NJN@BOS 11.14.07

Beantown Massacre – Part II

By: NBASCOUT / Special to netsinteractive.com

Boston 91, Nets 69

Boston, MA, Nov. 14 —Still \’licking their wounds\’ from a stinging, last-second defeat at the hands of the Hornets in the Meadowlands on Monday, the New Jersey Nets traveled to Boston Wednesday in a showdown with the high-flying Celtics for early-season bragging rights to the Atlantic Division.

In what should have been a \’payback\’ event for the \’hurt\’ Boston put on New Jersey the last time these two teams met, this contest ended not much differently than before. Boston prevailed, 91-69, and widened the victory margin to 22 points. In fact, it was a statement game by the \’gang-in-green\’ that they are back … and that they are for real! The Celtics will, indeed, be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference … and its Atlantic Division … this season. Nets\’ fans have to get used to that!

The good part for the Nets\’ faithful is that their beloved team was able to stake itself to a nine-point lead behind Jason Kidd\’s hot hand early into the second quarter before succumbing. It means they can hang with the Celtics and beat \’em for a while before \’giving up.\’ Watching the game carefully, it was as though the Nets stopped playing-to-win … or caring-about-the-ultimate-outcome-of-the-contest … during the second quarter … when they were up about nine. A \’sleeping sickness\’ that befalls the psychologically defeated seemed to set in. That seemed to be the case save except for rookie PF/C Sean Williams, PG Jason Kidd and, perhaps, a few others. Why the \’sleeping sickness\’ set in at that point is a mystery.

Although the Nets were only down by two points at the halftime break – and eight after three – things began to unravel relatively quickly thereafter. The Celtics busted it wide open in the middle of the fourth and that, essentially, was \’all she wrote.\’ Still, the psychological turning point for New Jersey seemed to be when they couldn\’t push their lead beyond nine points early in the second quarter. They were up 27-16. There was opportunity to do so. Boston seemed on the ropes. Instead, the Nets seemed to just psychologically \’give up.\’*

Net\’s fans can take heart in the fact that rookie PF Sean \”Swat\” Williams demonstrated that he can play the game. In 28 minutes, he had 14 points, 7 rebounds and four blocked shots. If he succeeds to a starting role and can average those kinds of numbers on the season, the Nets would be very pleased, indeed. Tempering that enthusiasm is the fact that the Nets seem to be getting what they drafted: A defensive specialist that can block shots. Sean\’s offensive game is limited. He needs to develop his shooting ability from range and at the free-throw line. Maybe earning a starting role will help him do just that.

[Digression of Note: At this juncture, all of the Nets \’bigs\’ can\’t \’hit the side of a barn\’ from the \’charity stripe.\’ Don\’t they want to benefit from the largesse of their opponents?]

In the process of making their \’statement,\’ the Celts\’ James Posey was the designated \’intimidator\’ for Boston this evening. Last time, Vince Carter was the victim. Now it was Darrell Armstrong.

Poor backup Point-Guard Darrell Armstrong. He got knocked to the ground. He went unconscious for a while. It happened as he was hustling down-court. Darrell ran into SF James Posey who was waiting for him with a football-style-blocking-forearm posture that sent shivers down my spine.

The collision was reminiscent of running into a Mack truck. I thought Darrell needed a personal injury lawyer after finally rising to his feet. He was clutching his side. I\’m sure I speak on behalf of all fans hoping that he\’s all right. [The latest is that Darrell Armstrong will be out 2-4 weeks with a severe thigh contusion. Check the comments section below for any updates.]

If that were not enough, the Celtics just shredded the Nets in the critical fourth quarter. The Nets were a \’shell\’ of their former glory against the now formidable Celts.

There were many highlights to focus on if you\’re a Celtics\’ fan. That includes the emergence of second-year man PG Rajon Rondo at the point. He played particularly well directing the traffic and orchestrating the show. 13 points (on 6-9 shooting) from the floor to go with 5 assists and four rebounds in thirty minutes of play isn\’t too shabby for this exciting young player.

C Kendrick Perkins, another Celtic forgotten in the glow of the \’big three (Garnett, Pierce and Allen),\’ also played solidly. He finished with 10 points, 8 rebounds and four blocked shots in thirty minutes as well. His stat-line was not unlike Sean Williams.\’

When your fourth and fifth players are as good as the Celtics\’ young ones are, they make the veteran \’big three\’ flourish. That\’s exactly what transpired again this evening.

Even reserves like Tony Allen (13 points) and Glen \”Big Baby\” Davis (3 rebounds and a blocked shot in 9 minutes) got into the act. Both contributed to the winning effort in one way or the other.

It should be said that Davis was embarrassed early on by fellow rookie Sean Williams, who blocked one of his shots and embarrassed more than one Celtics\’ player on this cool November evening in beantown. Davis got payback later, however, stuffing Sean when he least expected it. It was on a close range attempt [by Sean Williams] to put back an errant shot for his \’mates. It happened on this sobering evening for New Jersey.

Sean Williams\’ highlights included a spectacular rim-hanging, alley-oop put-down off a top-of-the-key feed from Jason Kidd … AND … a full court … caught you from behind … out of nowhere … swat of a layup attempt by PG Rajon Rondo … that must still have Rajon \’shaking his head.\’

Notes: Richard Jefferson, once again, led all scorers with 21 points, but he did it on 7-of-19 shooting from the floor. He also tallied 6 rebounds and three assists.

Jason Kidd flirted with another triple-double before ending with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and a steal. Still, it wasn\’t enough.

The Celtics, by contrast, had balanced scoring throughout. All the starters scored in double digits. None less than 10 points – nor more than 16.

Of critical note, the Celtics managed to take the ball away from the New Jersey Nets fifteen times. That\’s right, they recorded 15 steals! New Jersey had a scant: 4.

Antoine Wright did a respectable job shutting down Ray Allen who only scored 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting on the night. The problem is, that in 40 minutes of play, he only scored a sum total of 4 points (albeit it was on 1-of-3 shooting). Apparently, he wasn\’t able to pose much of an offensive threat to the Celtics as Vince Carter might have.

Bostjan \”Boki\” Nachbar, playing out of position at the PF slot, was repeatedly stripped of the ball and couldn\’t get anything going. He never found a rhythm.

Coach Lawrence Frank seems to still be experimenting with \’big man\’ combinations this early in the new season. C Nenad Krstic (2 points in thirteen minutes on 1-of-5 shooting from the floor) couldn\’t make anything happen. He doesn\’t look like he did last year before he went down. He needs to get his game back and let others have his minutes while he\’s doing that.

Malik Allen has traditionally been a spot player. He missed all five shots in 22 minutes of play, but managed six rebounds. If he can\’t get it done, he should also sit in favor of others that can.

New Jersey was without SG Vince Carter and PG Marcus Williams, who are both out rehabbing from foot injuries. Get well soon!

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 kathyforkids@cs.com

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