The Afternoon Tip-Off: R Kelly Sings the National Anthem

Every weekday morning afternoon, Brooklyn’s Finest will scour the interwebs for the best (and worst) of Nets coverage from the previous day (and night).

Sorry for the delay today folks. Traffic was a b*#ch. Let’s get started:

1. Another win! Yesterday, I mentioned that the Nets might have a chance to steal one from the banged up Hawks and also wondered if this Nets team would struggle to close out tight games. Last night’s win, yes against a banged up Hawks team, was certainly promising for the Nets. The Hawks were trying to win that game, no doubt about it, and the fact that the Nets made big plays (like Lopez’ shot block) down the stretch was encouraging.

The Associated Press (via The New York Times) had the game recap:

After Young hit the winning free throws, he knocked away Sefolosha’s inbounds pass to Horford as time expired.

‘We initially said that coming out of the timeout we were going to switch everything,’ Young said. ‘Switch everything. Switch everything. We knew if Kyle Korver couldn’t get in there they would try and lob it in to Horford and let him make a play.’

Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez combined for a pair of great defensive plays (and great all-around defense for the Nets on the last second inbound play, the Hawks options were limited) to seal this one. As Drew Schulte pointed out in his Brooklyn’s Finest recap today, the fourth quarter was sloppy, and the atmosphere was bleak.

Not even R Kelly could liven this thin crowd…

2. R. Kelly attended the Brooklyn Nets game last night and apparently this is a thing. I’m certainly not the most educated person when it comes to 90’s R&B and Hip Hop, as my editor, Paul Mitchell can attest, but this struck me as an odd celebration of sorts. Why was R. Kelly allowed on the floor pre-game to shoot 3-pointers with a cigar in his mouth again? Because he sang the National Anthem? Is R Kelly some sort of national hero and I didn’t know about it?

Dan Bieler of The Washington Post (!) wrote about the incident:

For such a swagalicious act performed on the Barclays Center court, we must turn to none other than R. Kelly. Not only did he not bother removing his unlit stogie, but the shot he hit was a corner three.

Kelly’s comment about making that shot the one uploaded to YouTube indicates that it might have taken him a try or two before he drained one. Nevertheless, the swish was a reminder that the R&B star has some serious hoops skills, enough that he actually played pro ball for the USBL’s Atlantic City Seagulls in 1997.

Oh, R Kelly played for the Atlantic City Seagulls? That explains it. Of course he should be treated like basketball royalty.

By the way, I would pay lots of money to read an oral history of the 1997 R Kelly-led Atlantic City Seagulls. That was a Championship squad by the way. Also, did you know that Muggsy Bogues and Manute Bol both played for the Rhode Island Gulls! I live in Rhode Island and I didn’t even know this. Where was I for this?!

I’m getting off track. Back to the links.

3. Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York points out that although Joe Johnson is struggling to score the way he once could (and defend for that matter), he is finding other ways to contribute, such as passing the ball:

He has struggled to shoot the ball, connecting on less than a third of his field goal attempts, and he doesn’t dominate games the way he once did.

Nevertheless, he still has value. And that value to the Brooklyn Nets comes mainly in the form of a facilitator — probing the paint as a point forward, drawing double-teams and getting the ball to his open teammates.

From Iso Joe to Facilitator Joe.

‘Well, that’s what I gotta do,’ Johnson said after the Nets defeated the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night 90-88 in front of a record-low crowd of 12,241 at Barclays Center.

‘I gotta facilitate and try to make these guys better. When you’re not making shots, you’ve got to do other things — whether it’s rebounding, passing the ball or putting guys in position to score — and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.’

Johnson is averaging 4.8 assists per game according to Basketball Reference, by far the most since his days in Atlanta, and his Usage Rate is much lower than it’s ever been during his time in Brooklyn.

Combine that with the second lowest Turnover% of his career (also via Basketball Reference) and as Mazzeo points out, Iso-Joe has a 3.5-1 assist/turnover ratio. That places him 4th in the NBA among players that log 30 minutes per game in that category behind only Mike Conley, Ricky Rubio, and Arron Afflalo (?) according to

Johnson is also matching his career high with 5.1 rebounds per game. So, for as much as Johnson has struggled on the defensive end (and he has) and scoring the ball (although that’s coming along a bit), he has been contributing. Let’s see how he fares tonight against the Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams tandem in Charlotte.

See you tomorrow!