Acquire Kings guard Thornton prior to win over Jazz
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
So long Jet, we hardly knew ya.
Prior to opening the Western portion of their ongoing odyssey with a come-from-behind 105-99 victory in Utah on Wednesday night, the Nets dealt away Jason Terry and Reggie Evans to Sacramento for shooting guard Marcus Thornton.
Terry, known as Jet to his former Brooklyn teammates, wasn't contributing at a level befitting his status as a former NBA champion and Sixth Man of the Year.
The 15-year veteran, who was Nets coach Jason Kidd's backcourt mate when they helped Dallas capture its first NBA title in 2011, came to Brooklyn along with future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from Boston in a blockbuster draft day deal last June.
He averaged just 4.5 points and 1.6 assists in 35 games for the Nets after starting the season sidelined with a sore knee.
Terry was logging a little over 16 minutes per game, and his playing time had dropped precipitously since Kidd installed his smaller starting lineup at the start of the new year.
As Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline loomed, Nets general manager Billy King, hoping to provide some additional scoring punch off the bench at the guard position, pulled the trigger on a deal that also sent Evans, Brooklyn’s undisputed Energizer Bunny last season, to the Kings.
"Marcus is a proven scorer in this league," King noted in a team-issued statement announcing the swap, citing Thornton's career average of 13.5 points per contest, including a career-best 18.7 during the 2011-12 campaign, when he started 51 games for Sacramento.
"He is a young talent who will help us in the backcourt." King added.
Thornton, who is 26, has put up 8.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 46 games, including 23 starts, for the Kings this season.
He is expected to join the Nets in San Francisco this weekend as they continue their Circus Trip Saturday night against Golden State.
Evans, who led the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes a season ago, was also not fitting into Kidd’s scheme. He was logging just over 13 minutes per game, and only saw action in 30 of the Nets’ first 52 contests.
The Nets didn’t miss a beat Wednesday night despite being two men short of a full bench.
All-Star Joe Johnson poured in 27 points and backup big man Andray Blatche added 25 as Brooklyn improved to 1-1 on its season-high seven-game road trip and 15-6 overall since a dismal 10-21 start.
Deron Williams, who spent his first five-plus seasons in Utah, scored 19 points despite catching an elbow to the jaw from Jazz guard Alec Burks in the fourth quarter.
It was the $98 million point guard’s first victory in three visits to Utah since he was traded to the Nets prior to the deadline in February 2011.
And he even received some heart-felt cheers from Jazz fans upon getting up from the unexpected blow to the face.
In his previous two visits to Utah, Williams was booed roundly during player introductions and seemingly whenever he got the ball in his hands.
"I thought I broke my jaw. It hurts,'' revealed Williams, who had a significant lump on his right cheek. ''Maybe in a couple of years I will get all cheers here, you never know, [The crowd reaction is] getting better every year.''
Johnson, who was dealing with knee tendinitis prior to the All-Star break, hit 10-of-16 shots, grabbed six rebounds and picked up three steals for Brooklyn (25-27), which climbed within three games of first-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division standings while tying Washington for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
“The [All-Star] break was good for me,'' said Johnson, who played briefly in Sunday’s All-Star Game in New Orleans after participating in Saturday night’s 3-Point Challenge as Brooklyn’s lone All-Star.
“[The knee] is feeling a lot better. I don't have the pain I had when I bend down to go into my shot or make a move.''
Johnson also intimated that he was a bit shaken by news of the trade King orchestrated prior to the contest.
'This is the toughest time of the year because it's always possible to lose a family member,” he said. “We're around each other more than we are our families. So to lose a brother, it hurts, man. I hate to see Jason and Reggie go.”
Pierce, who scored seven points, left the game early in the second half with what he described as “arthritis and turf toe”, insisting that he would be ready this weekend when the Nets visit the Warriors on Saturday and take on the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
Both Pierce and Garnett expressed sadness over the departure of Terry, their ex-teammate in Boston and Brooklyn. But reserve forward Andrei Kirilenko shed some light on the difficult situation in the post-game locker room.
“We know as players that we can be traded at any time,” he said. “We have no control over that. We just have to go out and play.”
They were able to do just that Wednesday night.
Nothing But Net: There were rumors circulating early Thursday that King and the Nets might not be done dealing prior to the 3 p.m. deadline. Adding another forward or center to the reserve squad would likely be King’s top priority if such a deal became available as the Nets do have an open roster spot following the 2-for-1 swap for Thornton. … The Nets had lost three in a row on the road, and each of their last four visits to Utah prior to Wednesday’s victory. … Brooklyn swept the season series from the Jazz, marking the first time that’s happened since the 2006-07 campaign. … C Blatche, who matched his season high in scoring, hit 11 of his team-high 20 shots and grabbed six rebounds. [Johnson and Blatche] pulled us back in the game when we were down,” said Williams. “They are a big reason we got the win tonight.''