Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Outlaw hoping to shoot his way out of funk
By Mike Mazzeo
Nets small forward Travis Outlaw continued to hoist jumpers from the left elbow -- about 15 feet away -- long after Tuesday’s morning shootaround at Prudential Center had come to a close.
More often than not, though, the results were much the same as they’ve been in his last four games: a lot of misses.
Outlaw’s first season with the Nets hit an all-time low on Sunday, when he played just six minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring a mere two points on 1-of-3 shooting. The 26-year-old, who was recently demoted to the bench in favor of veteran journeyman Quinton Ross, is just 2 for his last 21 from the field, spanning back to Dec. 5.
Not exactly the type of production the Nets thought they were getting when they inked the eight-year pro to a five-year, $35 million contract in the offseason.
“He had one of his better practices yesterday,” Nets head coach Avery Johnson said of Outlaw, who comes into Tuesday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers shooting a career-worst .392 percent from the field this season. “He came in and shot last night.
“We just gotta get carry over into the game. I just told him to relax. We love him and it’s gonna be fine. Nobody has given up on anybody. He’ just needs to play his game. And when he’s open, he’s gotta shoot it with confidence. And get involved on the defensive end of the floor.” Outlaw was asked following his extra shooting session with Nets assistant coach Popeye Jones if the pressure of living up to his massive contract was weighing on him.
“No,” Outlaw replied. “I’ve got high expectations for myself. I want to be good at what I do. So I mean just the fact when I’m having trouble trying to find [my shot] -- it gets irritating to me. It’s frustrating for myself, but my contract doesn’t have anything to do with it.”
So why is he struggling with his jumper, undoubtedly the reason why the Nets decided to sign him in the first place?
Outlaw attributes it to a flaw in his mechanics.
“I went back to one of my old habits, shooting from the front of my head,” Outlaw said. “So it’s more like I’m aiming [rather than just] shooting it regular and keeping the ball on the right side, letting my elbow do the rest.”
Johnson said he’s going to continue to bring Outlaw off the pine, a role he previously thrived in during his time with the Portland Trailblazers.
“I gotta give that [starting Ross] a look for a game, two games, three games, five games and see how it works,” Johnson said. “Hopefully Outlaw will get more than five minutes tonight off the bench.”
The Nets were 5-10 when they last played the Sixers on Nov. 27 in Philadelphia.
The game was tied going into the fourth quarter, but a defensive meltdown in the closing stanza led to a 16-point loss. And the Nets are 1-7 since.
“We watched probably 15 clips or so of our defense against them last time,” Johnson said.
The Nets, who have lost a season-high seven straight, allowed the Sixers to make 15-of-19 shots in the final 12 minutes.
The same as last game: Troy Murphy, Damion James and Joe Smith.