By Mihnea "Mike" Gheorghita
Everyone keeps saying that after the Magic beat the Nets last night, Dwight’s chances to join the Brooklyn squad have slimmed down. I actually don’t think that’s the case. Not by a long shot. What you could see last night in Dwight Howard was sheer determination. Even if he was slim on points, he ripped through 24 boards, even made a fantastic save that led to Reddick’s 3.
The Magic were clearly the dominant presence last night, and not even our man from Providence (now also known as KobeShon Broverson) could hold them at bay, although it was by his effort that the Nets came back to a 3 point difference.
I’m not even going to pretend that I cared about a win. Everything was about Howard, as I tried to picture the jerseys overlapping, and him blocking Ryan Anderson instead of Damion James. He and Williams have had dinner together most of the times that D-Will was in Orlando, and, according to Howard, they’ve been “friends since the Olympics”. Also –and I may be both biased and wrong here- I’d take a stab and say that most of Dwight’s motivation was because he was playing the Nets. That’s both a good and a bad scenario.
Williams’ average performance will no doubt have no effect on Howard, who is aware of the PG’s astonishing skill, but then you have mega-rookie Brooks who’s doing very well, and that may be the kind of talent that Superman is looking for. Kris Humphries may be irrelevant to him, but I see him as trade-bait either with or instead of Brook Lopez in the near future. So open your eyes, Otis!
Player of the game: Without any doubts, MarShon Brooks was the Nets’ player of the game. The rookie led all scorers aside from Ryan Anderson, netting 17 points, coming up with 2 offensive boards, and also going for points in the paint. The guy is clearly setting up his game, and I’m sure Dwight Howard knows it as well.
Honorable mention: Deron Williams and Kris Humphries (who is now dating another woman, not Deron Williams) were also… there, I guess. Williams keeping his turnover numbers high, probably thinking of a triple-double, but also scoring 10 points, second for the Nets after Brooks. Humphries was one point short of a double-double, with 9 baskets and 10 defensive boards.
Rookie watch: Do I hear All-Star anytime soon? No, probably not yet. But for the Nets, Brooks is clearly the best rookie since Senor Pez back in 2008. Sure, you got T-Will and Favors, but let’s be adults about it: “breakthrough” is neither’s middle name. Brooks has improved his game and confidence lightning fast, and I expect something similar from either Dennis Horner or J-Will. I don’t want the Nets to lose a lot, but if they do and Shon’s on his way to an All-Star week-end next year or the year after that, I’ll probably care less about .500 and such things.
Next up, Atlanta!
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