Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Moving Day!

I started Brooklyn Balling in January as a little, independent Blogger blog, and have seen it to grown to have thousands (!) of page views and even a few comments here or there. But now, I have been accepted as a part of the Bloguin network of sports blogs (another member is the famous AwfulAnnouncing.com). This means I will be leaving the brooklynballing.blogspot.com domain name and moving to brooklynballing.com. Same content is going to be over there, just a new interface. Hope you come along for the ride!

Game 13 Recap: Nets 96, Knicks 88 (OT). The One Where The Crosstown Rivalry Began

Reggie Evans was everywhere, doing everything last night for the Nets.
The last Nets playoff game was a May 18, 2007 loss in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team featuring LeBron James before the whole "Taking my talents to South Beach" thing. However, the game the (Brooklyn) Nets played last night at Barclays Center was probably more intense than that loss to Cleveland and wasn't even an elimination game in the NBA playoffs. It was just the first-ever regular season game between the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks, which just happened to be played in Brooklyn. 
The game was hotly contested right out the gates at Barclays as expected, as each team started out pretty hot from the field. Defense was mainly nowhere to be found as the home-team Nets managed to eke out a three-point lead after the first frame. Surprisingly, in the second quarter, mainly the Knicks bench-- shorthanded without backup point guard, and former Net, Jason Kidd, due to back spasms--outplayed the normally-reliable Nets reserves, as the Knicks won the quarter and took a lead into half. Contributions were varied, with Melo hitting a few shots, Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby controlling the paint, and even the ageless Rasheed Wallace draining a deep three-pointer, sending the Knicks supporters at Barclays into a frenzy.

Then came the dreaded third quarter. In the ten games before this past homestand--so the games before this week's wins over the Clippers and Blazers--the Nets were a disgrace in that quarter, blowing games left and right with terrible performances coming out of the halftime intermission. That was not the case last night, even though the quarter didn't get off to the best start for the home team. Melo was unstoppable in the third, hitting jumpers and getting "fouled" when driving to the hoop constantly. Of course, the airquotes are necessary as the Syracuse product got away with more push-offs than I have probably every witnessed in my life. Regardles, Melo was so hot even Gerald Wallace couldn't stop him.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Game 13 Preview: New York Knicks (9-3) at Brooklyn Nets (8-4)

Before being traded to the Knicks, there was much speculation--and nearly a deal in place--stating that Carmelo Anthony was going to be a Net and open up the Barclays Center with the team. Like with Dwight Howard, it was nothing more than speculation.
When: 7:00 pm; Monday, November 26th, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY


Tonight's game may have been postponed nearly four weeks, but that doesn't mean it has lost any of its flair or any of the excitement that it's going to bring to both teams and the Barclays Center. The first-ever NBA regular season matchup of two New York City teams is momentous as a milestone for the league, the city, and these two teams, especially the Nets, in their maiden season as a NYC basketball team. The storylines are galore: Jason Kidd playing against the team he led to two Eastern Conference championships, Carmelo Anthony playing against the team he was almost traded to like three times, the fight for "Best Team in NYC" award, the fight for the Atlantic Division crown (Knicks are currently in 1st, Nets in 2nd), among many others. However, once it comes down to it, all the matters is the score when the clock hits 0:00 in the fourth quarter (or in the last overtime period they play, just in case).

As many of you know, the Knicks got off to a ridiculously hot start to the season, winning their first six games. Not even strength of schedule could be cited as the reason for the winning streak, as the Knicks beat the defending champion Heat and always-tough Spurs on the bookends of the six-game stretch, with wins over the 76ers (twice), Mavericks, and lowly Magic filling out the rest of the games. And this was all done without Amare' Stoudamire, who was, and still is, out with a knee injury. Contrary to preseason belief, the Knicks were unstoppable early on, draining tons of three-pointers per game at ridiculous clips, led by Carmelo, J.R. Smith, and even Raymond Felton. It defied logic, but won games.

Then, a loss to the Grizzlies (sitting at 9-2 right now) in Memphis shocked the Knicks right back to Earth and eliminated their chance at a perfect season. They rebounded well, taking care of the Pacers and Hornets but had a rough stretch through Dallas, giving up 122.5 points per game in back-to-back losses to Dallas and Houston and Jeremy Lin. Finally, an easy win over the hapless Pistons yesterday at the Garden brought them to their current record of 9-3. An up-and-down season to be sure, with more ups than downs so far for Mike Woodson's club.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Game 12 Recap: Nets 98, Trail Blazers 85. The One Where Reggie, Brook, and Hump Got All The Rebounds

With every game he plays well in, Joe Johnson is looking more and more like a steal for the Nets
Winning their fifth-straight game at Barclays Center, the Nets rebounded (literally) from a bad first half effort to blow away the undermanned Portland Trail Blazers in the second half. Missing All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland didn't have a key cog in their lineup, but that didn't stop them from jumping out to a four-point lead at half behind rookies Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard in addition to J.J. Hickson and Wesley Matthews as well. Luckily for the Nets, those guys cooled down after the intermission and Brooklyn's guys heated up. 

