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.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Game 11 Preview: Los Angeles Clippers (8-3) at Brooklyn Nets (6-4)

We have a wonderful point guard battle tonight. Which one wins will probably determine the game's outcome.
When: 7:30 pm; Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY

TV: YES Network
The Nets look to shake off their brutal end to their annual West Coast Thanksgiving road trip by beating another Western Conference foe tonight at Barclays Center. The Clippers will be the fourth-straight California team the Nets will be playing, after beating the Kings on Sunday night and consequently falling to the Lakers and Warriors on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Wednesday's loss was especially tough for Brooklyn as they had a 13-point first half lead squandered as Golden State took advantage of the absence of Gerald Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse--and of the Nets' terrible perimeter defense--to score 61 points in the second half to control the game and eventually win it.

Los Angeles also had a tough loss on Wednesday night, losing to the Thunder in an overtime affair in Oklahoma City. Down 10 points at half, the Clippers tied the game, sending it into overtime after outscoring the Thunder by a score of 33-26 in the fourth quarter. A few quick three-pointers by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook early in the extra period got OKC off to a great start, and netted them a four-point lead they wouldn't relinquish. The defeat ended the Clippers' six-game winning streak and dropped their record to 8-3 on the year.

Reggie Evans Fined for Flop from Nets-Lakers Game

This is kind of old already (with the ridiculously short news-cycle of the Internet age), but Reggie Evans has made news as the first NBA player to be fined under the league's new flopping policy. The "flop" in question came during the Nets-Lakers game on Tuesday night when Evans embellished a bump he took from Metta World Peace of the Lakers, a play which was called an offensive foul on the Player Formerly Known as Ron Artest. Evans was fined $5,000 dollars for the incident, so I'm sure he's not that discouraged.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Game 10 Recap: Warriors 102, Nets 93. The One Where Klay and Curry Were Unstoppable

Prediction: This guy's (Klay Thompson) face will be the subject of my next nightmare
If you looked up the definition of "gut-punch loss" in the dictionary, you would find a picture of a wide-open Klay Thompson swishing a three-pointers about 10 feet in front of Joe Johnson. Of course, that picture would be indicative of the complete and utter crap show the Nets decided to feed up tonight in Oakland against the Warriors. Once again, the Nets played a great first half, going up 46-41 after 24 minutes of play. During those first two quarters, our boys from Brooklyn closed out on the Golden State shooters, made plenty of open shots, rebounded well, and cut down on turnovers. Then came the dreaded third quarter, that stretch of 12 minutes between the second and fourth quarters in which the Nets simply can't do anything right. No ball movement or player movement on offense, lazy and low-percentage jump shots, horrendous/non-existent defensive rotations, and unfathomably idiotic turnovers.

Tonight was absolutely no different. For the most part, the Nets stopped driving into the paint for high percentage shots on offense and turned into the solely jump-shooting team we have come to despise from the New Jersey days. The Nets missed a ton of those jumpers and, conversely, the Warriors made nearly all of theirs. Granted, the dreadful perimeter (or lack of) defense exhibited by the Nets certainly contributed to Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry going off in the second half, credit should be given where it's due. Regardless of how bad Brooklyn's defense without Gerald Wallace is, it's clear that those guys can shooting the lights out, altering the result of a game in the process.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Game 10 Preview: Brooklyn Nets (6-3) at Golden State Warriors (6-5)

The Nets have been waiting for Joe Johnson to start playing like the Joe Johnson they traded for. Against the defensively-challenged Warriors would be a great start.
Update: Gerald Wallace (rest) will not play tonight. Keith Bogans is starting in his place. Jerry Stackhouse won't play either (rest).

When: 10:30 pm; Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Where: Oracle Arena; Oakland, CA

TV: YES Network
The Nets try to begin a new winning streak and move above .500 on their West Coast trip tonight in Oakland against the surprising Golden State Warriors. Former YES Network Nets TV color analyst and former NBA point guard Mark Jackson is at the helm of the Warriors, who are coming off an overtime win in Dallas over the Mavericks on Monday night. Stephen Curry led Golden State in that game with 31 points, to go along with six rebounds and nine assists. Since the trade of Monta Ellis to Milwaukee last year, Curry has had to assume the point guard duties and when not injured, he has done that job well. Also in Monday night's win, David Lee went off for 17 points and 19 boards while rookie Harrison Barnes scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

As you probably already know, the Nets played last night as they watched their five-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers by a score of 95-90. The defense played by Brooklyn in that loss was very good, but the normally-apt offense wasn't, as the Nets struggled to hit open perimeter shots the entire game, which eventually cost them at the end.

