NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Nets guard Anthony Morrow played with a chip on his shoulder Monday night -- just the way head coach Avery Johnson thought he would.
Morrow -- one of the players rumored to be heading to the Denver Nuggets in the three-team, multi-player trade that would’ve brought superstar Carmelo Anthony to the Nets -- scored 18 points off the bench, sparking New Jersey to a dominating 115-99 victory over Denver at the Prudential Center.
“I mean it was nothing I had ever really experienced before,” said Morrow, who finished 6-for-6 from the field, 4-for-4 from 3-point range and 2-for-3 from the free throw stripe. “I think not just me, I think everybody was fired up so I think it was just a situation where we came out and executed defensively, offensively and took advantage of the opportunity we had.”
For Morrow, that opportunity came with the Nets after owner Mikhail Prohkorov nixed the proposed deal on Jan. 19.
“Everybody had that chip on their shoulder,” Morrow said. “You could kind of see the look in the guys’ eyes even this morning at shoot-around, so it’s a situation where we’re glad we’re still here and wish them the best of luck the rest of the season.”
Before the game, Johnson singled-out Morrow when asked if any of his players wanted to prove that they didn’t need Anthony.
“Maybe Anthony Morrow,” Johnson said. “A third-year guy. He’s got a chip on his shoulder anyway, which we like.”
Since returning from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss 17 games, Morrow has been on fire, averaging 12.6 points on .564 percent shooting. He’s also been making .542 percent of his 3-pointers and .929 percent of his free throws.
On Monday night, he was nearly perfect off the pine -- if not for one missed free throw.
“I didn’t know I hadn’t missed a shot,” Morrow said. “I was kind of just lost in the game, but I’d rather miss a shot than a free throw.”
Morrow’s biggest shot -- a 3-pointer off a feed from point guard Devin Harris (career-high 18 assists) -- came with 34.6 seconds left in the third quarter. A 9-0 run had brought the Nuggets within 82-78, but Morrow put the Nets up seven heading into the fourth and final quarter.
“We stuck with it and Anthony hit that big shot,” said center Brook Lopez, who finished with a team-high 27 points. “You can’t express that enough. That’s why it’s so great to have him back. If you just give him the ball, you know he’s going to knock it down.”