Nets Practice Report
March 28-April 3, 2010
The Nets' Practice Report includes notes, quotes and photos from the week's practices at the PNY Center. Read on to stay current with all the Nets news you need, and be sure to get your View from the Couch for a more in-depth look at all aspects of Nets Basketball.
—Saturday, December 11—
Farmar Facing Former Team, MIGht Start
Tomorrow, the Nets take on the Lakers at 1 p.m. (Buy Tickets; YES, Bloomberg 1130 AM), marking the first time point guard Jordan Farmar will face the squad with which he spent the first four seasons of his NBA career. The Los Angeles lifer might be pressed into starting duty, as Devin Harris will be a gametime decision with a right shoulder injury.
"It feels better than it did yesterday," Harris said, after Saturday's practice. "Got a lot of treatment yesterday. (Athletic Trainer) Timmy (Walsh) was great. Had limited practice time today. I think we'll keep it as a gametime decision, I'm going to talk to coach a little bit and see how it feels in the morning. Shooting is fine, it's more the contact stuff we're worried about."
If Harris can't go, Farmar will get the call, and it seems like there will be another small forward, as well – rookie Damion James tweaked his foot during the Dallas game, and either Quinton Ross or Stephen Graham will start if he's unavailable. (The results of an X-ray are pending.) Rookie Derrick Favors will be back in after missing Wednesday's game, and the team will gather at 8:45 in an attempt to wake everyone up and avoid a third 1 o'clock defeat following losses to the Heat and Celtics earlier this season.
Farmar broke down the Lakers' offensive and defensive schemes for the coaching staff, though he admitted planning can only go so far:
"I guess it helps, but a lot of people know what they run – it's no secret. We have to go out there and compete, work on both ends of the floor, make them take tough shots and get out and run. They're a good team and the scouting report is pretty simple: they throw the ball in to a coupel of really good players (Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol), space the floor and just play basketball. We have to really work on our individual defense and help each other out."
With several friends and family in town for the game – and some pre-holidays quality time – Farmar wouldn't go so far as to say he's made a full-fledged conversion to the colder climes of the Northeast.
"I don't know if I'm an East Coast guy now. I don't mind the cold weather, I don't mind the east. I really like the Tri-State area. I like it a lot. But L.A. is home. That's where I'll be during the summertime."
So which city's better?
"That's a tough one. It depends on what you're looking for. It's way different. If you want to go to the beach and have sunshine every day, LA's where you want to be. If you want to shop and have great food and great people and a lot of stuff going on all the time, there's no place better than New York City. It's just different – I wouldn't say better or worse, but I happened to grow up in L.A. "
So you mean New York.
"It depends! You may not like the beach, you may not like to wake up and surf and see ladies in bikinis."
Kobe Bean Bryant, Still Stirring Debate
With Kobe coming to town for the only time this season, Nets coach Avery Johnson inevitably got sucked into the ranking question:
"Ooh. He's up there. He could arguably be No. 1. In some polls, he could be No. 2. He could be 1-A and Jordan could be 1-B, though in some polls they'll be flipped. Fortunately, I had a chance to play against both of them and now coach against Kobe. Sometimes, boy, are they looking like the same player!"
Jordan Farmar spent four seasons challenging Kobe in practice and playing alongside him during games, and had this to add:
"He can do everything. He can do everything really well. It doesn't matter if it's single coverage and you're playing good defense, he can still make shots. If you double team him, he can still make shots. And then if decides to take the game over by passing, he has the ability to do that as well. He can force a double-team and then pick you apart passing. Defensively, he's incredible and tough and his will to win is amazing. The list goes on and on."
—Friday, January 21—
Nets Prepared for Pistons, Morrow off the Bench
The Nets have had their first practice since trade talks were squashed, and tonight, they'll play their first game. The 7 p.m. matchup with the Pistons (Buy Tickets) features a hot Detroit squad, one that's 3-1 in its last four games.
"They beat Sacramento, Dallas, they beat Toronto, they lost a tough one to a team that everybody thinks is going to be in the Finals the Celtics, which is no thing to put you head down about," said Nets coach Avery Johnson. "We won the first game against them. I'm sure they're going to come back and try and play us back. Their rotation has changed significantly with Tracy McGrady starting (at point guard), Greg Monroe starting (at center), Richard Hamilton out of the rotation, playing some young guys off the bench. So it's a little bit different team, and they're playing really well."
