New Jersey Nets: Carmelo Anthony

Nets Brooklyn bound: Will things change?

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
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For 86 years, the Red Sox had “The Curse of the Bambino.”

Since 1945, the Cubs have been -- as the legend goes -- cursed by a Billy Goat.

On July 1, 2010, the Nets put up a billboard that said “The Blueprint for Greatness,” featuring owners Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z.

It’s only been two years -- so it’s far from curse-worthy -- but nothing has gone their way ever since.

In the summer of 2010, the Nets were favored to win the lottery and get the No. 1 pick. They lost and got the No. 3 pick.

That same summer, the Nets tried to sign coveted free-agents LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer. They ended up with Travis Outlaw, Anthony Morrow and Johan Petro.

During the season, the Nets tried and tried again to execute a blockbuster trade for Carmelo Anthony. But Melo wanted no part of New Jersey. So he was dealt to the Knicks, and GM Billy King countered by landing Deron Williams out of nowhere.

The Nets finally had their superstar -- with one huge caveat. Williams could opt out of his contract after the 2011-12 season and become a free agent. King knew this, so, following a 24-58 finish to the 2010-11 campaign, he decided to try and reel in a big man to pair with D-Will.

It didn’t work out. Top target Tyson Chandler went to the Knicks, and Nene elected to re-sign with the Nuggets, leaving New Jersey with a team short on talent once again.

Williams announced his intentions to opt out before the 2011-12 season started, and it only got worse from there.

The Nets failed to jell in training camp. And since then, they’ve been decimated by injuries. Brook Lopez, Damion James, Keith Bogans (waived), Jordan Farmar, Mehmet Okur (since traded) and Shawne Williams (since traded) were all lost to season-ending injuries, leaving D-Will without much help.

Coming into Monday night’s home-finale, the Nets had lost 238 manpower games due to injury, illness or personal reasons, an average of 3.7 players per game, and started 24 different lineups. They went just 9-24 at home this season, and struggled on defense and in first quarters. Several D-Leaguers have been called up. Only Gerald Green has been a pleasant surprise.

They thought they were going to land Dwight Howard, but it became one big “Dwightmare,” and D-12 opted to stay in Orlando because of “loyalty.”

King got Gerald Wallace from Portland -- a great all-around hustle player -- but had to sacrifice the team’s top-3 protected 2012 first-round draft pick to do so. The move was highly criticized, viewed as a risk for a franchise that has taken many and gotten burned just as many times. Now, the Nets (22-43) are tied for the sixth-worst record, meaning they only have a 6.3 percent chance of winning the lottery and getting the No. 1 overall pick.

After 35 years in New Jersey, the Nets are moving to Brooklyn and the $1 billion Barclays Center in 2012-13. Their slogan has been “Jersey Strong. Brooklyn Ready.”

Right now, the only guarantees for the franchise are a new building and that MarShon Brooks, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro and Jordan Williams are under contract.

Otherwise, the only certainty is a lot of uncertainty. Eleven of the 15 players on the Nets’ roster are eligible to be free agents in some capacity. Coach Avery Johnson mentioned several -- D-Will, Wallace, Kris Humphries, Lopez and Green -- by name when asked why New Jersey fans should follow the team to Brooklyn, but who knows if they will.

“After the season, guys are going to sit down with their families and decide what’s best for them realistically,” Brooks said after the Nets wrapped up their 35-year tenure in the Garden State with a 105-87 loss to the Sixers. “It’s a business. Whatever team we go to Brooklyn with, we’re going to have to be ready to play.”

The borough of Brooklyn hasn’t had a professional sports franchise since 1957, so there’s going to be a buzz around the Nets. But for how long?

A new building and new uniforms are all well and good, but the Nets must be competitive. And to be competitive, they have to re-sign Williams. He has said he intends to stay -- assuming the Nets put the right pieces around him. They haven’t yet. And even if they do, everything else has to fall into place.

If recent history is any indication, it won’t happen. In 3 1/2 decades, the New Jersey Nets went 1,186-1,635 (.420). And aside from the Jason Kidd era, they didn’t win anything.

Now, they’ll turn the page. Maybe, to avoid a future curse, they should’ve changed their name, too.

Everybody hates Kris; Morrow loses teeth

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
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NEW YORK -- Clearly there's something about Kris Humphries that gets under people's skin.

