Chris Bosh, an unrestricted free agent come the July 1 spending frenzy, played like a man looking for a new contract this summer. Sadly for New Jersey Nets’ fans, he won’t be coming to Prudential Center.
Bosh has said he won’t consider the Nets when it’s time for him to ink a new deal. On Saturday night, he gave the Nets more reasons to be upset.
The All-Star power forward exploded for 36 points and eight rebounds in the Toronto Raptors’ 100-90 win over the Nets. Toronto trailed, 51-48, at halftime, but Bosh single-handedly took over the game, scoring 15 points in the third quarter.
The Nets only scored 19 points as a team in the third quarter.
“We didn’t have an answer for Bosh tonight,” said Devin Harris, who scored a team-high 22 points, dished out seven assists, and grabbed six rebounds. “He was really playing well, shooting the ball well. Once we were forced to double-team, they’re a great three-point shooting team, so they made us pay in that way.”
Bosh averages 23.9 ppg but had struggled as of late. He missed seven games due to injury and illness and averaged 19.4 ppg upon his return, including three games with 14 points or less. Prior to his injury, Bosh averaged 29.2 ppg in February.
Bosh returned to form against the Nets, though, and he feels he’s playing the way he did before his injury. Bosh didn’t attribute the injury to his decreased production.
“It’s just playing basketball,” Bosh said. “Sometimes shots go in, sometimes they don’t. I just always try to play well, try to stay with it, and just keep playing hard no matter what happens.”
The Nets expanded their halftime lead to seven when Brook Lopez knocked down a long jumper to give New Jersey a 55-48 lead. The Raptors responded, though, scoring six straight points. Bosh’ powerful baseline dunk over Lopez gave Toronto a 63-61 lead with 6:50 left in the third quarter and New Jersey never led again.
Although the game was tied, 63-63, in the third quarter, Toronto went on a 19-7 run that extended into the fourth quarter.
Although the Nets led at halftime, Bosh said the team didn’t feel any extra pressure of losing to the worst team in the league.
“We’re to the point where we need to win every game,” Bosh said. “I wouldn’t say we were facing a loss… We had a good lead going into the fourth quarter and we sustained it.
“Give credit to everybody that we played well. We won a game that we were supposed to win.”
The Raptors opened up an 80-70 lead after three quarters, and Toronto pushed that lead to as many as 13 in the fourth quarter.
Harris said the Nets’ inability to put together a 48-minute effort cost the team Saturday night.
“The effort was definitely better, but we’re still floating around that 42-minute mark where we need to get that effort for 48 minutes,” Harris said. “We played well in the first half, very active, but the third quarter they came out really aggressive. Bosh got it going early on and that really carried them through the game.”
New Jersey now needs to find a way to turn a good half into a good game, something the team has not been able to do for the better part of 69 games.
The Nets started the game like a team poised for win No. 8. Harris, returning from a two-game absence due to illness, scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half. They also received balanced scoring with five players scoring seven points or more in the first half.
Those numbers fizzled in the second half, however. Yi Jianlian only scored two points in the second half and finished the game with nine. Courtney Lee, who experienced a scoring eruption from February to early March, managed just two points for the entire game.
He has now scored two points in consecutive games and attempted only three shots against Toronto.
Lopez boasted a solid all-around game, collecting 18 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists. Terrence Williams, in his second straight start, added 13 points and eight rebounds while Jarvis Hayes pitched in 18 off the bench.
The Nets’ magic number is now down to 13. New Jersey needs three more wins in its last 13 games to avoid the NBA record for worst season at 9-73.
If the Nets want to avoid that record, Harris believes Lee needs to get going again.
“Obviously he’s not been shooting the ball as well. His shot production’s been a little bit down,” Harris said. “I think that’s attributed to us kind of slowing the pace down a little bit.
“When we have three guys going, we’ve learned that’s our recipe for success,” Harris added. “Obviously, when we were winning games, it was myself, Courtney, and Brook. Any three will do, but I think we need those three guys to score and be aggressive to get ourselves over the top.”