New Jersey Nets: Breaking Down Their Week 12 Performance

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2011

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

A winless week is certainly never fun and is always disappointing, but there were visible signs of progress from the New Jersey Nets last week.

The team improved in a few important areas and got back to playing competitive basketball.

As always, there are some aspects that need to be worked on and the team does need to start winning some games before it all spirals out of control.

Real quick, this is the week that was:

The Nets were 0-3 on the week, sport an overall record of 10-30, are in last place of the Atlantic Division and sit at 14th in the Eastern Conference.

New Jersey wasn't expected to win any of their games last week and obviously they didn't.

It's safe to say, though, that they probably should have won two of them.

The loss to the defending champion Lakers is completely understandable and most fans will be happy with the fact that the game was close throughout.

The losses to Phoenix and Portland were a different story.

The Nets led both games entering the fourth quarter, and were even up double-digits against the Suns. They were outscored 52-32 in the final periods of those games combined.

They got sloppy at the tail end of each contest, particularly against the Blazers, when they turned the ball over three times in 30 seconds with about 90 ticks left.

Still, considering the makeup of the team, the week and those games, the last seven days were a success.

New Jersey had a 47 percent field-goal percentage last week, which is higher than their season number of 44 percent; they also moved the ball around much better than they have been and ended up averaging 26 APG, a five APG improvement over their season average.

The biggest cause for concern last week was the amount of free throws New Jersey's opponents attempted compared to how many time the Nets got to the line.

Phoenix, L.A. and Portland had double the total amount of free throw attempts than the Nets, an average advantage of 34-17 in that department.

It can easily be seen as the difference between going 0-3 and 3-0.

This was a problem earlier in the year which went away and now appears to be back. The team also got out-rebounded by an average of 41-38, and the 17 offensive boards they allowed Portland were a ginormous factor in the loss.

Really, we're back to where we were a few weeks ago.

The team plays hard enough to keep the games close, but can't find a way to finish and there are just a couple of ares where, if they could just shore them up, the results would be different.

The team and their fans would still take this over the 20-point losses that were becoming commonplace.

Individually speaking, the only Net to have a particularly notable week was Brook Lopez, who scored more than 30 points twice.

Lopez was saddled on the bench for the fourth quarter and overtime of the Phoenix game, and apparently got whatever message coach Avery Johnson was sending him, because he went off against the Lakers and Blazers.

In those two games, Lopez was extremely aggressive and decisive in making moves to the basket.

He still needs to rebound and handle double teams better, but if he can score like that most other defects in his game will be forgiven.

Devin Harris dished out 15 assists and scored 15 points against the Suns, but couldn't get his shot to fall the rest of the week and had a killer seven turnovers against the Lakers.

The trade talks surrounding him could be getting in his head.

Like the point guard, most other players were inconsistent in their performances, aside from Kris Humphries and his rebounding.

It's hard to ever be upset with Humphries when he plays as hard as he does and routinely pulls down 10-plus boards.

Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar scored points, but it took them a lot of shots to do so, and they weren't particularly efficient.

They were pressing a bit to play well against their former team in Los Angeles and couldn't get their shots to drop against Portland either.

Everyone scores against Phoenix, so it's tough to read too much into how they did there.

Travis Outlaw and Derrick Favors had pretty much the same week, as they had one good game, one mediocre game and one awful game a piece.

Favors is still finding his way, but Outlaw needs to get it together quick. He's been in the league too long for there to be a lot of hope in him developing further.

The Nets have four games next week. They have two winnable contests against Golden State (16-23) and Detroit (14-26), and will just look to compete against Dallas (26-13) and Utah (27-13).

A 2-2 effort would be satisfactory.