One bright note for the Nets will be the return of shooting guard Anthony Morrow, who's missed a month after straining his hamstring. Set to come off the bench and play 14-16 minutes, Morrow will be eased back into the rotation as he adjusts to splitting time with and playing alongisde Sasha Vujacic, who was acquired shortly after Morrow's injury. Stephen Graham will remain the starter (for now), as Johnson never thought about bumping Vujacic into the starting lineup.
"Oh, no, no no," Johnson said. "We're comfortable in terms of the role he's fitting in. I'm always trying to gain victories: so right now, Derrick Favors and Kris Humphries – if they were to play the way they played the last games – now we've got a solid 4 combination. Sasha, we like him coming off the bench, playing 26 minutes. If Jordan Farmar and Devin Harris play the way they played the last game, then we have a strong point guard combination. Hopefully, if Johan Petro can stay away from some of the silly fouls and travels when he's on the court, then we'll have a solid center combination. We're just trying to gain victories in certain areas and because of that, we like Sasha coming off the bench."
Morrow, meanwhile, is anxious to get back out on the court, admitting he'll be amped up until he gets that first shot up in the air. The renowned three-point shooter said he doesn't care if it's a layup or 23-feet, 9-inches away from the rim.
"It don't even matter at this point," Morrow quipped. "As long as I can put that jersey on again, I'll shoot from anywhere."
—Monday, March 28—
Brook Ready for Rockets, And Regaining His Form
With the Nets hosting the the Rockets tomorrow (7 p.m., Buy Tickets) and point guard Deron Williams scheduled to sit out (perhaps playing on Wednesday in New York), the focus shifts to center Brook Lopez attempting to rebound from a pair of poor performances over the weekend.
"I think confidence might have been an issue," Lopez said. "Shots just weren't falling as easily, even in Cleveland (on Wednesday) they weren't going in. And it stuck with me that whole trip. I think the best decision we made was just to start it off with a good practice today and go from there."
Before today's practice, Lopez spent about 20 minutes talking one-on-one with coach Avery Johnson, who helped clarify the expectations he held for Lopez the rest of the way, and also how he felt Lopez might be able to replicate the successes of recent weeks, when he was on an all-out tear. The duo seem content to chalk it up to simply "not having it" and moving forward.
"I was wondering, 'Did he hit the wall?'" Johnson revealed. "Because he's been there for us every night, and he's had some games where he really spoiled us – high 20s and starting to get double-digit rebounds. I'm just going to write those two off as two bad games and see if we can jumpstart it tomorrow night. He had a good practice today, so that was good. He had a good day off Sunday, and right now, we're not making any excuse for mental or physical fatigue, so we expect all our players to be ready to play and play with a lot of energy."
They'll have to do that without point guard Williams, who remains sidelined with a strained wrist tendon, and small forward Damion James; though he practiced in all non-contact drills, the rookie will miss the next two games while managing soreness in his surgically repaired right foot. Williams is raring to get back on the court – sitting out visibly irritates him – and he and Johnson have "half-circled" Wednesday's game for a possible return after missing six in a row.
"I'd like to be healthy, but it's not going to happen till I get some rest," Williams said. "Wish I would have known that a while ago, and I would have maybe sat out. I'm looking forward to next year – definitely looking forward to next year. But I can be effective on the court. I can still pass the ball, I can still get guys involved. I haven't shot well, but I can still score at times."
The coach also has an eye on next season, and with that in mind, wants to assure Nets fans that Williams' long-term health is at the forefront of any choices to be made.
"We'll make the best decision," Johnson said. "We're all collectively on the same page. I don't think it's any deeper than that. We'll make the best decision. But he really wants to play. It pains him even when we visit in our office before games and after games. It pains him, but it's not his fault. We made the trade. The trade has helped us out in so many different ways that gives us a bright future. Tomorrow night's game – or the next night – is not our future."
NETS Notes Quinton Ross (back) is out indefinitely, and Johnson said the team will have updated information tomorrow...Brandan Wright didn't practice due to what Johnson termed a "knee situation," though his status is day-to-day.