"The Hoops of Flatbush"
Flatbush Avenue, Kings County
Flatbush Avenue, Kings County
They're here! They saw! They conquered! Fuhgeddaboudit!
The Brooklyn Nets have arrived. Commissioner David Stern made the initial introduction to fans attending Barcalys Center for the first ever Brooklyn Nets basketball game and welcomed the Borough to the National Basketball Association. Members of the team were welcomed to town by former Bedford Avenue Bums players, Joe Pignatano, Ralph Branca, and a special appearance by Gil Hodges Jr. Brooklyn Dodgers jerseys and Brooklyn Nets jerseys were exchanged between old heroes and new. Deron Williams then addressed the home crowd. Both the Commissioner and Deron Williams made sure to make particular mention of all the area citizens who have undergone great hardships brought on by Hurricane Sandy.
The home crowd was also introduced to their new mascot, the Brooklyn Knight, defender of the court and all things Nets. Then after player intro's, it was game time. As expected, the Nets starting five consisted of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams in the back court. Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, and Kris Humphries were the starting forwards. The Nets, sporting their home whites for the first time, took to their new hearing-bone patterned court. And once Brook Lopez won the opening tip, the Hoops of Flatbush had begun.
Appropriately, Deron Williams scored the first two points of the night. When Brook Lopez grabbed an early offensive rebound, drew a foul, and scored the bucket, the crowd erupted. However, the Nets got off to a somewhat slow start in the first quarter. Toronto jumped out to an early eight point lead. After a quarter, the Nets were behind by a 35-27 score.
The Nets evened things up 38-38 on a pair of MarShon Brooks free-throws midway through the second quarter, then pulled away. C.J. Watson closed out the half by nailing a three-pointer at the buzzer to put Brooklyn ahead by eight points. Brooklyn led 60-52 at halftime.
Coach Avery might have been peeved over the initial defensive effort in which they allowed thirty five points. But the Nets tightened up in the second quarter and limited the Raptors to seventeen points.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with fourteen first half points. C.J. Watson scored thirteen off the bench. Deron Williams led the team with six assists, and scored six points. Reggie Evans came off the bench and led all players with five rebounds. Kris Humphries, Lopez, and Joe Johnson pulled down three apiece. Brooklyn's bench had a strong half with twenty three points.
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The Nets opened the third quarter by extending their lead to ten points on a sweet layup by Brook Lopez off a Gerald Wallace feed. Midway through the quarter, the Nets were still cruising with a 75-66 lead.
Toronto made a run towards the end of the third quarter and at 79-74, closed within five points of Brooklyn. Getting quality minutes in the third quarter, Andray Blatche had eight points in ten minutes played. However, he missed one of two free throws, and turned over the ball within a minute of each other. After three complete sessions, Brooklyn's lead was down to four as the Raptors closed with 82-78 of the Nets. Then at eighty-four points, the Nets went cold. When Toronto scored at 8:46 to make it a 84-83 game, Coach Avery called time out.
MarShon Brooks brought the Nets to ninety points. Halfway through the quarter, Toronto was still close as they trailed by a mere three points. Kris Humphries started exerting himself under the boards, and on the other end, MarShon scored again.
Brook Lopez was the only Nets player to get to the line with any kind of consistency. And he visited the stripe for the twelfth time with less than five minutes left. He nailed both shots to make it a 94-89 game with 4:45 to go. The Nets went cold again, failing to score for over two minutes allowing Toronto to pull within two. At 94-92, and with possession at 2:14, Coach Avery called another timeout.
C.J. Watson hit a big shot out of the break. That was his fourteenth and fifteenth points of the night. Gerald Wallace then took his turn playing strong on the boards. He gave the Nets a five point lead hitting one of two free throws. But Toronto came back with a three-pointer. With a minute left, Wallace fed Brook Lopez, who hit for two and buried another shot from the line to give the Nets a 100-95 lead with fifty nine seconds left.
Gerald Wallace then went down hard after blocking a shot with 27.7 left. He rolled his ankle and temporarily stayed in the game. Coach Avery called a full time out after Toronto converted at the line, to make it a 101-97 game. Gerald Wallace's strong night was over however, as he left the floor after the timeout.
Joe Johnson made the score 103-97 with 26.1 left. But Toronto responded with another three-pointer. With twenty seconds left and Humphries and Brook Lopez on the bench, Deron Williams sank two shots from the line to make it a 105-100 game. Toronto launched a three point attempt that careened out of bounds. The Nets then drew a foul on the possession with ten seconds left. Deron Williams buried another two shots.
A change of possession, and then..., Game! The Brooklyn Nets win their first ever professional basketball game as a member club of the National Basketball Association. As Ralph Cramden would say - How Sweet It Is!
* * * *
Brook Lopez led Nets scorers with twenty seven points. He pulled down five rebounds. Reggie Evans was key off the bench pulling down a game high thirteen rebounds. The Nets out-rebounded Toronto 41-37 with five players contributing at least five apiece.
Five Nets players also scored in double digits. After Brook Lopez, Deron Williams dropped nineteen points, and led the team with nine assists. C.J. Watson was tremendous off the bench. He scored fifteen points. Joe Johnson scored fourteen points and Gerald Wallace added ten before leaving.
Brook Lopez ended the night 11/15 from the line. Deron Williams buried late free throws to put the Raptors to bed. He finished 6/8 from the stripe.
Rookies Mirza Teletovic, Tyshawn Taylor, and Tornike Shengelia did not play.
It took a few days. But the crowd was electric all the same. Let's Go Nets was the chant, but Broook - Lynnn! was the anthem of the night. This what home sounds like fellas. It's been a long wait. But you're finally here.
The Borough of Kings has a team.