The New Jersey Nets are showing that they can hang with the top teams, but are not quite there yet.
In a 98-88 loss to the Utah Jazz, New Jersey proved that they are a tough game. Their dreadful fourth quarter and poor three-point shooting led to their fall, however.
The Nets were down 77-70 heading into the fourth, then went 6-of-20 in the final frame.
New Jersey was by no means on fire prior to the fourth, shooting at 40 percent through three quarters. Their shooting in the final quarter brought them down to 38 percent on the night, though.
The team was also just 4-for-21 (19 percent) on threes. They are at 39.3 percent on the season, and going just 8-for-21 would have had them right around that mark. It would also likely have resulted in a different outcome.
The Nets had trouble keeping Utah off the line, as the Jazz attempted 37 free throws compared to New Jersey's 25.
In fact, Utah had six more makes from the line than the Nets had attempts.
Along with New Jersey out-rebounding the Jazz 57-44, including a 16-9 advantage on offensive rebounds, they may feel like they let one get away here, which, in truth, they should.
When you have such a statistical advantage in that department and also hold a team like Utah to 40 percent shooting, you would like to come away with a win.
While no one or two players can be blamed for a loss, the inconsistent play of Travis Outlaw and Anthony Morrow need to be looked at here.
There has not been a game yet when both have had it going.
Tonight, Morrow was the one hitting his shots, scoring 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting while Outlaw was just 1-for-12 for three points.
It's been very strange to watch this happen in 2010, and the Nets will hope that it is not a season-long trend.
Other notables for the Nets include Devin Harris and Brook Lopez who scored 19 and 17, respectively. Harris also had eight assists and Lopez brought down eight rebounds before fouling out.
Kris Humphries was once again a monster on the glass, tonight grabbing 15 boards. His play has been nothing short of spectacular so far, considering his low expectations.
The loss will surely sting, but it's still nice to see this team able to give upper tier teams all they can handle. It's a much appreciated change from last season.
The Nets will get a day to mend their wounds before traveling to Sacramento on Friday.