NJN@ORL 1.2.08

96-95, Nets Over Magic in Heartstopper

By: NBASCOUT / Special to netsinteractive.com

A strong second half, ending with an unlikely fourth quarter comeback, toppled the surging Orlando Magic (22-12), dealing this upper-tier team a grievous setback on their Amway Arena home-court, as the upstart New Jersey Nets (15-16) pulled out a hard-fought, last-second, heartstopping, 96-95 victory against the Dwight Howard-led squad. It was an unlikely victory in that New Jersey\’s bench, uncharacteristically, accounted for exactly half the points (48) the \’men-from-the-swamp\’ would put up on the scoreboard this glorious evening.

This time it was not so much the Kiddie Corps (PF/C Sean Williams and C Josh Boone) that made the final difference, but rather the reserves that made impact. Credit, though, the entire team and the resiliency of the kids that allowed the rotation to hang in there and keep fighting until the \’cavalry\’ arrived.*

In a watershed victory that could signal the turning point of the Nets\’ season, every player that saw action did more than his part to make this game a success because the team fell into a big hole early. They were down by thirteen, 31-18, after one.

It fully appeared that the Nets would succumb to the Van Gundy-coached Magic before the half was over. Instead of \”letting go of the rope,\” though, the resiliency of the youthful starting cast \’sucked it up\’ and cut it to eight by the half, outscoring Orlando by five tough points in the second.

Still, try as they might, the same Nets\’ starting front line, mismatched against Magic C Dwight Howard and skilled import, PF Hedo Turkoglu, kept \’sliding down the rope.\’ In foul trouble much of the way (Swat fouled out), they went down by eleven before the third quarter ended.

Many of the Nets faithful, watching this on the tube, were prepared to accept failure even though their team played far better than in the past. If the Nets lose, chalk it up to a \”good effort that fell short\” must have been going through their minds.

That was not to be! Riding the emotion of future Hall-of-Famer, PG Jason Kidd, like in Milwaukee, New Jersey got up on its haunches and attacked.

The swamp ballers played relentlessly to end the third and start the fourth … Leaving it all out on the court before the final buzzer. Jason inspired the troops with magnificent passes – only he could dish – and hit some \’statement treys\’ to send his message: \”I\’m not ready to be enshrined in the Hall yet!\”

When it was all over … the Nets looked up to find that they, indeed, had more points on the board than the Magic. Jason Kidd\’s magic wasn\’t gone.

Now, being down by as much as thirteen heading into the fourth period is no way to inspire the rank and file to win a war. It was almost too late to regroup, but General Kidd, Lieutenant Collins and Sniper-Colonel Armstrong got it done by rattling the Magic offensively and defensively in a way that hadn\’t been seen in these parts since the Civil War ended.

Heroes abounded everywhere for the victors and in the most unlikely of places. For example, it could be argued that the offensive powerhouse, C Jason Collins, \’brought down the house\’ with his ESPY award-winning \’perfect night.\’

The \”Sleeping Giant,\” Jason Collins, went five-of-five from the floor, doing whatever it took … like snagging offensive rebounds … in mistake-free sequences (no misprint) … and playing really good D on Howard … including hitting a pair of layups (4 points) late … that helped the Nets win it. In fact, he started the offensive outburst by ending the third quarter with an impressive above-the-rim dunk (really!) off a deft feed from PG Jason Kidd to start the comeback.

Still, the player-of-the game honors might really be shared between Jason Collins, former Orlando PG Darrell Armstrong (13p on 6-7 from the floor to go with a pair of dimes) and Jason Kidd (two assists shy of another triple-double at 10,10 and 8). Each delivered a remarkably inspired performance that won it for New Jersey.

Special mention goes to Richard Jefferson (14 points of hustle), Vince Carter (18 points, 7 boards and six dimes to go with some dunk magic) and everyone from SF Bostjan Nachbar (13 points, 5 boards and four assists along with heady play) to PF Malik Allen (12 points in 19 minutes, on an efficient 6-of-10, including an important 18-foot jumper with less than five minutes to go). The \’sixth man\’ was the Nets\’ bench tonight.

Still, at the end, it was the Kidd, Collins & Armstrong show, \’reaching down deep\’ and coming up with a gutsy performance, along with a touch of VC as the \’closer,\’ that made this win possible. Now the Nets catch a little breather on Thursday before returning home to take on the Charlotte Bobcats (11-19), Friday, for a 7:30pm EST tip-off.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *