The New Jersey Nets dropped their second straight game Wednesday night at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats, finishing their opening home-stand at a respectable 2-2.
The game was headlined by power forward Troy Murphy's return to the rotation after missing the entire preseason with a lower back injury.
It will definitely take time for Murphy to return to game form and begin to gel with the team, which was apparent throughout the game. Murphy logged just 18 minutes and finished with 2 points, shooting 1-3 from the field.
The Nets were -17 with Murphy on the court tonight, as he often looked uninvolved in the offense and a step slow on defense. Getting back on track will not be easy for Murphy with the Nets' next two games at Orlando and Miami.
Although Murphy was a non-factor, Derrick Favors had another outstanding game, posting 11 points, 8 rebounds (4 offensive) and three highlight reel dunks in just 24 minutes of action. When Murphy's game is finally in full swing, look for Favors to be an absolute monster off the bench, as he will certainly see less playing time.
This is exactly what the Nets are looking for from Favors. Terrence Williams often proved to be the spark for the second unit last year and Favors looks like he can fill that role perfectly. The Nets have to like what they are seeing from this young 19 year-old.
However, the Nets have to be concerned about the team's play when Devin Harris is not on the floor. Harris had 5 assists in just eight minutes to start the game, but as soon as he headed to the bench, the Nets went cold, going five straight minutes without a field goal. This happened again in the third quarter and the Nets were lucky not to find themselves in a hole as they approached the final quarter.
Although Harris was on the court for most of the final quarter, the Nets could not find their rhythm. They watched a 10 point lead deteriorate in minutes, suddenly finding themselves down with only a few minutes left. They were able to produce crucial stops on the defensive end, but couldn't find that late game magic that they had been blessed in their first two games against Detroit and Sacramento.
On the last possession, Outlaw threw up a rushed shot after a loose ball recovery, instead of kicking it out to a wide open Anthony Morrow. The clock ran out during the ensuing chase for the rebound which seemed to last for eons. The Nets fell short in a game they would certainly love to replay if given the option.