However, that defeat is in the past and the Nets must look forward and focus their energies on the Warriors, who have a winning record so far this season. Even with center, and centerpiece of the Ellis trade, Andrew Bogut out due to an ankle injury, Golden State is still a very scary team to play considering how explosive they can be on the offensive end and in rebounding as well.

Game 9 Recap: Lakers 95, Nets 90. The One Where D'Antoni Made His Debut

It was easy to tell that Deron wanted to win last night's very badly. The Nets probably would have if he could have hit a few more shots.
If a moral victory is actually a legitimate thing, then the Nets probably had one last night against the Los Angeles Lakers. A win in the standings? Something they did not have. However, Brooklyn showed that they could match up with and compete with one of the NBA's premier teams in the Lakers by coming back from an early 10-point deficit right off the bat to take the lead throughout much of the second half, just to slowly lose it late in the fourth quarter.

The Nets certainly looked outmatched in the beginning moments of the game, as they committed four quick turnovers in the first four minutes, pressured by the hounding Los Angeles defense. It was surprising that the Lakers--in the debut of new, solely offensive-minded head coach Mike D'Antoni--played so well on the defensive side of the court early on but the turnovers could also be attributed to a Nets squad that was rushing in their sets, making boneheaded and lazy plays, and simply playing like the New Jersey team, one prone to countless amounts of inept stretches of basketball. After a timeout by Avery Johnson, though, Brooklyn came back with a purpose and rattled off eight points in a row to come within two. The game stayed close throughout the rest of the first until Kobe Bryant hit three jumpers in a row to expand the LA lead to six points.

Then, in the second quarter, the Lakers' main weakness was shown as their bench promptly coughed up their lead and the Nets got hot from the field, scoring 34 points in the period to go up a point at half. As usual, the Nets' "bench mob" or "Brooklyn Zoo" (credit Twitter for both awesome nicknames) picked up the slack, with C.J. Watson hitting a few threes, Andray Blatche hitting a few shots in the lane, and, of course, Reggie Evans rebounding nearly everything in sight. Solid second quarter performances also came from starters Brook Lopez and Deron Williams.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Game 9 Preview: Brooklyn Nets (6-2) at Los Angeles Lakers (5-5)

When: 10:30 pm; Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Where: Staples Center; Los Angeles, CA

TV: YES Network
Tonight, the Nets look to extend their improbable five-game winning streak against the far-and-away toughest team they have faced during the span of that streak. Of course, that team is the newest NBA superteam, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets and Lakers were mentioned a lot together this summer as Brooklyn's most-prized potential catch, Dwight Howard, ended up being traded to LA after just a little too much wavering on the star center's end. Howard made it clear that he wanted to be a Net multiple times throughout the arduous and tortuous ordeal known as the "Dwight-mare". However, he made some mind-boggling decisions--and non-decisions--which led to his acquiring by the Lakers as part of a four-team deal that sent Andrew Bynum to Philly, Andre Iguodala to Denver, and Arron Afflalo to Orlando, along with some other pieces of course.

The Nets were so close to getting Dwight at multiple times throughout the wooing process that many with the franchise were ready to give Brooklyn a point guard-center pairing for the ages, D-Will and Dwight, but it was not meant to be. That means there will certainly be players in tonight's contest playing with a little edge on their shoulder, with a little more hustle. Like Brook Lopez, whom the Nets were ready to ship to Central Florida for Howard, or even MarShon Brooks, another rumored asset offered by Brooklyn to Orlando. And even the two main players in the scenario itself, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. D-Will had his own decision to make this summer--Dallas or Brooklyn--and he chose Brooklyn, somewhat assuming that he would have Howard to play with at Barclays Center when the season tipped in November.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Game 8 Recap: Nets 99, Kings 90. The One Where Blatche Went Off

22 points, 11-12 shooting, 20 minutes. Yep, this Andray Blatche. Yep, the guy who was amnestied this summer. Yep, the guy who was sent home by the Wizards last year because of his lack of conditioning.
Another weird, sloppy, and competitive game, another win for the Nets. Brooklyn extended its season-long winning streak to five games by taking care of the hapless Sacramento Kings at the terribly-named Sleep Train Arena (which I thinking should just be called The Sleep Train, in the vein of The Soul Train). It certainly wasn't pretty--we seem to be saying that about a lot of the Nets victories this season--but it goes on the left side of the W-L column which is all that mattered.

The Nets went to the paint for scoring throughout much of the first half, feeding Brook Lopez the ball a bunch early on, and he went to town against DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson. Brook faded away after the first 12 minutes of play and only ended up with 13 and a measly five rebounds on 5-14 shooting. Fellow starting big man, power forward Kris Humphries, was an afterthought on offense, taking just six shots and scoring six points. The real story of tonight's win was a backup forward who possibly had the game of his career.

