The Other Side: New Jersey Nets


Just make sure you outscore the Wizards' backcourt by yourself, and we'll be fine. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)


It's been only one month, but the New Jersey Nets sure don't look like a team destined to be the worst in the Eastern Conference, as so many -- including me -- predicted before the season. With the Nets trading Richard Jefferson to Milwaukee for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons last summer, they looked like a rebuilding team gearing up for the LeBron Sweepstakes in 2010 -- especially after they sent Jason Kidd to Dallas earlier in the year. But even while they playfully wink at LeBron James, the Nets (9-7) actually look like a team that plans on being somewhat competitive the next two seasons.

When the Nets beat the Wizards 95-85 in the season opener on Oct. 29, it looked like it was a terrible loss for Eddie Jordan's crew -- but it was actually a sign of things to come for both teams. The Wizards have struggled against almost every squad they've faced, going winless in 11 games against Eastern Conference teams, and Ed Tapscott replaced Jordan. But despite an incredibly young and flimsy roster, the Nets haven't looked anything like a bottom feeder in their past nine games, as they have gone 7-2. The Nets have won three in a row overall.

Here are some other things you should know about the Nets heading into tonight's game at Izod Center:

1. Devin Harris Is Blowing Up
The reason for the Nets' incredible turnaround begins and ends with point guard Devin Harris, who is trying to enter the discussion of the league's elite point guards. He has returned after missing three games -- all Nets losses -- because of a sprained left ankle and New Jersey is 8-2 in the last 10 games Harris has played.

Over that span, Harris is averaging 29.2 points, and recorded the first six 30-point games of his career. He recently completed the best weekend of his career, scoring 34 points in a win over Utah on Saturday and a career-high 47 points in a win over Phoenix . His confidence is probably the result of being more positive.

I did pick Harris to have a breakout season, so I'm .500 with my Nets predictions so far.

2. Vince Carter Is Alive
He might not be the Vinsanity-Half Man/Half Amazing force who makes nightly visits to SportsCenter highlight reels, but at least Carter doesn't look like he's coasting this season, as he appeared to be so much last season. Carter entered last night ranked eighth in the NBA in scoring at 23.8 points per game. He also had a flashback moment two weeks ago against his former team Toronto when he had 39 points and 9 rebounds in the regular season game of the year. He quietly had 28 points in the win over the Suns, and is pleased that Harris's arrival means that he doesn't have to carry the team by himself this season.

Carter and Harris are the highest scoring backcourt in the NBA at 49.1 points per game. It's the first time in franchise history that the Nets had two of the top 10 scorers in the league. They also have the fifth-highest combined assist average of any backcourt at 11.3 dimes a game.

3. One Hundred Is The Magic Number
The Nets rank fifth in the NBA in scoring at 101.9 points per game and they are 8-0 this season when they reach triple digits -- meaning that they are 1-7 when they are held below 100 (that one win came at Verizon Center). On the other side of the ball, the Wizards are facing one of the four teams in the league giving up more points.

New Jersey ranks 27th in opponents' points allowed at 104.3 per game (The Wizards are 26th at 103.2). Borrowing a line from the Post's Mike Wise, "When does the Princeton defense kick in?" The Wizards are one of five teams that failed to score at least 100 points against New Jersey this season. Sacramento is the only other team to lose in that situation.

By Michael Lee |  December 2, 2008; 8:28 AM ET
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Comments

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Posted by: prescrunk | December 2, 2008 10:21 AM

1) some of their guys can hit 3s. Therefore, the Wiz defenders cannot fall off for a (weak) double team without getting burned. Isn't this painfully obvious by now?

2) Brown and Stevenson have played horribly. Aren't some adjustments warranted?

3) McGee, Blatche and Young should be allowed to play through mistakes (presuming that the mistakes are reviewed on film later). Aren't the Nets allowing their young guys to grow?

Playing professional basketball is more important than winning right now for the Wiz. The fundamentals have been lacking.

Is Tapscott ready to turn this ship around?

Posted by: Izman | December 2, 2008 10:44 AM

I'm not going to say I called it, but I've been saying since over two seasons ago that Les BouleS should have traded with the Mavs for Devin Harris.

Not only can he score and dish, but most important, he plays D!!!!

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 2, 2008 11:06 AM

I might be mistaken(hopefully my wife doesn't read this) but didn't we trade the right's to Devin Harris for Antwan Jamison?

