The NBA: The Brooklyn Brawlers

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson make up the
All-Star-worthy Brooklyn backcourt.
(image by Elsa/Getty Images)
Last season, the New Jersey Nets were dismal. Heck, they’ve been dismal ever since Jason Kidd left in 2008. Their last winning record was back in the 2005-2006 season when they won 49 games and topped the Atlantic Division. The last time they tasted Playoff action was in 2007 when they beat Toronto in the first round and bowed to LeBron James’s Cavs in the second.

In the five seasons since that Playoff exit, the Nets have compiled 126 wins and 268 losses. The resulting winning percentage is a laughable 32%. Last year, only four other teams had worse records – Cleveland, New Orleans, Washington, and Charlotte.

This season, things are bound to change, or, to put it more precisely, things HAVE changed.

The most apparent change, of course, is cosmetic. The franchise is now known as the Brooklyn Nets. The logo design is almost all-black – sleeker and sharper than most other cluttered team sports logos. Their new arena, the Barclays Center, looks rusty from the outside, but is swanky inside.

The new playground for the Nets.
(image from
But there is a deeper, more promising, change – change brought about by the talent now perpetuating the roster. The Nets managed to keep Deron Williams, certainly one of the top five point guards in the world. They also kept a solid core composed of Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, and MarShon Brooks. Brook Lopez looks to be healthy. And, maybe the best move of all, they added Joe Johnson and CJ Watson to complement D-Will in the backcourt. Even if the Dwight Howard dream turned out to be a bust, I believe the Nets are looking at a return to the postseason. If they play their cards right, and barring major injuries, they might even be good enough to enjoy the homecourt edge in the first round. If, indeed, that happens, then we might see one of the biggest season-to-season turnarounds in recent memory.

Their first game this season was supposed to be against their cross-city rivals, the New York Knicks, but Sandy threw a wrench in those plans. Consequently, the Nets had to be content with opening their season against the Raptors.

Needless to say, the new-look Brooklyn brawlers (if you actually this WWE reference, then you’re too old) didn’t disappoint.

Steve Lombardi is no longer the only
brawler in Brooklyn!
(image from

Brook Lopez was solid offensively, scoring 27 points. His rebounding is still butt-awful (just 5 boards), but that’s why they have Humphries and journeyman Reggie Evans. Both bruisers paired up for 18 caroms. Gerald Wallace was his all-around self with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, while Deron remained in top form with 19 markers, and 9 dimes.  For their part, Johnson and Watson combined for 29 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 4 triples.

Things are finally looking up for the Nets. Change has come. They’re a force to be reckoned with again. Watch out because Brooklyn is hungry for some brawlin’.

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
Indiana 106, Sacramento 98 (2-OT)
Paul George scored 16 points and pulled down 17 rebounds and George Hill poured in 18 points and had eight rebounds and five assists to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 106-98 double-overtime win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. Gerald Green added 17 points and David West had 18 points and 18 boards for the Pacers, who fell to the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night. Marcus Thornton scored a game-high 26 points, including four 3-pointers, and DeMarcus Cousins registered a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Kings, who are still in search of their first victory this season.

Boston 89, Washington 86
Paul Pierce had 27 points, Jason Terry made two key free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining and the Boston Celtics held off the Washington Wizards, 89-86, in the opener of a home-and-home set. Pierce also pulled down seven rebounds for the Celtics, who avoided their second straight 0-3 start. Kevin Garnett tallied 15 points and seven boards, Rajon Rondo donated 12 points and 12 assists and Jeff Green added 11 points. Jordan Crawford had 21 points to pace the Wizards, who were coming off of a 94-84 loss to Cleveland on Tuesday. Kevin Seraphin finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Paul Pierce came up big for the Celts.
(image by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

Brooklyn 107, Toronto 100
It took a bit longer than anticipated, but the Nets finally made their debut in Brooklyn and got off on the right foot. After Hurricane Sandy postponed the scheduled season opener on Thursday against the Knicks, Brook Lopez poured in 27 points, including a crucial three-point play late, to give the Brooklyn Nets a 107-100 decision over the Toronto Raptors in their regular season debut at the Barclays Center. The game marked the return of the first professional sports team in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left town in 1957. Nets All-Star guard Deron Williams hit a couple of clutch free throws late to secure the victory, finishing with 19 points and nine assists on the night. Newly acquired guards Joe Johnson and C.J. Watson made solid contributions as well for Brooklyn. Johnson dropped in 14 points and Watson shot 6-of-9 off the bench, good for 15 points.

Miami 119, Denver 116
Ray Allen made his first big contribution to the Heat just three games in, hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer while being fouled with 6.7 seconds remaining to give Miami a 119-116 victory over the Denver Nuggets at American Airlines Arena. After Andre Iguodala's deep jumper had given Denver a one-point lead, LeBron James found Allen in his usual position with the game on the line, spotting up in the left corner and draining a 3-pointer just as Corey Brewer collided into him on his follow-through. Allen's sixth 3- pointer and ensuing free throw resulted in a 119-116 lead, and Danilo Gallinari's try from 10 feet beyond the three-point line was off the mark, as the Heat rebounded from a 20-point loss to the Knicks on Friday. Chris Bosh scored the most points he's had in a Heat uniform (40) and James finished one rebound shy of a triple-double, finishing with 20 points and 11 assists. The Nuggets, despite having seven players score in double-figures, fell to 0-3 for the first time since 2006-07.

