Preview & Chat: The New Jersey Nets

Kurt —  November 25, 2008

Records: Lakers 11-1 (1st in West) Nets 6-6 (8th in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.3 (3rd in League) Nets 109.2 (5th in League)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 96.5 (1st in League) Nets 112.7 (30th in League)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Nets : Devon Harris, Vince Carter, Bobby Simmons, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez

Horry in the Hall: Does Robert Horry, he of the clutch shots and seven rings, belong in the Hall of Fame? This conversation sprung up in the comments on yesterdays post, which was fortunate timing as I was involved last week in an email conversation with the bloggers at 48 minutes of Hell and Dream Shake talking about this issue.

Now the entire conversation is online and worth reading. For the record, I love Horry, but in no way is he a Hall of Famer.

Lakers notes: When you hear players from top college teams talk — such as from UCLA basketball’s squad last season or USC’s football squads the last few years — they often say that practices are tougher than most games. The depth of talent and driven players looking to catch the coach’s eye leads to spirited practices.

Now, it looks like the Lakers are doing that as well.

What stood out to me about on Monday, especially after speaking to Chris Mihm, was that sometimes L.A.’s practices are tougher than games. Mihm alluded in particular to how deep and talented the team is, meaning that even the third unit’s going to offer some serious competition.

“From my aspect, I’m going up Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, plus D.J. Mbenga who’s a very strong, physical player,” he said. “There aren’t better bigs that we go up against in games, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for everybody to really work on their game, especially guys like me who aren’t really getting minutes on the floor in games with now.”

I also asked Mihm about the physicality of these practices, because obviously, L.A.’s assistant coaches aren’t calling many fouls. As such, any time a big gets the ball in the paint, he’s going to get hacked by at least his defender, if not double-teamed and hit from two angles. So for Mihm, concentration is key, because if he knows they’re going to foul him and he won’t get bailed out with free throws, he’d better find a way to make the bucket anyway.

The Nets Coming In: There is more to this New Jersey team than how they are falling behind in the “LeBron in 2010” sweepstakes. There is a red-hot Vince Carter and Brook Lopez’s big feet, just to name a couple things.

The Nets have one of the best starting backcourts in the NBA. Harris is a speedster who gets to the line, scores (60% True Shooting Percentage), and can dish the ball (31% of his possessions this season have ended in an assist). Harris has a team-best PER of 26.9 and looks like an All-Star (not that Dallas could use that, they have Kidd).

Vince Carter has always been able to get to the rack, but in the last 10 games he has shot 41.7% from three, which makes him far more difficult to defend. He also may be one of the best post-up guards in the game, and expect to see a lot of that. His true shooting percentage on the season is 58.7%.

As a team, the Nets are not great shooters (49.2% eFG%, 16th in the league), but they get offensive rebounds, get to the free throw line and their backcourt doesn’t turn the ball over much. They hustle and work hard for coach Lawrence Frank, and that makes them a dangerous team to play. Look past them and you will get the loss.

While the Nets play with passion on offense, that does not translate to the other end. Teams shoot 51.6% (eFG%) against the, third highest percentage in the league, and the Nets foul a lot, second most in the league. While some of their guys gamble at making steals, as a team they are not good at it and they can be made to pay for their aggressive moves.

Keys To The Game: In some ways this looks a lot like the Sacramento game — a team that is very good on offense but terrible on defense comes into Staples.

The Lakers are going to have to do a much better job of stopping dribble penetration against the Nets — Harris and Carter are miles better than Udrih and Salmons. This is not just a Fisher/Kobe issue, the bigs have to show out on pick and rolls, they have to be ready to help. Yi can shoot from the outside, but Brook Lopez has not shown a lot of offensive chops yet at this level (although that part of his game should develop).

Because of how quick Harris is, transition defense matters. The Lakers were terrible at it against Sacramento, they need to not make turnovers and get back to the other end of the court quickly tonight.

