After spending parts of four seasons with the Nets, guard Devin Harris returned to New Jersey for the first time since being traded to the Jazz last February. He's at peace with the business of basketball, and glad to be competing for one of the West's final playoff spots.
"Better situation," Harris allowed. "I wouldn't say better place. (The Nets) were going through a little transitional period; they had some plans that they're still trying to figure out. I know they're moving soon, that's a big factor. Utah, we've got a good mixture going on and we're playing well right now, so I can't really complain."
With seven wins in their last eight games, the Jazz seem to be peaking at an opportune time, building the streak upon the powerful foundation of their forward-center combo. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, who posted a combined 43 points and 21 rebounds in Monday's victory against the Nets, have given Harris a plethora of passing options, though he acknowledges it took toime to adjust to the new situation.
"(I've) still got to get my shooters shots and things like that," Harris said. "(I was) really just trying to fit in too much, trying to figure it out and still be aggressive myself. Now I'm just trying to play a lot more in transition, get easy shots that way and keep everybody happy."
Harris admits it will be a bit odd to consider that next year means no more NBA games in New Jersey, after 35 years in the Garden State. But he looks back on his time here in a positive light, from moments like his game-winner against the 76ers to all those end-to-end one-man fast-breaks.
"The whole time I was here was fun," Harris said. " I can remember the first time I got here, played that game. Throughout all the highs of the All-Star year through the lows of only winning 12 games, it's all a great learning experience and I enjoyed every minute of it."
--Posted by Ben Couch at 7:13 p.m.
March 22, 2012
A-Mo Makes a Playlist
Nets guard Anthony Morrow ("A-Mo" to anyone employed by the team, from teammates to coaches to ticket sales staff) can often be found pregame with his head encased in a pair of high-powered headphones, nodding on beat to mood music from an extensive selection. He recently put that ear to good use, preparing a pregame playlist to keep the team loose during warmups.
Here's breakdown of the five songs, direct from A-Mo:
I'mma Boss (Remix) Meek Mill Ft. T.I., Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne
"Oh yeah. I like T.I.'s verse. That was one of the hottest songs in the summertime, a Meek Mill song. The remix had a lot of good people on there, so I had to get that."
Spend It 2 Chainz
"2 Chainz, he hot right now, man. Actually my homeboy, so I been listening to him since before he was actually '2 Chainz' so I had to put that on there. I like that song. It's the remix of it. T.I.'s on it. T.I.'s one of my favorite rappers, so I had to put T.I. verse on there. Everybody else listen to these songs, too, so they get crunk before the game.
"Even before (going to Georgia Tech in) Atlanta â€“ I was in middle school â€“ I used to listen to T.I. I got all his albums."
(Before Morrow can speak, Jordan Farmar jumps in: "That's Kristopher, ha! That's Kristopher!" Morrow laughs.)
"That's Kris Humphries' favorite song right there, 'Stay Schemin.' So I had to throw that on there for him. That's Drake and Rick Ross, man. That's a hot song."
Future Ft. T.I.
"It's a fun little dancing song, man. Sometimes you want to do a little dancing in the warmup lines â€“ just a little, not a lot. So I like that. And T.I.'s on that, so T.I.'s on most of 'em. He's my favorite rapper "
Tony Montana (Remix)
Future Ft. Drake, Tygra, & Meek Mill
"Future, he's a new rapper, and he's got a lot of nice music out right now. And Drake's on there with him. It's a hot song, nice beat â€“ you get the crowd into it, you get the team into it."
--Posted by Ben Couch at 3:23 p.m.
March 18, 2012
Green Gets a Guarantee
A great story began a new chapter today, with the Nets announcing forward Gerald Green has been signed for the rest of the season. Green, who signed the first of two consecutive 10-day contracts with the Nets after earning recognition as NBA D-League All-Star MVP just three weeks ago, has played in 11 games, averaging 11.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 21.9 minutes.
The 6-foot-8 forward with the 4-foot hops has provided somespectacularhiglights (see more on "The Dunk"), but more importantly become a consistent shooter (.520 FG%; .344 3P%) who's reached double figures in scoring in each of the last five games. He's also developed defensively, and envisions a future in which he settles into a role as stopper, though he knows more work will be necessary.
