June 26, 2019

Nets center Jarrett Allen now in the NBA history books simply by blocking a LeBron James Dunk

Oh, how sweet it is, to coin a phrase from Jackie Gleason, an early 20th Century comedian from Brooklyn. Right now the Brooklyn Nets and their fans are savoring the sweet because the Nets won their sixth straight game last night against the Los Angeles Lakers 115-110.

This wasn’t just any ole Los Angeles Lakers. This Lakers team features LeBron James, the best all-around player in the NBA and one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball. The Lakers also have rising stars Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and an NBA standout Lance Stephenson from Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School. Even with this firepower and James leading all scorers with 36 points, the Lakers were no match for the Brooklyn Nets.

Within two minutes, the Nets put their stake in the ground when Nets center Jarrett Allen blocked a dunk by LeBron James, leading to shockwaves around the NBA. Allen, only in his second year in the NBA, is now the eighth player to block James, a four-time NBA MVP. James has 1,850 dunk attempts and has only nine denials. Let that sink in for a minute.

So what was going through Jarrett Allen’s mind when he attempted to block LeBron James’ dunk?

“He came down the lane and it was just going up to contest the shot,” Allen said matter-of-factly. “It’s LeBron (James), so I had to go up with some extra emphasis, and then I ended up getting it.”

So, let’s get inside the head of a 20-year-old going up to contest LeBron James.

“I’m going to say my quote growing up: ‘Either way, you’re going to be on the highlight.’ If you go up and you block it, you’re going to be on the highlight. You get dunked on, you’re going to be on the highlight. So just go up and protect the rim,” Allen added.

Talk about fearless! This kid is greatness in the making. Allen recorded eight rebounds along with two steals and two blocked shots.

D’Angelo Russell is another young man coming into his own. This was the first opportunity that Russell was available to play against the Lakers since they traded him to Brooklyn. And, of course, the general consensus is that a player in this situation is always ready to turn up.

When asked the question, Russell responded: “No. Honestly, the crowd was electric in there. You could feel it. The Lakers were in town, so we wanted to give them a run.”

“He hurt us,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton, said about D’Angelo Russell. “He’s a talented player, and we know that. When we forced him right and we were up shocking the ball I thought we did a pretty good job on him. When we let him dance and get to his left, he hurt us. Give him credit. He had a big-time game tonight. That’s why this team (Brooklyn) has won six games in a row. They have a lot of different guys that can hurt you.”

Russell led all Nets players with 22 points, 13 assists, and four rebounds. If you still think Russell wanted to prove something to the Lakers, then you might as well spread that thought over the entire Nets team, as six of the nine players in the rotation scored in double digits. Starters Joe Harris, aka “Joey Buckets,” tallied 19 points and four rebounds; and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson registered 17 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Spencer Dinwiddie, who led the Nets’ second unit, recorded 18 points and six assists; Jared Dudley and DeMarre Carroll each chipped in 13 points with five and three rebounds respectively.

When Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson looks at this win against the Lakers he sees a “Team victory”.

“Everybody that came in contributed. I thought Jared Dudley was huge making smart plays at the end of the game. DeMarre (Carroll) was good. I thought everybody that came in – that’s the only way you have a chance to beat this team, is if everybody plays well, and I thought they did.”

Looking at the two other Lakers’ scoring leaders, Lonzo Ball, who was sort of a laughing stock in his rookie season mainly because of his father LaVar Ball, and the way he shot the ball, contributed 23 points, six rebounds and, three assists. Kyle Kuzma tallied 22 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists.

Next stop for the Lakers is New Orleans, as they will go against the Pelicans on Friday, December 21, 2018.

For the Nets, they have a back-to-back; they face the Chicago Bulls tonight in Chicago at 8:00 p.m. The Nets are also at home on Friday, December 21, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. to play the Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Nets host more than basketball, the game featured Russian Culture Night and a welcome back to Brooklyn for Lance Stephenson 

On a game night when the Brooklyn Nets hosted an Evening of Russian Culture, the team needed a fourth-quarter rush to prevail for its sixth straight victory over the scorching Indiana Pacers, who came in on this late Sunday night riding its own four-game winning streak. These two streaking teams could possibly see each other in the playoffs. Way too early to say, but right now if the playoffs started today the Nets would be the fourth seed and the Pacers would be the third seed. Also, the Nets and Pacers present great match-ups of all-star caliber players Joe Johnson vs. Paul George and Brook Lopez vs. Roy Hibbert.