Posted by: dargregmag | December 2, 2008 11:35 AM

Yep. And it was a good deal.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 12:19 PM

"I might be mistaken(hopefully my wife doesn't read this) but didn't we trade the right's to Devin Harris for Antwan Jamison?

Posted by: dargregmag | December 2, 2008 11:35 AM "

Yeah, Les BouleS did it to get rid of Juwan's contract, I believe, but it has nothing to do with my point.

And, my point is that we should have TRADED FOR Devin Harris before he blew up.

Instead, they got JKidd and the team has gone nowhere since.

And with AJ? Les BouleS have had 3 consecutive seasons of one and done despite his glamorous all star numbers.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 2, 2008 12:57 PM

For those who didn't know, Kalorama is Ivan Carter, seriously. You will all find out in due time.

Posted by: cj658 | December 2, 2008 2:37 PM

The Washington Wizards traded their 5th overall pick (Devin Harris) along with Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner in exchange for Antawn Jamison of the Dallas Mavericks

I might be mistaken (hopefully my wife doesn't read this) but didn't we trade the right's to Devin Harris for Antwan Jamison?

Posted by: dargregmag | December 2, 2008 11:35 AM

Yep. And it was a good deal.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 12:19 PM

kalo_rama,

Picking on your lack of basketball knowledge is easier then scoring on Antawn Jamison. It was a horrible deal. When someone asked the Mavericks why would they trade Jamison they said it was because of he can not play defense and this is coming from a team that did not even play defense.

They traded for him because Stackhouse could not play with Arenas and Gilbert was the teams point guard who was going to take them to the promise land. The trade worked out great for the organization because they made the playoffs a couple of years and raked in the fans cash.

We all have our opinions about the trade but time is the real judge, and since the makeup of this team failed to win a championship, (I may be the only one who believes that should be the goal of any team in the NBA), the fine people on here (who really understand the game of basketball) can make an educated decision on whether it was a good or bad trade.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 2, 2008 3:28 PM

Yep. And it was a good deal.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 12:19 PM

For who?

Abe Pollin's coffers? Sure the Jamison deal was a nice short term fix and made Ernie Grunfeld look good for a little while but what did it actually get us? Four years later we still have yet to see any playoff success. No 2nd round playoff wins to show. Our best year was a 45 win season which was 4 friggin years ago.

Now Jamison is 32, paid for the next four years and the Wizards stink to high hell. Seems like he was the biggest winner in this deal.

At least we got our veteran leader...who loves to lead by example for all the other Wizards. Just look at how everyone on the roster mimics our leader's great approach to defense.

Posted by: Dat2U | December 2, 2008 3:48 PM

Bulletsfan78: I was hoping that Kalorama was being sacastic with his post, but based on some of his previous, you may be right.

This is the same guy who said, and I quote, "Getting the Wiz to the 1st round 3 straight years is an accomplishment" LOL!! That was his defense for EJ, pathetic.

He's just another idiot that can't seem to grasp the fact that HALF of the teams in the league get to make the playoffs. Making the playoffs, and being unable to get out of the 1st round is no accomplishment. Thanks goodness Ernie realized and canned EJ. Great guy, but he had 6 years, and couldn't get it done. Boo hoo.

Posted by: cj658 | December 2, 2008 3:48 PM

Dat2U: Very well said. I echo that.

Posted by: cj658 | December 2, 2008 3:49 PM

Posted by: prescrunk | December 2, 2008 4:18 PM

"Picking on your lack of basketball knowledge is easier then scoring on Antawn Jamison. It was a horrible deal. When someone asked the Mavericks why would they trade Jamison they said it was because of he can not play defense and this is coming from a team that did not even play defense."

Yeah, and which of "the Mavericks" said this? And when? And to whom? Please, you're so full of crap your sweat is brown.

They traded Jamison because (A) they were already overstocked with players at his position and (B) because they had a chance to get a lottery pick and cap relief for him.

And I won't even bother to list the reason why it was a good deal for the Wizards because (A) you're clearly too big of an idiot to understand them and (B) the fact that you don't already know them is a pretty good indication that you haven't been paying attention the last 4 years anyway.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 4:52 PM

"We all have our opinions about the trade but time is the real judge, and since the makeup of this team failed to win a championship, (I may be the only one who believes that should be the goal of any team in the NBA), the fine people on here (who really understand the game of basketball) can make an educated decision on whether it was a good or bad trade."