The crowd booed Kim Kardashian's ex all night, Carmelo Anthony tripped him and Tyson Chandler followed him halfway into the Nets' huddle.

Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesAnthony Morrow lost four teeth after taking an elbow from Carmelo Anthony.


The Knicks downplayed the incidents after the Nets won 100-92 at the Garden on Monday night.

"[It was] just nerves and [being] tired and we just don't like getting beat," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Nothing major."

It seemed that the Nets took the worst of the physicality. Humphries had scratches on his face after the game. Nets guard Anthony Morrow lost four teeth to a Melo elbow.

"It was physical from start to finish," Amare Stoudemire said. "You have to expect that from those guys. They're going to try and play us very physical. That's the way they play; we have to expect that."

The Nets (10-24) certainly came across the river with an edge. It started with Deron Williams, who recorded 38 points, six assists and a career-high eight 3-pointers. He made a point to stick it to Jeremy Lin, who started his rise to international stardom by outplaying Williams at the Garden on Feb. 4, sparking a seven-game winning streak for the Knicks.

Both Lin and Williams fouled out in the fourth quarter on Monday. Lin finished with 21 points, nine assists and seven boards.

Debby Wong/US PresswireKris Humphries had the Knicks' attention Monday.


But the game increasingly became physical under the basket. On one play in the third quarter, Humphries (14 points, 14 rebounds) was tangled with Chandler in the paint, positioning for a rebound, and appeared to push him to the ground. Anthony took exception and poked out his leg to trip Humphries as he went downcourt, and was called for a technical.

"It happens in the course the game," said Anthony, who went 4-for-11 with 11 points, six assists and six turnovers in his first game back from a right groin strain. "It happens. I made a mistake and tripped him."

Chandler was bumping with Humphries much of the night. Humphries and Chandler collided twice on one play in the fourth before Humphries was called for an offensive foul. The two started jawing and, after the Nets called timeout, Chandler followed Humphries into the New Jersey huddle and grabbed him by the arm, which earned Chandler a technical.

"I didn’t think I fouled him to start the play," Humphries said. "I just think he was a little overhyped and came over and slapped me on the arm or something. I don't know. It is what it is. We were just playing ball."

Asked if Humphries probably wouldn't meet with the 7-1 Chandler for dinner after the game, Humphries said: "I'll probably see him later. He's a nice guy. Some people might put it on out there, but off the court he's a gentle giant."

You can follow Christopher Hunt on Twitter.

Ewing: Won't be easy for Nets in Brooklyn

January, 16, 2012
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Patrick Ewing thinks the Nets will have a tough time gaining a fan base in Brooklyn.

Ewing's logic?

He believes most fans in New York root for the Knicks and will not switch allegiances to Mikhail Prokhorov & Co.

"Most of the fans will still be Knick fans," Ewing said when asked about the viability of Brooklyn as a basketball a pro basketball market. "Brooklyn, it's a great town, a great city. It's New York. But most of the people, just like most of the people who were going to Nets games [when Ewing played in New York] were Knicks fans, so they're going to have their work cut out for them to try to change the culture."

The Nets will move to Brooklyn and a brand new arena beginning in 2012-2013.

EWING LIKES TYSON: Ewing is a fan of new Knicks center Tyson Chandler. But he said it's too early to compare the Knicks' trio of Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire to that of he, Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley.

"We won a lot of games," Ewing said with a smile. "They just started, who knows? Definitely, Carmelo and Stoudemire are two great All Stars and Tyson … is a plus; he brings energy and effort."

As for his own big man, Ewing hopes potential free agent Dwight Howard stays in Orlando.

"My opinion, he's the best center in the league right now," Ewing said. "He's great for our team."

The Hall of Famer acknowledged that all of the drama surrounding Howard has been a burden for Orlando.

"It's tough for everybody," Ewing said. "It's tough for the team; it's tough for his teammates; it's tough for management because naturally they want him to be around, want him to be a part of the organization."

EWING FOR HIRE: Ewing, an assistant with the Magic, still has aspirations of becoming a head coach. He interviewed with the Detroit Pistons in the offseason. Detroit ultimately decided to hire ex-Nets coach Lawrence Frank.

"It was great to finally have my first interview. I thought i did a pretty good job," Ewing said. "Like anything, it's a learning experience and the next one I hope to be better ."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Melo, LeBron tour to hit Meadowlands

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
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Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and are going home -- and bringing friends with them.

