New Jersey Nets: Breaking Down Their Week 9 Performance

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2010

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New Jersey Nets had a very brief week, playing just two games and getting a good amount of rest.

Being that they had such little action, there is not a whole lot to say about their performance.

What their two games did show us, however, is what they must do to win games. There were also some pretty good individual performances to look at.

Before we go any further, here is a quick recap of the week:

The Nets were 1-1 on the week. They are now 9-21 on the season and are in last place in the Atlantic Division.

They did move up a spot to 13th overall in the Eastern Conference.

Here they come!

When the Nets played in Memphis Tuesday night, they showed us exactly what they need to do to win games; when they traveled to New Orleans, they proved that when they don't do these things, they will lose.

Facing the Grizzlies, New Jersey held a rebounding advantage of 49-39. While Memphis had 29 free throw attempts to their 23, the Nets got to the line 16 times in the second half—more than double their total before halftime.

Simply put, this game displayed what many Net fans have known all season: When the team rebounds well and is aggressive in attacking the basket, they can win games.

They also shot 53 percent in that contest and held Memphis to 40 percent shooting. When they play solid defense and knock down open shots, they will always have a chance to win.

Conversely, when squaring off against the Hornets, New Jersey was out-rebounded 41-30 and got to the charity stripe just 14 times. They also had trouble on defense, as New Orleans hit 54 percent of its shots.

The formula for victory is actually quite simple for the Nets.

They don't have a ton of firepower on offense, so they will need to be sound on the defensive end and rebound well to prevent second chances for their opponents.

Brook Lopez and Devin Harris are both very capable of getting to the free throw line. When they are at their best and drawing fouls, the team is generally in position to win games.

Whether they do so or not is a different story.

Again, last week provided a limited sample size, but the two games were nearly exact opposites in how they went down. The Nets are also struggling mightily from three-point land with Anthony Morrow out, shooting just 29 percent from downtown last week.

On an individual level, Sasha Vujacic is making his presence felt.

He averaged 14 points on 63 percent shooting and drained four-of-six three-pointers last week, in somewhat limited minutes. With numbers like that, he'll be on the floor more often.

He talked a lot about how much he appreciated the opportunity in New Jersey after hardly playing at all with the Lakers and for right now at least, he's coming through.

The aforementioned Harris (16.5 PPG, 6.5 APG, 52 percent shooting) and Lopez (21 PPG, five RPG, 47 percent shooting) also had good weeks, while also showing us where they can improve.

Harris clearly needs to get to the free throw line more often, as he had only six attempts from the line last week. His ability to score has never been in question and it seems as though he may have regained his touch.

Lopez simply needs to be more consistent. Against Memphis he got to the line 11 times, then had just four free throw attempts against New Orleans.

He continues to struggle against good defensive centers (against New Orleans he was played mostly by Emeka Okafor), and needs to improve his rebounding. 10 total rebounds in two games is not going to cut it.

Travis Outlaw again showed that he should be a bench player. Had Damion James and Quinton Ross been able to play, one of them would have been in the starting lineup instead of him.

Kris Humphries continues to be a rebounding machine and is displaying more efficiency on offense than anyone could have expected.

The other power forwards on the roster, Troy Murphy and Derrick Favors, appear to be stuck in neutral: Murphy is finally seeing some floor time, but he can't find his shot; Favors can look good while he's out there, but he is unable to stay there because he continually gets himself in foul trouble.

For what it's worth, they both could be gone by the trade deadline in February.

Stephen Graham has been injected into the starting five with the injury to Morrow. He's hitting shots at a good rate, yet he is showing a knack for defensive breakdowns at crucial times.

Jordan Farmar is, quite frankly, playing like a bench player usually does.

Hopefully, the Nets enjoyed their four consecutive days off, as they have four games coming up this week.

They start out hosting Orlando on Monday before embarking on a three-game road trip—starting with Oklahoma City, continuing to Chicago then ending in Minnesota.

As they showed last week, if they can rebound, get to the line and play well on defense, they'll have a shot to win some games.

If not, they'll be adding to their loss total.