When the New Jersey Nets won four out of five games near the end of January, stellar bench play was a huge factor.
After getting that fourth win in a game against Memphis, Jordan Farmar, New Jersey's backup point guard, missed the next six contests with a lower back injury. The bench struggled to produce with Farmar out and the team went 1-5 during that stretch.
If there was any doubt as to how valuable the ex-Laker is to this team, we need look no further than what happened Wednesday night against the New Orleans Hornets, when the Nets, riding a three-game losing streak, found their way back into the win column with a 103-101 overtime victory.
Returning from his brief absence, Farmar proceeded to hand out 11 assists to go along with his eight points, actually outplaying the star point guards of the game, Devin Harris (two points, six assists, four turnovers) and Chris Paul (nine points, 11 assists, seven turnovers).
Paul also missed a three-point attempt as the buzzer sounded in overtime. The shot was about halfway down before popping out, but he was lucky to have even gotten it off considering he appeared to travel prior to launching.
The bench as a whole scored just a shade under 50 percent of New Jersey's points, totaling 51 as opposed to the starters' 52. The reserves also hit a much higher percentage of their shots than the starting five, coming out on top by a 58 percent to 38 percent margin.
Farmar has tremendous on-court relationships with fellow backups Sasha Vujacic and Kris Humphries. He repeatedly set the pair up for success, and they came through by combining for 39 points.
Vujacic was New Jersey's leading scorer with 25—a new career high.
Humphries recorded his 15th double-double of the season by snatching 15 rebounds to go along with his 14 points, none of them more important than the two he scored to tie the game near the end of the fourth quarter. He was set up nicely for a dunk on the play by Vujacic.
As evidenced by the shooting percentages shown above, the Nets starters had difficulty hitting their shots. They were, however, very successful on their three-point attempts, with Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw going a combined 5-of-8 from downtown.
All together, the Nets were 12-of-23 from three-point land, with Vujacic (5-of-7) providing a major contribution in that department as well.
Brook Lopez was unable to connect on a high percentage of his shots (6-of-15), but he was still able to tally 20 points by getting to the free-throw line 10 times and knocking down eight of those attempts. He also grabbed seven rebounds, finding a way to contribute when things weren't necessarily going his way.
David West of the Hornets was nearly unstoppable in the game, scoring 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting and coming up just short on what would have been the game-winning shot at the end of regulation.
New Orleans has been a streaky team this year, and they are in the middle of another down stretch right now.
While the Nets certainly caught them at the right time, they won't think twice about taking the win. They are now 6-6 since the Carmelo Anthony saga was put to rest on Jan. 19, and are 5-1 with Farmar in the rotation since that time.
The team has a day off before taking a trip down to Charlotte to face the Bobcats Friday night.