Mikhail Prokhorov made some bold claims shortly after becoming majority owner of the New Jersey Nets. Despite being one of the most aggressive teams in the league in terms of pursuing trades and attempting to lure in free agents, The Nets (16-4) have little to show for the efforts.
Squandered attempts to orchestrate a trade for Dwight Howard saw the team settle with a acquiring Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trailblazers.
The Nets have lost five of their last six, including losses to other bottom feeders, the Washington Wizards, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New Orleans Hornets.
Three-time all-star, Deron Williams, was visibly frustrated after the Nets’ most recent loss, which came Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks.
“It’s been a tough week,” Williams admitted. “Teams go through it. We are going through it.”
As with any young team, a lack of focus seems to be the blame. Although they are capable of pulling together a few good quarters, it is rare that the Nets play a full 48 minutes of solid hoops.
“I think our focus is there,” Gerald Green, who the Nets recently called up from the D-league, said. “Maybe not the whole entire game and I think that’s probably one of the things we need to work on. To me it just seems like we are just two or three plays from getting the victory, for these last five games.”
A lack of focus during the phase of any NBA game can be fatal—especially when it happens in the fourth quarter.
“The last couple of games we were in the game or we were up in the fourth quarter,” Green said. “It’s like we are on or two plays away from us getting the victory. I think we just have to do a better job of finishing out the quarters, finishing out the games.”
Another cause for the Nets problems is the absence of Brook Lopez. The seven-foot center has only been available for five games this season and is set to miss at least a couple more weeks.
After missing the first half of the season with a broken foot, Lopez returned only to sprain his ankle.
Coach Avery Johnson said the team is dedicated to get back to full health before placing Lopez back on the court.
“You just hope the best for the kid,” Johnson said. “We just want to get him back completely healed so we don’t have any more setbacks. We’ve had just a small snap shot of what we could be as we continue to grow and develop and our guys continue to mature.”
In Lopez’s absence, Jordan Williams, New Jersey’s second round pick out of Maryland, has continued to develop. His numbers do not jump off the page, but he has dropped eight points in the last two games.
Also, his high-energy play has left an impression on his teammates.
“He came in a little out of shape,” Deron Williams said. “He had to work on some things and I think it has made him a lot tougher as a person and as a player. I’m definitely happy with his development.”
Jordan Williams’ game continues to develop and the 6-foot-ten, 260-pounder continues to look more comfortable as his minutes increase.
“I’m just trying to build my confidence,” Jordan Williams said. “My teammates are doing a good job of helping me with that. I’m just trying to help any way I can. Get points, get rebounds, hustle plays—whatever I can do.”
The Nets managed to end their five game losing streak with a 102-89 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. Deron Williams will get a chance to face-off against his former team as New Jersey is set to host the Utah Jazz Monday night.
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