How many championships did the Mavs win with Harris? How many do you project the NEts will win with him? Harris ia a fine player, but anyone who uses winning championships as a measure of why he's better than Jamison is a fool. Plain and simple.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 4:56 PM

"since the makeup of this team failed to win a championship, (I may be the only one who believes that should be the goal of any team in the NBA)"

so ... in your "learned" opinion, in any given year, 29 of the 30 teams in the NBA are utter, abject failures and should be blown up and start over from scratch?

Pure, unadulterated genius.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 5:17 PM

so ... in your "learned" opinion, in any given year, 29 of the 30 teams in the NBA are utter, abject failures and should be blown up and start over from scratch?

Pure, unadulterated genius.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 5:17 PM

No but a team that does not make it out of the first round three years in a row should.

They traded Jamison because (A) they were already overstocked with players at his position and (B) because they had a chance to get a lottery pick and cap relief for him.

Your talking cap relief? Cuban isn't cheap like ABE, he is willing to go over the luxury cap to try and win a championship.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 2, 2008 5:29 PM

"Your talking cap relief? Cuban isn't cheap like ABE, he is willing to go over the luxury cap to try and win a championship."

How's that been workin' out for him?

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 5:35 PM

"No but a team that does not make it out of the first round three years in a row should.

A point I myself made (multiple times) before last season even ended. It is, however, a point that is utterly irrelevant to your argument about whether trading the rights to Harris for Jamison 5 years ago was a bad deal, which (as you've obviously forgotten) was the actual topic under discussion.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 5:40 PM

Unfortunately in today’s NBA where there are free agents, there are two philosophies on how to run a basketball team,

kalo_rama thinks having a cheap owner like ABE is the right type of owner.

I would rather have an owner like Mark Cuban who is willing to put his money on the line to try and win a championship.

Basketball fans what do you think?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 2, 2008 5:43 PM

And we haven't even touched upon the glaringly obvious hypocrisy of the the same people who constantly rip Arenas for being a scoring PG instead of a "pure" playmaker now lining up to buy tickets to ride the jock of Devin Harris who is ... wait for it ... a scoring point guard!

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 5:48 PM

Looking for a reason to believe tonite,solid defense,good ball movement,rebound defend the rim,intelligent shot selection and hustle.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 2, 2008 5:52 PM

"I would rather have an owner like Mark Cuban who is willing to put his money on the line to try and win a championship."

Nice try.

You said winning a title is the only thing that matters. You called the Jamison deal a failure because he never won the Wiz a title. Cuban has never won a title, so by your own standard he's a failure. All he's really done is spend more money to fail than almost any other owner in the NBA.

Maybe you should throw him a parade.

Again, it's not how much you spend, it's how you spend. Ask the Spurs or the Pistons.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 2, 2008 5:54 PM

It's easy to say that we'd rather have Devin Harris now instead of Jamison. He's performing well. It's easy to hop on the bandwagon.

but if two years ago we had Harris and his then-average of 10pts/3asts carrying us when arenas and butler went down instead of all star and one time sixth man of the year Jamison, I doubt you would have been saying "give him two years to develop, he'll be a monster." you'd say blow it up and trade him, we want to win now.

quit complaining every second of the day.

Posted by: crs-one | December 2, 2008 6:36 PM

Give me Harris, Trade AJ, Gil's not a point, enough already. I just want to see one thing and one thing only.

Later for defense, Later for who we got and don't got and cannot do.

I just want to see this team of offensive players and thats what they are...OFFENSIVE PLAYERS...Run and Gun the Damn Ball. Run the Ball as hard as you can push it and the only reason I want to see a player pulled from the game is because he is making offensive mistakes. No player should be pulled for making defensive mistakes, cause they can't play no Defense.

Concentrate totally on scoring the ball and you will win games. Defense is important but when that final whistle blows your point total better be over 100 per game consistently.

Play to your strengths 24 7 and do it well.

Tonight, if they defeat Jersey it will solely be because they score the Ball.

Run and Gun Wizards. BulletsFan78, Izman, DC_Man88, and Kalo_rama, all I'm saying that maybe with the talent you have you just to need to get good at one thing and not concentrate on the whole. Just strive to be the best scoring team in the league, then we can really see what that might bring.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 2, 2008 7:35 PM

Nice start but where is DB and JM still on the bench and DSon and AD getting practically all the 2nd Q minutes until 5:48. They'd be up by 10 if they just push the ball. AD can't do it.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | December 2, 2008 8:23 PM

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