- Fred Carter, NBA 2Night & NBA Matchup Analyst
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Through the first three games of the NBA Finals, the Nets have looked for a secondary scorer to complement Kenyon Martin. In Game 1, no one stepped up and they lost. In Game 2, Jason Kidd led the way with 30 points and the Nets won. In Game 3, Kerry Kittles had a decent game but no one else stepped up and they lost. This time, they had three players (Martin, Kidd and Jefferson) with over 15 points for the first time in the series and they were able to win the game.
Jefferson became the slasher and finisher we all know. He finished strong and made smart decisions on the break. His aggression was perfect for the hyped crowd and his dunk in the second half over Kevin Willis ignited the fans and helped sustain the Nets when they were going through a slump. Jefferson also used his gifted athletic ability on the boards, as the Nets were able to snatch the same amount of rebounds (53) as the Spurs for the first time in the series. That was partially due to Jefferson's 10 rebounds.
But as has been the case with the Nets in this series, with every rainbow comes some rain. And for the Nets, the rain is Jefferson's lack of a shooting touch from the outside. As much as Jefferson's athleticism and aggression helps the Nets in transition, it does nothing for them when the Spurs are playing their zone defense.
Despite the Nets' win, they still shot only 36 percent from the field and were 1-of-9 on 3-pointers. The only reason they were able to get away with that low of a shooting percentage is because the Spurs shot just 29 percent. The Nets can't count on the Spurs to shoot so poorly again. New Jersey will have to start burying its jumpers and do a better job at the free throw line if it wants to start a winning streak.
This is a very up-and-down series and right now, the Nets are up. They must shoot a better percentage from the field and the line if they want to stay on a high note. Tonight was a good start in some aspects, but the Nets will have to put together a full game before time runs out.
Fred Carter is an NBA analyst for ESPN.
Kenyon Martin finally got some help in the form of an old running partner, Richard Jefferson.