At 5:40pm in the Green Room of the Prudential Center yesterday, The New Jersey Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who landed in the United States, announced “There comes a time when the price is simply too expensive” and declared his team will stop it’s pursuit of Carmelo Anthony. “It has taken too long. It has been played out in public and it certainly has taken a toll on the players and I believe that it has cost us several games. I think management did a great job, but there comes a time when the price is simply too expensive. I’m instructing our team to walk away from the deal” Prokhorov said regarding his reasoning.
Immediately following Prokhorov’s announcement, I had the opportunity to speak with rookie Derrick Favors. “I feel good about that. It feels good to have it out the way.” When asked if the team would have added enthusiasm with Prokhorov in attendance, Favors responded. “I think we will knowing he is going to be here.”
After the game, Nets head coach Avery Johnson talked about a conversation he had with Favors before the game. “I talked to him a little bit before the game. I said, when I was 19 years old I was trying to pass a trigonometry test, but you’re 19 in the NBA. Do something that’ll make me jump out my seat. I want to see you go for a block, come out of nowhere and dunk on somebody. Just do something to get me excited.” That is exactly what Favors did, as he scored 8 points on 3-3 from the field and 2-2 from the free-throw line, with 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots, while making hustle plays and staying out of foul trouble in all 12 first-quarter minutes.
The Utah Jazz took an early 14-6 lead on a dunk by Andrei Kirileko, but the Nets would go on a 21-5 run to take a 27-19 lead after the first quarter. The Jazz would tie the game at 48 by halftime, but the Nets would control the third quarter, taking a 13-point lead into the fourth, a lead that would grow to 16 on a layup by Devin Harris to make the score 83-67 with 10:29 left in the fourth quarter. The Jazz would cut the lead to 2, 93-91 with 1:52 left after an Al Jefferson dunk and free throw, but the Nets were able to close out the game on a 10-4 run to win, 103-95.
The Nets had seven players in double figures, lead by Brook Lopez with 20 points. Travis Outlaw scored 13 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, while Favors finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Devin Harris, battling flu-like symptoms, scored 14 points while dishing out 8 assists. Three bench players scored in double figures, with Sasaha Vujacic adding 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists, Kris Humphries scoring 12, and Jordan Farmar scoring 11 while handing out 8 assists.
The Jazz were led by Jefferson, who scored 21 points and grabbed 8 rebounds before fouling out of the game. Deron Williams finished with 20 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds, while Andrei Kirilenko scored 17 points and a grabbed 8 rebounds. CJ Miles came off the bench to add 13 points.
Coach Johnson felt that a early practice impacted the game. “We had a full practice this morning. An hour and fifteen-minute practice after a day off because we just had to get the taste of losing out of our mouths and get back to some of our fundamental principals. I thought they did a good job of carrying that over.”
Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan said “I think we’re better than we played but give the Nets credit. They got the ball where they wanted to go and got what they wanted most times down the floor. That’s the downfall if you cannot stop those things. You can’t play the game lackadaisical or else the other team will kick your butt.”
“I congratulate New Jersey. They played a great game. This is our second game in a row where we are kind of sluggish. This is a problem, we are very inconsistent. For teams like them there is nothing to lose and they play with heart” said Kirilenko.
Al Jefferson commented “No disrespect to Washington or New Jersey but these are two teams we should beat easily.”
Brook Lopez was excited about the win. “It was a great team win. First and foremost, we shared the ball very well but I think more importantly we played great defense for the most part. We had each other’s back and we played great in the open court.”
On the Carmelo owners being ended by Mr. Prokhorov, Lopez said “It is settling to know for the near future that this is the team we are going to have and be working with. We have had a lot of great practices and have been working right through (the rumors.)
Harris also reacted to the news. “Obviously there will be less distractions and we can focus on going out there and playing with our minds at ease. I don’t think any one’s walking on eggshells but when we get asked about it, it’s kind of a distraction. It’s constantly being talked about, so it will be good to get back to normal, practice, and win some of these games. We are moving on as a team and hopefully we get more wins like we did tonight.”
The Nets face the Detroit Pistons Friday at 7pm.
Derrick Favors after learning Prokhorov has announced the Carmelo Chase has ended