BROOKLYN: 107 at UTAH: 116
NUTS AND BOLTS: Utah pulled away from the Nets in the second half and claimed sole possession of the Western 8th seed (for now). The road to the gentler side of the Eastern playoff bracket just got a lot longer for the Nets.
Brook Lopez finished with 27 points on 11-16 shooting.
Former Net Derrick Favors had an athletic 13 points and 9 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.
TURNING POINT: The third quarter. Obviously. This is an old tune for these Nets but it looked a little different this time. Randy Foye lost his mind and hit 5 threes in the third. The Nets could have been more assertive about running him off the three point line. Foye is a 40% three point shooter this season. But the Nets let him fire away and he shot their spirits down.
SEXIEST STAT: Randy Foye hit 8-9 threes and finished with 26 points.
DERON’S WILL: Deron Williams was outspoken and emotional with his teammates, the opponents, and the refs. He wanted this game. He barked at Brook Lopez after a bad turnover. He barked at an insecure looking officiating crew. Maybe it was the return to Utah. Maybe it’s his desire not to share one side of the playoff bracket with the Heat. Deron’s will was not enough tonight. But it was visible. Maybe it’ll be infectious.
CONCERNING STAT: Lopez had 5 ugly turnovers. The Jazz ran double teams at him all night and he looked like a rusty robot trying to get himself free. The Nets finished with 17 turnovers as a team. Maybe more concerning is the 55.6 fg% that the Jazz posted from the floor tonight. Sure Randy Foye got hot but the Jazz got a lot of easy dunks. The rotations looked too slow considering everything that’s at stake.
WHO’S HOT: C.J. Watson, The Quiet Storm, finished with 20 points on 8-13 shooting. Watson instigated 3 fast break dunks in the second quarter for a Nets team that does not get a lot of run out dunks. They have only 3 “Running Dunk Shots” according to NBA.com. (Their language. Not mine.)
WHO’S TEPID: Andray Blatche shot 5-8 and finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 blocks in 19 minutes. He showed us a nice dose of Good Blatche and Bad Blatche tonight: Poor decisions followed directly by silky smooth post moves. He threw a vintage “Dream Shake” at Al Jefferson tonight but was unable to finish.
WHO’S COLDER THAN A POLAR BEAR’S TOENAILS: Gerald Wallace has been a solid offensive contributor throughout his career. The lack of fast break opportunities on this team certainly hinder his ability to contribute. But with Joe Jonson out with the injury it would have made sense to see Wallace get a little more involved on offense. He was 1-3 from the field and is shooting 40% for the year including 29.7% from downtown.
TWIN PEAKS!: Blatche and Lopez shared the court for approximately 2 minutes. Blatche threw a nice high-low pass to Lopez who finished in traffic. Given Blatche’s ability to maneuver on the perimeter it makes sense that the two of them could be effective together. But it also bares mentioning that Blatche has been more efficient this season than ever before precisely because he has been forced to play in the post. If he plays with Brook and has to perform from the perimeter there is no doubt we’ll see a lot more Nick Youngish fade-aways and a lot less Dream Shake.
SCOREBOARD WATCH: The Pacers are in Phoenix tonight and the Knicks are off. Both teams hold a 4 game lead over the Nets.
UP NEXT: The last game of the Circus Trip comes on Wednesday night in Cleveland. The Nets are 4-3 on the trip so far.
-Dan Kelly @DanKelly_NBA