Earlier this week, Devin Harris of the New Jersey Nets called a team meeting to address the lack of energy his team has shown against some of the lower level teams.
The Nets have made a habit of getting down by double digits early in games. They've fought hard in just about every contest, but the holes they have dug were beginning to get too deep.
Thursday night against the Washington Wizards, New Jersey did provide the early game enthusiasm the point guard was looking for as it appeared they were on their way to a blowout.
At one point in the second quarter they built up a 23-point lead and took a 55-38 advantage into halftime.
In that first half the Nets shot 49 percent from the field and held the Wizards to 31 percent shooting. They forced 14 turnovers compared to their 12. They even got the free throw line 25 times.
Then the inconsistent energy issues resurfaced in the third quarter as Washington outscored them 29-19 and eventually tied that game at 75 in the fourth quarter.
The Nets turned it on from that point, however, outscoring the Wiz 22-14 and winning 97-89.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Washington is a bad team in a similar rebuilding situation to the Nets.
That being said, it would have been a travesty for New Jersey to lose this game given some of the statistical edges they had.
They held severe advantages in rebounds (52-37 and 17-8 on offensive boards) and free throw attempts (47-38). They also held Washington to 40 percent shooting on the game, although they did shoot just 41 percent themselves.
It was very reminiscent of Tuesday's game against Philadelphia in those regards. New Jersey just found a way to win this one; something they haven't been able to do much this season.
Standout players for New Jersey include Harris, Kris Humphries and yes, Travis Outlaw.
I've been harsh with Outlaw recently, feeling that a move to the bench was necessary. The Nets made the switch and, for this game at least, it's working.
Outlaw was just 3-of-8 from the field, but ended up scoring 13 points, thanks mostly to his aggressiveness that resulted in eight free throw attempts. As long as he does that and stops settling for long-range jumpers, I won't have too much of a problem with him.
Humphries grabbed 17 rebounds, six on offense, and scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. If he can get his shot to fall at a reasonable rate his value to the team will increase tremendously.
Harris ended up scoring 29 points in this one. He struggled with his shot a bit, just 7-for-25 from the field, but consistently attacked the defense and ended up attempting a whopping 17 free throws.
Quinton Ross will even get a mention for his defensive effort and nine rebounds.
Brook Lopez played well when on the floor, but was in foul trouble for much of the night, limiting his impact on the game.
Again, we can't make too much of this win being that it came over the Washington Wizards.
Regardless, it was nice to see the team play with some energy and come away with the win that finally ended their eight-game losing streak.
They still need to work on consistency from game-to-game and even within games, but this is a good start.
They'll try to keep it going Friday night in Toronto.
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