For now, Green's just glad to have gotten guaranteed time in the L.
"Man, I've gotten a great opportunity here," Green said, after Saturday's game. "I can't really â€“ the Nets have really gave me the â€“ they opened up the platform for me and let me play. Coach Avery gave me a chance and Billy gave me a chance; just this whole organization had faith in me and they told me â€“ it's just crazy how all of a sudden I'm getting this opportunity that I've been waiting for for so long. I'm just very blessed to be in this situation. Very."
Gerald Wallace, the man they call "Crash," debuted for the Nets on Saturday against the Hornets. His first basket for the Nets on an errant alley-oop pass in transition, getting fingertips on Deron Williams' pass mid-flight and redirecting it as a layup. His first block, not much longer after that, and nearly a spectacular finish on the other end: Anthony Morrow's alley-oop was well left of the target, and yet Wallace leapt, fully extended, catching and flinging a save back into play as he, uh ... crashed six feet down onto his tailbone.
The 11th-year veteran finished the game with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. He also hit a corner 3 at the third-quarter buzzer that pushed the Nets' lead to 12 entering the final period. Despite a trade that came as a surprise and left him out of action since Wednesday, Wallace played 37 minutes.
"It felt good," Wallace said. "It just felt good to make a shot. I haven't done anything in like 3 days so I actually thought my legs were good â€“ until you get out on the court and your legs tell you I've just been laying up in the bed for three days so I got to get back into my rhythm. The shot (at the buzzer) felt good, it felt good to get back out and run in transition and defense. It felt good to get back to playing basketball and having fun."
Wallace's athleticism at the 3 was apparent, though he admittedly struggled with learning a new system on the fly. He seemed reluctant to force offense, passing shots he might have taken were he more comfortable. But he the effort and potential on defense that Nets coach Avery Johnson expected to see.
"You know, Gerald's gotta find how he fits in," Johnson said. "(He) maybe over-passed a little bit because that's when you do when you get traded, you want to fit in with guys and he's really unselfish. But look at the other two or three blocks that he had and Gerald Green had in transition, coming from behind. We talked to them about it before the game. I told them I wanted them to do that more. And we haven't had that, so that was a real bright spot for us. They had five blocks between them."
--Posted by Ben Couch at 11:43 p.m.
March 10, 2012
If you're reading this blog and somehow missed the dunk, check back after viewing the video, conveniently located above this text. Once you've done that, and joined the rest of the NETS Basketball universe in picking your jaw off the floor while reveling in Gerald Green's jumping-jack glory, check out these reactions from the rest of the team:
"Man. I've seen a lot in my career â€“ and that was special. Pretty special. And it was a pretty on-time and on-target pass, and I guess that's gonna make a lot of highlights."
â€”Avery Johnson, NETS coach
"Once I seen him and he pointed up, it's just my job to put it up there by the rim. I saw him, and once I seen him streak and seen his defender looked at me, I just got to put it at the rim. I don't think it mattered where I put the ball â€“ he was going to get it anyway. And I threw it, I guess, low enough for him to have some fun with it. It was a great play."
â€”MarShon Brooks, NETS guard, passer on the play
"(Gerald) had probably had the best dunk I've ever seen in my life. In my life, for real."
â€”Anthony Morrow, NETS guard, on the floor at the time
"For those who forgot bout Gerald Green hops.. please watch highlights of our game tonight."
â€”Patrick Patterson, Rockets forward (via Twitter)
"I've done that plenty of times. I've done it if I'm messing around in pre-game warmups, or maybe lay-up lines. A teammate asked me, next time I get a chance to do a dunk, do something nasty, so I tried. I'm just so glad it went in because it didn't I don't know where I'll be.
"You know what? DeShawn told me to do something. D-Will told me. Everybody's always giving me just ideas of, you know, what to do. They're always saying, next time just do something nasty. When I got my dunk in, I think it was Boston, I had a breakaway and everyone said they stunned up.
It was like, man next time you get a dunk, it doesn't matter if we're winning or losing, just try to do something for the fans here, for New Jersey, show the fans that you're a good player and this is what you can bring to the team. But like I said, it was a good play, but we lost."
