Posts Tagged ‘Brook Lopez’

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…)

Brooklyn Nets Bigs Battle For Three-Point Supremacy

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — People want to do things they are not designed to do, especially on the basketball court. For many shorter people, that may mean they obsess over dunking the basketball. For many tall people, they might want to become terrific perimeter shooters. This holds true in the NBA as well, where a running three-point title competition has developed between big men Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche. My favorite part is probably how Lopez casually mentions they needed a championship belt and so they had one made. So I’m thinking something perhaps worthy of WWE. And then moments later we see a shot of Blatche holding the belt, which turns out to be made from athletic wrap and a magic marker. I’m just hoping one of those guys tries to wear that in an actual game…
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Dance Off: Brooklyn Nets

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Footage has been unearthed from Media Day in Brooklyn, where for some reason everybody was dancing to “Cookie Dance” by Chip Chocolate. After watching these videos, I have to say Brook Lopez wins most improved dancer, even from earlier in the video. Also I think we can all agree that as a dancer, Reggie Evans is a good basketball player.
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Talk Show: Raymond Felton


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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Going into the the 2011-12 season, the Knicks saw popular point guard Jeremy Lin sign with Houston, and they replacedKnockout Blue:Pirate:Black him with Raymond Felton, a former Knick coming off a down season in Portland. While Lin and the Rockets had a nice season, Felton helped coalesce Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith and Tyson Chandler and lead the Knicks to a 54-28 record, their best since ’96-97, and into the second round of the playoffs. This season, Felton says the Knicks have their goals set a bit higher.

I caught up with Felton last week in New York City, where Felton was at an event for Under Armour to help launch its newest basketball shoe, the Anatomix Spawn (right), which he’ll wear this season.

ME: So, what are you doing this summer?

FELTON: I’ve just been training, working out. Trying to spend a little bit of time with family and friends, but for the most part, just really been grinding, just getting after it.

ME: No travel or vacation? You don’t get to take some time off?

FELTON: You know, only traveling I did, when the season ended and we lost, I went to the Bahamas for like four nights, and that’s it. I went to Vegas, but I don’t really count that because that was business. I went down there to watch the team play at Summer League, and I got some workouts in there. I stayed down there an extra week because my AAU Program was coming down to play in tournaments, so I stayed down there to do that. So really, vacation? I haven’t had any.

ME: When you say your AAU program, what do you mean?

FELTON: Team Felton. I’ve got like 5, 6 teams, a legit program.

ME: Is that something where when you played AAU as a kid, you thought, “One day I want to be able to sponsor a program and give other kids this opportunity”?

FELTON: Yeah. You know, the AAU business can be a real crooked business, and I hate to see kids get taken advantage of, man. So I just try to give back. I have a nephew who’s pretty good, so it started with his age group, and I’ve just added teams up from that. It’s been good, my team’s doing pretty good. My highest age group, which is his age group, they finished in the top eight in the country this year. The 14-and-under group, they finished fourth. My other young teams down there, they actually won nationals this year. It’s been pretty good, man.

ME: And are you in the stands cheering during the games?

FELTON: Yeah, I’m in the stands, trying to coach a little bit. You know, get on the referees when they’re making me mad, be like Mark Cuban a little bit. But it’s all fun. I just like to see the kids compete and then try to do the best they can.

ME: For a student of the game and fan of the game, what is it like being the point guard of the New York Knicks? Is it cool?

FELTON: It’s great, man. To be the point guard of the New York Knicks is like being the point guard of the University of North Carolina. When you put that jersey on, everybody will know who you are, everybody will recognize you. It’s a good feeling, it’s a good feeling. I feel like when you play here in the city of New York, if you play hard, they’ll love you. When you’re slacking, they’ll let you know. That’s one thing I do know about New York — these fans, they’ll let you know if you’re not playing up to the part. Which is a good thing.

ME: It’s kind of like Carolina, right? The standards are set pretty high.

FELTON: Yep. If you’re not playing up to the part, they’ll let you know. But it’s fun. I love it.

New York Knicks v Indiana Pacers - Game SixME: When the Knicks signed you last summer, a different point guard in the NBA, an All-Star, told me that he thought you would be the perfect fit for the Knicks, because the Knicks were a team with a lot of options and strong personalities, and you’d be able to sort of direct everything and take control.

