Posts Tagged ‘Brook Lopez’

Horry Scale: Johnson’s Dagger Wins It For Nets


VIDEO: Joe Johnson banks it in from beyond the arc as the buzzer sounds

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Admittedly, this was not the sort of scenario with which Robert Horry typically was associated. A fellow who became synonymous with clutch postseason shots would seem to have nothing in common with a pair of NBA cellar dwellers. The Denver Nuggets, in 11th place in the Western Conference, were in Brooklyn to take on the Nets, the East’s 14th place club. Combined, the team were 36 games under .500 when the night’s action began.

They remained 36 games underwater when the night was over (funny how the math works), but there was at least the drama of Joe Johnson, Brooklyn’s veteran sharpshooter, drilling a 3-pointer as time ran out to boost his club past Denver, 105-104.

That outcome might not have quickened Horry’s pulse the way it does when he polishes his seven NBA championship rings, but it did link him in another chapter of All-Ball’s Horry Scale. For those unfamiliar with the tradition, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation, importance and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, whom our own Fran Blinebury refers to as “the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.”

We’ve already made clear this was a pretty humdrum matchup between teams stuck in standings mud, though the Nuggets remain a cut above the dismal Nets. So we’ll focus on the remaining categories:

DIFFICULTY: The clock was not Joe Johnson’s friend, and neither was his location on the floor. Only 1.3 seconds remained when teammate Merkel Brown inbounded the ball. Johnson had broke to the top from down in the paint, his defender, Denver’s Danilo Gallinari, trailing a step or so behind. Johnson took the pass, had time for a quick rhythm dribble and one step to his left, then launched from 27 feet. The ball banged in off the glass, a nice touch but hardly flukey. Johnson is a professional gunner, after all, and has hit similar shots hundreds of times, if not always as buzzer-beaters.

GAME SITUATION:  There had been some drama here late in an otherwise lackluster game. Brook Lopez‘s work under the rim had tied it 102-102 with more than a minute left, and then Denver missed two long jumpers while Brooklyn had only a turnover (nice steal by Nuggets guard Gary Harris) to show for most of the final minute. A 50-50 ball had forced a jump between Kenneth Faried and Lopez that the Nuggets won. Then, with 4.7 seconds left, Denver inbounded to Faried, who bolted toward the basket and launched a running jumper from about six feet. That had the Nuggets up 104-102 with first 0.9 seconds left, adjusted via replay to 1.3.

CELEBRATION: Johnson looked happy, a nice in-the-moment reaction to what generally has been a bummer season for the seven-time All-Star. He is shooting just 40 percent, is scoring at his lowest rate (12.4 points per 36 minutes) since his 2001-02 rookie season and has bandied about the “buyout” word as a way to exit the Nets gracefully while preserving what’s left on his $24.9 million salary for this season. There was an announced crowd of 13,043 on hand at Barclays Center to witness Johnson’s bank shot. And yes, that was Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov caught by the cameras, in a luxury suite high above the court, high-fiving his guests.

GRADE:  The shot was sweet in a season short on highlights for Brooklyn, but the blah backdrop – two teams headed nowhere, unrepresented in the All-Star Game next Sunday in Toronto – was too much to lift this one beyond two Horrys.

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Brook and Robin Lopez battle with lightsabers

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We know the Lopez brothers have an appreciation for science fiction and nerd culture, so what better way to have Brook and Robin Lopez promote the upcoming game matching their two teams, the Knicks and the Nets, than by giving the bros a couple of lightsabers and having them go at it? I love this so much, mostly because they get so into it and are clearly intensely focused on winning the imaginary lightsaber battle…


VIDEO: Lopez lightsabers

Brook Lopez nerds out over his Star Wars bobblehead

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve done plenty about of stories here about Knicks center Robin Lopez and his love for nerd culture. Well, his twin brother Brook may not be as outspoken about it, but turns out he’s just as nerdy. Check out this video from the Brooklyn Nets, where Brook is shown for the first time his upcoming Star Wars-themed bobblehead. Some of the things Brook talks about, off the cuff, include lightsaber colors, padawan braids, carrot sticks…it’s all really happening in this video…


VIDEO: Lopez bobblehead

Mascots turn to psychological warfare in battle against Robin Lopez

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We’ve dutifully chronicled the story of Portland’s Robin Lopez and his long-running hatred of mascots. These furry friends have tried their best to make nice, but Robin just keeps bringing the pain to mascots around the NBA.

The mascots have attempted to squash their beef with Robin Lopez, even organizing a staring contest, thus far with no luck.

So last night, Cleveland’s mascot, Moondog, struck a blow for mascots (and against Robin Lopez), perhaps driving a wedge between the Lopez twins by buddying up to Robin’s brother, Brook

If the mascots can’t get Robin on their side, perhaps they can at least cause a schism within the Lopez family and cause psychological trouble? A strategic masterstroke from the mascots? A one-time letdown from Brook?