With no end to the NBA lockout in sight, the All-Star group is set to lead a four-game "Homecoming Tour," starting with a matchup in James' hometown of Akron, Ohio on Dec. 1, followed by a Dec. 4 game in New Orleans, a Dec. 7 game in Chicago and culminating with a Dec. 10 contest in East Rutherford, N.J.

Click here for more details.

Rapid Reaction: Knicks 116, Nets 93

April, 8, 2011
4/08/11
9:17
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Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: Get the brooms out. The New Jersey Nets were swept by the New York Knicks in all four meetings this season. Unlike the last time the two teams met, this one wasn't close. With four of their regular five starters out with injury, the Nets were routed by the Knickerbockers, 116-93 on Friday night in front of a partisan Knicks crowd at the Prudential Center.

The Knicks tied the Nets' season-highs for points allowed in a quarter (36 in the first) and in half (68 in the first). New York (41-38), which led by as many as 28, has now won its last six. Meanwhile, New Jersey (24-55) has now lost 12 of its last 14 games.

TURNING POINT: When the Nets put out a starting five of Jordan Farmar, Mario West, Sasha Vujacic, Dan Gadzuric and Brook Lopez. The kept it close in the first quarter, trailing only 36-31 after the opening 12 minutes. But the Knicks pulled away in the second period, going on a 12-1 run to take a 59-40 lead with 4:19 remaining.

Chauncey Billups, who torched the Nets all evening, had seven of his 22 points during that run. New Jersey cut it to 10, but the 'Bockers closed the half on a 9-2 surge to lead by 17 heading to the break.

The Nets were within 12 with 3:04 to go in the third quarter, only to watch as the Knicks ripped off the last 12 points to turn a fairly close game into a rout. They led 96-72 after three quarters of play.

MAKING AN IMPACT: Carmelo Anthony had 23 points and 10 rebounds at halftime, and finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds in 30 minutes on 9-for-18 shooting. Billups went 8-for-14 from the field and 3-for-5 from 3-point range in 26 minutes, and added four assists.

Brook Lopez had his third consecutive big scoring night for the Nets, dropping in a game-high 27, but just eight of those came after halftime. Travis Outlaw poured in 16 points off the bench, 10 of those coming in the first quarter.

NUMBERS CRUNCH: The Knicks outscored the Nets by 27 points from behind the arc. New York went 15-for-36 from downtown, while the Nets went an abysmal 6-for-19.

WALKING WOUNDED: On Friday, the Nets announced that Deron Williams (wrist) and Kris Humphries (ankle, heel) are done for the season. Anthony Morrow (knee) and Damion James (foot) also sat out.

UP NEXT: The Nets head north of the border to take on the Raptors on Sunday.

D-Will, Nets come up short vs. Knicks

March, 30, 2011
3/30/11
11:58
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NEW YORK -- Deron Williams got a good look.

He just rushed it. Simple as that.

The New Jersey Nets All-Star point guard pulled up for a 17-foot jumper from the right wing with 4.9 seconds left that would’ve sent Wednesday night’s nationally televised rivalry game against the New York Knicks to overtime had it went down. But instead of getting his feet set and squaring up, Williams rushed the shot, and it caromed off the side of the rim.

Williams had come up short. So too, had his team.

Williams’ counterpart, Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups, pulled down the rebound, was fouled and calmly made two free throws at the other end, sealing New York’s 120-116 win over New Jersey in front of a sellout crowd of 19,763 at Madison Square Garden.

“I felt pretty good,” said Williams, who scored 22 points (his most in nine games with the Nets), grabbed eight rebounds and dished out eight assists in his return after missing the last six games with a strained flexor tendon in his right (shooting) wrist. “[My wrist] isn’t an excuse. I had a good look. I just rushed it and came up short.”

Williams did everything a player who has missed nearly two months of practice and hasn’t played since March 18 could to will his team to victory. After scoring just six points in the first half on 2-for-8 shooting, Williams finally began to assert himself in the third quarter, banging in a pair of 3-pointers as his team, which once led by as many as 16, re-opened a 10-point bulge with 5:55 left in the period. But the 26-year-old was whistled for his fourth foul 1:38 later, and was forced to the bench with the Nets ahead 87-78.

“Yeah it was frustrating,” said Williams, who could only watch from the bench as his team’s lead all but evaporated. “I just wish I could get the same calls Chauncey was getting on the other end.”

