Gaines Gets Career-High 18, NETS Can't Come Back
March 21st, 2011
NEWARK, N.J.—The Indiana Pacers rode Roy Hibbert (24 points, 5 rebounds), Danny Granger (20 points) and a dominant third quarter to a 102-98 victory over the Nets. The Nets almost stole the game with a late 12-4 run, but a Sasha Vujacic straightaway 3-pointer was deflected and corralled by the visitors.
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Gaines Gets Career-High 18, NETS Can't Come Back
For a second game in a row, without Deron Williams, the Nets found themselves mired in an offensive funk. Yet they nearly emerged from the muck with a victory against the Pacers at Prudential Center, boosted by a 37-point fourth quarter that featured more three-point makes (Nets: 5-9; Pacers: 2-5) than the rest of the game combined (3-17; 3-11, respectively).
“We needed this one, but we fought pretty much the entire game and gave good effort,” said center Brook Lopez, who scored a team-high 20 points. “As long as we play that way, the rest of these games will be all right. We just don’t want to ride out the season. We don’t want to do that. Just try to take it one game at a time, win each one.”
Lopez helped lead the fourth-quarter charge with several aggressive post moves against Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who has confounded Lopez ever since they entered the league in 2008. The eight points Lopez scored in the final period were supplemented by strong shooting performances from Sasha Vujacic (9 points, 3-5 FGs) and Sundiata Gaines (9 points, 3-5 FGs).
All of Vujacic’s fourth-quarter makes were threes, pushing his total to 14 points off the bench, but he couldn’t hit his final attempt, which would have tied the game with 10.9 seconds remaining … or get open for the shot before that, falling down before he was able to make the catch. That left Gaines firing a three from the right wing that was left-of-center, caroming high off the rim and bouncing out of bounds.
“It felt good when it left my hands, but it didn’t go down,” Gaines said. “We got another attempt and missed it, and they converted on the other end, shooting some free throws. They closed out the game and we didn’t.”
Serving as Jordan Farmar’s backup with Williams’ out, Gaines set a career-high by scoring 18 points, shooting 6-of-11 (5-7 FTs, 1-2 3Ps) and pulling down six rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench. Recently signed to a multi-year deal by the Nets after playing well during a pair of 10-day contracts, Gaines shrugged off the stats, saying afterward that he’d readily have traded the numbers for one in the win column.
Nets coach Avery Johnson praised the 24-year-old for his intensity and defense; Gaines was one of several defenders, along with starter Stephen Graham, to hold Pacers star Danny Granger to 10 points on 3-of-12 shooting through the first three quarters. Granger stepped up in the fourth to finish with 20 points (7-17 FGs), joining point guard Darren Collison – who scored nine of his 15 points in the final 2 ½ minutes, including seven free throws – to keep the Pacers ahead for the entire quarter.
“I think it’s mental,” Johnson explained. “It’s experience. It’s chemistry. It’s continuity and we’re still searching to get better in that area. That’s a big point of emphasis for us. When we close quarters, we’re pretty good. When we don’t, we tend to struggle. In the first half our bench did a pretty nice job, I was able to rest a few guys. In the second half , I had to call that 20 to get our guys back in the game to help us close the third quarter because we were struggling to score.”
James' Foot Flares Up; He'll Miss 2 Games
Nets rookie forward Damion James was held out of tonight’s game due to soreness and tenderness in his surgically repaired right foot. Coach Avery Johnson explained that it was a precautionary measure, and team doctors would examine James tonight to offer a more certain diagnosis. James will likely miss Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers, but seemed upbeat, and encouraged about his overall progress returning from the broken foot, saying it was “95-percent healed” and only hurt on specific cuts.
“I can still play, but (athletic trainer) Timmy (Walsh) is looking out for what’s best for me,” James said, pregame. “He’s like, ‘You’re too young.’ We don’t want to mess it up any more, so he’s just holding me out ’til it goes away, ’til it’s completely gone. It’s tough, man, but I’ve got to do what’s best for me.”
Uzoh's Assignment Ending Soon
Ben Uzoh, on assignment with the Springfield Armor, will rejoin the team Wednesday after playing a fourth game for the Nets’ D-League affiliate. He has averaged 12.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.7 steals while shooting .500 in 31.3 minutes per game.
“Ben’s doing a good job,” said Nets coach Avery Johnson. “He’s scored the ball, he’s rebounded, passed it well, played good defense – just what we wanted. With Deron (Williams) being injured now, at best case with him coming back this weekend and worst taking a little bit longer, we felt it was time to get Uzoh back.”
NETS NOTES C Brook Lopez has scored 20-or-more points in each of his last 11 games and 38 times this season ... F Kris Humphries' run of double-doubles came to an end, one point (a free-throw miss!) shy of adding No. 11 to the tally. He finished with nine points and 14 rebounds.