This was no ordinary night at the Barclays Center, there was a great team matchup inter-weaved with two big stories: Russian Culture Night and the homecoming of Lance Stephenson.

Russian Culture Night envisioned by Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the Barclay's Center was packed with thousands of Russian-Americans waving the Russian flag. Among the Russians highlighted this night were Oleg Kolomyets who brought a lot of energy introducing the players on both teams and Alexander Markov, a violinist, who did a stunning job with the American National Anthem and at the halftime show with a glow-in-the-dark violin and bow performance.

The other half of the biggest story of the night was the homecoming of one of the most successful New York City high school basketball players in PSAL history. Pacers starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson of Abraham Lincoln High School was coming into Barclays with a season-high 39 minutes, 17 points, and four steals in a win against the Bobcats. Stephenson's improved play definitely caught the attention of Brooklyn Nets Interim Head Coach PJ Carlesimo who clearly knows a lot about New York City players. After all, Carlesimo played college ball at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY and he coached men's college basketball at Wagner College on Staten Island. At the pregame press conference, P.J. Carlesimo illustrated his knowledge about Lance and the history of New York City basketball.

"I have followed Lance Stephenson a lot," said Coach Carlesimo. "He has really improved from last year. He has really matured doing the little things that are helping his team win games."

"I recall not only watching the PSAL, and CHSAA but also the CYO leagues. Brooklyn is a big city they also have talent that even pre-dates me, Billy Cunningham, and Connie Hawkins," Coach Carlesimo added.

Unfortunately, due to a re-aggravated toe injury in the first quarter, Lance Stephenson's storied homecoming was short-lived, as he only played six minutes. However, taking the spotlight was tri-state area star, Teaneck, NJ David West of the Pacers who was coming off his first career triple-double (14,12,10). West gave the Nets problems for the first three quarters. West had 23 points at the end of the third quarter keeping the Nets down by six.

Nevertheless, the fourth quarter was an entirely different story for Nets.

Защита is Russian for defense and it was chanted over the surround sound at the Barclays Center, which seemed to help the Nets defense. The defense then sparked the offense, which guided the Nets turnaround. P.J. Carlesimo sent a furious double team commanded by Kris Humphries to shut down West. Pacers could not adjust and ended up shooting three for twenty-two in the fourth quarter prompting a 17-0 run by the Nets. A strong fourth quarter performance by the Nets big three, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez really put Brooklyn over the top scoring 22, 20, and 15 (ten in the fourth quarter) respectively. All three players talked about how they are starting to gel which allows them to be more aggressive.

With a final game score of Nets 97 – Pacers 86, the Nets have no time to rest. On Tuesday, January 15, it faces the team in which it grand opened the Barclays Center--- the Toronto Raptors. The Nets look to extend its winning streak to seven and improve to 9-1 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Nets get a new arena in Brooklyn, a city with a long history of basketball and across the river from the iconic MSG

Admit it. Most of you newly minted Brooklyn Nets fans were not shouting for Deron Williams and company in the Prudential Center when they ended their 2011-2012 NBA season, winning 22 of 66 games total.

But that's okay; new city, new team, new fans and oh... a new coach, right? You're entitled to jump on the bandwagon.

It may be too early to decide whether or not the city of Brooklyn has accepted the Nets as their home team. However, it's quite evident that the NBA has already made a rivalry between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks. The Nets continue to prove themselves as a lead contender in the Eastern Conference, with an even 2-2 record with New York. But in my opinion, the rivalry is a bit over-hyped.

Don't get me wrong, Brooklyn has raw talent; Joe Johnson is probably one of the most underrated and under-appreciated guards in the league. Brook Lopez, a great scorer, averaging 18.6 points this season so far, is still justifying Shaq's thoughts on him being better than Dwight Howard. Hopefully, if Deron Williams doesn't whisk away another coach, maybe he can lead this team to a Division championship.

MAYBE.

But for a Brooklyn girl, like myself, the tale of these two teams is more than just a bridge between boroughs; it's about two iconic territories: The Garden and The Barclays Center. Brooklyn has history, but Madison Square Garden is historic.

