by Franklyn Calle and Ryne Nelson
Saying this will probably jinx the rest of the day, but Franklyn and I are off to a good start. We got to the Prudential Center in Newark with (nary) a hitch. And, since there ain’t no swamps to get lost in, there’s a high chance we’ll be back covering the Nets again this season.
The last time I covered a Nets home game, the Celtics were defending champs, and DRose was yet to be named ROY. This is Franky’s first NBA game as a member of press. There’s definitely some rust on these fingers.
That said, this warm-up is gonna have to be a quick one ‘cause we’re about ready to get this Halloween party started!
– On the train over, I ask Franklyn his prediction for the game. He’s taking the Heat (probably would have fired him otherwise), but by a margin not to be repeated here. (Let’s just say Franklyn gave the Nets a little too much credit. –Ed.)
– Not going to lie, it’s a bit of a disappointment that so little of the crowd is in costume. The Nets cheerleaders, though, are in a festive mood. At first what appeared like bad makeup, turned out to be a zombie look, upon closer inspection.
– Still no Jay-Z sighting, but it’s only a matter of time (or is it?). Kim Kardashian is also rumored to be at the game. Believe me, Franklyn and I will keep an eye out for her.
– Almost-packed house as ball goes up in the air for tip-off. I gotta admit that this is definitely a nice building for the Nets to call home. This is my second time at the Prudential Center, but the first time I was here in January was for a high school game (St. Patrick vs. White Station; Kyrie Irving vs. Joe Jackson), so it obviously didn’t have the same feel to it.
— Devin Harris to Lopez for a jumper.
— As soon as LeBron James touches the ball, the crowd boos vigorously. Wait ’til the Heat go to Madison Square Garden. There’s a whole lot more angry fans on the other side of the Hudson River.
— Second time James touches the ball, the boos get even louder!
— The whole crowd just went crazy, not because the Nets scored, only because James gets called for his first personal foul.
— James inside pass to Chris Bosh for a lay-up makes it 10-2.
— Basket by Lopez ends Heats’ 10-0 run.
— James with a two-handed jam on the other end of the court. He really flushed that one down hard. Half the crowd actually cheered on that one.
— James is manhandling Harris in the paint and draws the foul while in the post.
— Terrence Williams to Lopez for the basket and a foul. Lopez hits the free-throw.
— Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz is in the building sitting court-side.
— Lopez is single-handedly carrying the Nets right now. Seems like the only one who isn’t scared to go at the “Big Three.” He’s playing aggressive and gets LeBron to commit his second foul. Lopez has 9 of New Jersey’s first 10 points.
— James hits the bench with 2 fouls. Lopez gets his second foul on the next possession and also takes a seat.
— Three-pointer by Wade puts the Heat up 26-14 with over 2 minutes to go.
— Derrick Favors follows it with a jam down the court and a tip-in on the following possession.
— Atlantic Yards developer and team owner Bruce Ratner just walked in.
— Heat on top 29-18 after one.
– It’s technically not the second quarter yet, but the kids who take over (and I literally mean take over) the court do are doing an impeccable rendition of “Thriller.” I figured it would be the Nets dancers, but this was much more entertaining!
– Derrick Favors continues with his aggressive play.
– The attention LeBron’s getting is fantastic. He must be loving it. Dude can always use the extra motivation.
– It’s definitely an afternoon game for these teams. By this, I mean it looks like Wade has barely broke a sweat after the first quarter. Energy-wise the Heat can afford to play slower, especially after a convincing win against the Magic, and even more so against a team like Jersey.
– It’s not that the Heat are playing particularly well, it’s just that the Nets don’t have any offensive flow going. They’ve gone to Brook Lopez, as expected, but he’s been off at times. It’s a shame because the Heat really don’t have the a frontcourt to defend him.
– LeBron is owning the game. He’s attacking the basket every chance he gets, and is either collecting another dime, dunking the ball or drawing a foul.
– Lots of LeBron, very little of the rest of the Heat this quarter. And that’s more than enough to stave off the Nets.
– Chris Bosh is trying to check Lopez, and he’s not doing much. Joel Anthony, however, is a much better defender and stuffs the Nets center on two consecutive possessions. Lopez still quietly has more than half his team’s baskets at this point (17 of the 31 points).
– Devin Harris with a nice floater. He’s been relatively quiet tonight, and doesn’t seem to be in the shape that earned him his first and only All-Star appearance. It looks like he’s tried to pack on muscle, which — as is the case with a lot of players — became access weight. If he can get himself lighter, there’s a possibility that he can be a big asset for the Nets again. My bet is he’ll be traded before he’s fully ready to go…
– As Franklyn mentioned, DFavors has a real eye for the rebound. He’s not a bust, folks, and it’s great to see him playing big minutes, even against one of the best teams in the L.
– The Nets have their work cut out for them. They barely broke the 40-point barrier at the half. I’d say the chances are almost zero that they win this one.
– That said, Jake Appleman to my left is generous enough to give the Nets a 1-in-200 chance of winning. I don’t ask, but I assume that’s in the case that LeBron goes down with an injury and DWade is traded to the Nets at halftime.