Andray Blatche was simply unconscious from late in the first quarter to late in the third. Blatche, who I mentioned as a player to watch in my preview, couldn't miss anything. He hit his first nine shots--a miss of crafty layups, drives, and some admittedly low-percentage jumpers too--and scored 18 points by halftime, basically leading the Nets to a 33-22 second quarter by himself, hitting all six field goals he attempted in the quarter. The Nets constantly went to him to build up the lead they would nurse throughout the second half and he responded to the extra burden, attacking the rim with no mercy for anyone in his way. In one word, Blatche was unstoppable, and that's no exaggeration

Game 8 Preview: Brooklyn Nets (5-2) at Sacramento Kings (2-7)

We know his name is Tyreke Evans. The only thing we don't know is what position he is.
Update: According to the Nets' beat writers on Twitter, Gerald Wallace is playing tonight. We love you Keith Bogans, but go back to the bench where you belong!

When: 6:00 pm; Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Where: Sleep Train Arena (really?); Sacramento, CA

TV: YES Network
Tonight we have a matchup between teams that are at completely different ends of the NBA spectrum right now--and different coasts of the US. The Nets, coming off of a nationally-televised win on Thursday night over the Boston Celtics, have won four games in a row and will probably be getting starting small forward Gerald Wallace back from injury. The Kings, on the other hand, have lost their last four games, most recently falling to the Atlanta Hawks in Sacramento at the absurdly-named Sleep Train Arena. The last loss led veteran players Chuck Hayes and Francisco Garcia to call a players-only meeting to hash out the team's struggles. Closed-door meetings nine games into the season is never a good time. 

Sacramento isn't a very good team, but they probably aren't as bad as their early-season record indicates. They have a bunch of really good pieces, like position-unknown Tyreke Evans, forward-center DeMarcus Cousins, and forward Thomas Robinson (5th overall pick out of Kansas in June's draft). However, a lot of their talented players have some glaring problem or disadvantage that limits their success. For Cousins, it's his notoriously bad temper, which led to a one-game suspension a few days ago for confronting Spurs' broadcaster Sean Elliot after a game. And for Tyreke Evans, it's that he has no true position. He's too big to play the point and too small for power forward while not being just quite right for shooting guard or small forward. To say he's an enigma as a basketball player would be an understatement.

The Nets Will Only Go As Far As Brook Lopez Allows Them To

Some may think it's Deron Williams, others Joe Johnson. But the truth is that Brook Lopez is the true key to the Nets' success as a team.
The Nets front office spent much of this offseason trying to trade for Dwight Howard, someone who had never been on the Nets and probably never will be. General Manager Billy King made it very clear throughout last season and the summer that his team was in full pursuit of the Orlando Magic center, and at some points came ridiculously close to actually pulling a deal off. However, regardless of the close calls that occurred in the entire Dwightmare scenario, no trade was ever made. We know how that story ended up: Brook Lopez was extended, the Nets solidified their starting lineup with Joe Johnson, and Howard was dealt to the Lakers in a four-team trade that didn't give the Magic much value in return.

Heading into a new state, city, arena, and identity, the Nets had to rebound quickly from their failed pursuit of Howard in order to get ready for beginning of the NBA season a few months away. One player--even though he was the key part of the Nets' potential return for Howard--was nearly completely neglected by the team's front office and fans. That would, of course, be Brook Lopez. The entire summer, and much of last season, Lopez had to hear his name swirled in trade talks with the Magic, leaving him without much confidence in the franchise that was still signing his paychecks. At least I know I wouldn't have any faith in a team basically admitting that I wasn't good enough for them as they attempted to trade me for someone to directly fill my spot on the team.

Ironically, as much as Brook was talked about off-court in the trade discussions, his on-court abilities were forgotten. He may be an awful rebounder and shaky defender for a man of his size, but Brook is certainly a dynamite scorer who is almost impossible for any other defender to stop when the Stanford grad is at the top of his game. Sure, people agreed that he was important to the Nets but these same people also seemed to undervalue his importance to the success of this team. Basically all contending teams have a really good center (at the least, power forward), and Brook is that guy for the Nets.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Game 7 Recap: Nets 102, Celtics 97

Reggie Evans may seem laid-back and calm in this picture, but in the game--especially when rebounding--he's downright terrifying. Also, very good at rebounding.
The Nets don't really like to put teams away, it seems. Yet again, they jumped out to an early double-digit lead and let their opponent right back into the game via some terrible defense, isolated offensive "sets", and a simple lack of hustle. Frankly, they got lucky that the Celtics--especially Jason Terry and Paul Pierce, normally good free throw shooters--couldn't hit a shot from the charity stripe when the game was on the line. Maybe it was the ominous "BROOK-LYN, BROOK-LYN" chant, maybe Avery Johnson's bizarre fouling-while-leading-with-more-than-30-seconds-left strategy, who knows what caused the normally-automatic free throw shooters Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to miss a combined 2-6 from the line in the final quarter. It sure was a weird game, but it was a Nets win, and that's all that matters.