â€”Gerald Green, NETS forward, the dunker
--Posted by Ben Couch at 11:48 p.m.
T-Will Back for the First Time
Former Nets swingman Terrence Williams returned to New Jersey for the first time since the Nets traded him to Houston in December 2011. Williams who averaged 8.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 88 games for the Nets, wasn't particularly piqued to return, but did speak pregame about his recent uptick in playing time (25 minutes, last 2 games):
NJNets.com: Your playing time has picked up recently. Did anything change to inspire the bump?
Terrence Williams: No. I practice the same that I've been practicing from Day One. I believe it's said it's because of practice, but I don't know. Maybe I did something different, but I feel like everything's been the same.
NJNets.com: Now that you've been given the opportunity, what are you trying to show the coaching staff?
Terrence Williams: One thing I would say about New Jersey that I loved is towards the end of the year my rookie year I got to play basketball, and I think everybody that was a New Jersey fan or a basketball fan was able to see that I know how to play basketball with time on the court. so I don't go out and try to say what I need to try to prove this or prove that in my 10-15 minutes of play. At the end of the day, I know how to play basketball and that's what shows with time on the court. So I don't go out and try to prove nothing. with time and playing basketball, things happen on the court, just naturally.
Unfortunately, Williams didn't get the chance to make anything happen, as Rockets coach Kevin McHale kept him on the bench in the first half. Williams didn't return to the floor after halftime, missing the rest of the game with a stomachache:
--Posted by Ben Couch at 7:19 p.m.
March 7, 2012
Bobby Simmons, Back in the Bigs
Former Nets forward Bobby Simmons, who had a career season with the team in 2008-09 (.447 3P%), was back in town for the first time since leaving as a free agent following the 2009-10 season. Simmons had been out of the NBA since his contract expired, but just earned his second 10-day contract with the Clippers after doing everything Coach Vinny Del Negro and the team's coaching staff has asked of him.
Del Negro called Simmons a "quality person, quality player" who the team was fortunate to pick up and is happy to have, which matched my recollection of Simmons during his two-year stint with the Nets. Simmons, who's the kind of guy who goes out of his way to check in with a familiar face, opened up for a quick Q&A:
NJNets.com: How's it feel to get the second 10-day, knowing this is the progression?
Bobby Simmons: It feels good, to actually have a coaching staff and organization believes in Bobby Simmons and giving me an opportunity, I'm happy for that. Fortunately, as you know, being here is one of my main goals, and it took a little time to get back, but I continued to work and do what I needed to do to get back. And I'm just going to try to be successful at it.
NJNets.com: What led you to the D-League?
Bobby Simmons: I think having NBA backing, NBA team affiliates, having an opportunity to be showcased and if guys go down, I would be one of the guys they would pick in order to come in and help the organization win games. The Clippers were the first to make a push at it, and as of right now, I'm on my second 10-day.
NJNets.com: What have you shown so far that earned you the second 10-day?
Bobby Simmons: Being a veteran, knowing how to play the game is something I've thrived on: Just picking up things on the fly, quickly and understand defensively and offensively where to be on the floor. That helps. Getting to know my teammates is something I'm going to continue to do, as long as I'm around. It's been good so far.
NJNets.com: From here, what's your goal for stretching out the career know that you're back?
Bobby Simmons: Well, it's all about the body. Just try to stay in shape, stay healthy, eat right, take care of your body, get rest. That's the main thing, as far as when you get older, that you have to maintain to play at this level. that's what you have to do.
--Posted by Ben Couch at 7:14 p.m.
Replay Review, for Me and for You
Got an interesting heads up from our good friends in the entertainment department: tonight's game will be the first (for the Nets) that could include replay reviews being shown on the center-hung scoreboard. The feed would be piped in from the courtside monitor being utilized by the game officials as they make their decision. The review could be shown in part or in full, excepting instances of flagrant fouls and altercations, which can only be shown after the fact, a single time each.
So as the Nets take on the Clippers tonight, if you're in-arena (Buy Tickets), keep an eye on the center-hung during breaks in the game. You might just get a replay worth watching.
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