By the time Williams did get off the pine with 9:29 left in regulation, his team was ahead by two. The Nets would trail by as many as five late, but Williams, who was assessed his fifth personal at the 4:35 mark, rallied them from behind, converting two driving 3-point plays, a layup and a jumper over a stretch of 2:06, which put them ahead, 112-109, with 3:28 remaining.

Unfortunately, Williams would end up missing all three of his shots the rest of the way, and his teammates combined to go 1-for-4 with two turnovers. And when it came down to it, Carmelo Anthony, who was supposed to be Jersey-bound before ending up in the Big Apple, drained a jumper -- his only two points of the fourth quarter -- with 1:08 left. And that proved to be the difference.

“His timing was off a bit, but he made some big plays for us,” Nets head coach Avery Johnson said. “ He hit some timely shots, timely 3s. He had some good assists. But then you could see on some of his floaters and even there at the end, he ran out of gas a bit. But for a guy who hadn’t played in a while or practice with any contact, I thought he was awfully good.”

As it turns out, though, good just wasn’t good enough. Not in a game Nets reserve Sasha Vujacic had dubbed the team’s “biggest game of the season.” Not in a game many referred to as the Nets' Superbowl, because it was the first time they played on ESPN since 2007. Still, Williams enjoyed his indoctrination into the Hudson River rivalry. Of course, had he picked up the W, it would’ve been even better.

“It was fun,” said Williams, who was 7-for-19 shooting overall, 2-for-6 from 3-point range. “I always enjoy playing in the Garden. I really enjoyed playing in this building. There’s so much history here. Hopefully as we get better and mature, this will become a better rivalry.”

During the pregame introductions, Williams got a villain's welcome from the Knicks faithful, in the form of a chorus of boos: the ultimate form of respect for an opposing player, the same player whose picture is supposed to appear on a massive billboard in Times Square at some point in the near future. After all, who wouldn’t respect someone who looked like he’d just came out of the infirmary postgame? During his interview, Williams had wraps around both his right wrist and left knee.

No big deal, though. Williams said he should be able to play Friday night when the Nets head to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Philadelphia 76ers.

“I was good in spurts,” Williams said. “I kind of lost my energy and then got it back. But overall, for not practicing for two months and missing a lot of time lately, I felt pretty good.

“It’s frustrating, but we had some good things come out of it. It’s all just a process for us. Everyone is being evaluated right now. Moving forward, these are just great games to be a part of.”

Jason Kidd used to love them too. In fact, he reveled in them. There was nothing he loved more than beating the Knicks.

The Nets hope Williams eventually feels the same way. But he's got to get his first win against them out of the way.

On Wednesday night he had his chance, he just came up short.

Is this Nets' biggest game of the season?

March, 30, 2011
3/30/11
7:05
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NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Nets reserve swingman Sasha Vujacic called Wednesday night's nationally televised game against the New York Knicks (7:30 p.m. EST, ESPN) the team's "biggest game of the season." He said this after the Nets were blown out by the Houston Rockets, 112-87, at the Prudential Center on Tuesday night.

So what does Nets head coach Avery Johnson think?

"Is that what he said?" Johnson said. "Great. Hopefully we’ll come out roaring like lions."

The question is, why did he say it?

"Probably a combo of things," Johnson said. "Hopefully it’s because we haven’t played well. There's other side shows and issues, hopefully we’ll just be ready to play. They should be excited. With this game being on national TV, hopefully we’ll have the type of performance where we’ll be invited again."

They may be able to come out on the winning end, since star point guard Deron Williams is back. Read my newser on Williams' return here.

Don't forget, Johnson said the Nets were (paraphrasing here) better off with Williams than Knicks star swingman Carmelo Anthony.

"Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make," Johnson said two weeks ago. "And that prospective trade that was reported [in January] where we were going to supposedly lose basically eight players [and get back Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Detroit’s Richard Hamilton], man that would have really gutted our team. So we’re glad that that didn’t happen.”

The only other thing Johnson addressed aside from reserve small forward Travis Outlaw being re-inserted into the starting lineup (also in the newser) was their recent slow starts.

Basically, he hopes they don't have them.

The Nets gave up 34 first-quarter points -- their second-highest total of the season -- and trailed by 13 after the opening 12 minutes on Tuesday night against the Rockets. It was just bookkeeping from there.

