by Jake Appleman
— Tonight’s lack of locker room reporting is brought to you by the Port Authority Bus terminal. For those who don’t know, Port Authority is giant experiment that some architectural genius came up with because he wanted to see what it would look like if New Yorkers acted as mice in a giant bus-filled labyrinth.
And the Port Authority recap has been brought to you by sardines, hipsters, Kevin Federline and everything else that sucks.
— Unlike past Russ/Sussman beefs, I have to say that I enjoyed the pregame food at the Meadowlands: Some good BBQ chicken, potatoes and a hot dog that was just delicious. For beverages, I’m drinking the raspberry-apple “defense” Vitamin Water. It’s Nets-Jazz, so you’ve gotta figure the game will live up to the Vitamin Water.
— I’m already amped for my only shot at attending the annual Collins-Collins swamp slugfest. Dear God, let one of them set an illegal screen on the other.
— Gordon Giricek is sporting a fascinating spiky, mohawkish ‘do. That amount of hair gel hasn’t been seen since Derek Kellog ran point for the legendary UMASS teams of the mid-90’s.
— Boney James, who looks like a younger, skinnier Kenny G, plays a stunning Sax rendition of the national anthem. More saxophonists for national anthems!
— There are, and I’m approximating, 739 people here tonight.
— Very early: AK-47 flashes across the lane, distracts the Jersey D, and Memo Okur suddenly pops out from his tent in the lane to stick a midrange jumper. On the other end, the Nets seem content to let Vince Carter go at C.J. Miles. And why wouldn’t they? One of them is arguably the most talented one-on-one player in the league and the other is C.J. Miles.
— The Nets are well spaced on offense. Carter uses a high screen to attack the basket, drawing all five players closer to the center of the floor. He kicks it out Bostjan Nachbar, who misses. Still, from a coaching perspective, that was an impressive possession because the Nets got what they wanted: an open shot.
— Deron Williams works a nifty give and go with Carlos Boozer. I’m going to cut my word count in half right here: Carlos Boozer’s passing in Utah’s flex offense was simply extraordinary. (NBA.com’s John Schuhmann had some good in-game analysis on Utah’s flex set. I can’t share this perspective with you either because it’s a secret or because I’m on my way out the door in a minute.)
— After a Utah turnover, the Chill Peppers’ “Give it away now” blares over the loudspeaker. Nice.
— Marcus Williams converts an acrobatic up and under layup that a 22nd picks shouldn’t be able to finish. A few minutes later, he weaves a one handed bounce pass through traffic while floating to his left, and my jaw drops. Williams would continue to demonstrate his ability all night long. I’m getting giddy just thinking about how good he’s going to be.
— The real duel we’ve all been waiting for: Matt Harpring hits over the Boston Snackbar. The Snackbar comes back and lays brick. Harpring responds with some of his own masonry. But, while the Snackbar becomes discouraged by his misses, Harpring continues to fire, actually propelling the Jazz back into the lead. If “Bimbo Coles” isn’t smiling, I just wasted a paragraph.
— Looking at Josh Boone in street clothes, it dawns on me that this the first time that I’ve looked at Josh Boone without assuming that he’s trailer trash.
— I’m sitting next to Kelly Tripucka. Tripucka was a two time allstar during his playing days and has been a broadcaster for various NBA teams, most notably the Nets of recent years. It’s always interesting to meet someone whose voice has been a part of your fandom. Tripucka, now a scout for the Knicks, boasts a wealth of knowledge and I spent much of the game picking his brain.
— Last night was also the return of Spliff Robinson from his cannabis-related suspension. He did not come out smoking. Heck, he didn’t even come out shooting.
— Rafael Araujo is listed as inactive. This statement fails to tell anybody whether or not he’s playing.
— Did you know that Scott Layden is an assistant coach for the Jazz? Discuss amongst yourselves. My brain is overloading right now.
— VC hits an And-1 and comes up hobbling. As Vince takes his time gingerly walking it off, Tripucka notes, “I think he’s milking it.” The Nets PR staff would come around a few minutes later to tell us that he strained his right quad. This was followed by Vince re-entering the game a few minutes later. I’m going agree with the professional analyst turned scout sitting to my left. Got milk?
— 7-plus minutes into the third, and Andrei Kirlenko has two points.
— TJ Kidd looks dapper in his new fall fashions as he throws t-shirts into the stands. KT notes that TJ often signs autographs for Nets fans. Is it just me, or is TJ Kidd going to have a really rough adolescence?
— Nachbar’s backup nickname: Boki-mon. In case you were wondering, Boki-mon cards are available exclusively at the Boston Snackbar.
— Antoine Wright, who has looked solid all game, drains a three. After a year spent on the pine, it appears that Wright will really come into his own this year. The Nets backup backcourt was tremendous all night.
— The Jazz go on another run, cutting a ten point bulge to two on a Memo three. Dude’s range is impressive.
— Paul Millsap is aggressive on D and definitely a potential glue guy, though KT notes that, “he doesn’t look at the basket.” Nobody can figure out why Boozer, a triple double candidate before the fourth quarter started, isn’t playing during crunchtime. Jerry Sloan would say after the game that he didn’t feel comfortable using Boozer against Jersey’s smaller, quicker lineup. The Knicks could use about 7 Paul Millsaps.
— Kirlenko throws a no-look pass through his legs while in mid-air, all in one motion. The crowd lets out a giant “oooh”.
— Tight game, under a minute left. Jason Collins is called for 3 seconds.
— RJ uses a nice spin to free himself for a midrange fadeaway that seals the deal for Jersey.
Bottom line: Highlighted by the impressive performances of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer (quarters 1-3), the Jazz played an attractive brand of team ball, but Nets limited their turnovers and came up with a big win. Vince Carter took the game over in the fourth; J-Kidd came to play; the bench, led by Williams and Wright, provided an impressive spark; and Jefferson came up with the dagger.
It was an efficient game that featured two teams running their sets and playing hard on D. Despite the lack of a Collins-Collins matchup, I can safely say that the game still lived up to the Vitamin Water.