Another circus at the Garden...
Okay, let's reset the scene:
- The Nets just had a big team effort (10 players with non-trivial minutes) over the team that eliminated them last year, sporting one of the budding superstars of the game, who took them to the NBA finals last year.
- The Nets had their big victory in NJ, just 10 miles away from where they were to play tonite. Like a home game.
- The Knicks had just been embarrassed in Chicago, and faced a 2 hour plane ride after humiliation.
- Curry had just been held scoreless.
- The Knicks had beaten the Kidd-less Nets earlier in the month in the infamous "Migraine Game" and the Nets were looking for retribution.
- Marbury was not going to play.
- The Nets have dominated the Knicks at the Garden in the Kidd Era, and dominate the series something like 28-4 at both locations.
Final score: 94-86.
When I was in grammar school - GRAMMAR SCHOOL - I was a 60% foul shooter. We played some parochial schools, and those kids shot 90% - with regularity.
The Nets shot 43% from the line. An NBA team. 43%!
You never EVER see a HS team shoot 43%. Never EVER see a college team hit 43%. In the 60s, 70s and 80s foul shots were nearly automatic. Teams shot 85% for the year at the line.
Of course, they only took 16 foul shots for the game, so even if they shot 80% (as well they should!) it would have only been 6 points.
And why only 16 foul shots? (The Knicks took 36, some 20 more.)
The Nets outshot the Knicks, by pct (46-42) and number (80-76). The Knicks outscored the Nets 24-7 from the line.
Because the Knicks went to the basket. The Nets played yet another disinterested game, with both hands tied by themselves behind their back.
The Nets strength is when VC and RJ drive the basket. Both are 80% foul shooters, so even when they don't score they go to the line and usually convert. Yet how many times have we seen the Nets just sit back and take jumpers with 15 seconds left on the shot clock?
The Knicks are a bad team - badly conceived, badly coached. They were easily beatable. They have not shown the ability to stop the drive, to stop teams in the paint.
Had the Nets driven the lane, as their two stars are famed for doing, the Nets win. Even at 43.8% foul shooting, if the Nets get as many foul shot attempts as the Knicks, it's a tie game. If they shoot a respectable 75% they win in a walk.
But you don't get fouled taking jumpers from 20 feet out. With 15 seconds left on the shot clock.
The more tired you are the less likely those shots are gonna drop. The Nets succeeded in doing the sole thing that a team playing back to back cannot do in order to win - settle for the jumper.
I said to the guy next to me at the Clippers game - This team is like Springsteen's song - Like a river that don't know where it's flowin', they took a wrong turn and they just kept goin'. That's what these games are like - the Nets are not an organized team, a concentrated force. They're like a river, overflowing its banks, directionless, flooding some areas but dissipating it strength and by the time it gets to the dam it does not have enough power to turn the rotors.
That Franks must go is getting to be conventional wisdom. That the owner doesn't care is becoming obvious. That the GM is on cruise... Well, I hope at least not him.
Or J Kidd. So far both Kidd and Thorn continue to give an all out performance.
The Nets are down 10-14. With a modicum of discipline, of coaching, of professionalism (I mean, 43%!), this team could be 10 games over 500 by Feb 1.
Right now, tho, there are no levees, and the river just keeps flowing, taking wrong turns. And we have no idea where they're goin'.