- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEWARK, N.J. -- The reporters waited. Then waited some more.
The star of the game had yet to emerge from his shower.
When New Jersey Nets shooting guard Anthony Morrow finally did manage to mosey his way into the locker room, one of the reporters asked him what took so long.David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images
Brook Lopez and the Nets were glad to have Anthony Morrow (22) back on the court.
"We've waited 17 games already," the reporter joked.
Everyone burst into laughter.
Had Morrow -- playing for the first time since he strained his hamstring on Dec. 14 against the Philadelphia 76ers -- missed just one more shot after coming up empty on his first four, it would've been no laughing matter.
But with 1.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Morrow finally got a 3-pointer to fall. So head coach Avery Johnson left him in, then proceeded to run a play for Morrow on the team's second possession of the fourth. He made that one, too. Morrow followed that swish with another 3-pointer off a pass from Jordan Farmar.
All of a sudden, the Nets were up 72-62 with 10:40 remaining -- and well on their way to consecutive wins for the first time since Dec. 19-21.
"I was just about to take him out of the game," Johnson said of Morrow, who wound up going 4-for-8 from the field and scoring 10 points in 14 minutes, as the Nets went on to roll past the Detroit Pistons 89-74 Friday night at the Prudential Center.
"Tonight, he was coming up on his minute restriction and he was struggling a little bit getting up and down the floor. But when he hit that 3 I said, 'We'll leave him in there.' I ran a play for him and he hit one. I ran another one and he made it. So it was good that he helped get us a nice cushion."
The Nets (12-31), came in as one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA. Prior to Friday night’s game, they ranked 27th in both field goal percentage (.439) and 3-point field goal percentage (.332).
That’s why they were elated to have Morrow -- the second most-accurate 3-point shooter in NBA history (.451 career, .411 in 2010-11) -- back in the lineup. And they were even more elated when he finally found his shot, stretching a four-point lead to double digits.
"I just wanted to get the first few shots out of the way and just keep plugging," said Morrow, who went 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. "I’m glad I could contribute and help the team win."
They may not have had Morrow not drained that 3-pointer from the right wing off a pass from Kris Humphries, which gave the Nets a 67-60 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
All of a sudden, his confidence was restored. For most marksmen like Morrow, it only takes one shot.
"It felt good [to get that first one]," Morrow said. "I knew Hump was gonna pass it to me. It was the end of the quarter; gave us some momentum. Anytime you can get a shot to go down when you’re a shooter and a scorer and get some momentum going, it’s a good thing."
Now the Nets have to hope Morrow stays healthy and continues to rip the chord from the perimeter the way he did on Friday night.
"I’m still getting my game legs under me," Morrow said. "That's gonna take a couple games. But other than that, conditioning wise, I felt great. It’s just a matter of getting my timing back."
Johnson said he’s going to continue to play Morrow about 15 minutes per game until he’s 100 percent.
He's wasn’t even going to get that much time had that shot with 1.8 seconds left in the third not gone down.
Luckily for Morrow, it did.
"He basically put the game away for us with those 3-point shots," Johnson said.