Lastly, ESPN NewYork.com's Knicks blogger, Jared Zwerling, gave me a call Wednesday afternoon and asked me for three things to watch for from the Nets in Wednesday night's game. Here's a summary of what we discussed:

WILL-ING TO RETURN

During point guard Deron Williams' six-game absence with an injured right wrist, the Nets have gone just 1-5. With D-Will returning tonight, Mike is curious to see how he shoots tonight. While he was 45.8 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from 3-point territory with the Jazz, he's sunk to 32.7 and 28.6 percent in those categories with the Nets. Mike says to also pay close attention to how he creates off his deadly crossover dribble (arguably the league's best) and his penetration-kickout playmaking with Anthony Morrow and Sasha Vujacic on the wings.

PERIMETER PROTECTION

Mike says Johnson has referred to Williams, Damion James, Quinton Ross and Sundiata Gaines as his four-best perimeter defenders, but James (foot), Ross (herniated disk in his back) and Gaines (hip) are all out tonight. Only Williams is suiting up. That's not a good sign at all for the Nets, considering the Knicks knocked down 16 3-pointers in their last meeting.

KRIS ON STAT

The last time the Knicks and Nets met on February 12, Nets power forward Kris Humphries was on the verge of his breakout streak. From February 26 to March 20, Humphries (still better known as Kim Kardashian's beau) had 10 consecutive double-doubles, and in three of those games he had four blocks or more. While Stoudemire is coming off a full day of rest, during what he has called "the hardest month I've played in my career," he won't have it any easier tonight facing a very physical and improved Humphries.

Make sure to check out Zwerling's W2W4 on the Knicks here.

Nets-Knicks to clash Wednesday on ESPN

March, 29, 2011
3/29/11
11:25
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NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets will take on the New York Knicks on Wednesday night in a nationally televised game which will air on ESPN.

"This is our biggest game of the season," Sasha Vujacic said. "So we have to come in with the right mentality."

The game will be billed as a clash between the Hudson River rivals. And everyone hopes, a clash between Carmelo Anthony, the superstar who everyone thought would become a Net and Deron Williams, the superstar who did become a Net. Williams (right wrist) remains day-to-day, but could play on Wednesday night.

The Nets have already been eliminated from the playoffs. Still, they'd like to win this one for pride's sake. New Jersey is 0-2 against New York this season. The last time the two foes met on Feb. 12, Knicks fans took over the Prudential Center and came away with a 105-95 victory. The Nets and Knicks will meet again at the Rock on Apr. 8.

"All that talk is more for media, but for us, it's just competing," Kris Humphries said. "It's a situation where we kind of have a lot of the same fan base and stuff like that, so I see there is kind of a rivalry in that sense, but at the end of the day it's about competing. We're just going out there and trying to win whether we're playing in the playoffs or not or whatever the case is, you play to win. That's what we're trying to do."

Williams will wear No. 8 for Nets

February, 24, 2011
2/24/11
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony may have had to change his number, but recently acquired New Jersey Nets superstar Deron Williams is sticking with the same one he wore with the Utah Jazz: No. 8.

"I wore No. 5 in college and I was the third pick in the NBA draft," Williams said as to why he wore No. 8 in the pros (5+3=8). "Plus, Carlos Boozer wore No. 5 when we were together in Utah."

Williams said the Nets would've allowed him to wear No. 5, the same number Jason Kidd wore, but he decided to stick with No. 8.

Although the Nets have not discussed retiring Kidd's number, you would think it will become a distinct possibility following his retirement from the NBA.

Nets steal some of Knicks' thunder, land Williams

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
12:30
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During my first appearance on Sportscenter Tuesday afternoon, I referred to the billboard that owner Mikhail Prohkorov and Jay-Z put up across the street from Madison Square Garden.

It said, "The Blueprint for Greatness." But after the Nets failed to land LeBron James, Rudy Gay, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony (after all the Melo Drama they went through), I called it "The Blueprint for Disappointment."

Not anymore.

The Nets came out of nowhere Wednesday morning and acquired superstar point guard Deron Williams in a blockbuster trade with the Utah Jazz. Not only that, they gave up less than they would've given up for Anthony (two firsts, instead of four) while stealing some of the New York Knicks' thunder in the process.

Anthony is set to make his Madison Square Garden debut Wednesday night.

There's just one caveat that separates this move from being a layup to a slam dunk, and that's Williams signing an extension. He is slated to become an unrestricted free agent -- if he opts out of the final year of his contract worth $17.9 million -- after the 2011-12 season.

