Inside men carry injury-plagued Nets
Allen and Jordan combine for 36 in win over Charlotte at Barclays
With shooting guards Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert sidelined by injuries, the Brooklyn Nets had to rely more heavily on their big men to get past the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night.
And it worked to perfection.
The center tandem of Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan combined for 36 points and 24 rebounds as the Nets, known primarily for their perimeter play, consistently banged the paint en route to a 101-91 victory over the Hornets in front of 14,011 fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
Coming off Monday’s humbling 115-86 home loss to Indiana, Brooklyn spent most of Tuesday watching film at the HSS Training Center in Sunset Park to correct its flaws along the interior and on defense.
The studying did them good, thanks mostly to the performances of their pivotmen.
Allen finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds, including eight off the offensive glass, and Jordan had 14 points and seven boards for the Nets (6-8) as they improved to 2-1 without Irving, who is still nursing a right-shoulder impingement.
Power forward Taurean Prince added 20 points and eight rebounds for Brooklyn, which will likely be without LeVert (right thumb surgery) for at least another month.
Though Spencer Dinwiddie provided some scoring punch from outside with 20 points while handing out eight assists, the Nets proved, for at least one night, that they can win a game from the inside out.
“Like we talked pregame, we’ve got to find a way to generate offense. I thought (Prince) was really good and Jarrett Allen, they helped us,” said Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson after his team improved to 4-3 at Barclays this year.
“Until our perimeter starts knocking down shots, which they will, we need those big guys to help us,” he added.
None helped more than Allen, who went 9-of-12 from the floor, 4-of-6 at the free-throw line, picked up a pair of steals and set a new season high for rebounds.
“I just thought he was huge,” Atkinson gushed. “They went small. They put Marvin (Williams) at the five, and he’s playing that game; do we match him with small? We said, you know what, we’ll stick with JA and I thought he did two things great.”
“He guarded when we switched, he guarded their small, their quick guys, and then he punished them on the other end with his offensive rebounding. Eight offensive rebounds; that’s the answer when a team goes small. Stay big, punish them on the boards and have a big that’s fast enough to keep up with the guards.”
Jordan, who came to Brooklyn this summer along with Kevin Durant and Irving as part of the Nets’ well-chronicled offseason splash, had a perfect shooting night, going 5-of-5 from the field and 4-of-4 at the line.
“I think today it really showed that (Jarrett Allen) and I are very versatile players who can handle the basketball,” said Jordan after the duo combined for 14 more points than it had in any other contest this season.
Prince was 6-of-15 from the floor, but knocked down a team-high four 3-pointers as Brooklyn only went 10-of-39 from long range, but made up for it thanks to the near-perfect shooting of its two centers.
“Just keeping a good mindset,” Prince said of the short-handed Nets’ mentality.
“(We’re) playing quarter by quarter, not getting too ahead of ourselves, not getting too down on ourselves when certain things go wrong or when we face adversity – just continue to do what we do and stick to our gameplay.”
Though its hard to expect Allen and Jordan to carry the Nets every night until Irving and/or LeVert return, Brooklyn is at least armed with the knowledge that it can play a stronger inside game if necessary.
“I think we came out with the right mindset. We came out with a defensive intensity, that’s something we can control,” Jordan noted.
“We can’t control if our shots go in or how well we play offensively. But, our effort defensively – we can control that. We went through a pretty lengthy film session (Tuesday) and saw the things we can correct and try to get in to.”
Nothing But Net: Irving, the Nets’ leading scorer and assists man, did not practice ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Hornets and is unlikely to suit up when Brooklyn hosts Sacramento here on Friday night. “I don’t think it’s a long-term thing. I wouldn’t say we’re being overcautious,” Atkinson said of the shoulder injury, which occurred during Brooklyn’s recently completed season-high five-game road trip. “Do I think it’s a long-term thing? No. I don’t think he can play through it right now quite honestly. That’s where we are. We’ll see where that goes.” … The Nets outrebounded the Hornets, 53-41, on Wednesday while holding a 13-8 edge in offensive boards.
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