Brooklyn's 5th win of the season started off like many others so far this season. The Nets started off the first quarter hot on offense, spreading the wealth and draining a bunch of shots very quickly. Of course, the defense wasn't very good but the team ended up taking a 5-point lead after the first 12 minutes by a score of 31-26. The second-team picked up where the starters left off and extended the lead to 59-50 by half. Then came the patented letdown that has accompanied basically every Nets double-figure lead this season. Via a combination of horrid Nets shooting, classic Boston passing and court spacing, and improved Celtics rebounding,  Doc Rivers' team stunned the home team in the third quarter and grabbed the lead right back by the end of the period.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Game 7 Preview: Boston Celtics (5-3) at Brooklyn Nets (4-2)

Kevin Garnett is scary both on and off the court.
When: 8:00 pm; Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY

TV: TNT (Marv Albert is doing the play-by-play!)
Three-game winning streaks haven't been all that common for the Nets in recent years. Other than one they had from March 28th-31st of last season, the franchise's last streak of that length was all the way back in the 2008-09 campaign, when they finished up their annual West Coast Thanksgiving road trip with three straight victories against the Kings, Jazz, and Suns. Now, the Nets find themselves in that unusual--yet still completely awesome--position of having won their last three games in a row and can extend that streak to four games if they can hold off the Celtics tonight in Brooklyn. Granted, that won't be an easy task as Boston owns the Nets, winning the last three meetings and, going back even further, winning 18 of the last 20 games between these two squads.

Boston is on its own three-game winning streak right now, with wins coming against the Bucks, Bulls, and the Jazz. In the most recent victory, coming last night at home over Utah, the Celtics improved their season record to 5-3 behind a 23-point performance by Paul Pierce, who was helped out with twin 16-point games by reserves Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa. Both the Nets and Celtics are on top of their games right now, but those hot streaks haven't come without their fair share of consequences. Of course, those consequences are key pieces not being available due to injury.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shot Analysis: MarShon Brooks

MarShon! The semi-fro!
This is the 3rd (and final post) in a series on analyzing shot charts of the more important Nets (sans Brook Lopez because of his limited play last year) and how they fared shooting from the field last season. We finish up with MarShon Brooks. Joe Johnson was analyzed last.

In college, MarShon Brooks was far-and-away known for his offensive skills above anything else regarding his status and basketball acumen. College, and pro, basketball fans alike undoubtedly began to hear Brooks' name after he dropped 52 points on a talented Notre Dame team while playing for Providence. Sure, it was just a regular season game between two non-elite squads, but whenever anyone in college--playing with just 2 20-minute halves--scores that many points, they are bound to get attention. Even with all the extra eyes from NBA teams that were trained on him in the second half, MarShon managed to fall to the 25th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, where he was drafted by the Celtics and immediately dealt to the Nets for the 27th pick (JaJuan Johnson) and a 2014 second-rounder.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Game 6 Recap: Nets 114, Cavaliers 101

The Nets simply had no answer for Varejao tonight. Thankfully, him and the Cavs had no answer for the Nets either.
For the sake of an analogy, the Brooklyn Nets are like the lead actor in a play, possibly even a Broadway one. Lead actors in plays are very talented and draw the audience in with their dramatic dialogue and actions. People root for them when they are the hero, people root against them when they are the enemy. The point is that they are captivating. However, they can also be really loud and annoying, in addition to having off days from time to time. In these circumstances, the audience is expecting a lot from the lead actor but instead gets a dud of a performance. The Nets are very much like this.

How, you might say, could a basketball team be like an actor in a play? Well, like an actor, the Nets have tons of natural talent which will propel them to many leads and big wins this season. They also have their fair share of duds, exemplified by the many blown leads and the pair of notable crushing losses they have had so far this season. Tonight, we saw both sides of the Nets, good and bad. Good in that they moved the ball around on offense masterfully the entire game, leading to 27 (!) assists and 114 points. Good in that they shot 54.5 percent from the field, only committed 13 turnovers against one of the NBA's best teams at forcing turnovers, and even blocked 10 shots. Bad in that they allowed 101 points to the Cavs and career-highs to both Kyrie Irving (34 points) and Anderson Varejao (35 points on 16-21 shooting).