According to some of my colleagues at ESPN, Williams cannot sign an extension with the Nets until July 9, 2011 if the rules stay the same under the current CBA. Williams signed an extension with the Jazz on July 9, 2008, and, per NBA regulations, must wait three years after the previous extension is signed. That is, of course, if the current CBA still exists by that date.

The reason for that is here. (No. 52). Williams signed a four-year, $70 million contract, and that means a mandatory three-year wait.

So it basically comes down to this: The Nets need to ink Williams to an extension by the time they move -- or are supposed to move -- to Brooklyn in 2012-13.

Otherwise, they'd be paying a lot -- in the form of Derrick Favors and Devin Harris plus those picks -- for a luxury rental.

For now, though, the Nets and their fans should be ecstatic.

They just landed a 21-point, 10-assist per game player who may arguably be the best point guard in the entire league.

That calls for celebration.

Looks like "The Blueprint for Greatness" billboard makes sense now.

The Nets finally have their superstar player. Their first franchise-changer since Jason Kidd. The question is: can they keep him?

Melo Drama continues on

February, 18, 2011
2/18/11
3:58
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NEWARK, N.J. -- In case you haven't heard, there is A LOT of MELODRAMA going on right now.

Read all about it here.

Basically, a synopsis of Carmelo Anthony's meeting with the media this afternoon:

1. Anthony would have to "think deeply" about signing an extension with the Nets.

2. It is "news to him" of a potential meeting with Nets owner Mikhail Prohkorov.

3. He doesn't know what he'd say to Prohkorov if he sat down with him.

4. He would like a face-to-face meeting with whomever attempts to acquire him (Nets, Knicks, Lakers etc...).

5. He has not ruled out re-signing with the Nuggets.

The rest can be read above.

Melo on Nets' interest: 'Everything has died down'

January, 30, 2011
1/30/11
1:40
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Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony has spoken.

In an interview with the New York Daily News on Saturday in Philadelphia, Anthony said he doesn’t know if the Nets will revive their pursuit of him.

He also wouldn’t commit to taking a meeting with the Nets -- even if they attempt to arrange another one.

Anthony, who will be in New Jersey on Monday to face the Nets, said he was looking forward to meeting owner Mikhail Prohkorov and Jay-Z, who would’ve attempted to convince the three-time all-star to sign a 3-year, $65 million extension.

But Prohkorov nixed the meeting on Jan. 19, killing the three-team, multi-player trade that would’ve sent Anthony to New Jersey in exchange for a package of players an first-round draft picks.

"I really don't know what is their mind-set. I really don't know if they can come back, if they're willing to come back and say, 'Let's have a meeting,' or they're still interested," Anthony told the newspaper. "Everything has died down."

Anthony said he thinks the Nets are out of the running for his services and done with the Melo Drama.

"I think the meeting would have been important just to sit down. That was just a step, knowing that those guys weren't even in the picture early on," Anthony said. "So for those guys to come and for me to be able and willing to sit and hear what they have to say and see what they were trying to do, I think that was a step."

Anthony echoed the sentiments of Dallas Mavericks point guard and former Net Jason Kidd when asked about the intrigue of playing in Brooklyn. The team is expected to move there in 2012-13.

Kidd said that it was "tough to believe it, because he couldn’t see [Barclays Center]."

"Everybody knows what that could be in the next couple years," Anthony said. "I don't really know how far along or where that situation is at as far as the building or when they're moving or anything like that."
The New York Knicks are expected to make a run at Anthony, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The trading deadline is Feb. 24.

Still, Anthony, who is averaging 23.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the Nuggets (28-18) wouldn’t disclose what the future holds for him.

"My decision on whether to stay or whether to leave is based on a lot of things," he said. "A lot of things come into consideration. That's my own things and thoughts that go through my head and things that I talk about with the team, with the front office, with my team. That's stuff that I pretty much keep in house with my rhyme and reason and the method to all the madness."

Lucky bounce, poor execution doom Nets

January, 22, 2011
1/22/11
11:27
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NEWARK, N.J. -- As the ball made its revolution around the rim, New Jersey Nets head coach Avery Johnson -- all 5-feet, 11 inches of him -- desperately wanted to “grab a broom stick and punch it out.”

