Small Lineup Keeps NETS Close, Can't Weather Heat
April 3rd, 2011
NEWARK, N.J.—LeBron James (31 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 7 turnovers) continued his torrid play, Dwyane Wade (18 points, 5 assists) contributed when he needed to, and Chris Bosh (16 points, 7 rebounds) showcased his deft touch in the paint. What it added up to was a wire-to-wire 108-94 victory for the Miami Heat over the Nets.
For more, read Jake Appleman's recap on NBA.com: Click Here
Small Lineup Keeps Nets Close, Can't Weather Heat
With the Heat in town, Kris Humphries out and the Nets coming off a poor showing against the Sixers on Friday, coach Avery Johnson turned to Brandan Wright for the first time as a starter.
But after an early defensive error in Sunday’s 108-94 loss at Prudential Center, Wright found himself back on the bench, as Johnson opted to utilize Travis Outlaw the rest of the way. Outlaw responded by posting 17 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes.
“Good spark for us off the bench,” Johnson said. “Got (Travis) back on the bench (after starting Friday) and he rebounded the ball well tonight. He was a ball-mover: he didn’t have any assists, but he moved the ball really well, made some shots for us.”
Outlaw shot 6-of-11, including 5-of-6 at the free-throw line, making him the only Net to shoot 50 percent on more than three field-goal attempts. The team connected on just .400 of its 85 shots, depressing the assist total of point guard Deron Williams (18 points), who managed to set up more than a third of the team’s 34 makes, finishing with a game-high 12 dimes.
Williams guided small lineups for much of the game, with Outlaw often at the 4, alongside Sasha Vujacic and either Jordan Farmar or 10-day signee Mario West. The 6-foot-5 West, who joined the team following Sundiata Gaines’ season-ending fractured hip, earned the uneviable mission of attempting to defend LeBron James. Yet even though the Heat forward finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, West slowed James’ pace – the perennial MVP candidate had scored nine points in the first 3 ½ minutes.
“All five guys on the court have to be aware of where (LeBron) is and what’s going on all the time and not losing your man,” West said. “It’s a collective effort guarding him. It’s not one person trying to stop him. So when I’m out there with the assignment of guarding him, I’m just trying to make it tough.”
West’s defensive performance earned umprompted praise from Johnson and Williams after the game, and the smaller lineups played the Heat even for the final three quarters (76-76), though Miami pulled away after the Nets drew within six points just eight minutes from the finish.
Backup point guard Farmar, 0-for-5 in the first three quarters, hit three consecutive threes to help keep the Nets within striking distance, but the Heat’s stars separated themselves each time.
“I thought the biggest thing was that we slowed it down a little in the second half, took some better shots, executed a little bit better, screened and didn’t allow them to get out and just fastbreak on us all day,” Williams said. “I thought that was the difference. It happened to be a smaller lineup. We were able to spread the floor a little bit and get it going.”
NETS NOTES Deron Williams' double-double was his sixth as a Net...Anthony Morrow (sore left knee) played only 5:08 of the second half before coming out for good...Kris Humphries will be out on Tuesday (vs. Minnesota), but could return after that. He says he's getting better.