Every kid in New York City aspired to play at The Garden. Since 1903, The Garden has hosted the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) basketball championships. In New York City, Brooklyn is legendary for basketball, producing an epic list of high school basketball players, such as Lenny Wilkins; Fly Williams; Bernard King; Albert King; Connie Hawkins; World B. Free; Chris Mullins; Mark Jackson; Billy Cunningham; Mike Dunleavy; Stephon Marbury; Sebastian Telfair; Gary Forbes; Lance Stephenson; and Epiphanny Prince.

In a recent interview, Telfair said regarding playing for the Brooklyn Nets one day, "I would love to if the opportunity comes, I think I would, I'm from here. I think before I get out of the league, I think I'd give it a shot."

I mean, who wouldn't want to play for Brooklyn? More than just an NBA team, it is home for many of us. Smack dead in the middle of Brooklyn, Barclays is surrounded by at least 10 high schools that are within walking distance:

Brooklyn Technical High School
Brooklyn HS of the Arts
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School
Pacific High School
ACORN Community High School
Metropolitan Corporate Academy High School
Berkeley Carroll School
Benjamin Banneker Academy
International High School at Prospect Heights
Brooklyn School for Global Studies

The Nets' new home has paved a path for a restructured city and bigger dreams for city kids. A dream for a city kid is right--you can even take in a view of the practice court by stopping into Starbucks at the Barclays Center.

Even "go-hard" Spike Lee, raised in Brooklyn thinks Barclays "is great for Brooklyn." (Don't count on him ever rooting for Brooklyn though.)

I'm actually looking forward to the future of Brooklyn and the Nets. Once the hype dies down between the Nets and the Knicks, hopefully, Brooklyn can re-establish a tone for basketball, and maybe even street ball.

Let's thank Jay-Z for that.

Lance Stephenson helps Indiana Pacers overwhelm New York Knicks for a shot at the NBA Eastern Conference Finals

For the umpteenth time, the New York Knicks have disappointed basketball fans all across the world when they were defeated by the Indiana Pacers, 106-99 in Indianapolis on Saturday. Despite New York’s once again failed attempt to make it to an NBA Conference finals game, the city continues to shine with one Brooklyn-native hero, Lance Stephenson.

Stephenson carried the Pacers on his back throughout Game 6 and scored a career-high 25 points. The 22-year-old third-year professional basketball player who was drafted in 2010 as a freshman at the University of Cincinnati seems to have never forgotten the city he came from. On his Twitter page, his background image is the backdrop of his neighborhood--Coney Island.

Three years ago Larry Bird, the former Pacers president saw something special in the then-19-year-old young man out of college and decided to draft the guard, giving him the perfect balance of tough love, structure, and discipline.

A year ago, Stephenson a protege of Lincoln High School in Brooklyn was considered a joke and an immature basketball player. During a semifinal conference game against Miami last year, television cameras caught Stephenson redhanded--mimicking a choke hold sign at Lebron James.

But even in the midst of his boyish tactics, Bird still believed in Stephenson and treated him like a son.

“I'm so blessed I want to thank GOD, my family, my kids, my team, LARRY BIRD, Pacers fans and everyone that believed in me. Thanks,” Stephenson tweeted on Saturday.

Bird’s faith in Stephenson has gone a long way as he will join his team in attempting to defeat the reigning national champions. Indiana will play Miami Wednesday evening.

After surrendering two straight to the likes of Washington and a heartbreaker in the city of brotherly love, the Brooklyn Nets failed to enter the win column, dropping their third straight to an Eastern Conference powerhouse, the Indiana Pacers 103-86.

The Nets continue to regress and now sport an overall regular season record of 9-18.

Any time these two teams match-up, a grind it out possession by possession game is to be expected, due to the half-court offensive styles these two teams execute, and that's what occurred tonight...... until Indiana's perimeter swingman Paul George and shooting guard Lance Stephenson decided to end the competitive tango.

Nets and Pacers Keep It Close Early

George and Stephenson combined for 52 points, with George scoring 26 points, grabbing six boards and dishing five assists; while Stephenson enjoyed his Junior's cheesecake, as the Brooklyn native was cooking in his environment recording 26 points, cleaning the glass with seven rebounds and also promoting the fact that sharing is caring dropping 5 dimes, all while establishing that he is one of the best two-way shooting guards in this league.