FELTON: I feel like I’m somebody that Melo and those guys, they respect me. So if I tell them something, they’re not going to get mad, they’re not going to look at me crazy. They respect my game, they respect me as a point guard. I’m going to get you guys the ball. I know that you and JR need to score this basketball for us. I think those guys, they saw that last year, and this year there’s going to be even more of a respect level, because we had a good season as a team. So I think those guys respected me, just like I give them that same respect back. That’s a big part of having a good team — if you’ve got that respect for each other, it’s easy to play with each other.

ME: Last season you guys had a lot of new parts. How long did you feel like it took you guys to kind of get on the same page?

FELTON: It really took the preseason, and we really tried to click, and we got our bumps and bruises out of the way. Because when the season started, we were rolling.

ME: Right, you guys were red-hot, started 15-5.

FELTON: The biggest thing we wanted to do, we wanted to get off to a great start because we looked toward the end of the year, and our schedule was tough. But we ended up with that tough schedule killing it, won 13 in a row, with all those back-to-backs, back-to-backs, travel, travel. Just the mental toughness that we have a team, after all of that, as a team, and as individuals, and just how we trust and respect one another, I think that’s really big. If you trust and respect one another, I think that takes a team a long way.

ME: What’s it like playing with Carmelo Anthony? Because he’s such a great player, and he kind of gets overshadowed a bit by guys like LeBron or Kevin Durant. Even though he might be the best scorer in the NBA …

FELTON: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. Because he scores in so many ways. There’s a lot of guys who can score the basketball in this league. Kevin Durant, by far, is one of the top ones. Him and Melo could be neck-and-neck — those guys can score in a lot of ways. But Melo can score in more ways than KD, because Melo can post up, he can score off the dribble, he can score in the mid-range, he can score finishing at the rim, and he can shoot threes. You’re talking about a guy who has a total, complete game, and he’s big and strong — 6-8, big body, strong body. A lot of people like to talk about how he takes a lot of shots, this and that. Listen man: We need him to score. It gets maximized because if you’re having an off night and you take thirty-something shots, it’s like, “Aw man, he’s shooting too much.” If you’re having a great night, he’s got 40-something points and he took thirty-something shots, ain’t nobody saying nothing. I just tell him, “You do what we need you to do. As a team, we know what you’re going to do every night.” So we gotta adjust our games to that. Me as a point guard, I have to adjust my game to that. I hate when people say about him, “He takes too many shots.” People try to compare him and LeBron — two different games. Melo is who he is, LeBron is who he is. So I hate when they try to make those comparisons. You can’t say Larry Bird and Michael Jordan had the same game. They’re different, but they both got chips. Add Magic Johnson in there. Those guys all had totally, completely different games. But they all got rings. That’s all it is. I support Melo 100 percent. He knows that. We all do. And we want to continue to keep working and get better.

ME: You spent last season playing with Jason Kidd. What kind of coach do you think he’ll be this season in Brooklyn?

FELTON: I think he’ll be a great coach, but at the end of the day, he’s not going to have to do too mCharlotte Bobcats v New York Knicksuch coaching. He can do like Phil Jackson did — he might have drawn something up out of the timeouts, he might have talked about a couple of things during halftime, but Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, those guys ran the team, they made the game. You’ve got Deron Williams, one of the best point guards in the league, you’ve got Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, those guys understand the game and they’re veterans, so there’s not too much coaching you can do. But he’s going to be great for Deron. He was great for me last year. He made my game better. He made me look at a lot of things a whole lot differently, as far as on the court and off the court. So mentally, he’s going to be great for D, without a doubt. He’s going to make him better mentally, and make him better when he’s on the court. The team themselves? Really, they’re going to be fine on their own. As far as a coach, he’s going to be a great coach. A guy who knows the game the way he does, played the game at the level he played, he’s going to be a great coach. Especially as a point guard, because as a point guard you have to understand every position. Say a coach has 50 plays, you’ve got to know 50 plays, but you’ve got to know every position for every play. That’s something a lot of people don’t understand. So he knows every position. It’s going to take him time to get used to going from playing last year to being a head coach this year, but I think overall he’s going to be a great coach.

ME: I live in Manhattan and I know people in the city and the boroughs love the Knicks. But the last few years, with the move to Brooklyn, it feels like people are starting to talk a little more about the Nets. But do you feel like this is still a Knicks town?

