While Devin Harris sat most of the second half in last night's game against the Knicks, because Avery Johnson wanted to rest him, he paid close attention to how the second unit worked together, and he liked what he saw. After the game, even though they fell just short in putting the team on top, 117-111, Harris applauded their efforts, especially Jordan Farmar (21 points), Terrence Williams (15 points) and Derrick Favors (12 points). While it wasn't Williams' best performance of the preseason -- his high game so far is 20 points -- it was Farmar's, who also added seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and five threes, and Favors scored in double figures for the first time in six games.
While addressing reporters, Johnson was especially complimentary about Farmar and he said it was his best job "quarterbacking the team." Farmar pushed the ball extremely well down the court, showed no hesitation to shoot (at one point, he was 5-for-5 from downtown) and threw two sick alley-oop passes to rookies Favors and Damion James. No one could stop him during the third quarter, when the Nets bounced back from a 16-point halftime deficit to go ahead 81-80. He almost even pulled a Jordan by nearly throwing down a two-hand dunk after a Nets' free throw miss. Let's not forget he's coming off two years of championship experience with the Lakers, where he was schooled under Kobe Bryant.
Other game observations:
The Nets struggle a bit on attacking the basket and several times they had to heave a shot up during the final ticks of the shot clock. Last night, Harris and Williams were really the only two guys breaking their man down off the dribble and getting into the lane. Overall, the team prefers to dump it down to Brook Lopez and let him go to work or wait until he gets doubled so they can be ready for the outside shot. While Lopez had 19 points last night, he shot less than 50% from the field, which is abysmal for a big, and that was due to a combination of the Knicks' size and length down low and Lopez not playing strong enough inside. Even on transitional defense, Lopez seemed to shy away from contact and was slow reactive to the Knicks' penetrator, evidenced by him not even taking a single charge.
Speaking of Lopez, he says he needs to work on adjusting to the NBA's new technical foul rules. Last night, his frustration showed through five personal fouls and a technical.
Favors is ready to dunk every time he catches the ball. In fact, sometimes he'll take off a few feet outside the common dunking springboard near the paint just to make a statement. Overall, the kid's got so much upside with his around-the-basket game, and then some if he can develop an outside shot like his elder counterpart Kenyon Martin had early in his career.
Anthony Morrow is adjusting well to his new starting shooting guard role -- he has six three-pointers in the last two games -- but Travis Outlaw still hasn't found his groove in his new starting small forward role. He's averaging nine points during the preseason and has been caught fumbling the ball during iso moves and clanking the ball from the outside (he has a 35.6 FG% so far).
Johnson said Amare Stoudemire is "real tough" and showed he's a "max-contract player" last night.
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