Saturday, March 20, 2010
Odd observations from Nets' 62nd Loss
By Chris Sheridan
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This seemed like a Saturday night when victory No. 8 might actually be possible, a conclusion I reached after watching the Oklahoma City Thunder steamroll the Toronto Raptors by 26 points on television the previous night.
The Nets hadn't played since Wednesday and had starters Devin Harris and Yi Jianlian back from injuries, while the Raptors were on the second night of a back-to-back and didn't arrive at their hotel until 2:30 a.m. What's more, the Raptors were staying in Manhattan, and the second team bus -- the one carrying the bulk of the players -- was delayed by Lincoln Tunnel traffic and arrived late at the arena.
And in a season in which victories come around about as often as full moons, you want to try to be there for the rare night when the Nets might come away with a W as the try to avoid surpassing the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73) for the worst record in NBA history.
At halftime, things looked promising: The Nets were ahead by three and the Raptors looked dead on their feet. But then Chris Bosh (36 points) took over, and the night ended in a 100-90 defeat that dropped New Jersey's record to 7-62.
Still, the night was not without its moments, and due diligence was exerted in recording them for posterity's sake.
So, in no particular order, here are 10 observations from Saturday night's Nets-Raptors game that we dare say you'll read nowhere else:
10. As Kiki Vandeweghe greets reporters in his office, a half-eaten hard pretzel sits on his desk. They say a diamond is the world's hardest substance, but Meadowlands regulars know better. One beat writer remarks that he has heard the term "infamous Meadowlands pretzels" in other NBA cities.
9. Trenton Hassell is walking through the Nets locker room pre-game carrying a plate with two small squares of white cake topped with chocolate frosting. Hassell tells Chris Douglas-Roberts he got it from the media room, though he said he didn't actually go in there himself to fetch it.
8. CDR gives a little more insight into the letter from prison he received in his fan mail. Suffice to say he considered it a tad raunchy.
7. The Chinese media is out in full force with Yi back after missing six consecutive games with a sprained ankle. The seating chart includes 11 Chinese media, 11 American writers, two Canadian beat writers and four Italian journalists, two of whom are no-shows. A French regular is here, too, meaning us Yanks are vastly outnumbered by foreign journos.
6. Pre-game, Vandeweghe gives what sounds like the quote of the night: "It's not like it's a unique situation" until he clarifies that he is referring to the Nets playing their youngsters while the discontented veterans, who are playing for new contracts, are sitting idle.
5. Bosh's first shot is blocked cleanly by Yi, and Harris rebounds from an 0-for-6 start to hit seven of his next eight. Public address announcer Gary Sussman is in nirvana as he trumps a dunk by Kris Humpries with a "Humpty Dunkty" call and New Jersey takes a five-point lead, but Humphries is a little too pumped and misses shots on the Nets' next two possessions.
4. In the third quarter, Raptors reserve Marcus Banks gets assessed a technical foul for jumping off the bench at the end of a play and yelling. When referee Bob Delaney asks him his uniform number, Banks has to unzip his warmup to look.
3. It is mascot night as the Nets are celebrating the 13th birthday of their mascot, Sly, and there are visiting mascots from the Bucks, Celtics, Wizards, Rockets and Magic, along with the Geico gecko. If that's not weird enough, there comes a break in the second quarter when the scoreboard is showing highlights of the Nets' playoff victory over Toronto in 2007 as a SpongeBob SquarePants mascot dances at center court with two children. No music is playing.
2. The Nets are ahead 67-63 when Terrence Williams breaks up a 3-on-1 break by leaping high to deflect an alley-oop pass. But the ball goes out of bounds off Williams, Bosh converts a 3-point play, and the Nets close the quarter by going scoreless over the final 2:44. They trail 80-70 entering the fourth, and the game is never competitive the rest of the way.
1. In the Toronto locker afterward, Hedo Turkoglu tries to set the record straight regarding his wife's alleged involvement in getting him to change his mind and commit to the Raptors last summer after he had verbally agreed to a deal with Portland. Turkoglu said that as of last July, his wife had never even been to Toronto, and since then she has continued to live in Orlando with their small child, visiting Toronto only occasionally.
And so the Wait for Eight continues, with the Miami Heat in the house Monday night, the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday and the Detroit Pistons on Friday. By then, the Nets' pep squad should be back to their usual business of shooting burritos into the stands with sling shots. For some reason, they omitted that bit o' fun Saturday night.