Damn you, Ray, for hitting that big three.
(image by Isaac Baldizon/Getty Images)

New Orleans 89, Chicago 82
Greivis Vasquez netted 18 points and handed out six assists as the New Orleans Hornets gutted out an 89-82 win over the Chicago Bulls at United Center. Jason Smith dropped in 16 points in a 15-plus minute run off the bench, while Robin Lopez added 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocks for the Hornets, who played without No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis due to a concussion he suffered in Friday's win over Utah. Ryan Anderson contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds in the Hornets' first win over Chicago since the 2007-08 season -- an eight-game skid. Luol Deng scored a game-high 19 points and added eight rebounds, while Nate Robinson netted 15 points off the bench. Marco Belinelli and Taj Gibson finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the Bulls, who suffered their first loss of the season after wins over Cleveland and Sacramento.

Portland 95, Houston 85 (OT)
Damian Lillard poured in 20 points, including eight in the extra session, as the Portland Trail Blazers downed the Houston Rockets, 95-85, in overtime on Saturday at Toyota Center. Lillard also handed out nine assists, while LeMarcus Aldridge led the way with 27 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for the Trail Blazers, who were coming off a 106-92 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Nicolas Batum chipped in 17 points, nine boards, four assists and six steals in the victory. James Harden tallied a team-high 24 points in his debut in front of the Houston crowd and Jeremy Lin donated 13 points and seven assists in the setback, Houston's first of the season.

Dallas 126, Charlotte 99
O.J. Mayo scored a game-high 30 points and Darren Collison finished with a double-double, as the Dallas Mavericks trounced the Charlotte Bobcats, 126-99, on Saturday. Mayo shot 10-of-17 from the field and drained a career-high seven 3-pointers, while Collison totaled 18 points and 10 assists, as the Mavericks bounced back after a loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Vince Carter and Chris Kaman each made solid contributions of the bench for Dallas. Carter scored 18 points, shooting 7- of-12, and Kaman added 12 points in the victory. Ramon Sessions led Charlotte with 22 points off the bench. After a career-high scoring night in Friday's season opener, Kemba Walker scored just 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting for the Bobcats, who have never beaten the Mavericks in 16 tries.

Milwaukee 105, Cleveland 102
Brandon Jennings drained a 3-pointer from the top of the arc as time expired on Friday, as the Milwaukee Bucks slipped past the Cleveland Cavaliers, 105-102, in their home opener at Bradley Center. Jennings finished with 13 points and 13 assists, while Mike Dunleavy poured in a game-high 29 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Monta Ellis added 23 for the Bucks, who moved to 2-0 this season. Kyrie Irving netted 27 points and dished out seven assists and Anderson Varejao had 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Cavs, who have dropped two straight after winning their season-opener. With his team trailing, 102-95, with 1:37 to play, Irving willed the Cavs back into the game, scoring his team's final seven points to tie things up at 102 with 0.7 showing on the clock. The 2012 Rookie of the Year capped his personal 7-0 burst with an easy layup, forcing the Bucks to call a timeout. On the Bucks' final possession, Jennings fought through a screen on the low block, caught the ball at the top of the arc, and buried the deep trey with a hand in his face as time expired, giving the Bucks the win.

San Antonio 110, Utah 100
Tony Parker scored 24 points and handed out 10 assists, while Tim Duncan had a double-double of his own with 19 points and 11 boards, in the Spurs' 110-100 victory over the Utah Jazz. Danny Green chipped in 21 points for San Antonio, which improved to 3-0 for the first time in five years. Manu Ginobili, after missing the first two games with back spasms, played 15 1/2 minutes and totaled eight points and two assists for the victors. Mo Williams led the Jazz with 29 points and nine assists, but the Jazz fell for the second time in as many nights after losing at New Orleans on Friday. Paul Millsap donated 17 points and 10 rebounds in defeat. The Jazz never led, but outscored the Spurs, 35-17, in the third quarter, to tie it, 79-79, heading to the fourth. Williams scored the final 13 points of the quarter, but was held to four in the fourth.

Golden State 114, LA Clippers 110
Stephen Curry and Carl Landry combined to score 46 points and the Golden State Warriors held on to edge the Los Angeles Clippers, 114-110, despite coughing up a 14-point fourth quarter lead on Saturday at Staples Center. Landry put home 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Curry added 23 points, including 9-of-10 from the free throw line, to go with four assists and three steals for the Warriors, who bounced back from a loss to Memphis on Friday. Klay Thompson contributed 17 points and eight boards, while Jarrett Jack ended his night with 16 and six rebounds in the victory for Golden State, which showed resolve in getting the win despite learning that guard/forward Brandon Rush would miss the remainder of the season with a torn left ACL earlier in the day. Chris Paul dropped home 27 points -- going an incredible 19-of-20 from the charity stripe -- and handed out 10 assists in the Clippers' first loss of the season. Jamal Crawford also scored 27 points in the setback.

David Lee goes up strong as the Warriors
bounced back against the Clips.
(image by Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

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