There were two big knocks on the Nets coming into the season.
They concerned the team's lack of depth and their inability to stop other teams from scoring often enough to win more games than they lost. Andray Blatche exemplified each of those weaknesses.
Blatche clearly has natural athletic gifts, but his years with the Wizards did little to suggest that he could give the Nets anything reliable as a backup big man. His mental game wasn't strong enough and his defensive efforts suggested he actually didn't have any idea that there was a benefit derived from keeping the other team from making baskets.
Nothing about that has changed through eight games this season, but Blatche's natural gifts were enough to get the team a 99-90 win to open up their California road swing. Blatche hit his first 10 shots and made 11-of-12 overall to score 22 points and spark a bench effort that made up for a miserable night by the Nets starters.
The bench outscored the starters 52-47, largely because of Blatche's explosion, but C.J. Watson and MarShon Brooks also deserve good notices for their work on Sunday evening. Joe Johnson was horrendous, shooting just 1-of-10, and Deron Williams concentrated on distribution with his own shot not falling and that meant someone else had to step up to fill the void.
Surprisingly, Blatche was that guy on Sunday. Counting on him being that guy night after night is not a recipe for success in Brooklyn, though.
It's going to have to be Johnson and Williams that drive this team to realizing their potential which makes the results of the first eight games a mixed bag. They've been disappointing because Johnson is shooting 36 percent from the field and has meshed with Williams about as well as oil meshes with water.
But they've also been somewhat positive because the Nets have won six of eight without their best scorer playing well. Assuming the backcourt finds some way to coexist, there should be better offensive performances ahead and the team won't have to rely on erratic backup bigs to squeeze out wins over awful teams.
The sooner the better on that front. The Nets will be in L.A. for a date with the Lakers on Tuesday night and we're guessing that another Dray Day won't be enough to extend the win streak to six games.