From The Barber’s Chair

By A. P. Ri'Chard
Updated: February 12, 2005

NEW JERSEY—On Friday I stepped into Nu Flavor Kutz in Jersey City for my bi-weekly touch up. I made myself comfortable in Dave’s chair and listened to Big L give his rendition of Sports Center as he cut the hair of the customer across from where I sat. John just got that seat before I did—the lucky soul… Don’t get me wrong, Dave has skills, but Big L can hook up a fade like no other.

Anyway, I told the guys in the shop that I wanted to talk to them about the Nets chances versus the Lakers, the game that was scheduled for that evening.

“Without Kobe in the lineup I think our chances are great, even with Kobe in the lineup I think that the Nets would win, look at how they’re playing right now,” John responded, obviously he was feeling pretty good because Big L was hookin him up.

But John had a point. The Nets were riding a five game home win streak and they were coming off two straight victories, a 107-85 win over Detroit on Saturday and 107-97 win over an Allen Iverson-less Sixer team on Sunday. Both games saw Jason Kidd and Vince Carter achieving milestones; Kidd on Saturday moved up to 12th all time on the assist charts, and on Sunday, off of a season high 43 points, VinSanity notched his 10,000th career point.

“If Jefferson were healthy the Nets would already be in first place and no team in the Atlantic would be close,” another customer responded. “You doin the game tonight so ask RJ if he’ll be back in time for the playoffs,” The customer continued.

That evening when I stepped into the Continental Airlines Arena, I approached the first person I saw and asked him if he felt the Nets had any chance of making the playoff.

“I think that we will win the Division—it belongs here. When we make the playoff, which we will, RJ will be back, and then it’s on.” Eric (Fan) stated while waiting to get a ticket to see his favor team in action.

So since my questioning was always followed by a Richard Jefferson response, I went in search of RJ himself. I asked him frankly if he plans on playing this year.

“I’ll be back come playoff time, 100%,” the small forward out of Arizona proclaimed before his teammates took the floor. Finally, it was good to get the answer that everyone was speculating over.

Regardless, in this match-up Lemar Odom’s 16 points and 19 rebounds helped the Lakers steal a game that the Nets should have won. With 1:04 left in the 4th quarter the Nets were up 92-86. A twenty-three foot, three pointer by Jumaine Jones (20 points) with 41.9 seconds cut the Nets lead to 92-89. On the ensuing play, Jones blocked Vince Carter’s fourteen-foot turnaround jump shot with 22.9 to go. Chucky Atkins tied the game with a clutch three pointer with 12.1 seconds on the clock. Lawrence Frank called a timeout; but Ron Mercer missed on a nineteen footer at the end, sending the game into overtime.

In overtime the game was a nail biter, but the Lakers pulled off a 104-103 victory, which snapped their three game losing streak and ended the Nets two game win streak.

“We just kept making plays,” Odom said.

Jason Kidd had his 63rd triple double with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. Vince Carter added 27, ending his streak of 40 points or more at two games. The Nets are 9-4 over the last thirteen and trail the Celtics by 3 ½ games. The team is in for a rough stretch playing 11 games over the next sixteen days—I know there will be plenty to talk about at my next Nu Flavor Kutz sitting.