The Nets will try to play some 2-3 zone, the Lakers need to recognize it and break it down. The Nets zone is not that intimidating.

Where you can watch:Fox Sports here in LA, nationally you’ll need League Pass or one of the several Web streams for the game.



89 responses to Preview & Chat: The New Jersey Nets

  1. I think the defensive lapses against the Queens will benefit our team tonight, because we were exposed pretty badly on the P&R, and as you say Kurt, transition D. so now we should have had a few days of practice to work on these weaknesses. I’m looking forward to seeing how we respond to this, and see if the teams ability to adapt, and learn from practicing will work.
    Let’s hope we do come out improved in that area.
    this will show that our coaching staff can teach, and our players can learn, thus improving as the season progresses.
    it was cool to see that when we blew the lead against the Queens, PJ had the option of bringing back in the starters, (who were beginning to expect to take the 4th quarter off) they came back in and the built up the lead again.
    benefits of a Deeeeep team.

  2. Do you think this game will be harder than the practice. It is great to hear that Lakers are going at each other during practices and that is one of the biggest benefits of having a deep team. Players are always motivated and in best shape because even during a practice they go up against good players. I am wondering if it’s starting five against the mob bench, that would be really unfair and who plays the C for the mob, Chris Mihm? Either way playing against Farmar, Sasha, Ariza, LO and Mihm should be tougher than playing against starting teams of Thunder and Wizards

  3. This is a team that has beaten us repeatedly. This is no gimme. I’d love to see a reversal of fortune.

  4. dont forget kobe and VC’s strange dislike for each other. it’s always fun even if i’m not sure where it came from.

  5. I think that VC brings that on himself more than most players. Plus they both are pretty good perimeter players, so there is always a little barking that is going to go on.

  6. Any idea where a kid from Virginia without League Pass could watch this game?

  7. I don’t think the Lakers will have problems breaking down the zone. First, the Lakers operate in a front court zone on defense. If they really do practice harder than games, then they will take advantage of the zone defense.

    Second, when the Suns showed zone, the Lakers were patient and dismantled the zone. They passed around the perimeter, waited for the zone defense to break down and passed it to an open wing for an easy deuce.

    Last, their plethora of perimeter shooters will feast on this defense. After watching Fisher and Radman, I wouldn’t expect the Nets to flash zone quickly.

    I also think our 2nd unit can dominate versus the Nets. The Nets are fairly thin after their starting 5 and will not be able to keep pace with the Lakers mob.

  8. @6
    I usually go on and search “Lakers v _____” before the game and can usually find a stream that way.

  9. I hope we can win tonight. Nothing is promised in this league, and I think Phil will get that point across.

    I’m quite nervous about Devin Harris. If Bobby Brown torched our perimeter d, then Devin Harris may go off for a huge game. We have to help our guards better and our PG’s have to actually try to stay in front of someone.

  10. Kurt, are you still considering doing more of those live blogs during games? I wasn’t able to participate, but it was a good read after the fact, and it seemed like those that did join in had a pretty good time. I would imagine that it’s probably kind of a pain to moderate though…

  11. Remember VC’s first reaction to Kobe’s 81 pt game? I think Kobe has valid beef with VC, not to mention that VC always strikes me as Shaq-like in terms of game preparation (his image thanks to his lackluster years in Vancouver).

    I think one of these days, we should assemble an if-they-were-just-a-bit-more-motivated team, one with legitimate stars that could’ve been legends if they had Kobe/KG/Jordan-like focus.

    Shaq and VC immediately come to mind 😉

  12. Anyone know of any web streams for this game tonight?

  13. One more thought on Horry then I’ll move on to current events.

    Overall. No I do not think Horry is a HOF’er, and shouldn’t be. I just think that if there might be a place for very good players who weren’t good enough to even make a Finals (Nash), then there is a place for players of Horry’s resume.