FELTON: Oh, without a doubt. I still feel like it. We’ve still got New York on our chest. We’re still the New York Knicks. We’re still the city’s team, without a doubt. Brooklyn can do whatever, and we’re still going to be the city’s team. There’s nothing like having New York on your chest. Brooklyn is going to be a good team, and I think it’s good for the city, for the state, to have the Nets in Brooklyn. It’s going to be a good, big rivalry, well talked about, which is great. I’m loving it. I don’t care that they’re here — I’m happy they’re here, actually. It’s going to be fun.

ME: So this season is just weeks away now — what are your expectations for the Knicks?

FELTON: Same thing as last year. I feel like we should grow and try to capitalize on what we did last year. We didn’t finish the postseason as well as we wanted, but as far as the season that we had, we had over 50 wins, we won our division, finished second in the East. That says a lot right there, we had a great year. Best season we’ve had in 13 years. So we’ve got to capitalize on that, try to get better from there.

ME: And how do you get better from there?

FELTON: As far as the overall season, all you can do is win more games. (Laughs.) There’s nothing else you can really do as far as that. In the postseason, that’s the biggest thing for us. You’ve got to take care of those 82 games, but if you do that and advance to the postseason, we’ve got to try and advance further than we did last season, and get past that second round, get to the Eastern Conference Finals, and go from there. One step at a time. I feel like if we do better than we did last year, it’s an overall successful year. But it’s one step at a time, one game at a time.

Benny The Bull Gets Jumped By Brooklyn Nets

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER – One of the NBA’s most venerable mascots is Benny the Bull, Chicago’s longtime fuzzy cheerleader. And as part of being an NBA mascot, it is important to have no fear of the opposition, as saw earlier this season with Denver’s Rocky and Russell Westbrook.

Just because we’re in the postseason, the mascot’s responsibilities don’t change. With the Brooklyn Nets in Chicago over the weekend for Game 4 of the Playoffs, Benny the Bull wandered onto the Nets’ end of the floor during pregame warmups. We’re not sure what Benny was doing out there, but if he was looking for a rumble, he found one at the hands of Brook Lopez and several of his teammates…
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Three For All: New Jersey Nets II

by Micah Hart



As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.

With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the New Jersey Nets, who played three straight from Feb. 18-20.

This hasn’t been the best season for the Nets. In a season full of injuries, they’ve been perhaps the most afflicted, suiting up the minimum eight healthy bodies for several games. They put up only 2 points in their first three for all challenge, and that is mainly because they got to play one of the only teams worse than they are. Playing this threeplay would be just leading lambs to the slaughter, right?

Game 1: Nets 97, Bulls 85 - Say what? Yeah that’s right. The Nets, behind 29 points from Deron Williams and a huge 24 and 18 rebounds from the guy you love to hate, Kris Humphries, came into the United Center and put it on the Bulls, jumping out to a 34-19 lead after one and never looking back. The Bulls were without Derrick Rose, but still — they’d only lost one home game all season before this spanking. Didn’t see this one coming. 3 points (1 for win, 1 for road, 1 for +10 margin)

Game 2: Bucks 92, Nets 85 - Naturally, after the road win in Chicago, the Nets returned to New Jersey and promptly lost to the Bucks, despite the season debut for center Brook Lopez (nine points and two rebounds in 12 minutes) Game ball goes to Bucks F Ersan Ilyasova, who had perhaps the most surprising stat line of the season with 29 points and 25 rebounds — and fouled out as well! -1 point

Game 3: Nets 100, Knicks 92 - Oh sure, the Nets go right into Madison Square Garden, overcome Linsanity and the return of Carmelo Anthony to drop the Knicks, who had only won eight of their last nine coming in. Makes perfect sense. I gotta say, people were dogging on D-Will for getting an All-Star nod, but let’s not forget how freakin’ talented this dude is. A career-high eight 3-pointers and a season-best 38 points stole the show in this one. 6 points (5 for win, 1 for road)

No question about it, this is the surprise result of the season in the three for all. 8 points for the Nets, impressive regardless but especially so considering who they beat. Tip o’ the cap.

Up next: The New Orleans Hornets play three straight Feb. 20-22.

Three for all Top Ten:
Miami Heat (15 points)
Chicago Bulls (13 points)
OKC Thunder (12 points)
New Jersey Nets II (8 points)
Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
Houston Rockets (7 points)
Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
L.A. Clippers (6 points)
Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)
Denver Nuggets I (6 points)

Full Three for all standings

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