Game 6 Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers (2-5) at Brooklyn Nets (3-2)

Some around the NBA ridiculed the Cavs drafting guard Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick in this summer's Draft. After seeing how he and sophomore sensation point guard Kyrie Irving are playing with each other early on this season, those critics are probably eating their words.
When: 7:30 pm; Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY

TV: YES Network

The Nets and Cavaliers are very similar teams in their general talent distribution, but very different in total amount of talent. Each team's focus is certainly on their backcourt, led by strong point guards and shooting guards. Obviously, the Nets have Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, a pair who have been around the proverbial block in the NBA and have attained veteran status. The Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters at the 1 and 2, whom they acquired in the 2011 and 2012 NBA Drafts respectively. Deron and Joe have the experience and are the more-established pairing while Irving and Waiters have youth on their side, and are arguably more explosive than both D-Will and Johnson. These four guards duking it out later tonight at the Barclays Center will be fun to watch, and whichever backcourt outplays the other will probably determine the winner of the game.

The Nets are actually catching Cleveland at a pretty good time, considering the Cavs are playing their sixth, and final, game of a brutal road trip which has taken them to LA and Oklahoma City, among other places. A road trip which they are currently just 1-4 on and a road trip which they want to end as soon as possible, inviting the possibility of a let-down game by a team that just wants to go back home immediately. That's certainly an advantage in Brooklyn's favor but, as we have learned with the Nets in recent years, they can't take ANYTHING for granted against a lower-level team. Too many times have the Nets lost to awful, awful teams that have they have rightful reason to be losing to. They can't have that happen a lot this season if they are going to be a playoff team. No chance.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Netlinked 11/12/12: The Dancing Man Will Be Absent From the Barclays Center

Those of you who have gone to enough Nets home over the years in New Jersey are bound to see that guy in the bright buttoned-down shirts dancing like an absolute maniac during timeouts. That guy's name is Phil Tozzi and he was a fixture at Continental Airlines Arena (later the Izod Center) and Prudential Center during many of the worst Nets seasons ever (think 12-70).

He won't be joining the team in Brooklyn at Barclays Center, however, because of a season-ticket disagreement with the Nets' front office. Signaling the general shift in professional sports from the fan-friendly days of yore to the money-making times of the present, the Nets wouldn't give Tozzi a hometown discount for his tickets so he could continue dancing in Brooklyn. But for those of us who remember him, Tozzi, and his dancing, will never be forgotten and will always be associated with the Nets, even if they were terrible for much of his heyday.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Game 5 Recap: Nets 82, Magic 74

21 rebounds? 21 rebounds
The first quarter was beautiful, the last three quarters were ugly, and the game's result was a win. The Nets swept their first home-and-home of the season--this one with the Magic--by jumping out to a huge, 18-point lead after the first quarter and riding that advantage to a victory over a listless Magic team that, without many of its top players, couldn't do much on offense on Sunday afternoon, a fact leading to its demise.

The Nets looked great starting out of the gate earlier today at Barclays Center, moving the ball around masterfully and playing sound all-around defense en route to taking a 35-17 lead after 12 minutes of play. At this point in the game, the Nets looked to be headed to another game that would play out similarly to their 39-point blowout win on Friday night. However, that would not be the case.

The second, third, and fourth quarters turned the game from a potential rout in Brooklyn's favor into a slogfest that included horrendous shooting percentages, too many fouls, and plenty of sloppy play. Orlando slowly chipped away at the once-comfortable Nets lead by holding the home team to just 36 points over the next two quarters, cutting their once 18-point deficit to just 10 points by the beginning of the fourth.

Game 5 Preview: Orlando Magic (2-3) at Brooklyn Nets (2-2)

Ever since Joe Johnson was traded to the Nets this summer, he hasn't had a traditional "Joe Johnson" performance where he scores 20+ points and completely takes over a game. The Nets might not need that performance to beat the Magic, but it would certainly be nice to see.
When: 3:00 pm; Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY

TV: YES Network

The Nets were able to comfortably beat the Magic on Friday night, and this afternoon we get to see if Brooklyn can do that again, this time at home in Barclays Center. Tonight's game is the Nets' first afternoon matchup of the season and we can hope that the unconventional 3:00 pm start time doesn't mess with the positive energy and surging confidence the team most likely has after last game's romp over Orlando.

