New Jersey Nets vs. San Antonio Spurs: Nets Can't Overcome Dreadful 3rd in Loss

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2011

D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images
D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

Taking on the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs, Deron William and the rest of the New Jersey Nets had no easy task in the point guard's first game with his new team.

For the most part, the Nets played well, losing 106-96 in a game that was close throughout. If not for a dreadful third quarter that saw New Jersey get outscored 35-18, they might have even won the game.

The Nets shot just 42 percent in that quarter while San Antonio hit nearly 60 percent of its shots, including five three-pointers. In the other three periods combined, New Jersey totaled seven more points (78) than the Spurs (71) and actually shot a higher percentage from the field (44-43).

It's safe to say that third quarter was the difference in the game.

Williams did what he could to help the team win, scoring 14 points and racking up 12 assists. His shooting stroke wasn't all the way there—he was 5-of-13 from the field—although coach Avery Johnson attributed that to a wrist injury Williams sustained during the game.

Still, Williams' skills were on full display. He showed off his ability to get down the court as quickly as anyone, find his teammates off penetration and demonstrated some nifty moves around the basket. His three turnovers were largely due to simply not having had much time to play with his new mates, as all of them came when he was anticipating someone being in a different spot.

That part will come with time.

While no one player can be the sole reason a team lost, the performance of Travis Outlaw left much to be desired.

Outlaw was just 4-of-13 from the field, missing on all six of his three-point attempts. Even worse, he was wide open on just about all of his shots and still could not hit any of them.

Brook Lopez also had an off shooting night (5-of-13 for 13 points), but, unlike Outlaw, he at least did something to help the team by grabbing eight rebounds.

On the bright side, Anthony Morrow was nearly unstoppable, scoring 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including a 3-of-5 night from downtown. He also got to the free-throw line nine times, connecting on eight of those tries.

With 12 points, Kris Humphries had a solid game offensively as well. He and Williams appear to already have some chemistry together on the pick-and-roll, as Williams repeatedly found the power forward open after he had set a screen.

It's going to take a little while for this team to come together after such a monumental trade, but there are already some positive signs.

Williams plays as hard as anyone in the league, which will inevitably rub off on his teammates. The Nets should be able to push the ball in transition much more effectively with Williams than they have in the past, and we also can't look too far past the return of rookie Damion James.

James didn't have a phenomenal game by any means, but his hustle and energy were apparent in his three offensive rebounds.

Hard play was lacking at times this year, and with Williams, Humphries and James in the starting lineup, that should change.

The Nets will be in a much fairer fight against the Houston Rockets Saturday night. If they can play as well as they did in the first, second and fourth quarters while avoiding a meltdown similar to the one they had in the third against the Spurs, they should get themselves a win.