TELANDER: Nets’ win a feel-great story for Brooklyn
BY RICK TELANDER email@example.com April 20, 2013 11:24PM
Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams (R) passes to a teammate in front of Chicago Bulls Kirk Hinrich (12) during game one of their first round NBA playoff game April 20, 2013 at the Barclay Center in New York. AFP PHOTO/Don EmmertDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Updated: May 22, 2013 7:18AM
NEW YORK — The best, simple, on-key rendition of the national anthem I’ve heard in years came Saturday night from Nets guard/forward Jerry Stackhouse.
The 38-year-old vet wore his sweatsuit and held the mic close, and with eyes closed, sang the tricky song at halfcourt of the Barclays Center before the Bulls-Nets playoff game.
I made a mental note to ask him how much he got paid.
◆ It was “Blackout in Brooklyn’’ night, and a number of fans wore the handout T-shirts, which were so dark that, naturally, they could barely be seen. And, of course, they couldn’t be read.
◆ OK, the game. I was trying to stay away from that.
If it makes anybody in Chicago feel better, this 106-89 wipeout of the Bulls meant a lot to Brooklyn. The borough that black-suited, dreadlocked-to-the-waist announcer David Diamante hollers is, “Brooklyn, New York, USA!’’ has never won an NBA playoff game because, hello, this is the Nets’ first year in town.
But Brooklyn has suffered for so long that its inferiority complex is sharp and deep. The unexpected gentrification and hipness that is going on in neighborhoods such as Red Hook and Cobble Hill and Fort Greene are as novel as they are cleansing. But winning this first postseason pro game since the Dodgers left in 1957 is the start of something big for this place across from Manhattan.
Yes, the game. Hobbled Joakim Noah started at center for the Bulls and played all of 61/2 minutes in the first half, 13:27 for the game. Without him, Nets center Brook Lopez ate at the trough (21 points).
Taj Gibson (6-9, 225) cannot possibly cover Lopez (7-0, 265). Good luck, Bulls.
◆ At 50-28 late in the second quarter, you knew it was over and out for the Bulls. Castoff Bulls guard C.J. Watson had 10 points for the Nets, and Lopez already had 17 points, four rebounds and two blocks.
◆ CALLING LUOL DENG! Calling Mr. Deng!
It’s the start of the third quarter, your team is down by 25 and you have two points and one rebound.
Calling an All-Star! Can we get an All-Star over here?
◆ While we’re at it, can we give a wake-up call to point guard Kirk Hinrich?
With three minutes to go in the third quarter, he had no points and two assists. Meanwhile, his guy Deron Williams had 15 points and seven assists. Williams, on overdrive, finished with 22 and looked like the floor general the Bulls don’t have. Not in a uniform, anyway.
◆ If it hadn’t been for Carlos Boozer’s shooting and hustle (25 points, eight rebounds), the Bulls might have been shut out.
◆ It was Williams’ steal from the listless Deng and an arcing breakaway to the hoop followed by a spinning, behind-the-head, two-hand jam that twisted the knife in the Bulls’ depleted gut.
◆ If the Bulls at that moment could have said, “Let’s call it, see you Monday,’’ I’m sure they would have.
◆ OK, Derrick Rose.
Sitting at the end of the Bulls’ bench in a gray business suit, a diamond earring occasionally catching the arena light, Rose was a sad and sorry sight. Could he not help a trifle? Could he not take Hinrich’s place and simply walk the ball up the floor and pass it one time? Then hobble or jog or sprint or whatever-he-could-muster back to the defensive end and call timeout? Couldn’t even a crippled old YMCA hooper do that?
On a team in which everybody seems to be hurt — or at least is hurting — Rose could inject a serious esprit and feel-good into the troops simply by stepping onto the floor during game time.
The explanation from coach Tom Thibodeau is the same as it has always been: Rose is working hard and getting better from that knee surgery and could play sometime. We’ll assume that means in the 21st century.
◆ THOSE CHANTS OF “Brook-Lyn! Brook-Lyn’’ that break out all during the game are annoying.