Coming into tonight's game, Spencer Hawes averaged 10.1 points, 6.6 rebounds,and 1.8 assists per game, on 44.5 percent shooting. Tonight, vs the Nets, he scored 24 points, grabbed 10 boards, dished out seven assists, and shot nearly 67 percent from the field. Yup, that happened
I mentioned in my preview of tonight's matchup between the hot Nets and cold 76ers that this game had all the traditional markings of a trap game in that each team was on completely different spectrums of winning/losing coming in. The Nets were feeling good after three straight wins and the 76ers weren't, as they had their own streak of five consecutive losses. Well, each of those streaks has been utterly tossed out of the proverbial after a Philly win this evening at Wells Fargo Center in the City of Brotherly Love.
Early on, Brooklyn was feeling it from the field, spreading the offensive wealth to nearly every player on the team that saw time in the first quarter. The 76ers were shooting well from the field as well but were still kept in check by the Nets, who carried over their defensive intensity from Saturday's win over Atlanta up north to Philadelphia. Unfortunately for a team fighting for a division title, that effort and defensive pressure faded after the first, and would never reappear.
Hey, a twist! Instead of in the third quarter as usual, the Nets' falling-apart tonight happened in the second quarter, in which the 76ers outscored Brooklyn by 11 en route to taking a seven-point halftime lead after a late-quarter 10-3 surge. I couldn't put my finger on a specific turning point in this quarter, but the whole quarter ended up turning the tide of the whole game. Guys like Dorell Wright and Royal Ivey, who normally don't get much run for Doug Collins and the 76ers, started draining threes without much contesting from a Net bench that looked awful for the first time in awhile.
The second half wasn't much better than the first, although the Nets didn't finish up the half too much in the red. However, much of the third quarter was spent with Philly building on its halftime lead, bringing it up to 14 points before a desperate 9-2 Nets run stopped it at seven points in the tail-end of the period. The late run gave the Nets some momentum but that momentum would stall in the fourth, as Philly was able to counter every mini-run that the Nets had with a few clutch shots of their own, normally by Spencer Hawes (Yeah, I know. I can't believe it either), Jrue Holiday, or even (gasp) Evan Turner. Just a truly gut-twisting, awfully-frustrating, classic-New-Jersey-Nets game.
The weird fourth quarter lineups continued as Reggie Evans played down the stretch, making a few terrible shot-selections leading to one-and-dones, committed goaltending on a layup that wasn't going to go in, and got beat multiple times on defense. Brook Lopez was only brought in for the last 5:50 for some reason, as he is this team's only current All-Star. Considering that he was playing great and not in foul trouble, makes no sense to have a hot-shooting Brook on the bench. In addition, Gerald Wallace didn't play the whole quarter and wasn't hurt. He's this team's best perimeter defender, so his absence is stunning as well.
Some other observations I had from the game: The horrendous substitution packages late in the game probably cost the Nets a win, and are making me nervous that P.J. is turning into Avery. He needs to change the way he attacks late-game situations......Deron and Brook were great yet again, as D-Will scored 27 on 10-19 shooting, has 13 assists, and even grabbed six boards while Brook was on fire from the field, hitting eight of his 13 shots for 19 points......Joe also shot great from the field, going 8-11 and 3-5 from three, scoring 20 on the evening. Made some more sick circus shots and had some great drives to the hoop in which he used his unstoppable floater. Another Big Three big game.....Reggie Evans had a nice line (nine points, 11 boards) but missed around four crucial layups and committed three brutal turnovers. Had a nice overall game, but imploded down the stretch......Not much from the bench as Andray led the way with nine points. Mirza had six boards but couldn't hit his threes. C.J. took on more of a distributing role. MarShon barely played yet again, for some non-existent reason. Keith played 26 minutes but didn't do much, begging question as to where MarShon was.
The Nets look to start a new winning streak tomorrow night in Brooklyn against the Hornets. Can you say, must-win?