New Jersey Nets: Blake Griffin
March, 8, 2012
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
From the moment the ball left his right hand, Jordan Farmar had no doubt. It was going in.
"I would've felt hurt if it went out," the Nets' backup point guard said.
The Nets had already blown an 18-point lead to the Clippers on Wednesday and were in danger of losing their eighth straight game at home. So when Farmar caught an "on-time, on-target" bounce pass from Deron Williams and let a wide-open 3-pointer fly from the right wing with less than a second remaining and the Nets down two, almost everyone in the sellout crowd at Prudential Center -- from the players to the coaches to the fans -- desperately needed it to fall.
With 0.2 ticks left, it did. And the building erupted.
Just like that, a 30-point drubbing in Miami the previous evening had been forgotten.
Brick City had upset Lob City.
AP Photo/Mel EvansAnthony Morrow and MarShon Brooks celebrate with Jordan Farmar after his game-winning 3-pointer.
"In this situation at home in front of a great crowd -- we had a big lead at one point -- but the way this win happened was perfect."
Imagine what he would've said if it hadn't.
A little over eight seconds earlier, Shelden Williams inexplicably fouled Chris Paul (22 points, 10 assists, six rebounds) 30 feet from the basket, and the Clippers point guard drilled a pair of free throws to put Los Angeles in front.
"Chris Paul is just dynamite, man," Johnson said. "He basically got me fired in Dallas, if you remember that playoff series, so I had some bad flashbacks."
But "Why Shelden? Why?!" quickly turned into "Thank goodness for Jordan!"
On the ensuing Nets possession, Johnson ran an isolation play for D-Will, but he was trapped and the ball was kicked out of bounds. The Nets got the ball back to their All-Star point guard again and he was thinking about driving, but saw Paul cheating over to help.
Farmar was open. So D-Will fed him the ball -- and Farmar did the rest.
"That was a huge shot from deep," said Williams, who finished with 21 points, 10 assists and six rebounds and improved to 13-4 vs. Paul in his career. "He had ice in his veins."
"I had just passed one up," Farmar said. "I told myself if I get another shot, I'm gonna make sure I shoot it."
He did. He made it, too.
"They were cheating a bit and taking [Deron's] space away. He had to bounce it, and he put it in the perfect spot," Farmar said. "I was a little deep, but I just wanted to keep an eye on the rim and stay with my follow-through."
The Nets held an 80-71 lead entering the fourth quarter, but it quickly evaporated because they couldn't buy a bucket. In all, they went 3-for-16 in the final period after shooting a scintillating 58.3 percent in the first half, but made 14 of 18 free throws to stay in it.
And when it was all said and done, they finally gave their fans something to cheer about.
"The Clippers drew a big crowd. It was a home-court environment. It felt like a big game. It was fun to play in." Farmar said. "When it's dead in here and there's not that many people in the crowd, it gets tough at times -- especially when we don't play well, it's hard to keep that energy to get back in the game. But it was a full crowd, the game was going back and forth, and it was fun to be a part of."
"This is the best our fans have been in a long time, and they're definitely part of the win," D-Will added.
Jay-Z and his over-the-top gold chain, Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, right tackle Kareem McKenzie and kicker Lawrence Tynes, and Ravens running back and Rutgers product Ray Rice were all sitting courtside.
And they were treated to a dandy.
The third quarter alone featured 11 straight points by D-Will, three dunks by Blake Griffin (28 points, 17 rebounds) -- including a two-handed alley-oop flush and a baseline reverse throwdown -- and one ridiculous rejection by Kris Humphries to prevent another Griffin oop.
"I needed that," said Humphries, who played physical inside with Griffin all night and both were assessed technicals with 9:08 left in the third. "He snuck one by me at the rim earlier [on the reverse]. It felt good. I think we fed off that and just kept it going."
The Nets are 13-27, but they've beaten Philadelphia in Philadelphia, New York in New York, Chicago in Chicago, Dallas in Dallas and now the Clippers in New Jersey and trail the Knicks by 5½ games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 26 contests remaining. They may be decimated by injuries, but it didn't matter on Wednesday night.