We’ll keep following this story …

Brook Lopez really wants to be in the new ‘Star Wars’ movie

By Jeff Case

Among NBA players who are in-tune with comic book culture and things some might consider nerdy, Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez is considered a go-to source (as he’s proven over in naming The Avengers, playing a round of Nerdsketball and more).

But, don’t overlook his twin brother, Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets, on having strong opinions on pop culture/comic book-type stuff, too.

According to Fred Katz of Bleacher Report, Brook Lopez said he wants to play a wookie in the next Star Wars movie:

Only one of the Lopez brothers could spend an extended period of time debating the merits of Bane as well as launching into an in-depth discussion about Darth Vader.

Vote: Who had the better block, Noel or Lopez?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s election day here in the United States, so let’s have a poll that allows everyone to vote. This all started last night when I was at the Nets/Thunder game, and Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez made a nice play blocking an alley-oop attempt from OKC’s Lance Thomas. You can watch that play here…


VIDEO: Lopez Block

Moments later, via Twitter, those of us in the media seats saw another nice block, this one from Philly’s Nerlens Noel on a drive against James Harden. You can watch that play here…


VIDEO: Noel Block

(Also, just for what it’s worth, I had nothing to do with that play being labeled as the “Block Of The Night.”)

At some point later in the evening, I got into a discussion on Twitter with my NBA Digital co-workers Jared Greenberg and Brent Barry about which play was the better block. (I also roped The Brooklyn Game’s Devin Kharpertian into the mix.)

So, let’s get out the vote. I have tried to describe both plays as plainly as possible so as to avoid any accusations of voter fraud or polling place chicanery from Mr. Greenberg.

You’ve seen both plays, now please make your selection…

Robin Lopez Loves Nerd Culture, Hates Raptors Mascot

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I knew Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez was a big fan of comic books, mostly because last year I played an Avengers video game against Brook…


VIDEO: Brook Vs. Lang

Yesterday, in an interesting interview with the Portland newspaper Willamette Week, Brook’s twin brother and Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez spoke about his enduring love for many facets of geek culture. (And to be fair, any NBA player with expansive knowledge of The Goonies is automatically on my good side.)

Some interesting factoids from the interview…

• His favorite ride at Disneyland? “Pirates of the Caribbean, by far. It’s the best re-creation of reality they’ve done so far. There’s a storyline, and it kind of gets lost. They did such a great job of putting subtle themes in the ride. Everything’s very deliberate. But it is also very natural, very chaotic in its own sense. There’s something perfect about that, and it’s not been topped.”

• The highlight of his own comic book collection? “I do have a complete run of Teen Titans from their first print to Secret Origins to now, even though I’m not a big fan of the Essential series. I’m kind of just collecting out of the completist sense.”

• His least favorite NBA mascot? “The Toronto Raptor. I wish we could go back to Toronto, because he gets my goat. I have a few choice words for that guy.” (When asked if he cared to expound on that, Lopez answered, “No. He knows.”)

Horry Scale: Joe Knows


VIDEO: Joe Johnson Does It Again

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s late at night, I’ve got one full day of vacation staring me in the face, and before I drift off to bed, I’m thinking about the last few things I’d like to accomplish (a long nap tomorrow, not doing chores, etc.) before heading back to the blizzard in NYC. And then Joe Johnson does it again. The Brooklyn Nets needed a win in the worst way, and who better to turn to than Joe Cool?

I know we usually air these posts out a bit, but this one is going to be a bit more to the point, because, you know, vacation. But before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.

One other thing before we move on: I’ve received a few emails from Blazers fans and Thunder fans wondering why I had not done Horry Scale posts for their teams when Lillard and Westbrook have hit game-winners. My reasoning is sound: Those guys have hit game-winners, yes, but they both left tenths of a second on the clock. And as we all know from reading the rules above, we are looking for shots with 0.0 remaining on the clock.

Which leads us to Joe Johnson…

DIFFICULTY
The toughest part of Joe’s game winner was having the 6-10ish Serge Ibaka guarding him. But the rest of the shot was the same kind of shot Joe’s been knocking down his entire pro career. He inbounded the ball to Kevin Garnett, who handed it back to Joe, and then you can see all the other Nets clear out of the way and just let Joe do his thing. I’ve often said that if Joe Johnson were in a one-on-one contest against any other NBA player, I think he’d fare pretty well, because he’s terrific at using his dribble and his size to nearly always get his shot off. And this instance was no exception.

GAME SITUATION
More like season situation. The Nets have famously been something of a mess this season, and the recent season-ending injury to Brook Lopez led to many thinking it was time to put the final fork in the Nets (if we hadn’t already). So to say they needed a win not just on this night but to give life to their season is no understatement. And I’m pretty sure nobody thought that win would come on the road, against the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder.

