New Jersey Nets 91, Toronto Raptors 109

What I don’t like about a win like this is that gives fans a false sense of how good this team is, once you look at this game in the context of the Clippers and Spurs game, you get the true feel of things. So let’s enjoy this win for what it’s worth: a 48 minute practice session against a disinterested Nets team recovering from losing their key playmaker. Despite missing Kidd one would bet on the Nets to mount some form of resistance through Carter or Jefferson, but neither had a say in the game and this one became an academic matter at the end of the half. The only question that remained was if the fans would continue to mercilessly boo Carter. They did. After all these years the hate for Carter still remains poignant. If it had died down a little, it was freshly renewed in last year’s playoffs and looks to be a fixture for years to come.

This game wasn’t a measuring stick of any kind but it was comforting to see the Raptors take care of business early and not allow the Nets to hang around in the game and give themselves a chance late. In other words, we didn’t let them pull off a repeat of the Clipper game. Parker’s defense on Carter was good but ultimately it was VC that shut VC down and the Raptors were glad he did. Official Raptor-killer Richard Jefferson might feel the effects of the departed Kidd the most, RJ was nowhere near doing his usual thing of slashing to the rim, running in transition or moving without the ball. It’s just not same when you’re relying on Marcus Williams to spot you.

It’s been a long time since the Raptors have run the pick ‘n roll with this much ease; we talk about Sam Mitchell being a suspect coach but to see the way Lawrence Frank’s team approached our only play was ridiculous. The Nets refused to honor the screener in any way and always went with the ball leaving the former open. This forced a rather lethargic and lazy rotation which the crisp and energetic Raptors took full advantage of. Jose Calderon’s abuse of Marcus Williams in the second quarter combined with Andrea Bargnani’s 8-point spurt in the same frame put this game well out of reach. Bargnani only had three rebounds but was involved in the early battle for boards when it really counted, he finished with 14 impact points on 4-9 FG.

With no Mikki Moore in there, Chris Bosh has little trouble navigating around the statue-like Nets interior defense. Never will Bosh get 27 points so easily, the best the Nets could do was put Stromile Swift on him who believes the two options for a defender on the pick ‘n roll are “stand” and “wait”. Josh Boone might be a decent NBA’er some day but tonight he was as immobile as a stop sign. The two plays that characterized this game was Calderon catching the Nets defense fast asleep on Moon and Bosh backdoor alley-oops which are sure to further clog Lawrence Frank’s arteries. Jamario Moon: Although Richard Jefferson showed him a few things in this one, he had an overall solid game and showed a strong affinity towards the rim while displaying a proclivity towards rebouding. He only had one ill-advised jumper (which he made) and passed up a few opportunities to shoot a deep jumper by making the natural swing pass.

A word about Carlos Delfino: he doesn’t play the game the right way. He’s a fundamentally sound player who has his wits about him but he gets suckered into taking some pretty bad shots that make you cringe. You saw this against San Antonio and again today. Sure, hitting deep bombs once in a while might make up for some of it it but he’s got to realize he’s a streaky shooter and not a great one, so the percentages will always be against him. He took 7 threes today! That’s the same amount as Parker, Kapono and Calderon combined who are are better shooters than him. The coaching staff needs to harness him a little and make him understand that his strengths are going inside and slashing. We have enough jump shooters on the team. Defensively, I have no complaints with him but he’s got to get it under control on the other end.

It’s a nice way of going into All-Star weekend but the Clipper loss is still stinging. We might end up with a 45 win season but that doesn’t mean we’re well-prepared for a first-round battle against Cleveland, Orlando or even Washington. Bryan Colangelo needs to improve this team defensively and although he’s always “on the phone” and “looking to improve the Raptors”, he better make a move that addresses our need for an interior defender so that we can finally replace Antonio Davis. It’s highly unrealistic to ask Bosh to be the defensive stopper while also carrying the brunt of the scoring load. You might get away with it playing meaningless regular season games but in a 7-game series we’ll make life very easy for the opposing coach by being so reliant on Bosh.

Jose Calderon’s emerging as our legit second scorer and I do mean legit, if him and Bargnani can provide complimentary scoring to a consistent Bosh, we might have a chance in the playoffs. But Bosh being consistent and Bargnani scoring and rebounding will be “ifs” in any first round series, the only guy I would rely on to actually produce is Jose. But we all know the weaknesses of our PG combo – ultimately they’re vulnerable on the perimeter which mean we need to hide their weaknesses. Which in-turn means we need to get an interior presence who can dissuade opposing PGs from attacking the heart of our defense thus creating havoc on the rotations. If you thought our rotations and close-outs are suspect on the perimeter, they’re twice as bad in the paint. The other option might be to change some of our defensive philosophies by playing a little more zone and forcing the offense to react to you – but my faith in Sam isn’t that strong.

The ball’s in Colangelo’s court.

Jason Kidd Trade

The Nets have agreed to trade Kidd and Allen for Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse, Maurice Ager and the expiring contracts of DeSagana Diop and Devean George. It’s a good deal for both sides, the Nets get a good young point guard in Devin Harris and trade a player who didn’t want to be on the team while Dallas gets a hall-of-famer. But if the Mavs think they can now compete with the Lakers, Suns or Spurs, they’re strongly mistaken. Anyway, all was going well until you hear that Devean George has blocked the trade by invoking his no-trade clause which got me thinking, How the fuck does Devean George have a no-trade clause? Aren’t those reserved for great players who want some security, and not for scrubs that live off Kobe and Dirk? Either way though, Rod Thorn’s a trigger-happy GM that sees a problem and goes about fixing it, he had to trade Kidd and he did. I want to give him some credit for snagging Devin Harris but then again he did acquire Stromile Swift.

Liners:

* The Nets dressed 9 players. 8 really, it’s hard to say Vince was competing.

* Jay Triano coached this game and I liked his substitution patterns, timeouts and the way he was pushing the Raptors to get into their sets early.

* The Nets had one bright spot and it was the fossil himself, Darrell Armstrong making some high-energy plays which momentarily cut the Raptors lead to 8 in the second quarter.

* Chris Bosh hit some pretty unreal fadeaways which if he would’ve missed you would’ve been like, “Whaaaaaaa?”

* Some people talk about winning regular season games as an act of revenge for a playoff loss. It doesn’t work like that, until we beat the Nets in a series, last year will string.

* Really, there’s not much to talk about in this game.

* Jose Calderon is The Top Rap. I’m a big TJ guy but Calderon needs to start for now.

* Did you guys ever see me on TV in Game 4 last year?

It might be the All-Star break but I’m not going anywhere, another post tomorrow.

Later.

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