Jazz vs. Nets: With Distractions Over, New Jersey Gets Big Team Win
Prior to his team's Wednesday night game with the Utah Jazz, New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced that the team was stepping away from any trade talk with the Denver Nuggets in regards to Carmelo Anthony.
This news had a quick and apparent effect on the team, as, for the first time in quite a while, they were able to simply focus on playing basketball. No one had to wonder if it was their last game in a Nets uniform, which had been the case pretty much all season.
To cap it all off, the Nets won, 103-95, taking out one of the NBA's better teams in the process. They also finally closed out an opponent after having a lead in the fourth quarter.
After three periods, the Nets held a 77-64 advantage. As is expected with a top-tier team like the Jazz, Utah made a run and gave New Jersey its best shot in an attempt to win the game, even cutting the lead to three points with just two minutes remaining.
Unlike some recent games, however, the Nets took the blow, didn't panic, and made the necessary plays to come out on top.
Everyone who saw significant minutes for the Nets made an impact on the game, particularly Derrick Favors, one of the guys most mentioned in possible deals for Anthony.
Before the game, coach Avery Johnson told Favors he wanted to see him make some plays. Johnson didn't care if the rookie made a mistake, so long as he was trying to do something in the process.
In short, he didn't want Favors to hold back, and the 19-year old didn't.
Favors had easily his best performance of the season, scoring 12 points, hitting five of his six shots, grabbing six rebounds, blocking three shots and, most importantly, racking up just one foul in 30 minutes of floor time.
He made his presence be known early by blocking a Derron Williams shot attempt and altering the tries of several others throughout the game.
It's not always necessary to stuff an opponent. Sometimes all you need to do is force them to make an extra move or change their delivery while in the air.
Favors just showed everyone watching why he was selected No. 3 overall in the 2010 Draft.
Devin Harris' name also routinely came up in trade scenarios and he delivered as well, scoring 14 points while dishing out eight assists. He did commit six turnovers, but the fact that he was battling flu-like symptoms, and his two steals, should allow fans to give him a pass.
In total, seven Nets scored in double-digits, led by Brook Lopez's 20 points. Johnson has been working with Lopez on being more aggressive and attacking the basket, and in the team's last few games Lopez has done just that.
Even guys who weren't hitting a large number of shots found a way to contribute, like Stephen Graham, who scored just five points but gathered seven rebounds.
Jordan Farmar also deserves some kudos for totaling eight assists of his own in just 19 minutes on the court.
This is what it takes to win. Everyone needs to find a way to contribute is some fashion. The Nets need to learn how to be winners, and this game is certainly a step in the right direction.
They will look to keep it going and prove this was no fluke when the host Detroit Friday night; a game that will feature the return of Anthony Morrow from a hamstring injury.
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