After a difficult preseason opener in which he was basically eaten alive by New York Knicks center Enes Kanter, Jarrett Allen responded with an enormous effort against the Pistons.
Allen was all over the offensive glass, but he was also active on the defensive backboard against big Andre Drummond — who has about 40 pounds on him and was the NBA’s leader in rebounding last season.
Yes, Drummond got 10 boards and seven were on the offensive end.
But unlike against the Knicks, Allen never stopped battling and was a difference maker at the rim, blocking four shots — including a Blake Griffin dunk attempt and back-to-back swats on Luke Kennard and Drummond on one possession.
Offensively, he set solid screens, rolled to the rack with a purpose and could have scored more had Caris LeVert and D’Angelo Russell been more accurate with alley-oop passes — they flat-out missed a cutting Allen with three such attempts.
It was close to an A+ performance, but Allen still had some hesitation when shooting away from the rim and one notable panic attack after an offensive rebound that nearly led to a really bad turnover.
D’Angelo Russell picked up his game significantly in the second half, scoring 20 of his 25 points in the third and fourth quarters.
He was confident from 3-point range, hitting 4-of-9 during his post-intermission blitz and did some very nice work off the dribble, getting into the paint for an array of floaters, short jumpers and even one old-fashioned scoop shot.
But in the overtime, Russell struggled. He was over-dribbling while running the offense and put the Nets in the position of having to take forced shots late in the shot clock as a result.
As a point guard, Russell is more scorer than facilitator and we all knew that going in. Still, one assist in 32 minutes is a less-than-optimal result for your starter at the 1.