BOS@NJN 11.10.07

\’Gang Green\’ For Real

By: NBASCOUT / Special to

Boston 112, Nets 101

East Rutherford, NJ, Nov. 10 —\’Gang Green\’ made its way to the Meadowlands. In what was something of a surreal game, the New Jersey Nets lost to the visiting Boston Celtics at home. Yes, there was a call for a doctor – Vince Carter got hurt – but not even Dr. J could help the Nets this night.

New Jersey fell to Boston, 112 to 101. Yet the game was, in a way, more overshadowed by the dramatic return of Celtics\’ Coach Doc Rivers to his usual place behind the bench right from the funeral of his father – a 76 year old retired Police Officer. [Our sympathies to the bereaved Rivers\’ family.]

Because of this backdrop, it was the kind of game the Nets said it would be going in: \”Just another game.\” Downplaying its importance, the Nets came out like gangbusters – shooting 67 percent from the floor alone in the first quarter – moving to a 27-26 lead after one, but the Nets had few answers for the Celtics the rest of the way! Disappointingly, they let an early season game slip away. The game was not as close as the final score would indicate, but it had some strangely bizarre twists and turns.

It started off well enough with SF Richard Jefferson (28pts) continuing his torrid pace, with high-flying dunks, and 13 points before the first quarter was barely done, but the Nets got away from what worked. Before it was all over, the Nets would have to summon the medics to the locker-room to attend to their fallen star, Vince Carter. He went down in the line of duty, putting down a signature dunk off a drive to the hoop from the charity stripe, towards the end of the third quarter.

Indeed, it was a shocking event. The great in-Vince-ible one lie there clutching his ankle in excruciating pain. Whether his legs tangled with a Celtics\’ defender on the way down is not certain, but he crumpled in a heap after landing awkwardly off the dunk. Perhaps he landed on someone\’s foot.

The prognosis is not clear at this stage, but it looks to be an ankle. Let\’s hope he recovers soon. [The latest is that he\’s set for an MRI Monday. X-Rays were negative, but it\’s not certain at this point how long he\’ll be out. Please view the full article and see the comments section below to look for any new entries by NBASCOUT for further updates on Vince\’s situation as they become available].*

If that weren\’t enough, the Nets\’ depth at Point-Guard also seemed to take something of a hit! Let\’s hope that Darrell Armstrong\’s side is alright. He left the game clutching it before the end of regulation, during \’garbage time,\’ after taking a whack to the kidney from another Celtics\’ defender.

For much of the game, the Nets were slow. They didn\’t move well. Their energy was spent at the end of the first quarter … And certainly by the half. Perhaps, they were tired from the rousing victory against Washington?

The only good that can be taken away from this game is that Sean Williams played well. He should probably be penciled in as a starter for the rest of the season. The Nets need to see what he can do. He adds a dimension that can make the offense fluid and mobile and brings game-altering defense and blocked shots at the other end.

Maybe GM Ed Stefanski and President Rod Thorn hit the jackpot with Sean. Maybe, he\’ll turn out to be a better pro than anyone thought?

I liked the goatie on both Sean Williams and Kevin Garnett. It seemed like the two players bear something of a similarity to one another. Sean battled Kevin fairly well. He was the only Net with a positive (+10) plus/minus rating for the time he was out there on the floor. If I\’m not mistaken, the Nets hit six straight shots during his tenure. Still, he\’s two or three inches shorter than Kevin. But, he seemed to move with quickness and tenacity to give the Nets a fighting chance at the corner.

The Nets closed the half seven points down. A last-second three point shot from the corner by Kevin Garnett over Nenad Krstic was an ill omen of what lie ahead in the second half. From a manageable four points down … And now so suddenly to seven before the half ended … It basically demoralized the Nets. The \’wind\’ slowly came out of the Nets\’ \’sails\’ from there. The Boston green would succeed to engulf and overwhelm the Nets for the balance of the second half.