Injuries are starting to catch up to both of teams, making their rotations a bit more screwy than they would be if they were at full strength. I forgot mention to mention in my preview of the last meeting between these two that the Magic are still missing Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington, both aging but still productive offensive forwards, due to injury. Also, Jameer Nelson--who missed Friday's game with injuries to his hamstring and groin--probably won't be available to run the point for Jacque Vaughn's squad tonight, leaving the point guard duties yet again to E'Twaun Moore.

The Nets are also suffering from their own injury woes early on in this season as Gerald Wallace is still day-to-day with the ankle injury he suffered in the season opener and MarShon Brooks is a game-time decision with his own ankle ailment, suffered in Friday's shootaround. Not having Wallace's defensive presence--as already shown in two losses Brooklyn suffered in his absence--is really detrimental to the Nets' success as a team and missing Brooks' instant offense capability off the bench isn't great either. Not huge, crippling injuries to be sure, but significant enough to open a door for the lowly Magic to slip through and upset the Nets tonight.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Game 4 Recap: Nets 107, Magic 68

The Nets needed a win in the worst way when they took on the Orlando Magic last night at Amway Arena, and they ended up getting it in rather comfortable fashion. A far cry from their 30-point loss on Wednesday night against the Heat, the Nets turned the tables and became the router instead of the routing, crushing the hapless Magic by nearly 40 points.

Not getting off to the best of starts, the Nets only led by a score of 19-17 after a first quarter in which they played similarly to how they played in the losses to the Timberwolves and Heat. They looked sluggish, played sloppy, were ice-cold from the field amongst other things. Then, Brooklyn picked it up in the second quarter and were given a major boost by the bench, a unit that has been surprisingly productive early on this season. Even veteran Jerry Stackhouse--who was signed this offseason as a pseudo-assistant coach who would also get limited playing time in games--made his season debut in the second frame and played out of his mind, hitting a couple three-pointers and ending the game with 11 points in just 10 minutes, in addition to posting a spectacular +21.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Game 4 Preview: Brooklyn Nets (1-2) at Orlando Magic (2-2)

Arron Afflalo was the biggest piece that the Magic got in the trade with the Lakers, 76ers, and Nuggets that sent Dwight Howard to Los Angeles. 
UPDATE: MarShon Brooks sprained his ankle at shootaround today and is a game-time decision for tonight. Gerald Wallace is still out and Josh Childress is finally healthy enough to play. The injury carousel keeps on turning.

When: 7:00 pm; Friday, November 9th, 2012

Where: Amway Arena; Orlando, FL

TV: YES Network

The Nets and Magic were said more in conjunction with each other last season regarding off the court business arguably more than any other pair of teams in the entire NBA. The Dwightmare situation surrounding former Magic center Dwight Howard and the on-and-off trade request that he constantly reiterated for the better part of the last two seasons. The trade talks shifted to the Nets last year and  really picked up around the trade deadline and over this past offseason. Obviously, Howard ended up going to the Lakers in a four-team deal, leaving certain enmity between the front offices of both of these teams.

It's not very easy for a team to rebuild from the loss of a franchise player like Howard, and the Magic's current roster exemplifies that statement perfectly. Orlando doesn't have any player close to resembling a star or even a most-significant player. Jameer Nelson is a suitable point guard who can score and lead an offense but is on the downside of his career and is too injury-prone. Arron Afflalo, acquired from the Nuggets in the Howard trade, is a very good scorer but doesn't play much defense and is better in a secondary role, not necessarily as the #1 option on a team. 

As Nelson and Afflalo are the best options for the Magic, and coach Jacque Vaughn (a former Net), as potential leaders, it is clear they lack any player that can be on-court directors of the Magic. The Nets had this problem in the 2009-10 season and half of the 2010-11 season, after they traded Vince Carter and before trading for Deron Williams. The Nets had no visible leader and their on-court success (rather, lack of it) was worsened by that fact, exemplified by the team's near-historically bad 12-70 record in the 2009-10 campaign. Until Orlando finds their next leader, they will most likely toil in the mediocrity that tends to follow a faceless organization.

Netlinked 11/9/12: Mehmet Okur, A Net For 17 Games, Retires

Mehmet Okur, a 6'11'' Turkish center who spent last season with the Nets, has retired from the NBA after playing in the league for 10 season. Okur played the first two seasons of his career in Detroit with the Pistons, then signed with the Jazz, where he played nine seasons, and then was traded to the Nets just before last season began. Over the length of his career, Okur averaged 13.5 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game but was more known for his perimeter shooting skill than anything else.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Game 3 Recap: Heat 103, Nets 73

Gerald Wallace missed last night's game due to the injury he suffered in the Nets' win against Toronto. He was sorely missed against the Heat.
Without having the ability to watch last night's Nets blowout loss to the Heat, I had to listen on the radio. Let me tell you, it sounded almost as bad as it must have looked for those unfortunate to have watched. The Heat, clearly the class of the Eastern Conference and the NBA, had their way with the Nets--still without Gerald Wallace, their best defender--who stayed competitive during the first half, but faded away quickly in the second.

