Brooklyn Nets: Jarrett Allen comes up big when it matters

Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Jarrett Allen’s opposite number went off for 37 points and 21 rebounds. That didn’t stop him from having an important game Friday for the Brooklyn Nets.

Nikola Jokic scored 37 points and ripped down 21 rebounds Friday night for the Denver Nuggets, which has to mean Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen had a terrible night, right?

Hardly. Allen matched a career-high with five blocked shots in the Nets’ 112-110 win over the Nuggets at Pepsi Center as Brooklyn left the Mile High City with its third consecutive win.

Allen also changed a lot of shots as Nuggets penetrators thought twice about going right at the 20-year-old big man.

As for Jokic’s numbers, Allen was placed on an island for much of the night. He protected the rim, did what he could against the Denver star while not often getting a lot of help, as the Nets were focused on taking everything else away from the Nuggets.

It worked. Jokic set a new season-high for scoring, matched his career-high in rebounding … and Denver lost anyway.

It was the Nuggets’ second straight loss and their first at home this season.

Allen never stopped grinding, not after missing two high-flying dunk attempts, not after getting bumped around by Jokic on the block and not after missing three of four free throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

Allen was placed in a tough spot late. Backup center Ed Davis picked up his fifth and sixth personal fouls and left the game just 1:11 into the fourth quarter, leaving Allen to finish the game.

He responded well, scoring seven of his 18 points in the quarter, including the game-tying dunk with 29.4 seconds left.

Then he helped the Nets get the ball back, holding his ground and forcing Jokic into a turnover on a traveling violation with 22.1 seconds to go.

Allen was 7-for-14 on the night, but just 4-of-8 at the foul line. Four of his nine rebounds were on the offensive glass, he dished off two nice assists and also had a steal (it had originally been scored a blocked shot, but was changed later in the game).

The second-year center has been one of the most improved players in the NBA this season, even if that is sometimes overshadowed by the breakout campaign being enjoyed by teammate Caris LeVert.

Allen emerged as a starter late last season and held onto the job entering the 2018-19 campaign. He finished last season averaging 8.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 20.0 minutes per game on .589/5-for-15/.776 shooting.

After Friday’s game, his numbers in 2018-19 look like this: 11.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 26.7 minutes on .594/2-for-9/.591 shooting.

The free-throw thing is a mystery. His stroke looks good most of the time, but he can get into a bad habit of trying to guide the ball instead of just getting a clean, confident release.

Jokic’s outburst pushed Allen down the list of rim defenders, as Allen is now allowing opponents to shoot 57.7 percent in the restricted area.

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And when he got the ball in a big situation, he knew exactly what to do with it as he rapidly matures into a very good all-around NBA big man.