The fact that an actual game happened between these teams yesterday was a miracle in and of itself especially after the lockout which cost the NBA season about 16 games per team.
During the dog days of summer up until late November, the NBA Players Association and the NBA owners didn't have an agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement. Without a ratified CBA, the NBA season was in jeopardy, and it remained so until the 11th hour.
Eventually, the two sides came to their senses, agreed upon and ratified a new CBA and announced a shortened 66-game 2011-2012 season to start on Christmas.
In order for the NBA season to open December 25th, free-agency, the preseason and training camp had to be condensed into a little more than two weeks.
Now we get to the actual game.
Both sides were terribly sloppy, especially the Nets, who compiled a horrendous 25 turnovers throughout the game.
It was easy to tell that all of the players who appeared for both teams—specifically Shelden Williams for the Nets—seemed sluggish and were just trying to get back into a basketball groove after so much missed time.
Not everything was negative, however, as the rookies and reserves for each team showcased why they should be on the team when the season starts.
On the Knicks side, rookies Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson, and career reserve Renaldo Balkman, played the best.
Shumpert, a guard out of Georgia Tech whom the Knicks drafted 17th overall last June, shot 6-of-11 from the field and scored 16 points, showing his offensive explosiveness. He also had two steals, showing why he lead the ACC last season in takeaways.
Harrellson, a center from the University of Kentucky whom the Knicks traded for on draft day, showed his long-range ability and his ability to use his wide frame to grab rebounds on the defensive end.
Balkman, a power forward who has been in the NBA for a few years, shocked the Prudential Center with 20 points on 7-10 shooting from the field. Balkman has been a defensive rebounding specialist for most of his career, so the offensive showcase was a nice surprise for coach Mike D'Antoni.
There weren't as many positives for the Nets as they ended up losing the game, but a few players stood out from the rest.
Guard Marshon Brooks, drafted 25th overall in this past draft, exhibited his amazing offensive ability with an array of step-back jumpers and drives to the paint. Brooks became known nationally last season by scoring 52 points against Notre Dame in a loss, done while playing for Providence.
Rookie free agent Dennis Horner, a small forward who played for NC State last year, showed some intangibles that Nets coach Avery Johnson would love on him team. Horner doesn't have astounding athletic ability but seems like a smart player and didn't make any glaring mistakes in his Nets' debut.
There isn't a whole lot to take away from yesterday's game, as it was essentially a warmup for both teams, but the game experience these rookies got will be invaluable to their growth as NBA players.
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