RECAP: Nets 95, Spurs 93 - Mirza Have It All
|Mirza Teletovic, PF 43 MIN | 9-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 15 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 26 PTS | +4Again getting the starting nod at the power forward position after Kevin Garnett was given the night off on the second night of a back-to-back, Mirza was simply excellent. He stayed with Boris Diaw early, defensively, and began amassing rebounds and hitting big shots. He scored off-the-ball, off-the-dribble, on the fast break, and even got to the free throw line on separate occasions. The “plus” grade might be a tad optimistic, but he was the best Net on the floor tonight and secured his double-double by halftime. Should KG be nervous? (Ed. note: MIRZAAAAA)|
|Joe Johnson, SF 42 MIN | 4-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +1Let’s attribute Joe Johnson’s stat-line tonight to the “Kawhi Effect”. Joe seemed to get good traction against Leonard early in the post, using his size to get to his spots on the floor, but struggled putting the ball in the hoop and didn’t register a free throw attempt on the night. Even on an “off” night himself he was still able to draw the defenses as a decoy on the perimeter, and at the least he bothered Kawhi on defense, to the tune of a similar 4/16 shooting performance. The lack of “Iso Joe” in the 4th quarter affected the Nets late, as San Antonio mounted its comeback and the Nets squandered a 14-point lead with about five minutes left, but the Nets won this game on defense.|
|Brook Lopez, C 45 MIN | 6-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 15 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +36/17 shooting from the center position doesn’t normally equate to an “A” grade, but Brook had by far his best game of the season on the defensive end. Collecting 15 boards and blocking two shots, Brook also bothered Tim Duncan into a 5/18 night and stepped up to challenge Tony Parker drives at the basket. Lopez led the team in minutes (45), played the entire first quarter (along with Joe and Mirza), and his long arms and banked jumper bailed the team out late in the 4th quarter when the Spurs were within a point. Here’s hoping that this is a pivotal game in Brook Lopez’s 2014-15 season.|
|Deron Williams, PG 39 MIN | 6-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +5It’s tempting to boost Deron’s grade a couple of points based off of his crossover moves alone tonight, particularly the way he shook Marco Bellinelli in the second half on a nasty crossover-then-cross-back move that could have done permanent damage to Bellinelli’s ankles. He started both halves with layups, beating Tony Parker to the rim, but Cory Joseph’s pestering defense over the final five minutes of the fourth quarter directly led to the Spurs’ run that forced overtime. Joseph completely took Deron out of his game down the stretch and the Nets offense stagnated as a result, but the BK PG made big plays when the team needed him and he continually found his teammates for good looks, and finished with 9 dimes and 17 points.|
|Bojan Bogdanovic, SG 34 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +16Bojan had a tough assignment tonight in guarding opposing-two guard Danny Green. He lost Green a couple of times early in the game and struggled shooting the ball in the first quarter, missing his first four jumpers, before settling down in a huge third quarter (4/5 shooting). He moved well without the ball, working the baselines for back-cuts and spot-ups, and improved considerably covering Green and chasing him around the perimeter. If we had access to “Bogie’s” SportsVU stats for tonight it would probably show that he traveled the most distance on the team (thanks, Danny), and his activity and awareness were critical to the team’s 10-point lead after three quarters.|
|Mason Plumlee, C 10 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +1Plum wasn’t exactly put into a position to succeed tonight, entering the game at the top of the second quarter alongside Jerome Jordan and then with Brook Lopez late in the 3rd quarter. He made the most of his limited minutes, though, catching an alley-oop from Jarrett Jack and (mostly) staying with Matt Bonner on defense. His lack of a post-up game was glaring when Bonner guarded him, but he was aggressive in flashing to the basket, even though he missed all four of his free throws.|
|Jerome Jordan, C 8 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1It was mostly an unremarkable eight minutes for Jerome Jordan, but it seems his spot in the Nets rotation, as the backup center, is safe. Coach Hollins mixed things up a bit in the third quarter, bringing him in early and pairing him with Mirza for a stretch, before subbing them out for a Lopez/Plumlee lineup. Jordan handled the quicker Aron Baynes and also snagged two boards on the night.|