But with no broom stick in hand, Johnson was nothing more than a helpless observer in front of his team’s bench, agonizing as the ball eventually found its way off the right side of the front rim, then around its circumference, and then in, crushing the Nets‘ hopes of winning three straight games for the first time since Jan. 31-Feb. 7, 2009 in the process.

Stephen Graham had done everything he could to contest Dirk Nowitzki’s off-balance, fadeaway jumper in the lane with six seconds left. But despite holding Nowitzki just to 6-for-24 shooting, the Mavericks to just 34.7 percent shooting and just 87 points, the Nets didn’t have enough. In crunch time, with the game line, hanging in the balance, it seems like they never do.

Not only did they get a bad bounce, they also failed to execute down the stretch. And it ended, like it usually does, in a loss.

Nowitzki’s jumper -- along with two failed offensive possessions by the Nets -- proved to be the difference as New Jersey fell, 87-86, to Dallas on Saturday night in front of 14,051 at the Prudential Center.

“It’s difficult,” said center Brook Lopez, who overcame foul trouble to net a team-high 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting in 28 minutes. “We fought all four quarters. It came down to the wire. Dirk hit a tough shot. Hump [Kris Humphries] got screened. I think it was [Graham] who switched on to him. He played him very well. Forced him into a tough one, and it just rolled in there. It hit every part of the rim and went in.”

“Oh man, I couldn't buy one tonight,” said Nowitzki, who also finished with 24 points. “I don't know what's going on. I'm running in quick sand out there man. I can't make a move, got no legs. Even the last one really didn't want to go in. It was an ugly game again for us offensively, shooting in the 30s, but at least we found a way to win tonight.”

On the ensuing possession, the Nets (12-32) had a chance to walk off with a victory. But, as is usually the case in these scenarios, their execution was sorely lacking.

They designed a play where point guard Devin Harris would catch the ball at the top of the key. Then Lopez would come up high, set a screen and roll to the basket for a catch and shoot.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way.

After Harris caught the ball and Lopez screened, the Mavericks (28-15) closed off his passing lane to Lopez underneath. He threw a pass to Jordan Farmar on the left wing, but Farmar was heavily covered and his desperation shot fell short as time expired.

“Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get that last play executed and came I’m one point shy,” Johnson said. “We had it set up for Brook, but we just didn’t get it in there.”

And so another valiant and resilient effort by the Nets went for naught.

They trailed 82-75 with 4:43 remaining, but countered with an 8-0 run capped by a 3-pointer by Sasha Vujacic to take an 83-82 lead with 2:33 left. After Jose Juan Barea hit a jumper to put the Mavericks ahead, Lopez was fouled and connected on a pair of free throws to put the Nets back in front, 85-84. Harris had a chance to extend the lead even further, but he split a pair of free throws with 51 seconds left.

The Nets thought they’d caught a break 16 seconds later when Tyson Chandler bricked the front end of a pair at the stripe, but Harris’ off-balance, contested jumper by Shawn Marion was an airball, setting up Nowitzki’s isolation play and the eventual game-winner.

“Devin and Brook down the stretch, those guys are our playmakers,” Johnson said. “That’s been very successful for us. The shot [on the second-to-last possession] just didn’t go down.”

“Marion didn’t get a piece of the ball, but he made me shoot it a bit higher than I wanted,” Harris said.

If Johnson had a broom stick, he probably would’ve smacked Marion’s out-stretched arm away as well. He also would’ve knocked the lid off the Mavericks’ basket during the fourth quarter -- because the Nets couldn’t buy one. They went just 6-for-29 in the final 12 minutes.

“We just stood there and stopped moving the ball,” said Johnson, whose team connected at a 49.1 percent clip through the first three quarters.

The Nets can take solace in the fact that they’ve played three solid games in a row.

At this point, the Carmelo Anthony rumors are on life support -- and as Johnson alluded to on Wednesday night, they seem to be playing “freer” than they had been amid all the speculation.

“Yes, it’s probably had something to do with the trade stuff calming down and guys getting back focused,” Harris said. “And part of it’s being at home and being comfortable too.”

In the end, Nowitzki, former Net Jason Kidd and owner Mark Cuban were able to have the last laugh.

But the Nets are hoping experiences like this one will help them down the road. They haven’t yet, but Johnson is convinced they will.

So is owner Mikhail Prohkorov. Otherwise he wouldn’t have pulled the Nets out of the Anthony talks in the first place. This team, one of the youngest in the NBA, going to have to continue to learn and grow.

