In Triple-OT, Farmar's 52-Minute Effort Isn't Enough
December 1st, 2010
NEWARK, N.J.—The Thunder and Nets put on a show that was funkier than a George Clinton concert, with Oklahoma City prevailing 123-120 in triple overtime. Russell Westbrook (38 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, three steals, five turnovers on 14-32 from the floor) scored all 13 Thunder points in the third overtime, and Jeff Green (12-21 from the floor and 9-9 at the stripe for 37 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists) took turns dominating the game. The loss wasted a special night from Jordan Farmer, who tallied career highs in points (28) and minutes (52). Morrow finished with 25 points (3-6 from downtown) and Brook Lopez (28 points, 7-23 from the floor, 14-17 from the line, 10 rebounds) turned in an uneven performance.
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Farmar's 52-Minute Effort Isn't Enough
Starting a regular-season game for the first time in 2 ½ years, Nets point guard Jordan Farmar tried. Really tried For three overtimes, for a career-high 52 minutes, he tried everything: shooting threes (3-of-6), driving for layups (and a career-high 28 points) or setting up his teammates (9 assists). But on one final play, in the third overtime of Wednesday’s 123-120 loss to the Thunder, who were playing without star forward Kevin Durant, Farmar couldn’t do enough – his baseline skip pass to Anthony Morrow was deflected and the final buzzer sounded as players from both teams scrambled for possession.
“It was a ‘hammer’: I penetrate baseline and set a back screen for Morrow, for a three,” Farmar explained. “Looking back in hindsight, I would’ve just shot the ball and pulled up, but my job was to penetrate baseline and find him on the backside. They made a good play – they switched it and got the steal.”
It proved a deflating ending to what had been an inspiring outing for the Nets, who entered the game knowing that co-captain Devin Harris would be out for at least this game and Friday’s matchup against the Bobcats with a left knee strain. Farmar was the most obvious candidate to step up, and with rookie Ben Uzoh backing him up, played those 50-plus like he was attempting to justify everyone’s expectations.
The fifth-year point guard opened the game with a reverse layup, and proved capable of conducting the first unit, aided by aggressive play from swingmen Morrow and Travis Outlaw. Nets coach Avery Johnson had challenged the duo this morning to produce more offensively – whether Harris were available or not. Each made two baskets in the opening period, and by game’s end, had each produced solid stat lines: 25 points (9-15 FGs, 3-6 3Ps) and five rebounds for Morrow, along with 16 points (7-14 FGs, 2-3 3Ps) and four rebounds for Outlaw.
Morrow has grown increasingly comfortable with one- or two-dribble pullups and runners, balancing the ever-present threat of his three-point shot, while Outlaw has shown an ability to harass smaller guards, first flustering former teammate Brandon Roy late in Sunday’s victory against the Trail Blazers and then checking Russell Westbrook at the end of Wednesday’s loss, notably forcing the game’s high scorer (38 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists) into an airball that nearly sealed the game with 10 seconds left in the second overtime.
Outlaw’s also made a habit of cashing in critical attempts, and gave the Nets their final lead with a fadeaway, putting the team up 117-116 with 1:47 left in the third overtime. Yet they would never have gotten that far without Morrow’s heroics in regulation, swishing a leaning three-pointer as time expired, tying the game and forcing overtime (No. 1).
“All of our guys battled,” Johnson said. “To come out here and play 50-something minutes on a back-to-back game at the end of four games in five nights, this team is a gutty team. They’ve got a persevering attitude, they try really hard. This game could’ve been over in regulation, but here comes Morrow, who makes a 3. Then it’s a game of waves and cycles, and this is a team that took the Lakers deep in the playoffs.
“Even though they didn’t have Durant, we didn’t have Devin. Just a gutty performance – this is probably the game of the year so far in the NBA – it’s just too bad we’re on the losing end. I told my guys I’m awfully proud to be their coach, and that’s why I love coming to work every day.”
Harris’ fellow co-captain, third-year center Brook Lopez, logged his first double-double of the season, tying Farmar’s team-high 28 points while pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking three shots. Though Lopez struggled with his shot (7-23 FGs), the 7-footer bulled his way to 17 free-throw attempts, making 14 – each a career-high.
With those four Nets providing the majority of the team’s offense (no other player scored more than seven), fifth starter Kris Humphries did most of the dirty work, tying his season high with 15 rebounds, four of them offensive, in 39 minutes. Off the bench, Stephen Graham led the subs with 23 minutes, chipping in seven points and playing solid, smart defense – save for a late foul on Jeff Green’s three-point attempt at the end of the second overtime.
Johnson tried to assume responsibility for the foul, saying that the team’s plan was to do so, holding a three-point lead with fewer than six seconds on the clock. But Graham mistakenly made contact with Green in a way that allowed him to heave a shot toward the basket and earn a call for continuation.
“In our system, we like to foul in that situation, but not when the guy is off-balance,” the coach said. “When he’s putting the ball on the floor and they’re trying to run a play, then we can foul. Tough spot for us to be in. We love Graham, though. We wanted to foul, but not quite in that situation.”
For the Nets, the game goes down as a learning experience: one to draw upon the next time they’re in similar situations and don’t want to end up the losing locker room. Farmar has seen these as a member of the Lakers, who went from 42 wins to three straight Finals appearance (with a Pau Gasol-assisted booster shot).
“You don’t ever want to lose, but you’ve got to continue to move on and grow up from the experience,” Farmar said. “I think we can do that. If we can do that, this will turn into a positive. At the end of the day, it’s one game in the NBA – you play 82, and there’s going to be nights when you don’t play good basketball and you don’t fight and you lose. You really can’t take much out of those games.
“To play well and execute and do the things we have to do and just have a call here or there or a loose ball here or there or a shot going in and out – if that’s the difference between winning or losing, we’re in a good place. Oklahoma City’s a very good team, and we’ve been playing good basketball. We’re a ball bounce away from getting some of these wins, so we’ve got to keep fighting.”
Devin’s Moment of Heaven
Avery Johnson said that he was so elated about hearing Devin Harris’ knee injury was ruled nothing more serious than a strain (no surgery required, as few as two games out) that he interrupted his chapel service to give his point guard a hug.
“Oh my goodness, yes. I gave him the biggest hug. I interrupted my chapel time with the chaplain. I had to tell the chaplain to be quiet for a second.”
“I did. I interrupted it and gave Devin a hug. I sure did. And the chaplain didn’t mind – I think he was praying for him all day.”
As for the possibility of the Nets recalling Terrence Williams from his recent assignment to the D-League Springfield Armor, Johnson quickly quashed the thought:
“No. We’re staying the course there. He’ll go down and play a lot of minutes and we’ll evaluate that as time goes on.”
Williams’ first game is Thursday at 7 p.m. and viewable live online via the NBA D-League Futurecast, which can be found at the following URL: http://www.nba.com/dleague/news/dleague_webcasts.html
NETS NOTES The team’s last triple-overtime game was a 130-122 loss to the Magic on Nov. 8, 1995 in Orlando…Jordan Farmar also set career-highs in field goals made (12) and attempted (21).