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Nets' center Jarrett Allen struggling a bit since All-Star break

Jarrett Allen of the Nets goes to the

Jarrett Allen of the Nets goes to the hoop for a basket during the third quarter against the Orlando Magic at Barclays Center on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

MIAMI – In the first five games after the All-Star break, the numbers for Nets starting center Jarrett Allen declined sharply despite two double-double performances. He averaged 7.6 points and 8.2 rebounds while playing a mere 21 minutes per game in that span versus season averages of 10.8 points and 9.6 rebounds in 26.1 minutes per game.

But Allen reverted to form with 17 points and 11 rebounds in a 116-113 loss to the Heat Saturday night at American Airlines Arena. “I tried to go out there with an aggressive mentality in the first quarter and carry it through the whole game,” Allen said. “Just try to put those past games behind me. The game I fouled out, I was frustrated, and the next game, I just couldn’t get back in a rhythm. It’s just having to find my way back out of a slump and playing slow.”

Following the Nets’ third straight loss Friday in Atlanta, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was asked why Allen, who was held to five points for the second straight game, has struggled. “I don’t know if I’d say that,” Atkinson said. “Of course, we always want him to play more aggressively and dominate more. But I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed in him.”

Atkinson stressed the need to be more physical on defense against the Heat after giving up a season-worst 141 points to the Hawks. Describing what he wanted from his starting center, Atkinson hinted Allen needs to develop a more consistent motor to attain his true potential.

“With Jarrett, it’s always a case of assertiveness, how assertive is he going to be?” Atkinson asked. “When he’s assertive and aggressive, he’s a hell of a player…When that energy is high, he’s one of the best centers in the league.”

Asked if he was encouraged by Allen’s improved play against the Heat, Atkinson said, “That’s the Jarrett Allen that we need. I really thought he had a good response coming off [Friday] night’s game.”

New York Sports