Miami won the game how you thought they would; incredible ball-handling (25 assists to Brooklyn's 12), knockdown three-point shooting (10-24 to the Nets' 3-21), and by pesky defense and stellar forcing-of-turnovers (forcing 19 to be committed by the Nets while only committing 12 themselves). Positives to note: Tornike (Toko) Shengalia finally made his Nets regular season debut (two points and two turnovers in 12 minutes), Kris Humphries finally showed up (11 points and 11 rebounds), MarShon Brooks scored 12 points off the bench, and Brook Lopez even grabbed seven rebounds in only 21 minutes.

Looking Ahead
The Nets travel upstate and play the Magic in Orlando at Amway Arena on Friday night, hoping to return to .500.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Springfield Armor Make a Pair of Trades

Coming on the heels of Friday's D-League Draft, the Springfield Armor, the Nets affiliate, made a pair of trades involving two of the nine players they selected in the Draft. The first move the Armor made was to trade their 1st-round pick, 6'11'' forward Tim Ohlbrecht from Germany, to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers for point guard Ben Uzoh. Uzoh played 42 games for the Nets in the 2010-11 season, averaging 3.8 points and 1.6 assists per game in 10.4 minutes per.

The other deal Springfield made was to trade their 6th-round pick in the Draft, guard Stefan Bonneau out of C.W. Post, to the Austin Toros for forward Andrew Lovedale. Lovedale was picked in the 3rd round of the Draft and is best known for his four-year college career at Davidson University, where he played with college standout and current Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry.

Reviewing My First Regular Season Visit to Barclays Center

As I mentioned before on here, my first regular season game at the Barclays Center was on Monday night, the night of the Nets' excruciating loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. My dad and I took the train from Long Island to Atlantic Terminal to get to Barclays Center in time for the 7:30 game.

Because of Hurricane Sandy and its lingering effects on the New York metropolitan area's mass transit system, the LIRR was only offering trains every hour from the Island to the the city. Obviously, this complicated getting to Brooklyn a little bit. But, once I stepped out of the terminal and saw the bright blue lettering of the Barclays Center, my mind was on the game, and the arena as well.

Let me break my visit into a few categories to make the review a little more comprehensive:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Game 2 Recap: Timberwolves 107, Nets 96

It took a crazy fourth quarter collapse at the Barclays Center on Monday night to drop the Nets' record to 1-1 on the young season and to send a jubilant Minnesota team home with a shocking victory. We all knew the Nets wouldn't go 82-0 but regardless, the first loss of any new season is crushing. According to the logic, last night's loss was simply devastating. 

Losing a game which you led by a score of 71-49 in the third quarter--at any time in the season--is awful and terrible and bad and horrific and bad. As my poor grammar and sentence structure show, the Nets' meltdown at the hands of the T-Wolves was inexplicable and stunning to those in attendance in Brooklyn, like myself. Cutting the Nets lead to 86-75 after the third, Minnesota went off in the final quarter, outscoring the home team by a tally of 32-10 and sending the crowd and Nets home in a daze, wondering: "What the f*** just happened?"

Well, simply put, what happened to let the T-Wolves back into the game was a mix of offensive isolations and stagnations and non-existent interior defense by the Nets and incredible offensive execution by Minnesota.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Game 2 Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (1-1) at Brooklyn Nets (1-0)

A Band-Aid: A perfect symbol of the 2012-12 Minnesota Timberwolves
UPDATE: Gerald Wallace (ankle) and Josh Childress (ankle) are both out for tonight's game. Keith Bogans will start in place of Wallace.

When: 7:30 pm; Monday, November 5th, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY


We've already won one game as the Brooklyn Nets, why not go for two? That's the question the Nets will be asking themselves tonight as they take on the injury-plagued Minnesota Timberwolves in the second regular season game ever at the Barclays Center. Both the Nets and the T-Wolves won their season opener's--the Nets' against the Raptors and the T-Wolves' against the Kings--and both will be looking to stay above .500 early on the 2012-13 NBA season.

Another similarity between these two teams is that they played their last game against the Raptors, to varying levels of success. As mentioned above, the Nets defeated Toronto on Saturday night by a score of 107-100, led by Brook Lopez' 27 points and 19 points and nine assists from Deron Williams. 

