They don’t call him Iso Joe for nothing, kids. With the Nets really struggling to create offense once things got tight, Joe Johnson came to the rescue with multiple big buckets before hitting the really big one to finally put away a game Detroit Pistons team, 107-105 in double overtime.
There were a lot of takeaways for the Nets in this once, both good and bad. Brook Lopez looked rusty offensively in his return, but he was still able to log some solid minutes in his first game back. Gerald Wallace (25 points, 10 rebounds) was incredible on both ends of the floor, making huge defensive plays to supplement his trademark reckless forays to the rim. There were multiple times the Pistons would have put this game away had it not been for Wallace.
That’s the good. The bad? Deron Williams continued his struggles, and was exploited offensively by the Pistons’ legion of guards. Williams is a notorious slow starter — if you’ll recall, he did this last year as well — but many of his shot attempts aren’t even close right now. D-Will is shooting 38 percent from the field this year and 27 percent from the 3-point line (with 5.7 attempts a game), which puts him firmly in what I like to call, “Baron Davis territory.” To be fair, Williams does shoulder a lot of the load offensively and has to hoist a lot of attempts with very little time on the shot clock, but let’s call it like it is: he’s not playing like a max player right now, or even a very good one. Williams was 7-of-17 with 6 assists and 5 turnovers, but was really an afterthought in the two overtime periods, which is telling of where he’s at right now.
Of course, that’s why the Nets have Joe Johnson (28 points), a player that can use his size and strength to get his shot off at anytime. Tayshaun Prince isn’t the defender he once was, but in a tie game thanks to some previous heroics from Wallace, some missed free throws, an easy putback by Kyle Singler, a blown backcourt no-call by the refs, and a myriad of other big plays and big mistakes, he found himself all alone on an island with Johnson.
After playing a game-high 52 minutes, Johnson must have wanted off that island pretty badly. Here’s how he did it:
The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.
Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.
On offensive problems:
I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball
On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:
He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.
On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:
We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.
Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.
But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.
Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.
Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.
He’d appreciate them getting this message.
Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.
So, um, did he have offseason surgery?
Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.
We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?