|Jarrett Jack, PG 28 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -13I’m almost tempted to give Jack an “A” simply for throwing Plum an ‘oop in the third quarter, after missing the lob attempt in the Knicks game. He stayed with Tony Parker for a couple of stretches and pulled up at will from the free throw line area, but took some bad (long) jumpers in the period and couldn’t generate a free throw attempt. His defensive effort, while never really great, was lacking tonight, as he was on the wrong side of some big baskets by Manu Ginobili and Bellinelli.|
|Alan Anderson, SG 16 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -6#CantLeaveGreen! It’s tough to fault Anderson for not getting through that brutal Tim Duncan screen on Danny Green’s game-tying three-pointer with under 10 seconds on the clock, but he really struggled staying in front of Green in the fourth quarter. When he played over the top of the screen, Green kept going to the basket or pulled up from the free throw line, while going under screens usually wasn’t a great option against a dynamic three-point threat. Anderson couldn’t get his offense going tonight.|
Hollins tried some different things with his big man rotation tonight. Starting Mirza at power forward paid off fabulously, both on offense and on the boards, and the Plumlee/Jordan combo held their own against Aron Baynes and Matt Bonner to start the 2nd quarter. In the 3rd quarter he subbed Jordan in for Brook, then went to a Lopez/Plum pairing to end the quarter. When the game got tight and “Iso Joe” wasn’t an option (“Kawhi Effect”, again), he called a few Deron/Brook pick-and-rolls, to varying degrees of success. He wasn’t exactly enamored with Mirza at one point, calling timeout after an in-bounds basket by Ginobili, and he was unable to come up with an answer to San Antonio’s weak-side flares that resulted in Danny Green 3′s. Had the Nets lost the game, after leading by double-digits with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Hollins’s post-game press conference might not have been pretty, but it was a great win for the Nets tonight against the defending champions.
Four Things We Saw
- In case you hadn’t heard, the Nets were 0-7 against teams over .500, entering tonight. The Spurs were on the third game of their four-game road trip, but knocking off the champs is a huge victory for a Nets team that has had a frustrating start to their 2014-15 season. It was a fun game to watch, capped by a wide-open 3rd quarter that saw Bojan drop 12 points, and of course, MIRZA!Nets fans might not have enjoyed the fourth quarter nearly as much, but from a basketball-perspective, that Danny Green game-tying three was a great moment. The Nets played like the better team tonight and fought hard for their first “big” win of the season.
- It’s unclear if there was an injury situation or it was due to match-ups, but Tony Parker left the game around the five-minute mark of the 4th quarter and didn’t return. Cory Joseph came in and hounded Deron Williams on-the-ball down the stretch, as the Spurs went on a 15-2 run to force overtime. Danny Green was on fire, scoring 20 points on 14 shots (with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks!), and gave the Nets trouble coming off down-screens from Tim Duncan. Manu Ginobili also added 15 points (on 13 FGA’s), 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, and gave the Nets fits off the bench. Nine offensive rebounds from the Spurs also kept them in the game.
- Almost every other San Antonio Spur struggled, though, thanks to some tough Brooklyn defense. The Nets held their San Antonio-counterparts to 35.6% shooting from the floor, almost 10% below their season average. Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard combined to shoot 9/34 from the field, and Tony Parker’s absence in the fourth quarter and overtime forced Leonard and Ginobili to initiate the offense. The Spurs were sluggish and without arguably their best player, but the Nets responded and prevailed.
- This was a great game, complete with big moments that could have swung it in either direction. After the Spurs completed their come-back to tie the game late in the 4th quarter, the goofiness really began to set in. Whether it was Brook Lopez’s banker, or Bojan’s turnover at half-court after Deron nearly committed a back-court violation, or Ginobili’s three-pointer in overtime missing just wide, this was a close and exciting game that will hopefully portend bigger things for the Nets as they continue to climb above .500. After winning back-to-back games against the New York Knicks and the Spurs, Friday night’s home game versus the Atlanta Hawks looms large and could give the Nets their first legitimate winning streak of the young season.