Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Nets 96, Bulls 94
By Mike Mazzeo
Recap | Box score | Photos
WHAT IT MEANS: The Nets blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead, but Sasha Vujacic somehow got a short shot to fall with five seconds remaining, snapping a 94-94 tie and his team's five-game losing streak. New Jersey led by nine with 2:59 remaining, only to see the edge evaporate thanks to Derrick Rose. But when it came down to it, the Nets were one possession better.
New Jersey overcame a porous night at the free throw stripe (15-for-23) by shooting 49.4 percent from the floor. The Nets had five scorers in double-digits. Devin Harris had 18 points and 11 assists to pace the Nets (10-25).
TURNING POINT: The Nets came out like gangbusters in the third quarter -- normally the quarter that proves to be their demise. They were clicking on all cylinders in the stanza, connecting on eight of their first 11 shots to establish a 65-56 lead. It was a sight to see. Even more so because the Nets came in ranked 29th in the NBA in scoring offense, averaging 92.9 points per game.
New Jersey ended up leading as many as 13 once Jordan Farmar got a transition slam with five seconds left. The Nets ended up outscoring Chicago 32-18 in what had to be one of their best quarters of the season as they led 78-65 heading into the fourth. They shot it at a 68.4 percent clip, while limiting the Bulls to just 5-for-14 from the floor.
STAR OF THE GAME: Unequivocally and without question, it was Kris Humphries. Relegated to a reserve roll in favor of Derrick Favors -- no pun intended -- Humphries played like a man motivated to reclaim what as once his. But if he continues playing this well coming off the pine, that won't happen. The 25-year-old gave the Nets everything they were looking for, notching yet another double-double, his 11th of the season. He led New Jersey with a season-high 20 points, while snatching 11 rebounds.
ROOKIE WATCH: Favors' first NBA start lasted just 3 minutes, 10 seconds. After getting any early hook shot to go in transition, Favors picked up two quick fouls -- the second of which was questionable on a block attempt -- and had to sit for the rest of the first quarter and well into the second. He was charged with his third foul -- an offensive foul -- shortly thereafter.
Favors played just six minutes in the first half. His second half began a lot better. First there was a layup, then an alley-oop, which prompted the Bulls to utilize a 30-second timeout. But then he picked up his fourth foul 1 minute, 14 seconds in and once again returned to the pine with Humphries spelling him. Favors finished with seven points in nine minutes.
ENERGY LINE: Maybe it's more like an energy duo, but we like the hockey reference when it comes to Vujacic and Humphries. They gave the Nets exactly what they were looking for off the bench, combining for 20 of New Jersey's 46 points in the first half and breathing life into a struggling offense. Humphries (12 points, five offensive rebounds) provided the wow factor early and often, flying in for a follow-up slam and then skying to convert an alley-oop throwdown, while Vujacic (eight points) brought his peskiness and 3-point bombing to the party.
VEAL: Former Nets favorite Brian Scalabrine got some love from the crowd midway through the second quarter when fans began chanting his name: "Scal-a-bri-ne! Scal-a-bri-ne!" Were they Bulls fans? Maybe. Scalabrine and his fire-red hair have been all the rage in Chicago. Despite scoring just 14 points all season, Scalabrine has gotten a ton of fanfare -- especially when he checks in late during blowout wins.
J-E-T-S: New York Jets nickel corner Drew Coleman got an ovation from the Rock contingent. Gang Green travels to Indianapolis to meet the Colts in a wild-card game on Saturday night.
UP NEXT: The Nets haven't had many wins this season, but one of them did come against the Washington Wizards, the team they will play Friday night at the Phone Booth in D.C. Then they'll return home and play their second game in as many nights on Saturday, when they host the Milwaukee Bucks. And they'll follow that with a daunting four-game trip to the West Coast. So what does it all mean? They need to beat the Wizards and Bucks, a pair of teams that have combined for a 21-45 record -- especially since the Nets are a 3-16 road team.