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New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2009-04-16 News New Jersey Nets
 

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News » New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2009-04-16


New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2009-04-16


New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2009-04-16
The season began and the consensus about the Nets was they might not even be able to find their way to the finish. After all, the roster had three rookies, two second-year guys and two third-year players. Seven guys with two years of experience or less. Predictions ranged from 17 to 28 victories.

Then the season began and the Nets were a surprise. They returned from their annual Thanksgiving road trip at 9-7.

Expectations increased. A lot. The Nets were still above .500 just before Christmas, flirting with .500 around New Year's despite a dreadful home record (5-12) that was offset somewhat by impressive success on the road (10-4).

But eventually, the road magic failed and all the warts started to show. There was the constant failure to get key stops down the stretch. There was the uncanny ability to come apart in the third quarter. And the defense, a strength in the Nets' playoff years in the Jason Kidd Era, began failing before the fourth.

Some surprise wins arose. But too many bad losses surfaced. They hung in playoff contention until they were eliminated Apr. 8, just one week before the season ended. But the killer came on an 0-4 road trip in March. They never regained a share of eighth place.

So the Nets are lottery bound with a 34-48 record for a second straight year. But they truly believe they are not that far off from being playoff caliber again.

"You should never allow anyone's outside expectations to affect your internal expectations. Our goal was to get to the playoffs and we didn't make it so we're disappointed," said coach Lawrence Frank, who received an endorsement from the principal owner (Bruce Ratner) but whose fate resides with team president Rod Thorn. "But I think our guys have played with integrity, honor and respect for the game."

Thorn repeatedly said there are two areas that must be addressed in the off-season: defense and rebounding. The Nets were 19th in field goal defense, 17th in scoring defense. They held their own on the glass until the last 20 games or so.

"We're just a couple of pieces away," insisted Vince Carter. "Rebounding, that's what we need. We just need a guy who cleans up the glass. We have a lot of scoring. We have a lot of shooters. We have guys who can just get a bucket when you need it."

Ratner has given Thorn the green light to spend, obviously within reason. And the team president promises the Nets will be active in the offseason. They'll have a lottery pick. They'll do doubt go after second-tier, defensive-minded free agents. And they'll look to make trades. No decision has been made as yet on Frank, who has one year remaining at $4.5 million. Ratner gave his support at the final home game of the season.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: It was the shot of the Nets' season, likely the NBA season. On Feb. 23 in New Jersey against Philadelphia, the Nets trailed by one point with 1.8 seconds left as they inbounded under the Sixers' basket. Devin Harris raced up the left side, snared an inbounds pass from Bobby Simmons, bobbled it against defender Andre Iguodala, recovered and launched from half-court. The shot went in and after a lengthy review by the referees, it was ruled good, giving the Nets a 98-96 victory.

"I had no idea. I had no clue. I had no sense of time," said Harris.

TURNING POINT: The Nets were a little more than a quarter away from moving into eighth place on Mar. 11 as they led the Warriors by 14 points in the third quarter. But the Nets relaxed and the start of a four-game Western trip ended as a 116-112 loss. And the trip got worse. After a tough defeat at Portland, the Nets were seconds away from winning against the Clippers in L.A. where Harris suffered a sprained shoulder in the third quarter and Steve Novak hit an L.A. three-pointer at the buzzer. The 107-105 loss left the Nets one-and-a-half games out of eighth. They never recovered from the two losses and an eventual 0-4 trip.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 16, 2009

 

 
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