Nets vs. Raptors: New Jersey Falls to Toronto, Consistency Biggest Issue

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2010

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

It all looked good for the New Jersey Nets in the first half against the Toronto Raptors.

They led 48-42 at the half, held the Raptors to 40 percent shooting while being at 44 percent themselves, held a sizable advantage of 12-3 in terms of free throw attempts and had just two turnovers. They were also good about breaking after missed baskets to get points in their early offense.

The second half was a completely different story, however.

After the break, Toronto outscored the Nets 56-44 to win 98-92, handing New Jersey its 10th straight road loss in the process.

They did this by shooting 54 percent from the field and hitting 5-of-12 three-pointers, as New Jersey's defense was unable to keep up the pace.

Andrea Bargnani led the way for the Raptors with 32 points. He was 14-of-26 from the field and hit all three of this three-point attempts as New Jersey had no answer for him.

The Nets also did not break out on offense nearly as much, and had 10 second half turnovers. They were able to hit shots at about the same rate as in the first half, but they are clearly missing Anthony Morrow.

On the game, New Jersey was just 2-for-12 on threes. Sasha Vujacic, their newest team member and someone who could help out some from deep, was 0-of-5 on three-point attempts. It was his first game with the Nets and he is finding his way on offense while adjusting to a new system, so I'll give him a pass for now.

After having drastic advantages in rebounds their last two games, the Nets were out-rebounded 43-39 in this one. Brook Lopez scored 20 points, but had just seven rebounds as it appears that aspect of his game is gone.

He was a double-double machine a year ago and it has been very surprising and disappointing to see him unable to grab rebounds so far.

The discrepancies between the two halves highlight the consistency that has been an issue all season. They've been better the past two nights of coming out with energy to begin the game, but have had some breakdowns after halftime.

It's likely just the process of a team with many, many new faces coming together, and the injuries are not helping. Morrow, Damion James and now Quinton Ross, who hurt his lower back after a hard fall in the first half, are all missing.

James and Morrow seem to be superior players to Ross, but the latter's defense and rebounding were missed down the stretch.

As I've been saying all year, this season will be more about how the team plays in the second half of the season than how they come out of the gates.

Hopefully for Net fans, the differences between the first and second halves of some of their games are foreshadowing a better second half of the season than this beginning has been.

The Nets also had some bad luck early in the game when what was clearly basket interference from a Toronto player was not called. New Jersey should have gotten two points from it, but the refs blew the call.

We can't blame the game on that play, but it was the difference between being tied or down by a single possession and being down multiple possessions in the fourth quarter. Replay is available to the referees, I'm not sure why the NBA would not allow them to use it in that situation.

That's an issue for a different day, though.

New Jersey has a night off before hosting Atlanta Sunday afternoon.