CELEBRATION
Rowdy. Even moreso than on Johnson’s previous game-winner this season. Of course, even though this isn’t an overtime finish, the Nets probably have more at stake now than they did a few weeks back. They’ve been knocked down, but they got up again.

GRADE
We’ve had a run of 4 Horry scores of late, and I think it’s time to break that streak. While the shot over the bigger defender was impressive, it was a basic jumper in a one-on-one setting. So I’m giving this three Horrys

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What say you? How many Horrys does Joe Johnson’s GWBB deserve?

Horry Scale: Evan Almighty


VIDEO: Turner’s Game Winner

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — And the hits just keep on coming. It feels like it was just yesterday that I wrote about this flurry of game-winning buzzer-beaters (GWBBs) that we’ve seen of late. (That’s because it was just yesterday that I wrote about this flurry of game-winning buzzer-beaters (GWBBs) that we’ve seen of late.) The news never stops, you guys.

Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain: What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.

With the rules in place, tonight we look to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, where Evan Turner doesn’t care how many Horry Scale entries it takes to get a win for the Sixers…

DIFFICULTY
In terms of the shot itself, it goes down in the game log as “Turner Driving Layup Shot.” But in actuality it was so much more. Evan Turner is actually the player who inbounded the ball on this play. Sixers C Spencer Hawes released away from the basket and caught the lob pass, at which point Turner took off on a sprint. He ran to Hawes for a dribble hand-off and basically used Hawes as a pivot point, U-turning back in toward the rim. At this point the Nets had two guys on Turner — Brook Lopez and Shaun Livingston. Turner adroitly gives a little hesitation and then fires down to the left block for a layup. Just as Turner leaves his feet, Paul Pierce slides in and takes the contact from Turner. Is this a charge? Is it a block? We’ll leave that for Joe Borgia, because in this case it’s officially neither: No call is made. Turner releases the ball with about 1.4 seconds remaining. The ball then bounces around the rim, kissing the iron three different times as the clock expires, before finally dropping through for the 121-120 Sixers win. It wasn’t a long shot, but there were many things that broke Philly’s way on the play.

GAME SITUATION
Not only was the game in overtime, but Pierce had hit a three-pointer a few seconds earlier to put Brooklyn ahead 120-119. With six seconds left to play in overtime, the Sixers had to inbound the ball under their own basket. Inbounding the ball under the basket is always tough — the backboard itself limits several passing angles that would be available from any other spot on the court. The play the Sixers came up with, which we broke down above, was pretty great — the Nets obviously didn’t expect Hawes to be the target on the play, and once Hawes had the ball, the Sixers used a sneaky backscreen to free Turner. Also worth noting is that the Sixers had lost seven straight games coming into this one and are about to leave on a six-game road trip to the West Coast. So not only did they need the win, but losing their eighth straight in an overtime game would have made things even more difficult to stomach.

CELEBRATION
I counted nine members of the Sixers who get involved in the initial celebration, mobbing Turner. That’s seventy-five percent of the night’s active roster, an important threshold to hit for our grading purposes. I feel like the celebration was also a bit subdued because whenever there’s a GWBB where the shot is released so close to the buzzer, there’s always that moment of indecision where you’re not sure whether or not the shot will actually count until the referees review the replay. In this case it was rather obvious, but it’s not official until it’s official.

GRADE
I’m trying to go more with my gut on these, after I had to admit I underscored Jeff Green‘s season-opening shot. So for this shot, with the creative inbounds play, the contact on the shot, the dramatic bounces on the rim, the game being in overtime and the Sixers ending the seven-game L streak, I’m going with Four Horrys.

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What say you? How many Horrys would you give Evan Turner’s game-winning buzzer-beater?

NBA Behind The Scenes: The Photo Game (Part Two)

FOR PART ONE, CLICK HERE

BROOKLYN Earlier this week, I spent an evening shadowing Nathaniel Butler from NBA Photos as he photographed the Trail Blazers-Nets game in Brooklyn. During the game, Butler gave me a camera and let me shoot the action. What follows are some of the images I took that night, with my thoughts and comments below each picture. These pictures have not been cropped or color-corrected or anything else. This is what I shot … for better, or for, probably mostly, worse.

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As the Blazers took the floor to warm up directly in front of me, Nic Batum started hoisting 15-footers from the right wing. I picked up my camera, zoomed in a bit, half-pushed the button down to make sure the image was focused, and then fired off the shot. What I didn’t account for was that Batum would jump when he shot, so my photo chopped off his arms and the ball.

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Once the game started, sure enough the Nets ran a play to get Kevin Garnett a shot at the top of the key. I saw the play developing and as soon as KG caught the ball and squared up, I took this picture. Unfortunately, as you may notice, I managed to capture all of the players out of focus. But the basket support and the fans in the front rows are crystal clear. Also, terrific job by me to cut off the shot clock. (more…)