  14. 10. Ryan, we will do those again. I can’t carve out the time to do them every game, and that would likely lead to some burnout anyway. But for big games down the line, I do want to do it. (Not Christmas though, sitting at a computer through my family party would lead to me sleeping on the couch for a month, if not in the gutter.)

  15. Kurt,

    Live blog tonight? I have to watch this one online again. (I just might keep doing this since I’ve seen every game this year, meanwhile saving money), so I won’t mind some convo as well.

  16. Oh. Just saw your answer. I was typing before I refreshed.

  17. What’s so amazing about Shaq is that even if he was only semi-motivated, he’s still got a legitimate claim to being the Most Dominant Ever. Though Bron-Bron looks like he’s gonna give Shaq a run for his money.

  18. What was VC’s first reaction to Kobe’s 81?

  19. Harris worries me, but did he ever kill us while in Dallas? He may not be the prototypical small PG that kills us. He’s still quick as hell, so I’m not sure why it would help us that he’s taller, but I don’t remember him kil. ling us on Dallas. Maybe they never gave him the chance.

    I think the hall of fame is mistitled. If fame is the issue then Horry is definitely worthy. Everybody knows him for the right reasons (as opposed to Marbury who should be in the hall of infamy). But 90% of the people who get into the HOF are obscure figures from other leagues. Not to diminish the impact of those people, but they absolutely ain’t famous. Maybe they should change the name to Hall of Basketball Historicity.

    As it stands though, if Dennis Johnson isn’t a HOFer, Horry isn’t either. But I tend to believe every Finals MVP deserves a spot (yes even Chauncey).

  20. LBJ will never be as dominant as Shaq. Maybe he’ll be a better all-around player, but Shaq, in his prime was quite dominant. Although not most dominant ever, all the evidence needed for that is the ’94 Finals (yea Shaq was young, but Hakeem gave it to him good)

  21. Being a Kobe fan, LeBron is the one player on the NBA whom I fear. He’s really impressing me these days the way he can carry a team. I hate the Magic comparisons, because the only thing they share are size, but that is his one Magic-like quality. His teams will always have a shot.

  22. David St. Hubbins November 25, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Harris, Carter, and the Nets will attack the Lakers a little differently than Sacto did. Part of what made Sacto so effective at the PnR was putting two good shooting and passing big men in Miller and Hawes to either side of the guard to draw our bigs out of the lane. This opened up driving and cutting space from the rest of the Sacto team. New Jersey can’t field a team with 2 big men that shoot or pass that well. I don’t see Lopez, Boone, and whichever Collins twin they have draining a lot of 20 footers. That being said, I think that Sacto exposed something that other teams will try to exploit in the PnR from the top of the key instead of initiating their offense from the wing which plays into the Lakers strong side trap. In fact, I was really surprised that Phoenix didn’t do this a lot more with Nash/Stoudemire as that was the bread and butter of their half court offense last year and they are really, really good at it. I don’t think Phoenix did themselves any favors by trying to play through Shaq for extended periods of time. I’m sure that we’ll see plenty of PnR from the top from NJ tonight, but that’s what the season is all about…discovering your weaknesses and then adjusting your scheme to shore them up.

  23. Fanerman- VC basically said that Kobe’s 81 was a bad thing for basketball, especially for kids. Funny cause about 85% of VC’s shots are “bad” shots that I wouldn’t want a young basketball player shooting. Add in his tank job in Toronto and he basically undercut his own argument. I think VC really thought he was gonna be on Kobes level, he came in 2 years after Kobe and got a lot of attention pre-3peat. Now he’s a has-been, and Kobe is a 3x champ with a gold medal around his neck and worldwide fame…advantage, Kobe

  24. Are the Lakers going to respond and change to what they themselves deemed a “bad win” against sacramento? I can see a fired up Lakers squad demolishing the nets tonight. They aren’t happy with the way they played vs the kings and tonight they’re going to prove that they are the no.1 offensive and defensive team in the L.

