NJN@LAC 1.19.08

Nets Fall To Clippers in OT

By: NBASCOUT / Special to netsinteractive.com

Clippers 120, Nets 107 (OT)

Los Angeles, CA, Jan. 19 — The Nets rolled into town to take on the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in the first game of what can only be described as a brutal six-game road trip. The Nets dropped the first one last night to the Clippers, 120-107, and now must face another stiff test in the high-scoring Phoenix Suns later this afternoon.

This road trip is particularly brutal because it has opened with back-to-back games on the road. Then, after a \”breather,\” Tuesday, up in Sacramento, if you can call it that, the Nets must go back-to-back AGAIN against Golden State and Denver, Thursday and Friday, before winding up in the frigid climes of Minnesota next Sunday to face down the hungry Timberwolves.

A test of endurance it certainly will be. It\’s enough to make a grown man cry! All the same, it is an important trip that will set the tone for the balance of the season.

As for the contest just ended, it was an interesting game. There was much drama to recommend it and Hollywood should be proud.*

In the end, though, the Nets succumbed to the Clippers in an uninspiring overtime. It seems that the Nets left it all out on the court during regulation.

What galls any Nets\’ fan, though, is that the schedule doesn\’t get any easier … And the Nets could be eleven games better if they\’d only have won the easy ones. That\’s right, the Nets could be 29-10 if they\’d only take care of business.

Oh, well! Like NFL Coach Bill Parcells is fond of saying: \”The record you earn is the team you are!\”

Now, getting back to this game. The Nets played well enough to win in regulation.

The Nets did an incredible job on the backboards … massively outrebounding the Clippers 54-to-40 … with twenty (no typo!) coming off the offensive side of the glass alone thanks to emerging PF/C Josh Boone who finished with 16 boards (9 on the offensive side) to go with his 17 points. With that kind of an edge, you\’d think the Nets might\’ve pulled this one out! Huh?

The Clippers kept hanging around, though! Not much separated the teams for about three quarters and every run by either side was answered. You begin to wonder if carelessly letting rookie Al Thornton launch a half-court running jumper from the sidelines that banked in, with three Nets surrounding him, during the final second of the third quarter, made the difference?

It certainly narrowed the Nets lead to only one, 72-71, when they could\’ve been up by four heading into the all-important quarter number four. Like in previous games, though, careless, sloppy play in the fourth quarter let this one get away.

The Nets had many chances to close this one out, but didn\’t! The vets are responsible for getting it done, but didn\’t. Field Goal Percentage (41% for NJN to 48% for LAC) and turnovers (17 for NJN to 10 for LAC) were the culprits.

Instead, the Clippers rode the clutch offensive exploits of rookie reserve SF Al Thornton (22 points on 8-of-12 in 26 minutes) and SF Corey Maggette (31 points on 11-of-16 in 36 minutes) in the final minutes to outlast the Nets. The Clippers were not alone, though, as they were, of course, guided by the steady hand of sage PG Sam Cassell, who chipped in 22 points of his own, on 9-of-16 shooting.

PF/C Josh Boone, though, held his own against the tough interior play of budding all-Star C Chris Kaman, who was held to ten points on 5-of-16 shooting. Chris was one block shy of a triple-double as he swatted down a career-high 9 shots (including one beauty against Sean Williams) to go with 12 rebounds and an important drive-dunk to the hoop down the stretch against the Nets\’ bigs.

Still, it was the Nets\’ game to lose … with less than four minutes remaining and a seven point lead … and the score hovering at 94-87 in favor of the red-clad visitors. Try as they might, though, the Clippers could get no closer than 3-points as SF Vince Carter made a driving layup with about two and a half minutes to go that pushed the Nets\’ lead back to 96-91.

It was there, though, that the Nets offense stalled. They could only score five points the rest of the way (three on a last second trey by Kidd) in regulation that allowed the Clippers to catch and pass them at 101-96 on the offensive exploits of Thornton and Maggette.

Only a reverse jam by Nets\’ SF Richard Jefferson and last second shot by PG Jason Kidd from the right side beyond the arc with six seconds left enabled New Jersey to push it to overtime where the Nets promptly collapsed … probably due to exhaustion.

Credit Sean Williams with a last second block on SF Tim Thomas at the end of regulation to prevent the Clippers from stealing a regulation victory. Similarly, a failed alley-oop by Sean off a Kidd feed at the end, that could\’ve ended it in Jersey\’s favor during regulation, also failed. These heroics were simply all in vain.

Notes: Josh Boone really has a \’nose for the ball.\’ It\’s something you can\’t teach. He did a commendable job against Kaman on the defensive side of things.

Not to be outdone, Kiddie Corps partner, Sean \”Swat\” Williams chipped in with a double-double of his own tallying 11 points and 11 boards to go with six blocked shots … many of which … were highlight-worthy.

Second-year Point-Guard Marcus Williams saw some significant action. Playing the entire second quarter and parts of the second half, he responded with 17 point and 4 assists including a number of silky-smooth passes that are difficult to thread and hit for three big treys from beyond the arc. It seems that John Lucas\’ confidence-restoral training paid off.

In light of all that I\’ve seen of Marcus, including his college days, I am adamantly opposed to trading Marcus Williams (potentially the next Deron Williams) under any circumstances. It would be a capital mistake to do so. The ability of this lefty to pass, which first became evident during his college days, is unparalleled. He is a worthy undestudy to all-time-great Jason Kidd.

Still, all of the heroics weren\’t quite enough as the Clippers kept hanging around a game that the Nets should have put away in regulation. The Nets carved out a seven point lead with 3:59 to go in the fourth, but didn\’t show the desire to close it out.

The Nets should have won by the end of regulation with smart play, but instead they had to push the opponent to overtime before running out of gas. It was clear that some of the Nets were running on empty by that point.

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 2005-2008 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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