I know a large proportion of the fanbase has gone into mope mode at this point, but believe it or not this was better. This time we looked better organized and our failings were specific rather than across the board. Nets are a good team, if you lose to them and can say "what if" our 6th man wasn't slumping, and "what if" we hit our 4th quarter FTs, and squint and see how you might have won, its ok as losses go.
Theme tonight is going to be Kudzu. Which will elicit a "huh?" from fans from much of the world, but elicit a groan for those from the Southeastern U.S. and possibly any form East Asia.
Stats:28min 2pts (1-3, 0-0, 0-0) 5reb 1ast 0stl 0blk 0TO
Salmons ( C+ ) -- the first of several players tonight who rather shockingly actually tried to play a role. With John it was as much about what he was NOT doing as what he was. Now unfortunately part of what he was not doing was shooting, as he did not provide any spacing and after two ugly three point bricks in the early going, he did not even try. But he also didn't disrupt us, something that JJ has yet to master. When he finally did get his only basket of the game in the the second half, it was off of the classic Salmons dribble around a bit and shoot a midrange jumper play, but it was the only one of its kind. He only took 3 shots in 28min, and that was a GOOD thing, as it allowed others to get into rhythm. He moved the ball decently rather than stopping it, although his only assist came on a nice full court pass ahead to Reke for a layup. And he played generally good defense as he and Reke formed somewhat interchangeable defensive pieces at the 2 and 3 switching off between the Nets' JJ (Joe Johnson), Wallace, Deron etc., and holding them all down below their averages. So here you have a guy who scored 2pts in 28min as a starter, and yet you know what? I thought he helped. Why? Because he played it like a ROLEPLAYER. An atrophied term in Kingsland that we need to see a lot more of if this thing is ever going to turn. I still can only go so high for a grade for such a thing, btu I was not at all unhappy with the way John played this one.
Kudzu -- so what is this strange word Kudzu?? Kudzu is a vine native to parts of Japan and Southeastern China (the name comes from a region in Japan where the vine is prevalent) that has become a watchword for the dangers of invasive plant species in the U.S. In the Southeastern United States it is practically a cussword. Fun facts and history and pics to follow as I introduce you to the wonderful world of Kudzu.
Stats:27min 8pts (4-9, 0-0, 0-2) 8reb 0ast 0stl 1blk 3TO
Thompson ( C ) -- started off the game with more of his good garbage work in the early going, cleanign up misses for teammates, but in predicatable fashion scored on garbage follows, not on his post moves. When he returned in the 2nd quarter did no better against Blatche than any of our other frontcourt guys, including unforgiveabley leaving him compeltely open for two long jumpers which he of course drained. Was strugglign in the early third, and when he picked up a technical, Smart took him right out. Maybe new no tolerance rule for getting into with the refs ratehr than your opponents. Returned for the late stages of the 4th in what felt like the right move -- put most of the starting linuep back out there and try to win things. But Jason didn't hold up his end, playing poorly down the stretch. Missed a pair of FTs we needed, got outrebounded by Humphries, threw a bad pass for a turnover, and jsut in general was everything but the steadying roleplayer as we tried to sneak bakc into it. Started well, but after the early surge this wasn't one of JT's stronger roleplaying efforts.
Kudzu smothered landscape -- Pretty isn't it? It forms lovely landscapes, which is how it first arrived here. Kudzu didn't sneak on over to the U.S. hitching a ride on a boat or some such, it was first introduced in at the 1876 Centennial Fair in Philadelphia. The Japanese built a garden featuring the stuff as part of the celebration, and it captured the imaginations of American gardeners who soon started using it as an ornamental.