The third quarter woes that plagued the Nets during some of their earlier losses this season have been thankfully absent from the last two games, counting this afternoon's game of course. In the third quarter, D-Will came out with a vengeance, the vengeance that he expresses with intensity during close games in which he feels he has to take over. That's what he did right out of the break, driving at the rim fiercely on the undersized Lillard, first getting an easy layup, missing the next one, and then getting blocked. Maybe he didn't get the results he wanted from those drives, but the tone was set for the Nets, and that led them to even up the score by the end of that quarter just to run away with the game in the fourth.

Game 12 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers (6-6) at Brooklyn Nets (7-4)

The Blazers drafted Damian Lillard (above) with the 6th-overall pick they received from the Nets in exhange for Gerald Wallace. So far, that trade has worked out pretty well for both teams.
When: 3:00 pm; Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY

TV: YES Network
When the Nets traded their lottery pick (which became the 6th-overall selection)--along with the expiring contracts of Shawne Williams and Mehmet Okur-- in the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft to the Portland Trail Blazers on March 16th of last season for Gerald Wallace, there was considerable derision and disagreement with the decision from the Nets perspective. Bloggers, writers, TV and radio analysts, and others mocked how silly it was for the Nets, a rebuilding team, to give up a sure lottery pick for an aging Wallace with the option to sign anywhere in the NBA once his contract was up that summer.

We all know how that trade turned out; the Blazers drafted Damian Lillard from Weber State with the pick and the young pint guard has been a revelation for Portland, scoring 20.2 points and 6.0 assists per game just 12 games into his rookie campaign. His Blazers are only 6-6 so far, but they are rebuilding and Lillard has certainly shown that his talent warranted the high draft selection and that he will be a mainstay in the backcourt in Portland for a long time, playing at an All-Star level most likely.

Gerald Wallace isn't near an All-Star berth at this point in his career, but he has done exactly what the Nets have needed and expected him to do, and more. The trade was completed by Billy King with the foresight that the Nets team he would be rebuilding would have a defensive deficiency and he needed someone like Gerald in the starting lineup to serve as the lone defensive specialist in a group of offensive-focused players. There's nothing wrong with valuing offense over defense, it's just that all successful and contending teams in the NBA have a balanced mixture of both. Of course, the Nets representation of offensive and defensive balance is Gerald anchoring the defense by guarding the opposing team's best wing player, lightening the load on his teammates and just helping his team win in general by limiting how much the other team scores on a nightly basis.

Netlinked 11/25/12: Springfield Armor Make Their Season Opener a Successful One

These three guys (from left: Scott, Uzoh, Mays) are the core of the Armor and might be called up to the big-league squad later this season if they keep playing this well.
The Nets' D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor, started off their season the right way last night by defeating the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers' affiliate, in an overtime opener on the road. Kevin Jones of the Charge led all scorers with 31 points in addition to grabbing 16 boards, second-highest in the game to the Armor's James Mays, who had 17 rebounds on the night and scored 23 points. Mays, as you may remember, was a training-camp invitee with the Nets who was cut just before the regular season began.

Fellow invitee Carleton Scott added 13 points for the Armor in the win and former Net and D-League draft-day acquisition Ben Uzoh had a double-double, notching 16 points and 10 boards to go along with six assists. The Armor traded for Uzoh a few weeks ago in exchange for a draft pick, a move which appears to have worked out well already.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Game 11 Recap: Nets 86, Clippers 76. The One Where The Third Quarter Wasn't So Bad

Ever since the Nets traded for Joe Johnson over the summer, the shooting guard hasn't played like himself. Tonight, he certainly did.
If the Nets had any bad tastes in their mouths from their losses to the Lakers and the Warriors, then there aren't there anymore, because of how they completely shut down the Clippers in Brooklyn tonight. The Nets improved to 7-4 on the season with a win over one of the better teams in the Western Conference in a fashion that has been uncommon to them this year: They played good defense and were actually not-awful in the third quarter.

Ok, to be clear, the Nets didn't play great defense the whole game, just in the second half. They were down by a score of 47-40 at half and things didn't look too promising. The uber-athletic Clipper frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan dominated the first half, throwing down alley-oop dunks, grabbing offensive boards, and just making the Nets look bad most of the time. Just about the only thing going the Nets' way in the first two quarters of the game was the offensive output they got from Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Lopez's offense has been great the whole season but Joe's hasn't, making his early shooting accuracy a pleasant surprise.