Nets, right at home in the spotlight, romp past 76ers
The Nets walloped the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday night, 104-83, but maybe the more impressive news is how marketable the Nets have become in their first Brooklyn season and how the hip-hop celebrity so involved in rebranding the franchise reportedly is selling his small stake in the team.
With Philadelphia eliminated from playoff consideration last weekend, and Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo making it clear that the "first priority" in the last six games of the regular season "is to get healthy," there was a certain insignificance to the result -- though the Nets' efficiency was plenty noteworthy.
Prominent among their impressive numbers were the 24 rebounds by Reggie Evans which, along with his 17 points, had the Barclays Center crowd repeatedly chanting his name. "A man possessed," Deron Williams said of Evans. "There've been a lot of games where he's got us going."
Brook Lopez, helping Evans dominate inside, led all scorers with 29 and added 11 rebounds as the Nets out-rebounded Philadelphia by a staggering 67-34 margin. "Just trying to take advantage of whatever opportunity I had," Evans said. "I just had the mind-set of attacking."
Joe Johnson, whose chronic heel problems remain a concern, played 23 minutes and scored 11 points. The Nets were so productive offensively that a modest 11 points from Williams, who had routinely reached the 30-point mark recently, was more than sufficient.
"A lot of people played well," Carlesimo said. "Focused, contesting shots, a really good attention to defense."
Still, a more dramatic development for the Nets may be how trendy they have become. With the release of 2013 NBA merchandise sales figures, the Nets have climbed from 31st in a 30-team league -- that's because they were outranked even by the defunct Seattle SuperSonics a year ago -- to No. 4. Only the Knicks, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers peddled more team gear than the Nets this season.
And Carlesimo lamented the news that Jay-Z, who owns less than one percent of the Nets but who had major input in designing the new Brooklyn logo and had been the team's most public face, reportedly plans to sell his share to pursue a sports agent vocation with his new Roc Nation Sports group.
"I would say he had an enormous amount to do with the rebranding of the team," Carlesimo said. "I was not close to that at all, but what I heard and read and saw, he was huge. It's hard to overstate how big. I like his involvement with the team. An excellent fan. Obviously friendly with the players, obviously somebody that's been around a lot."
The game was played on the 100th anniversary of the opening of the bygone Dodgers' first game at Ebbets Fields -- also against a Philadelphia team -- and prompted Nets officials to display Brooklyn's only big-league championship banner from the Dodgers' 1955 World Series victory.