A close game early, as both teams subjected each other to poor offensive execution ending the first quarter with the Pacers leading by a deuce to the Nets 17; the Pacers took control of this game in the second and put it out of reach in the 3rd, accumulating their highest advantage over the Nets up to 24 points.

At the end of the half the Nets only trailed by six, 39 to the Pacers 45, but the increase in defensive pressure by the Pacers halted the Nets and their offensive success, as they exploded out of the intermission period on a 15-4 run solidifying their control on the game, as well as, hitting the 70 point mark on a 4-foot made jump-shot by Pacers forward Ian Mahinmi with 4:09 remaining in the 3rd period to the Nets 47 points.

If their frustrations weren't conspicuous regarding the overall game itself, Nets forward Paul Pierce's flagrant foul on starting Pacers point guard George Hill served as evidence with 4:22 remaining in the 3rd quarter when Hill stole a bad pass by Nets guard Joe Johnson and embarked on a one man fast-break only to be met by a close line by Pierce targeting Hills neck which ultimately led to his ejection.

To begin the fourth quarter, the Nets announcer addressed the sellout crowd of 17,732 in attendance, engaging and encouraging them to lift the Nets emotionally and "STAND UP," as he articulated through the loud speaker, which served no purpose as the fans stood and the Nets remained seated.

Every opportunity and threat the Nets posed was deflected by stellar defensive play by the Pacers, who accomplished this feat albeit missing their defensive anchor and last line of defense in starting Center Roy Hibbert due to foul trouble.

Nets guards Deron Williams had 9 points and 8 assists; Joe Johnson scored 17 points; and off the bench, guard and journeyman Jason Terry provided a spark totaling 11 points with 8 coming within the 4th quarter.

As Terry connected for two back-to-back three's with 5 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter reducing the Nets deficit to 18 points, 98-77, Stephenson answered with a three of his own pushing the lead back to 21, 98-77.

He was having one of those nights playing in front of his home crowd, an individual home game for Stephenson, as he posed with friends and family for pictures after the match had commenced.

In other words, Stephenson earned his Juniors Cheesecake, in a resounding and resonating fashion.

The return of Williams and Brook Lopez to the Nets lineup brought hope to the franchise which experienced tough times early in this season and the now loss of Lopez for the season creates even more of an uphill climb for the Nets to achieve respectability in a conference that has failed to live up to the hype which revolved around the celebrated pre-season player transactions.

The Nets will have to contribute down low on offense and defense by committee which means larger roles for Forward Kevin Garnett, rookie center Mason Plumlee, and Forward Andray Blatche.

The various injuries the Nets have been obligated to this year, I would think have served as a learning curve for first year head coach Jason Kidd forcing him to make intelligent in-game basketball decisions on a game-by-game basis.

Jason Terry Looking Forward

In the postgame festivities, Terry shared his thoughts on the overall state of the Nets.

"We're together," said Terry to media correspondents in the Nets locker-room.

"It's just a matter of us picking it up. If we have to get kicked in the butt whatever we have to do, we must pick it up," Terry added.

He even suggested their future Christmas day matinee with the Chicago Bulls.

"It's a great opportunity for a team to come up in here like Chicago, who's going to make you play hard each and every possession, all is not lost and we get another opportunity here at home on a special day and what better Christmas present to get than a win against the Bulls," Terry continued.

The Nets host the Bulls on Christmas Day and what follows is a pre-determined schedule that could influence the Nets franchise to make some drastic changes. After the Bulls, the Nets will host a winnable game against the Milwaukee Bucks, and then the plot thickens the day after the Bucks match, at Indiana, at the San Antonio Spurs and at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

So long to the team who posed a possible threat to the Miami Heat; now they must modify the dreams of the front office and its billionaire owner from Russia with love, Mikhail Prokhorov. With their injuries, stars failing to perform at the highest level, and a first year coach struggling to find his way on Flatbush and Atlantic Avenue, the Nets need more than hope they need luck, in the toughest place to find it especially in the city that never sleeps, as everyone else is up searching for their own.

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