7-Footers Too Much for Pistons
March 26, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Friday at the IZOD Center, the Nets beat the Pistons, 118-110, to earn their first back-to-back wins of the season. Brook Lopez (37 points, 10 rebounds) and Yi Jianlian (31 points, 5 rebounds) each set career highs in scoring. Devin Harris added a game-high 12 assists, and rookie Terrence Williams (13pts, 6reb, 8ast) provided a crucial spark off the bench after missing Wednesday's game with a sprained ankle/foot.
For the full recap, read Bob Considine's story on NBA.com: Click Here
7-Footers Too Much for Pistons
The crowd wanted this one. With just more than seven minutes remaining in Friday’s game against the Pistons, Nets forward Yi Jianlian positioned himself beyond the three-point line, just to the right of center, awaiting a swing pass. Crouched with hands away from his body, Yi caught the ball when Terrence Williams reversed it, and the IZOD Center fans held their breath.
Yi’s shot arced, and swished. The crowd cheered. The Nets led. Three more points ticked onto Yi’s total, and he had set a new career-high. The third-year forward finished with 31 on 12-of-16 shooting – and didn’t lead the team.
Center Brook Lopez one-upped him with a career-high of his own: 37 points, along with 10 rebounds. He shot an impressive 14-of-17 as the Nets beat the Pistons, 118-110, on Friday, earning their first back-to-back wins of the season.
“It’s a big step for us,” Lopez said. “(Yi) has been working. We really jelled together and it’s improved. Now we get to the point where you can have us both in the game at crunch time and play off the two of us.”
The two 7-footers spread the majority of their points in the first, third and fourth quarters (combining for at least 18 in each), and were lifted by Chris Douglas-Roberts in the second, when they tallied only eight. The swingman scored all seven of his points in a 3-minute, 35-second flurry, beginning when he raced out in transition following a block to earn a trip to the line four minutes into the quarter.
He sank both free throws, adding one of two a few possessions later. After stopping the Pistons, Williams found Douglas-Roberts for a transition layup, cutting the lead to two. Two plays later, Douglas-Roberts capped the run by crossing over his defender to score again.
Buoyed enough to stay within six points at halftime, the Nets wrested the lead away in the third, scoring 33 points to hold an 80-77 advantage entering the final 12 minutes. The Nets clearly focused on feeding the bigs, with point guard Devin Harris delivering five of eight third-quarter assists to either Lopez or Yi. That opened up threes for Jarvis Hayes, who hit 3-of-7 long-range attempts in the quarter. Harris, who finished with 12 despite an 0-for-4, two-point performance, didn’t attempt a shot in the second half.
“It makes my job fun: just pick (it) apart,” Harris said. “You see where the defense is lacking and swing the ball. And when we’re running, it makes things easier.”
Yet Yi and Lopez each had moments that might not leave them sleeping easy. Yi opened the Nets’ scoring with a faceup jumper, but followed with two bad misses in the paint and didn’t score again for 7 1/2 minutes. He drew a loose ball foul by battling for post position in transition; with the Pistons in the penalty, Yi earned two foul shots and swished both. Seemingly energized, he added a layup and a dunk before quarter’s end, missing only two of his final 12 attempts.
Lopez’s only notable blunder could’ve been more costly. With Detroit mounting a furious comeback and the Nets clinging to a four-point lead 56 seconds from the finish, they inbounded struggled to advance the ball against a press, calling a 20-second timeout. Lopez failed to realize the 8-second count didn’t reset, and was whistled for a turnover two seconds into the inbound possession.
But veteran guard Keyon Dooling bailed him out by poking the ball loose from Rodney Stuckey as the Piston drove baseline. Williams grabbed the ball, sank two free throws and the Nets were able to seal it from there.
“I just think we hadn’t had a lot of experience closing out games with the lead this year,” Dooling said, of the late scare. “It just hadn’t been something we had the luxury of having. Obviously, when you have a young team and you haven’t been in that situation that often, execution will be a little bit off . But we executed well enough to get the win and that’s all that matters.”
Williams Bounding Around
Put him on a basketball court, and Terrence Williams can do everything. He’ll defend the opponetn's best player, bring the ball upcourt and prove dangerous driving the lane, whether he intends to dunk vehemently or drop dimes for teammates.
But prevent him from doing anything, and you’re asking for it. Out for a game with a sprained left ankle, Williams – deprived of his main outlet – spent Wednesday’s postgame bouncing around the victorious locker room like a kid on sugar pills, razzing teammates during their media interviews and chattering at anyone with ears.
By Friday’s shootaround, Williams was so juiced he jumped in on a workout with the big men, who were laying up 20-pound medicine balls at the rim. Williams, giving up at least five inches and 30 pounds to each Brook Lopez, Josh Boone and Tony Battie, willed himself to make most of his attempts. This despite needing to push the ball several feet further than the taller teammates, who were dropping in their layups just over the rim.
“He was getting them up there,” Lopez acknowledged, laughing. “I want to see him there for the duration (of the season).”
If they get results like they did Friday, the Nets might mandate a new gameday ritual. Williams, coming off the bench, immediately helped to spark a run that saved the Nets from being blown out early on.
The rookie swingman entered with the Nets trailing by 11 just nine minutes into the game, and initiated a 12-4 swing that cut the lead to three. As the Pistons missed two shots, made two and committed a turnover, Yi Jianlian followed two free throws with a layup and a dunk, Lopez put back a Devin Harris transition miss and Williams added a finger roll while also assisting Kris Humphries’ dunk. The Pistons partially neutralized the run with Rodney Stuckey’s three-pointer at the buzzer, but the Nets had served notice they weren’t going down.
“I’m fine,” Williams asserted. “I’m Superman! Nah, there were sometimes that me dribbling and moving that I felt (the injury). Other than that I fell on my back, and that was kind of hard, and it made running (difficult). People thought maybe that was my foot, but it was my back. I’ll play regardless.”
Williams went on to tally 13 points (4-7 FGs), six rebounds and eight assists in an all-around performance that has become commonplace during the month of March. In 11 games, he’s averaged 13.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG and 4.7 APG while shooting a season-best .433 overall.
Tonight offered the opportunity to burnish that budding resume with a pressure-cooked finish. When the Pistons inbounded with 48.3 seconds to play, trailing by four, Stuckey drove baseline on Keyon Dooling. The Nets’ guard poked the ball loose, and Williams wrapped his arms around it. Richard Hamilton fouled him, and Williams approached the foul line with a chance to seal the game.
Back and left of the paint, Williams waited out an interlude, bent at the waist, shorts bunched in his hands. He coolly stepped to the line – thinking only, “Make ’em.” – put up the first free throw, and sank it. The second one swished.
“Terrence is a good player, a clutch player – we’ve seen that since Louisville,” Harris said. “Those were two big free throws for us. We knew he would knock ’em down. But obviously he’ll continue to grow in the role he’s playing, and he’s a big part of what we do.”