    Prepare for a massacre.

  25. Cleveland completely massacred New York. The game was ugly!!! OKC beating Dallas at the moment and Wiz beat GS. It’s interesting two bottom teams with new coaches are winning their first games under the new coach

  26. This looks like a good link for tonights game:

  27. @ harold

    VC never played on a Vancouver team. Please check your Canadian map.

  28. Darius,

    That site is lagging. Try this instead:

  29. 25. I think you meant OKC was beating Phoenix. Barnes’ just pulled out a last minute 3 out of nowhere though to rally the Suns from 16 and win the game. Wow, who knew OKC had it in them.

  30. NJ can’t guard our bigs. No outside shots today, just feed it into the bigs.

  31. I say we get VC in foul trouble by having Kobe attack him a few times in a row. Once VC is out NJ becomes a one man (Harris) show

  32. Thanks for the link Darius!! It works just fine….

  33. First time I’m able to watch the Lakers in a long time. Is it just me or is Andrew not getting the rebounds he’s supposed to be getting? On some plays he doesn’t even seem to be boxing out or reaching out for the rebound. Afraid of foul trouble? But I’m not an expert by any means.

  34. Good to see the defense has picked up where it left off against Sacto…

  35. John – I have trouble linking Toronto Raptors with VC for some reason, maybe it’s because VC seems to stand for Vancouver, Canada to me 😉

    81 Witness – it’s not lagging alright, but the site is definitely NOT work friendly; just glad nobody’s behind me watching my screen.

    And for the game, Kobe’s starting out slooooow

  36. Glad you like the site harold 😉

    Please Lakers pass it into the middle. There’s a reason NJN is ranked third to last on D!!!

  37. Someone needs to calculate how many extra possessions a game Ariza is worth. Steals, tips, loose balls, offensive rebounds, etc., etc.

  38. I’m stuck at work and not watching the game yet, why is NJ’s shooting percentage so high?

  39. another link please

  40. a smoother link would be nice, both ofthe above links are laggin…

  41. Kurt — while the rotations are consistently late, it feels a lot like the Detroit game to me. NJ is just making a lot of long 2 pointers, which we can probably live with. There’s still plenty of room to tighten up though.

  42. Darius your link is fine – just kinda choppy. Thanks for the link info.

  43. Kobe is playing crap defense. Twice he’s lost Vince Carter already, and another time he fouled him to prevent VC from getting into the lane. And he’s hogging the ball on offense. Twice either Radman or Fish has been open for three when Kobe clanked a contested jumper instead.

  44. Kurt,
    It’s nothing out of the ordinary. Carter has hit a couple jumpers. Lopez has hit a jumper and gotten a lob and Yi hit a corner 3 where we didn’t respect his jumper. Other shots have gone in on early offense where they were able to reverse the ball quickly and get an open shot. So far their shots are just falling.

    I think we need to be better on offense, though. Kobe is 1-7 and shooting a lot of jumpers and their rebounding is fueling their early offense. We should be going into the post more.

  45. My sense so far is that NJ seems very well coached. This is the first I’ve seen of them all year, but they seem to be outperforming their talent. They consistently get good shots, reverse the ball, attack, box out, etc.

  46. That was a sweet pass by Ariza.

  47. Is the box score correct for Kobe, 2 points?

  48. Joy! Almost 1 half in and Fisher has taken only 2 shots!

  49. The Nets are a different team than I’m used to seeing. Harris is constantly in attack mode (opposed to Kidd’s probing set ups) and they’re actually going into the post to Lopez (instead of being a purely perimeter team with Jefferson as their 3rd wheel). Plus, when Vince is going to the basket, he’s still a really good player.

