Sean Marks is undefeated as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
Ultimately, the introduction of Marks would’ve made tonight a success in any sense. However, a convincing win against those cross-river rivals makes his debut even sweeter. Following a monumentally quiet trade deadline for the Nets, the rejuvenated team in white looked motivated to prove their hunger and abilities to the new man upstairs. However, they would run into a massive Kristaps-sized problem and, after a definitively quick start, were ground down by the combined efforts of Carmelo Anthony and the Latvian rookie sensation.
Fueled by the efforts of Markel Brown. Bojan Bogdanovic, and Thomas Robinson, three players who must treat the final 28 games as a tryout, the Nets’ second unit flustered the Knicks to the tune of steals, alley-oops, and three-pointers. After so many dreadful bench performances, this type of immediate effort might set another post-All-Star Break tone worth chasing down.
(Where have we heard that before?)
Brook Lopez, undoubtedly shaking off the cobwebs of a cat and comic book-filled week off, dominated the 2nd quarter with 13 points and caught fire like a dude happy not to be involved in trade rumors for the first time in 5 years. A scrappy effort stood in stark comparison to a sloppy 16-turnover performance as the Nets went on an extended 20-2 and pushed the lead as high as 14 in the late third.
Although fleetingly brief, it was not meant to last. After a missed Robinson alley-oop, Arron Afflalo three-pointer, and a couple of untimely turnovers, the Nets’ ballooning lead deflated to just 4. Just as the Knicks’ band of veterans looked like they might make something out of the game, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young, and Lopez put the kibosh on those sentiments with little resistance.
In the end, a healthy dose of Lopez down the stretch helped keep the Nets on the right side of a turnover battle they were actually winning. Thanks to some Lopez on Lopez crime and some crafty Chris Paul-like passing in the paint from the center, the Nets cruised to another double-digit lead.
This time, they wouldn’t let it go.
Man, who said that this Sean Marks guy wasn’t going to be a quick fix?
16 PTS, 6-8 FG, 1 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 TOV
This was Bojan’s “I’m glad you didn’t make me live in North Carolina” game.
Bogdanovic, the Nets’ only player to participate in this year’s All-Star Weekend, went just 2-6 in 16 minutes during the Rising Stars Challenge. Tonight, he responded in spades by hitting his first 4 shots, effectively keeping the Nets alive in the frantic 2nd quarter.
The bold guard even took it right at Porzingis on multiple occasions, looking as confident as we’ve seen him in quite some time.
We all could use a week on the beach, after all.
12 PTS, 4-9 FG, 6 REB, 6 AST, 3 TOV
Whether the Nets buy him out or he signs a multi-year extension, we’re glad that Joe Johnson has stuck it out this long. And while he struggled to guard Anthony through a slew of Lopez screens, he did nail a couple of massive buckets down the stretch.
Additionally, we’re thrilled to start a new field goal streak statistic — so here’s to the next 180, Joe.
13 PTS, 6-16 FG, 9 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL
Thaddeus Young was devoured by Porzingis on nearly three straight possessions early on, but, without fanfare or forcefulness, stuffed the stat sheet once again. Many wondered if the Nets should pull the trigger on a Young trade if it brought back a first-round pick — a fair argument, sure.
But even after just one game, it’s painfully obvious how bad this Nets team would miss an athlete like Young.
14 PTS, 5-8 FG, 10 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TOV
A very solid basketball game game from a solid basketball player against some very subpar-defending basketball players.
Other than Lopez, Sloan was Brooklyn’s offensive catalyst, using that spry athleticism to hit a couple threes, set up a handful of buckets, and speed by the likes of Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant.
33 PTS, 13-23 FG, 8 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 4 BLK
After a shaky start against his bushy-haired twin brother, Lopez heated up through a variety of offensive rebounds, push shots, and long twos. And, in a blink of an eye, it quickly went from one of those nights for Brook… to one of those nights for Brook!
If Lopez retired right now, would he be a first ballot “what business did he have taking that shot but somehow it went in” Hall of Famer? For a seven-footer that may appear stiff at first glance, Lopez has made some of the toughest shots I’ve ever seen look simply routine.
Lopez exhibited some of his sneaky good post passing, but his utter domination of his twin was why Brooklyn won tonight’s game. 13 points in the 2nd, 9 in the 3rd, and an overall 33-point effort worthy of the front pages.