Stats:34min 29pts (12-21, 1-1, 4-6) 7reb 3ast 2stl 1blk 4TO
Cousins ( B ) -- you take a very poor first half, a very good second half, and then some statpadding in the final minute of the game and you get Boogie's best offensive boxscore of the season. It certainly didn't start out that way as DeMarcus struggled through a 3-12 first half, hitting on two long jumpers and one post move immediately after reentering the game in the second, but missing shot after shot otherwise, inclduign both ones he should have hit, as well as several terrible forces again helping to trigger the Nets break the other way. He had several more steals/near steals anticipating plays and stepping in front of passes, but otherwise his defense looked lazy again, and you would have said he was actually hurting us if the rest of the bigs weren't strugglign as well. But it was one of those headscratching games where a guy goes into the lockerroom, and comes out replaced by a pod person who suddenly remembers how good he can be. Note: Boogie started the game 3-12. He finished it 12-21. Which means for you math majors he was 9-9 in the second half, which is pretty good. It wasn't jsut that he started hitting shots, it was that his energy bumped up, his focus was better, and he began playing better in all aspects. I dunno, maybe he had a bee in his bonnet in the first half and he helt it loose. In any case, he started making strong post moves rather than settling for long jumpers or forced drives, he made several nice over the shoulder passes to Reke, and his decisionmaking just picked up across the board. Things got a bit wonky in the final minute as Smart kep on playing the intentional foul game long after the field was lost, and we got to see Boogie spotting up for multiple threes, hitting his first of the season. That aside though, second half Boogie was the guy we were supposed to have from the start of the season, rather than the talented mess we've been treated to again. Don't know what his issue was before half, but maybe we can hope this was some sort of corner turned. Always a dubious hope when it comes to Cuz, but one of these days it just has to be. Hopefully sooner than later. I'm still only going to go so high here because amongst several other culprits Boogie's failure to bring it before half may have doomed our chances in this game, and he racked up a chunk of his 29 with the game out of reach at the end. So an impressive second half and big numbers, but as mentioned several times before, Boogie can put up sepctacular numbers for anybody else and still not be firing on all cylinders. That was tonight.
Kudzu smothered house -- Kudzu cultivation really picked up after the turn of the centruy (as in the 20th century). In the early 1900s it was discovered it could be used for animal feedand began to be aggressively spread and propmoted out of northern Florida (for which they remain eternally ashamed). But the real kicker was when the federal government picked up on it and began to encourage its cultivation across the sourtheast as a crop to control soil erosion. They would even pay you to plant the stuff by the acre. Unfortunately for those farmers you can see in the picture above what happens to farmhouses that intentionally surround themselves with fields of kudzu.
Stats:32min 21pts (8-14, 1-2, 4-6) 7reb 2ast 1stl 2blk 2TO
Evans ( A- ) -- played his strongest game of the season, finally looking reasonably comfortable out there on offense. Impressively kept up strong play throughout the game, no matter who he was on the court with. After coming up short on an early jumper swore them off and just concentrated on what he does well, which is most everything else when he's on. Encouragingly was finding numerous ways to put points on the board, leaking out on the break, going 1 on 1, cutting for Cousins to find him etc. Wasn't jsut a question of a guy getting hot form one part of the floor. Suddenly looked like a light bulb had gone on. Helped on the glass throughout this one as we finally won a rebounding battle again. Defense was strong, but there were several prominent mistakes. In general held down Deron when he was on him, Wallace was completely ineffective, as was Joe Johnson -- obviously not all his doing, but those were his guys and only rarely did they get clean looks. Late in the game though went through a remarkable series of up and down plays as the Nets tried to put us away that is worthy fo description: It began when he mysteriously gave Marshon Brooks a clear lane to the rim for no apparent reason. He came back with a spectaular makeup play, playing tremendous defense on Deron, cutting off his drive and blocking his shot, then getting fouled. But then he bricked not one, but both FTs as our FT shooting collapsed down the stretch of the game and sealed our fate. But rather than hang his head he raced back on defense again and raced back for another saving block. The net of all that might have been negative, but it was clear at least that we had an active and engaged Reke rather than the guy standing over in the corner and shaking his head as he left the court.
Kudzu as pest -- eventually though the Feds began to get the idea that maybe the spread of this invasive weed that was rapidly swallowing up entire farms and forests might not be the best idea in the world, and they quit funding its expansion and reclassified it as a pest weed in the mid 1950s. Too little too late to stop it from spreading like wildfire over anything in its path.
Stats:18min 4pts (2-2, 0-0, 0-1) 2reb 0ast 0stl 0blk 2TO
Brooks ( D ) -- ok, this was not in any way a good game for Brooks -- he scored on two hoops, both of them borderline wild off balance flips in the early going that would have been called dumb shots if he missed. He dished out no assists at all. After the early minutes when the Nets suddenly realized who was out there guarding Deron, he was chased from the game multiple times by the Nets going repeatedly to that matchup inside. Just not a good game. Despite he and Salmons being in there to add shooting range, neither one of them hit a three. IN fact they only took 2 combined. But I'm giving him a litle grade anyway because he was another guy who stayed out of the way at least, and that helped us feel more organized. Unlike some of the other roleplayers though, that was about the best that could be said about this on, and we went back to IT for along stretch ofthe second half, and then after a very brief attempt to bring Brooks back, we went with Reke at PG for the close because it gave us some hope defensively.
Kudzu everywhere -- just a pretty picture of a kudzu smothered landscape.