  50. David St. Hubbins November 25, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Yi might be able to stroke a jumper, but man he cannot even remotely D up Pau

  51. Kobe’s clanking it up.

  52. I get worried when I think of Carter going to Cleveland for Wally’s expiring contract.

  53. 50

    Good thing too, because Kobe is building a house right now.

  54. Wow I just realized Kobe has less points than any other player that’s played tonight.

    How’s Lopez look, as an offensive 1st option?

  55. David St. Hubbins November 25, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    That was a really dumb foul for Andrew to get right before the half

  56. Could New Jersey have made out any better in the Kidd trade? Harris is already playing like an AllStar this season, and he’s like 10 years younger.

  57. Vince and Harris re getting too much penetration. I’d like to see Phil try Trevor on Harris.

  58. Vince Carter is not going anywhere, especially to the Cavs

  59. Reed,

    You think NJ would want to improve LeBron’s chances in Cleveland?

  60. Going to be one of those games when the bench saves the starter’s derrieres.

  61. 1-9 shooting is unacceptable. but then, that’s kobe. he pulls out a 5-7 run and when we need it and voila.

    we’re giving the nets a lot of daylight down low. this might be a constant problem with faster guards and there are a lot of them.

    can i just see a dominating 3rd quarter? we’re at home. they’re the nets. let’s execute and end this with a big one (and please no more comebacks if possible)
    too much to ask…not quite. GO LAKERS!

  62. maybe the links are chugging because they are tapping into the nba broadband. i bought it this year, and while i’m watching it tonight, i am tempted to go to one of your links, (justin, etc) because the nba broadband is freezing for 30 seconds or so about every 5 minutes. very frustrating, especially because i paid the fee.
    oh well, better than missing the game. i hope it’s better in the second half.
    i think the cable companies are jamming these signals as they see broadband and streaming, pier to pier, as competition, (and they’re right).
    re: the game=
    seems like Andrew needs to be more aggressive.
    and trevor continues to bring it! looks like he’ll get more minutes than anybody, and justified!

  63. If you guys are having problems with any of the streams, try this one:

  64. man the lakers need some energy out there!


  66. Pau is schooling anyone who attempts to guard him

  67. Finally going back to the post up game. Thanks for listening PJ.

  68. Thanks a ton, Reggyray, that one indeed works much better.

  69. The Nets have gone incredibly cold. Too much settling for jumpshots, but when they do drive we’re contesting the paint. I wouldn’t say our defense has taken over (though we’ve forced more turnovers), I would just say that we’ve started to squeeze the Nets more and sagged off them and they can’t make a jumper anymore.

  70. Sasha will not be on the And 1 tour anytime soon…

  71. Wow Sasha. Just wow. I think you need to leave the passing to the professionals.

    Looks like the starters (other than Bynum) are done for the night…

  72. Trevor thinks he’s Michael Jordan with that turnaround

  73. Check that, Bynum is gone as well.

  74. Nice. We can finish a team in one quarter. This was a 2 point game at half, and the starters didn’t play in the 4th. I like that.

  75. All in all a good game. Glad the D showed up in the second half.

  76. The Nets are not a good team. They gave up 30+ in each of the last 3 quarters. I’d call that terrible, but for the fact that the Warriors gave up 30+ in EVERY quarter. To the WIZARDS. I’m starting to seriously question my prediction of GSW winning the title this season.

  77. Nice to see everyone get their tacos tonight.

  78. Another great, resounding victory. Lakers need to keep their focus in December and finish off all the lowly teams before the big matchup 12/25.

  79. Wow, what happened? I had to go to a meeting at the half and looking at the final score it’s surreal.

    This is both good and bad, i guess if we’re thinking of it being all Lakers turning it on, but really good if you think of it from the perspective of us taking ANY sort of hot spell the other team got and still blowing them out.

  80. Not to sow seeds of discontent when there are none, but just got back from looking at the post-game interview with Gasol.

    I think that’s the second or third time he mentioned that he should be getting more touches, although he is sensible enough to mask that comment by mentioning Drew and including Derek and Vladdy among scorers.