And eventually, they’ll be the ones executing in crunch time and getting the lucky bounces to go their way.

They didn’t on Saturday. There was no broom stick.

Just Snooki. And her poof wasn't long enough.

Breaking News: Melo deal off

January, 19, 2011
1/19/11
6:57
PM ET
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Melo Drama is finally over. And shockingly, the deal is off.

New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced during a Wednesday news conference that he has told management to “walk away” from trade discussions involving Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony.

“I’m not happy with the way ... this deal has gone until now,” said Prokhorov, who added that this is his final decision. “It has taken too long. It has been played out in public and it certainly has taken a toll on the players and I believe that it has cost us several games.

“I think that management did a great job, but there comes a time when the price is simply too expensive. I’m instructing our team to walk away from the deal.”

Prokhorov was reportedly expected to meet with Anthony on Thursday in order to convince the 26-year-old to sign a 3-year, $65 million extension that would’ve finalized a multi-player deal to bring the talented swingman to New Jersey. The Nets, who were positioned to trade at least six players -- including point guard Devin Harris and rookie Derrick Favors -- and two first round draft picks in the deal, were also expected to receive Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups and Detroit Pistons small forward Richard Hamilton. However, that meeting, Prokhorov said, is off.

“The meeting that our management was supposed to have in Denver with Carmelo [Thursday] is hereby canceled.” Prokhorov said.

"I never met with Carmelo or spoke with him," he said. "Maybe he sent me an e-mail but, really I don’t use [the] computer. Maybe I missed it. Or maybe a carrier pigeon got lost."

Favors, the 19-year-old selected No. 3 overall in the 2010 NBA Draft who was rumored to be the centerpiece in the multiple-player deal, was shocked upon hearing the news in the locker room before the game.

"I don't have to worry about it [any] more," Favors said. "It's over with. This is my first time hearing it. I'm excited."

Prokhorov said the goal is still to win a championship in five years. But his team will have to accomplish those lofty aspirations without the services of Anthony, who is averaging 23.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

"We will come back to the table every time we need the right player for the team. But really I'm not ready to overpay. Because as soon as you make a mistake in the NBA, you can wait for the next chance for the next five or six years. That's why I prefer to be really patient and I want to thank the New Jersey fans for their patience."

Added GM Billy King: "We discussed it and this is what he came up with, this was his idea."

W2W4: Nets-Jazz

January, 19, 2011
1/19/11
5:03
PM ET
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE?

As several players on the Nets, Nuggets and Pistons remain hostages, awaiting to know their fates, Mikhail Prokhorov has returned to America -- and like only James Bond could -- he’s hoping he can end all the Melo Drama and save his reputation in the process. Rumors have been swirling that Prokhorov is to meet with Carmelo Anthony at some point this week to try to convince him to sign an extension with New Jersey and play for the Nets. The Nuggets have OK’d the meeting -- as has the league. Will the two parties meet and come to an agreement? Is Melo amenable to playing with the Nets? These are questions that still have to be answered. Prokhorov has made himself available to the media Wednesday night. Whether or not he’ll disclose any information that we don’t already know, remains to be seen.

STOP THE BLEEDING

The Nets have lost six straight and 11 of 12. They lost all four games on their West Coast road trip, allowing 105.75 points per game in the process. That can’t happen against a balanced Utah Jazz team that can score in bunches. Led by all-world point guard Deron Williams and inside presence Al Jefferson, the Jazz have averaged 101 points per game this season. They made 14 3-pointers in their last game, a 108-101 loss at Washington. Defense hasn’t been the Nets’ calling card. Expect Utah to space the floor and allow Williams room to dribble-drive -- much like Devin Harris -- and either get to the rim or find open shooters for perimeter pull-ups. The Jazz shoot it at nearly 47 percent from the field, 36 percent from beyond the arc. The Nets are going to need to clog the lane, but at the same time get out there and contest shots. Otherwise, the Jazz are going to knock them down.

MR. AGGRESSIVE

Brook Lopez still isn’t rebounding (5.9 boards per game), but he is scoring. A lot. Over his last three games, Lopez has averaged 29.2 points per game on 64.2 percent shooting from the field. The 22 year old has been aggressive, scoring in a variety of ways. He’s actually been establishing deep post position -- and when defenders give him space, he’s never shy about hoisting -- and making -- 15-footers. Lopez is going to need to have another strong outing if the Nets are to come away with an upset victory in this one.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8