Shelden Williams -- inserted into the starting lineup after Brook Lopez sprained his ankle, causing him to miss at least three weeks -- gave them 15 points, 10 rebounds and a 9-for-11 performance from the free throw stripe. MarShon Brooks -- despite foolishly fouling Randy Foye on a three-point play that knotted the game at 98 -- poured in 19 points. Humphries added 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Farmar contributed 16 of the team’s 34 bench points -- and the biggest shot of the game, if not the season.
"I've been on the bench. I haven't been in game-winning situations too much," Farmar said. "I'm just happy I got the opportunity and it went through for me."
March, 11, 2011
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score | Photos
WHAT IT MEANS: All-Star point guard Deron Williams can stay in Dallas for all the New Jersey Nets care. All right, that's just a joke. Granted, the Nets didn't need Williams again on Friday night as they rallied from a 20-point deficit to down the Los Angeles Clippers 102-98 in overtime in front of a sellout crowd -- the team's second all season -- at the Prudential Center. New Jersey (21-43) has now won four consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 31-Feb. 7, 2009. The Nets also won both of their games without Williams, who stayed at home while his wife gave birth to their fourth child on Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, the loss by the Clippers (25-41) snapped their four-game winning streak.
THE DIFFERENCE: The Nets scored the first four points of overtime -- courtesy of a pair of interior buckets by Brook Lopez -- and seven of the first nine to open up a five-point lead, 101-96, after Jordan Farmar drained a 3-pointer with 2:27 left in the extra session. Eventually, the Clippers sliced that deficit to within three after Blake Griffin got a layup. They even had a chance to tie late, but Mo Williams' 3-pointer clanged off the back rim with 13.8 seconds remaining and Farmar split a pair at the stripe with 11.2 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, 102-98, and effectively end it.
AND WE'RE TIED: The Nets thought they were going to emerge with a victory in regulation after Lopez got an up-and-under layup to go with 3.8 seconds left. However, on the Clippers' ensuing possession Griffin took the ball hard to the rim and was fouled trying to dunk with 1.2 seconds left. Had he made both, Los Angeles would've left with a win. But he didn't, missing the back end of a pair of free throws that sent the game to overtime tied at 94-94.
TURNING POINT: The Nets trailed by as many as 20 in the first half, but rallied from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter, outscoring the Clippers 31-16 to take a 68-67 lead into the fourth. They scored 22 of the first 28 points of the third, taking their first lead since the 7:43 mark of the first when Farmar converted a layup to make it 59-57 with 4:50 remaining in the quarter. New Jersey shot 65 percent in the period.
MR. PERFECT: Most of the fans in attendance came to see Griffin -- and he certainly put on a show. But so did Kris Humphries. He posted 19 points and career-high 20 rebounds while shooting a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and 3-for-3 from the foul line. He didn't hold Griffin to 11 points like last time, when the teams played in Los Angeles -- Griffin got 23 and nine in this one -- but Humphries basically outplayed him for much of the evening.
STEPPING UP: Farmar made up for Williams' absence in a big way, tying Lopez with game-high 24 points. Farmer didn't have any in the first half, but notched 20 in the second half on 8-for-10 shooting and 4-for-5 from 3-point range. And, of course, his 3-pointer in the extra session proved to be the difference.
NUMBER CRUNCHING: The Nets shot just 26.1 percent in the first quarter, 35.7 percent in the first half. However, they turned it up a notch in the second half, converting on 60 percent of their field goals.
HAMMERTIME: Griffin had five dunks -- all of them of the emphatic, SportsCenter highlight-reel variety. His two best came in the first quarter: a left-handed alley-oop flush in transition and a breakaway throwdown in which his entire right arm looked like it was above the rim before he finished.
UP NEXT: No reprieve for the Nets, who have to welcome the Boston Celtics to the Prudential Center on Monday night. Of course, New Jersey should have Williams for that matchup. Head coach Avery Johnson has said he expects his 26-year-old All-Star to be back on Saturday.