As the second stanza opened, the Nets let the game slip further as the Celtics separated themselves from New Jersey with a barrage of offense and bench play the Nets simply did not match. Bench play, better rebounding and better shooting from beyond the arc stretched Boston\’s modest lead at the half to as much as 23 points (87-64) before the third quarter came to a merciful end.

Boston\’s constant offensive pressure against New Jersey forced the home team\’s defense to wilt. The Nets were afraid to venture into the middle and settled for perimeter shots from fifteen feet-on-out and couldn\’t even knock down the open ones. They failed to attack the rim as they had in the first quarter. Their shots and confidence totally deserted them.

When Carter put down his dunk … Playing catch-up … As the Celtic lead ballooned … Disaster struck. Carter goes down. Then, in a moment of extreme angst, all eyes focus on Vince Carter and Coach Lawrence Frank. \’The sky was indeed falling.\’ The outcome of the game – a loss – was pretty much a foregone conclusion at that point. Now, all concern really centered on the health of Vince Carter and what his likely loss might mean to the team and for the season as a whole.

There were, however, a few positives to take away from this game. Once again, a major positive is how Sean Williams responded to the call to duty. The Nets really didn\’t venture into the paint much in the second half until Sean Williams came in for Josh Boone at the 11:18 mark of Q4. He [Sean] was probably the most effective big man out there for the Nets that had any real impact on containing the \”big ticket\” (aka Kevin Garnett). He played well and revealed many parts of his game that included mobility, defense and scoring prowess. Did you see the hook shot he made over Kevin Garnett? It was a thing of beauty. He had some nice interplay with Jason Kidd that allowed for some hope that a Kenyon Martin-like replacement may have arrived that could eventually emerge.

In fact, if he continues to put it together, he might look to be like a shorter version of Kevin Garnett, albeit, at this stage, a very poor, poor man\’s KG. All told, it was a rather promising glimpse of this young man and offers hope to the Nets\’ faithful that this season may yet yield major accomplishments. Still, the Nets have to be worried about their $60 million franchise investment that went down!

Another positive that emerged from the fourth quarters\’ furious Nets\’ rally after Vince went down included revelations that Darrell Armstrong can block a Rajon Rondo full-court breakaway layup catching up from behind! Moreover, the 39-year-old can still hit, repeatedly, from beyond the arc. Hooray! Hat\’s off to you Darrell!

Notes: Once again, when you get outrebounded by a significant margin (49-to-34) and lose the battle of assists (27-to-19), turnovers (14-to-11) and three-point shooting (10-of-19 to 5-of-14), typically, you are going to lose.

Paul Pierce (28pts), Ray Allen (27pts, 10rebs and 5ast) and Kevin Garnett (18pts and 14 rebs) each did well for BOS. Rookie Glen \”Big Baby\” Davis, though, had six points, eight rebounds and a pair of assists and steals to go with a block in only 17 minutes of play.

Big Baby worked out for NJN this offseason and supposedly was on their radar as they opted for Sean Williams. Instead, he was selected at #35 in the second round by SEA and traded to BOS as part of the Ray Allen deal. He [Glen Davis] was certainly on my radar. Let\’s hope he doesn\’t become a thorn in the Nets\’ side from here on out as he\’s had some nice games against NJN.

If the Celtics continue as they are and go deep into the playoffs, then Danny Ainge probably has my vote for Executive of the Year. It\’s not merely the Garnett transaction, but the other pieces he brought together.

[Digression of Note: I\’m beginning to think that there must be a conspiracy afoot to make the city of Boston feel good about itself. I mean, after all, how do you explain the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics – all from Boston – arriving at the pinnacle of sports all at once? Must be a darn conspiracy!]

Classy as he is, Jason Kidd approached Doc Rivers at the end of the game to probably offer condolences on the loss of Doc\’s father and congratulations on the well-coached victory! If not, I\’ll probably hear about it from him.

NBASCOUT is an independent freelance sportswriter that covers the NBA and the New Jersey Nets. He is not affiliated with the National Basketball Association. Copyright 2007 by NBASCOUT, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the express written consent of the author. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily this website. You may e-mail NBASCOUT in care-of his wife, who writes for children, at

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