Minnesota wasn't as lucky. 

At the Air Canada Centre last night, they were handled with relative ease by the hometown Raps by a score of 105-86. As they did against the Nets, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan led the offensive effort for Toronto, each scoring 22 points on the night. The T-Wolves--led by 17 points from Andrei Kirilenko and 15 points from Nikola Pekovic--just didn't have an answer for the Raptor backcourt, a fact certainly exacerbated by J.J. Barea suffering a mild concussion in the second quarter. Further hurting the already-injured Wolves' backcourt, Barea wouldn't return in the game and his status is questionable for tonight's game.

Gerald Wallace Out for Tonight's Game; Keith Bogans Will Start For Him

According the Nets' PR Department's official Twitter account (@Nets_PR), the ankle injury that Gerald Wallace suffered attempting to block a shot in Saturday's season-opening win over Toronto will cause him to miss tonight's game against the Timberwolves. Keith Bogans will start at the small forward position in Gerald's stead.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Game 1 Recap: Nets 107, Raptors 100

At some points, especially later in the game, the Nets' help defense was phenomenal, like in the picture above. At other points, like in the 1st quarter, that wasn't the case.
One regular season game in Brooklyn, one win. That's the way the Nets, their fans, and coach Avery Johnson like it. In their first-ever regular season game as the Brooklyn Nets, the Nets beat the divisional foe Toronto Raptors in a game that was exciting, entertaining, nerveracking in a Nets fashion, but also downright fun. Sure, it's only the first game of the year against a team that probably won't make the playoffs, but it's still a win. And any win for the Nets of the past few seasons was monumental. Hopefully last night's triumph is a sign of change.

A win didn't look to be in the immediate-future for the Nets after the first quarter of action Saturday night since the Raptors jumped out of the gates fast, and took a 35-27 lead after 12 minutes of play. In those 12 minutes, the worst fears of those surrounding the Nets for this season were realized: the defense was terrible, offense mostly stagnant, and the fast pace of the game' tempo made the team look discombobulated all around. However, a paradigm shift arose after that poor first frame and the Nets appeared to wake up, got some great contributions from their bench players, and snared a 60-52 lead by halftime, after a second quarter in which they outscored Toronto by a score of 33-17.

For the most part, the Nets were in control from the beginning of the third quarter until the game clock buzzed after 48 minutes of play. The game could have been easily put out of reach by Brooklyn in the third period as they climbed to a 73-59 advantage on a Deron Williams three-pointer with 6:56 remaining. A few defensive stops and effective offensive possessions could have tilted the game' balance in only the Nets' favor but no, the Raptors hung around for a little bit longer. Cutting the deficit to six points after the third quarter, Toronto seemed poised to steal a win from the new-look Brooklyn squad and inched within two points of the Nets a few times in the fourth but just couldn't get over the hump to take the lead. A Brook Lopez three-point play with just 59 ticks left sealed the deal beyond any doubt.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Game 1 Preview: Toronto Raptors (0-1) at Brooklyn Nets (0-0)

Finally, the Barclays Center court will see some NBA regular season action tonight
When: 7:30 pm; Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY

TV: YES Network

Ok folks, it's really here. No, actually. Unless some other event beyond our control strikes the NYC Metro area in the next few hours, there will be basketball played at the Barclays Center--regular season NBA basketball--involving the Brooklyn (!) Nets and the Canadian Prehistoric Creatures Toronto Raptors. As you all must know by now, tonight's game was originally supposed to be the Nets' second game of the 2012-13 NBA season, as their November 1st game in Brooklyn against the Knicks was postponed to November 26th because of Hurricane Sandy.

The Raptors' first game of the season, played on Wednesday against the Pacers, wasn't affected by the storm. Toronto fell 90-88 to Indiana at the Air Canada Centre as Kyle Lowry, picked up by the Raptors from the Houston Rockets via trade over the summer, scored 21 points, grabbed seven boards, dished out eight assists and even nabbed five steals as well in the losing effort. Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon added in 16 and 15 points respectively for the Raps on the game.

Anyway, lets go back to the Nets. Tonight's game, albeit against the Raptors instead of the higher-profile Knicks, is much more than a singular game, or a tallymark in either the W or L column. It represents the culmination of years and years of planning by Nets' management to move the embattled franchise from the doldrums of New Jersey to the bright lights of the Big Apple. A win doesn't mean that much, a loss doesn't mean that much. The truth is that for tonight, that youth sports cliche of "All that matters is that you play the game" rings true. The Nets are playing a regular season home game at the Barclays Center and that's all that matters.