When the Nets came to Conseco yesterday for a meaningless April game between two underachieving squads that were playing their best basketball during the most meaningless time of the year, both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back.
And it looked like both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back.
No, it wasn’t sloppy, uninspired slog ball where neither team could score as we often see in this league. It was the exact opposite.
Both teams scored at will.
The tone of the evening was set just one minute in when Troy Murphy drove baseline and slammed home a power reverse dunk when no defender rotated over after he easily beat his man. Troy Murphy. Power reverse dunk. One minute into the game.
In fact, Troy was a beast all night, netting 10 of his 18 shots for 25 points in just 33 minutes, while grabbing 9 boards and throwing down at least three dunks that I counted.
But without taking anything away from Troy’s above-average outing, his efficiency didn’t exactly make him special in this one. At one point in the first quarter, the Nets were shooting 11/17 (64.7%) and Pacers were 9/14 (64.3%). The Roy Hibbert vs. Brook Lopez match-up, which was the only thing that had me mildly enthused for a Saturday night Pacers/Nets game in April, featured two bigs trading buckets easily early on, with the centers combining to go 8/12 shooting in the first.
Sebastian Pruiti of Nets Are Scorching summed it up best on Twitter: “This game is just running back and forth, try a lay-up…run back…wait for the other team to do the same then go again…”
The Nets were able to out- … wait for it … pace the Pacers early on, however, taking a 34-25 lead after one that ended up as only a 60-56 advantage at the half. Still, and with all due respect to the terribleness of the T-Wolves, Indy nearly gave up a new season-high half-time total to the worst team in the league. (I believe that 61 is the best they’ve had at the half this year.)
Throw in an easy, 7/12 shooting night for Yi Jianlian (18 points) and a similarly unchallenged 7/11 evening for Mr. Courtney Lee and I don’t have to exactly point out the fact that that Dale Davis and Antonio Davis did not walk through that door last night.
But after the break, the real Nets showed up (or at least the ones who had just played an unusually competitive and high-energy double-overtime game the night before in New Jersey against Chicago), and the Pacers used their clearly-better-talent to take over. I imagine that is just as weird to read as it is to type, but, as talent-deficient as this Indy roster is, they out-class New Jersey by a wide margin and they used this to give the soon-to-be-Nyets a nice, friendly, little pat on the head and an “Awww, that’s cute … you guys thought you might come into our building and run out us the gym” look before subsequently taking over and running the kids from the Garden State out the building.
Indy dropped 59 in the second half and the out-of-gas Nets curled up fetal to the tune of just 42 (and only 19 in the third).
And that, as my boy Forrest … Forrest Gump … would say is all I have to say about that.
Except for these few notes:
- Roy’s 8/10 game (16 points) was nice to see. I always look forward to his match-ups with traditional centers, as he seems to usually make good on his footwork and back-to-the-basket game for efficient points. Compared to watching him face the Amar’es and Chris Bosh’s of the world, seeing him go against even good, old school big men like Brook or Tim Duncan is like watching a guy who grew up shooting straight pool but now usually — and begrudgingly — has to play 9-ball get an opportunity to go back to his roots. And, yes, this was a Fast Eddie Felson reference. Also, yes, Roy still only managed 5 boards and 2 free-throw attempts, so let’s not get all misty-eyed at his decent shooting evening. Big fella still has a lot to do this summer.
- Brandon Rush went 5/6. I didn’t really notice him on the court though. Which is, I guess, a good thing compared to the other option.
- Dahntay Jones must have had a turkey sandwich for dinner because he played this one like it was November again. He went hard at the hoop on nearly every touch and had that one dunk attempt that left him and Kris Humphries as a huddled mass yearning to breathe free on the floor in what was easy the most competitive play of the game. Like back in November, I’m not sure if Dahntay’s “I’m going rover” isos outside of the offense were helpful, per se, but it was nice to see someone go hard.
- Troy had 14 of his 25 in the third quarter.
- Mark Ginocchio of Nets Are Scorching had some good thoughts on the Nets inability to defend the paint: “A quick look at the box score and a big picture statistic sticks out like a sore thumb for the Nets. They allowed the Pacers to score 60 points in the pain on only 12 fast-break points. This just reflects extraordinarily bad interior defense for the Nets. There were just way too many baskets for Indiana throughout the game where it was a one-on-one match-up for their offensive player right under the rim.”
- Josh McRoberts looked good in his 17 minutes. Running around, making stuff happen, per usual, and he also had a nice follow tip-dunk.
- Mike Dunleavy reportedly played 15 minutes in this one. I don’t believe the box score.
- Early on, Danny had a few nice interior post-ups that led to points after uncharacteristically nice entry passes, and that was excellent. But a few nonchalant attempts in what was a rough second quarter (1/5 shooting) made me worry that dude was just going to mail this one in. Fortunately, he got back on his grind in the fourth, hitting four of his five attempts, and even though two of those makes were threes, he wasn’t chucking anymore and he was doing some good stuff with the ball to get looks for other guys. We saw both a little bit of bad Danny and a little bit of good Danny last night. Mostly, I’m just glad good Danny was standing there on the court as the final buzzer sounded.
If you haven’t seen the 60 Minutes piece on new New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov, do yourself a favor and go watch it out now. (Image via Sweet Merciful Crap)