The New Jersey Nets know things are getting down to the wire.
They know that things aren’t in their favor either.
In the middle of a four-game road trip, the Nets have already lost to Golden State a team that by all means they should have been able to defeat, but thanks in part to a horrendous late game display on defense and great individual play by Stephen Jackson.
With the loss to the Warriors, New Jersey now knows that they will have to be on their best behavior if they want to try and secure a playoff spot.
“There’s an opportunity to beat some teams that maybe on paper we shouldn’t beat,” Dooling told the Associated Press a few days ago. “It’s a very important trip, especially with the playoff race getting tighter.”
Tipping off with the Portland Blazers tonight, New Jersey will try and forget the last time they met, when rookie point guard Jerryd Bayless scored 23 points [He hasn’t scored more than 19 since that game] to compliment a 29-point performance from Brandon Roy in a 105-99 win. In order for that not to happen tonight, the Nets will have to get more than just solid performances from Vince Carter and Devin Harris and will need someone from the bench to step up and provide a spark.
In that loss to Portland, the Nets bench scored only 24 points, with Dooling scoring 14 and Jarvis Hayes scoring seven. The team also had a huge problem rebounding that night as they were out-boarded 34-45. Portland was also very aggressive on offense that night and forced the Nets to commit 27 personal fouls.
When you add up all of this, it’s obvious why they lost and if they are to win, they’ll have to work hard and get more from their bench. It’s that simple.
One guy that has to continue to play hard is Sean Williams. Simply put, if he can continue to score six points and add four boards in 15 minutes a game, he’ll be one of the best backup centers in the league. After spending time in the D-League this season and almost losing his job, he should be the last person anyone should have to ask to play hard.
Seeing his season transpire the way it has has been rough for the former first rounder, but it looks like he’s discovered the error of his ways and is ready to get back to what he was doing in spurts last season.
“The low point for me was when I left the D-League and I came back to Jersey and I realized that my career was in jeopardy. And I didn’t understand why. I didn’t understand why at the time,” Williams told the AP. “I was really wondering where I was headed, how I got to this state where I was in the D-League and how things transpired in the D-League, (but) it helped me understand everybody has a role and to be successful in this league, you have to fill your role and show that you can come and consistently do what you’re supposed to do.”
If he truly understands that new role, the Nets should be in much better shape and with more consistency from Harris, Carter and Brook Lopez, who knows, the Nets may have what it takes to make the playoffs.
Photo by Bill Menzel.