    This isn’t going to be anything like Kobe vs. Shaq, but this isn’t going to be like KG and Pierce, it seems. Gasol still recognizes whose team it is, but he is gaining more confidence in his place in this team and I have this feeling that we’re one Kobe-induced loss away from having somet drama again.

    But since we have PJ, the evil manipulator and zen master, who has seen this before, hopefully it can be stemmed before it becomes an issue.

  81. The Nets came to play. Carter stymied Kobe. Lopez played surprisingly well against Bynum. Harris penetrated and got his points. They were only down 2 at halftime, and holding water into the fourth quarter when . . . . . . . .they got blown out.

    This would be a great story except–we’ve heard it over and over and over this season. Once again, New Jersey had no answer for Pau Gasol, and this time, the third team closed things out better, and Ariza finally cracked things open in the fourth quarter.

    But–it had a deja vu all over again flavor to it.

    Who’s complaining?

  82. Ariza’s stat line has been pretty impressive the last two games. He has 7, 7, 5 nd 1 steal alast night. He had 11, 11, 5 and 3 steals against Sac. I think he might be my favorite player not named Kobe on the team. He just goes out there and gets it done every night. He does not put up huge numbers but he fills the stat sheet by doing a little of everything. Not too mention he is pretty fun to watch. Probably the most athletic guy on the team besides Kobe (actually at this stage in Kobe’s career Ariza might be a little more athletic).

  83. harold, me thinks you’re looking for drama where there is none…
    (are you secretly a reporter for Fox news?)

    I gotta question for you all…
    if Trevor keeps this up for a whole season, do you think we can sign him for the MLE?
    it seems to me that he is a main catalist, burst of energy, plays D on the opponents main go-to-guy, and I think he’s going to face Pierce when we play the C’s….
    all that seems to say MORE than the MLE, but with LO coming up, how can the organization structure this payroll?

    I also like the way Powell plays, love to see him get more time, I think he can actually start pushing for some of ‘drew’s PT, sometimes I think Drew is a bit lazy, or winded. (I mean around mid 3rd qtr, when PJ is switching between Pau and Drew, add Poweel into that mix)

    so what do you think about Trevor and his $$$…???

  84. 37) REed,
    “Someone needs to calculate how many extra possessions a game Ariza is worth. Steals, tips, loose balls, offensive rebounds, etc., etc.”

    I had the same thought about his game. It’s not so much what he does “in the normal flow” but those plays he makes that no one else would.

  85. Reed and Exhelodvr, I also agree about the “ways he can disrupt the opponents offense” he has a canny instinct for cutting into passing lanes and either snatching the ball, or tipping it to a teammate. he’s so darn quick, and he’s got that wingspan!

    another point, how many times does he do nice finishes on our offence? like finishing a fast break with an alley oop, or that tip in off a miss last night, nice stuff.

    I think he’ll evolve into a starting SF, but even if he doesn’t, I’m sure he’ll be getting starter minutes.

  86. Allan – Brazil November 26, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Hey Kurt, kinda off topic but I couldn’t post in the debate about Horry because I have no google acount.

    The single point Dave makes about Horry as a HOFer is that he was a part of 3 different championship teams:
    “…but the greatness of Horry is that he was able to win multiple rings with three different teams. No one else in the history of the league has ever done that. Getting lucky once is one thing… getting lucky twice is another… but by the third time you have to start ruling out the luck factor.”

    Well not only he is wrong by saying that Horry is the only one to ever done that but also by his logics John “Spider” Salley should be a HOFer as well.

    Love Horry, but no way he could be considered a Hall of Famer. Maybe having his jersey retired would be an adequate honor.

  87. Gasol on Dan Patrick:

    “Soccer players are great actors. They fall down, it’s like they got shot.”

    Worth the listen.

  88. I’m glad that I’m not seeing complaining.