WAS@NJN 11.8.07

Swamp Thriller

By: NBASCOUT / Special to netsinteractive.com

New Jersey 87, Wizards 85

East Rutherford, NJ, Nov. 8 —The Wiz invaded the Meadowlands this evening only to leave in a state of shock. They are still winless. WAS falls to 0-4. NJN moves to 4-1.

The Nets dug a deep hole early on, but came back in dramatic fashion from a 20 point deficit to pull out a hard-fought, last-minute victory that left the men-in-blue from Oz reeling. Point-Guard Gilbert Arenas has been blaming \”broken [basket] rims\” around the league for Washington\’s recent woes. Rims don\’t lie! What does he put in his \”Agent Zero\” blog now?
In what was expected to be a warm-up for the \’gang green\’ (e.g., BOS), the Wizards gave the Nets all that they could handle and then some. It came down to last minute heroics in a true \’thriller.\’
Once again, some of the heroes that emerged were Richard Jefferson, Vince Carter, Jason Kidd and Antoine Wright. This drama included, however, Bostjan \”Boki\” Nachbar and Jamaal \”Big Cat\” Magloire.*
Like a true thriller, this one was nip-and-tuck in the second half down to the wire. Six lead changes and nine ties later, the Nets came out of it on top. You could not have guessed it from the first quarter, though. The game was on pace to resemble the \’licking\’ that Toronto put on New Jersey the other day. That\’s one reason why it was so dramatic.
Richard Jefferson led all scorers with 25 points including the winning free throws. Vince Carter followed with 24 (\’breaking out of his shell\’) with a robust stat line that included a critical steal for a crucial basket late in the fourth. Both were making \’big plays\’ all over the place … All night. That carried the team and kept New Jersey in it when all looked bleak.
Jason Kidd was his usual spectacular self with 10 dimes and 8 boards. His thigh contusion didn\’t seem to bother him too much.
Early season revelation — Antoine \”Toine\” Wright — Continued his heady play during \’crunch time\’ by making a tomahawk baseline jam that brought no less than Richard Jefferson out of his seat. It accompanied a tenacious display of hustle on both sides of the ball that included diving to the floor for a critical \’loose ball,\’ digging it out and smartly calling \’time\’ before it became a \’jump ball.\’ \’Toine didn\’t know what else to do! Well, what a smart play?
If that weren\’t enough, relatively unsung heroes of late sprung into action. Boki Nachbar (14 points in 19 minutes) played some good D as he knocked down some big shots from the perimeter and off drives to the hoop to keep New Jersey in it and push the lead. He was making some nifty big plays in many areas. An inside dish to Magloire for the alley-oop slam when it looked like Boki would put it down himself really ignited the crowd. But what really got his mates and the crowd going was a triple-pump, head fake under the glass from the Power Forward slot … For a sweet bucket … High off the glass! Both were definitely highlight reel material in a game filled with it.
Last, but not least, Jamaal Magloire\’s tough interior play was utterly crucial to the Nets\’ victory. Without Jamaal, the Nets don\’t win! For all his rust … And areas of play that need work … He was the tough inside presence that kept the Nets in it. His rebounding was critical. When he gets his hands on a ball for a rebound, it remains his. The Big Cat\’s paw is real. That\’s something the Nets have been missing for years now. He tallied 12 rebounds in 28 minutes.
Special mention goes to the entire Nets\’ squad, though, because without everyone\’s effort, the team doesn\’t win. That includes Nenad Krstic, Darrell Armstrong (great Q4 steal), Malik Allen and even Rookie Sean Williams.
[Digression of Note: the team\’s radio announcers have recently been calling Darrell Armstrong: \”Brandon Armstrong.\” I understand the confusion until they \’get it straight,\’ but it grates on my nerves for this to happen because it reminds me that had New Jersey drafted SF Richard Jefferson, PF Zach Randolph and PG Gilbert Arenas with their three first round picks in the year that they instead took Richard Jefferson, Jason Collins and Brandon Armstrong, the Nets would likely be looking at a dynasty. More importantly, there would be no Gilbert Arenas in WAS … And no Zach Randolph in NYK! Catch my drift …? (With apologies to Nets\’ management who are among the best and couldn\’t possibly be expected to be clairvoyant. Also, with apologies to Jason Collins who is a fine player in his own right and a defensive specialist.)]
Once again, this was a memorable battle. The Atlantic will be no \’cake-walk\’ anymore. The rivalries are going to \’heat up.\’
Notes: Here is a mystery. Does anybody know what Jason Kidd was saying to Gilbert Arenas when it was all over? Maybe it was something like: \”Keep on blogging. Your mojo is coming back!\”*

The Nets slight edge in rebounding (39 for NJN to 37 for WAS) was a difference-maker as were their margin of assists (23 for NJN to 16 for WAS). None the less, a lot of this game didn\’t show up in the final boxscore. There were the intangibles, for example. The moxie and mental toughness that NJN displayed only comes with experience. It is about continuity of playing time with one another.
Jamaal Magloire\’s +28 plus/minus rating was by far the best followed by Antoine Wright\’s +9 and Bostjan Nachbar\’s +8. By contrast, the closest +/- ratings of the regular starting cast for the entire New Jersey squad were Jason Kidd\’s and Vince Carter\’s at +5 and +3, respectively. Richard Jefferson, who won the game in the closing seconds with his perfect free-throw shooting (12-of-12) … And who has made all but one free throw so far this young season … [46-out-of-47 (.978)] … registered a mere mortal: -1.

It\’s no accident that NJN started coming back from twenty points down when Magloire was on the floor. This was one of the few games where every play was important. It was truly a team effort.

*Mystery Solved: \”A Lot of Talking with RJ — Actually, we were talking about my knee. He was telling me I need to get a second opinion because I shouldn\’t be getting it drained this early on in the season. It was the same thing that me and Jason Kidd talked about after the game on the court. He said that I should get a second opinion and I shouldn\’t be playing so many minutes early. He said that it\’s the same thing that some of these players come back from. He had microfracture surgery, so he knows. His injury was worse than mine so he knows you have to take your time coming back.\” — As quoted from: It Was a Bad Shot by Gilbert Arenas
Posted Nov. 9, 2007 in his
Agent Zero: The Blog File
on NBA.com.

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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