince Carter led the way for the Nets (like many times this season) with 21 points and 11 boards. However, the Lakers held him to 42.9% shooting on the night, if they can do that again it will be a good sign. Along those lines, Kobe’s knee is healthier this time around, but he is still going to need some help containing Carter.

Also, Kobe shot just 33% last time around, with Odom (an his 21 points from the first game) gone, he is going to have to be more efficient this time around.

The guys who were efficient for the Lakers were Kwame Brown, who was 5 of 6 from the floor and grabbed a team-high 9 rebounds, Walton (71.4% [eFG%] in getting 10 points, and Smush Parker (60%) in getting his 13. Those three need to step up again.

Things to look for: Can the Lakers slow Nenad Krstic? A few our you out there just laughed, but Kristic scored 20 last meeting on 9 of 15 shooting, and in his last 10 games is shooting 52.2% (best of the Nets starters) and is averaging 17.7 points and 7 rebounds. Kwame is going to need to step up defensively.

I just like watching Jason Kidd play, did even when he was at Cal. And, in the last 10 games, he’s averaging 10 assists per game.

The Nets don’t create a lot of turnovers (just 15% of opponent possessions end in a turnover, second worst in the league). If the Lakers can curb that problem on their end tonight, it would help.

The defensive weak spots this season for the Nets have been at the point guard (opposing points are shooting 53%) and at the four. This is a night Smush and Cook/VladRad can step up.

The Lakers should be fairly rested here considering this is a road trip: the starters got plenty of rest in Minnesota and after tonight no games until Monday. I like the Lakers in this spot (unless Tony, Silvio and Paulie Walnuts are sitting courtside, then the fix may be in).

Kurt

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19 responses to Preview and chat: The New Jersey Nets

  1. The Lakers are on game four of a road trip, but had yesterday off. The Nets are on game four of a homestand, and also had yesterday off. The Nets are generally beating the teams they should beat (2 point hiccups against the Celtics and Raptors not withstanding), and losing to the teams you’d expect them to lose to.

    So which of those categories do the Lakers fall into?

  2. Hey Kurt, that assist stat you quoted in the Iverson item is really interesting, but I think I must be misunderstanding. When you say that 25% of Walton’s possessions end in an assist, are you saying that Luke Walton gets an assist one of every four times he touches the ball? Or, for that matter, that Kobe gets an assist one in every 6.6 times he touches the ball? That seems…wrong. Can you explain?

  3. AI threw desperate passes out of the double team. That’s how he got most of his assists. Correct?

    Bryan, um, I’ll say we fall into the 1st group.

  4. It’s not as fun watching the tape delay when you already know the outcome of the game.

  5. Looks like Kristic slowed himself. That looked bad.

  6. Idiots at KCAL didn’t even show the last 14 seconds of the game. After New Jersey got the timeout with 14.4 seconds left, they went to a break. Came back. Showed the same sequence again and then went to a break again with 14.4 seconds still on the clock. Then they came back from the next break and Stu was talking about the game being over. Seriously, if I didn’t know the game was tape delayed or what the outcome already was, I’d be completely dumbfounded.

  7. Oh, and then they try to make up for it by showing the last 9 minutes of the game over again. Only they just start showing it, and at the first commercial break, do they come back and resume the game? Nope. News starts. Classic.

  8. Jason and Jordan both have the same number 5. Interesting!

    Smushaphobes almost saw their worst nightmares realized.

    Leading by 11 with two minutes and change, Phil brought in the Smusher–presumably to close the game out. On the offensive end, Parker sat outside and dribbled, finally setting his teammates up with contested threes–or taking one himself!

    On the defensive side, the Smusher faced Kidd. Jason did his usual vintage work, driving past the Smusher or passing through him. With less than a minute left, a slow bouncing pass dribbled toward Kidd at the top of the key. The Smusher took a look and inexplicably moved the other way, guarding no one as Jason calmly made the three.

    When Kobe missed again, playground style, the Nets had an almost miraculous chance for a 3 to tie and put the game into overtime.

    They didn’t–but those of us who watched on Channel 9 never saw what happened.

    Those of us who are more rational couldn’t possibly blame the near metdown on offense/defense of the Smusher–or could we?

  9. (2) It is not every time you touch the ball. Its the percentage of everytime you finish a possesion i.e. shoot, get fouled, turnover, or assist.

  10. 2. Dan, Ian answered it for me, but it is the percentage of possessions a player “uses” or finishes. An assist counts in that. In Luke’s case, he makes a lot of passes to guys who score off his pass (something you just kind of know by watching in his case). By the way, Steve Nash leads the league in that category at 38.4%.

    If you want to be statistically accurate, this is really a ratio.

  11. I had it on in the background at friends for a holiday party, and I just thought I missed the last play until I got home and watched the TiVo. Wow, that’s quite a screw up.

  12. I can’t take it anymore. It seems that every time Smush gets brushed by a screen he gets completely taken out of the play and his man gets a good look. OK, maybe not EVERY time but enough to be noticable. I mean, he just gets touched and he acts like he’s been hit by a truck or something. Is it just me, or do other people see this? It drives me crazy.

  13. (12) I know what you are talking about. This is partially true, but also we probably notic it because it has been talked about so much on this blog that you are alert for it.

    I also noticed that a lot of players are able to just blow by hime with a hesitation move or a cross over. For some one able to get so many steals the smusher really isn’t very quick laterally.

  14. I’ve been going back and forth with some people about Jason Kidd’s three near the last minute of the game. Smush faded away from Kidd because he was looking for Kidd to pass in that situation. Eddie House was wide open behind the 3 point arc as well, and shooting a 3 is exactly the reason House was on the floor at that time. Well, the pass didn’t come and no one tried to rotate over and help, so Smush ended up stuck between both of them. No matter what decision he makes in that situation someone takes a wide open 3-point shot because no one recovered on House either.

    There’s plenty of stuff that Smush does to complain about, but I can’t get upset about that. And it’s hardly Smush’s fault that the game was as close as it was. The Nets were going on runs all night long whenever the Lakers established a lead. And it’s also not Smush’s fault that the Lakers had all of 1 point in the last 3 minutes of the game.

  15. (14) Its all smush’s fault, everything, Shaq leaving, Isiah ruining the knicks…I hear he was also the mysterious person that injected Shawne Merriman with steroids.

  16. I heard Smush was on the grassy knoll in Dallas.

  17. 16 I also heard that Smush registered, voted, and left a hanging chad in a Miami voting booth. Someone noticed and disputed his vote. When the hanging chads were dropped from the counting, the Governor’s brother won Florida and the election.

    The rumor that Smush is the “other” Parker in the triangular love life of a Desperate Housewife cannot be confirmed.

  18. I heard Smush caused the northridge quake of 94, all on his lonesome. When playing defense, he was going under on a pick and roll and fell so hard that he caused the tectonic plates to shift. What a jerk.

  19. Smush’s D is something I’ve been complaining to my friends about for the last year and a half. I’m just used to watching laker guards that can actually play some D and actually look like they are trying to get at their man even after they get picked instead of just standing their like they don’t know what they should do. It makes me cringe. That’s just how I feel.