The New Jersey Nets certainly understand that it's not how you start, it's how you finish, and that a win is a win no matter how you get it, which is a good thing.
While it's undoubtedly a very good sign that they did not simply pack it in and give up after a rough opening frame as they have at different points in the season, this team needs to come out with the kind of energy we saw in the second, third and especially fourth quarters.
The Nets scored 33 points in the fourth while holding Memphis to 22. They were aggressive on offense and contested every shot on defense.
If only they could have done that to start the contest.
In the end, all that matters is the win, but this is precisely what turns people off from professional basketball. There is a large perception that the pros don't exactly give it their all every game, unlike those who play high school and college ball.
It's one of the things that keeps the NBA from challenging the NFL for sports supremacy in this country.
This is the second game in a row where the Nets starters came out of the locker room lethargic, and in truth, it didn't even seem they really wanted to be playing.
Luckily for New Jersey, the bench was having none of that and actually performed at a much higher level than the starting five.
The Nets' backups scored 19 more points than their counterparts (56-37) and hit their shots at a much higher percentage (55 percent to 33 percent).
Three players from the second unit were in double-digits, led by Anthony Morrow, who scored 19 on 8-of-12 shooting. Morrow also connected on three of his four three-point attempts.
Sasha Vujacic and Kris Humphries totaled 14 points each.
Once the fourth quarter rolled around, with the Nets down 66-60, starters Devin Harris and Brook Lopez finally showed up and made their respective impacts on the game.
Through three periods, Harris and Lopez had combined for just 11 points. In the fourth, Lopez scored 10, Harris put in nine and the game was won.
Harris also dished out four assists in the final 12 minutes of play.
Again, it is excellent that the two biggest stars on the team can show up when it all matters during crunch time and that this team is finally showing some ability to win games late. They need to do this from the start, though, if they want to take the next step and become a winning team.
The win allowed the Nets to finish their homestand 4-1, and they have now won consecutive games for the second time in seven days.
They will look to win three straight for the first time since the middle of the 2008-09 season when they visit Indiana Friday night. It's a very winnable game, especially if they play with energy and intensity for a full 48 minutes.
Is that really that much to ask from professional basketball players?
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