D-Will surprised by Kidd's departure

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
7:49
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NEW YORK –- Deron Williams was expected to flourish with Jason Kidd coaching him from the sideline.

Instead, Williams and Kidd’s partnership in Brooklyn lasted just one season, after Kidd departed for Milwaukee in late June.

Williams said the two haven’t spoken since Kidd left.

[+] EnlargeKidd/Williams
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesDeron Williams, left, said he hasn't spoken to Jason Kidd since the ex-Nets coach abruptly departed.
“I think it surprised everybody,” Williams said at his Celebrity Dodge Barrage charity event at Basketball City. “I don’t think anybody saw that coming. It was out of nowhere.”

A year ago, Williams and Kidd were about to begin their first season together as player and coach. Kidd was supposed to get Williams back to playing like an elite point guard.

Williams, though, was not healthy and had issues with his ankle going into training camp. He would need surgery on both of his ankles after the season.

Williams said he is looking forward to being healthy and ready to go for the start of camp Sept. 27.

“Last year was tough," Williams said. "I missed pretty much all of training camp, most of the preseason. I practiced one time, played nine minutes in a preseason game and was thrown into the fire. I was probably about 60 to 70 percent. It is definitely different this year. I think it’s great that I will be able to participate in training camp and I am practicing with the guys right now.”

"[Returning to All-Star form is] definitely the plan," he continued. "Anytime you can’t walk, you can’t run, you can’t jump, it’s hard to play basketball, especially in this league. The only thing I wish is that I would’ve gotten surgery earlier. But what can you do? ... I’m ready to go now, and I’m excited about the season."

Williams is looking forward to forging a “great relationship” with new coach Lionel Hollins. But he also wishes Kidd the best.

“I don’t even know enough about the situation,” Williams said when asked whether he was disappointed to see Kidd leave. “I have heard a lot of different things, as you guys probably have. I don’t know what exactly happened, but we are excited about Lionel Hollins being our next coach. We wish J-Kidd the best of luck in Milwaukee, but we are excited about Lionel.”

Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge -- Williams held his annual Dodgeball charity event, and several of his teammates joined him. Andrei Kirilenko, Mason Plumlee, Jarrett Jack, Markel Brown, Cory Jefferson, Sergey Karasev and coach Hollins were among those who attended the event.

Hollins: KG 'earned the right to start'

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
7:19
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NEW YORK -- Lionel Hollins says Kevin Garnett will start at power forward and play more than 15 minutes per game if healthy for the Brooklyn Nets.

"There is nobody in the gym that I would put in his place," Hollins said at Deron Williams' Celebrity Dodge Barrage event at Basketball City. "He has earned the right to have that opportunity to be the starter from Day One. Somebody has to knock him out, it's got to be like a heavyweight fight. I don't really see that happening."

Hollins said he got to sit down with Garnett after the forward decided to return for a 20th season with the Nets. This is his final season under contract with Brooklyn worth $12 million.

Garnett spent the early part of the offseason laying low in California. It was a busy and dramatic offseason for the Nets with the departure of Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce. Garnett waived his no-trade clause last summer to accept a deal to the Nets from Boston to join Kidd in Brooklyn and continue playing alongside Pierce.

Garnett recently has been working out with Nets teammates in New Jersey.

"I understood why he wasn't around and why he wasn't communicating," Hollins said of Garnett remaining mum earlier in the summer. "When you get to this stage and have to make big life-changing decisions, it should be alone and with your family... The decision has to be his. He is a Hall of Fame player and he deserves Hall of Fame respect."

"I didn't even ask him (how close he was to retiring)," Hollins added. "It doesn't really matter. You're pregnant or you're not pregnant. He looks good... I would assume that if he decided to come back and if in fact it is his last year, he would want to make it his best."


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Mason Plumlee, world champion

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
6:57
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Mason Plumlee. Team USA World Cup champion.

Yeah, that’s something we didn’t think we’d write when this offseason began.

One minute, Plumlee was playing in the Summer League with the Brooklyn Nets in Orlando.

The next, he was playing in the Gold Medal game with Team USA in Spain.



Team USA ended up easily defeating Serbia, 129-92, on Sunday.

Plumlee had one point and four rebounds in the game. He averaged 2.2 points and 2.0 rebounds during the nine-game tournament.

Remember when some were complaining that Plumlee was selected to the team?

Yeah, that proved to be a big waste of time.

Plumlee performed just fine in his role as an end-of-the-bench big man. And he has a gold medal to show for his efforts.

Now, the 24-year-old should be pretty confident once he begins training camp with the Nets in two weeks.

Burning Q's: Who's the most vital sub?

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
12:33
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Jaret JackDon Emmert/AFP/Getty ImagesCan Jarrett Jack forget his Cavs days and recapture the game he displayed at Golden State?
With training camp a few weeks away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.

Today’s question: Who is the Nets’ most important bench player?

In his first season as a Net, Jarrett Jack will be the most important sub for Lionel Hollins.

The Nets are hoping Jack can be the super-sub that he was for the Golden State Warriors. Jack averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 assists while hitting 45.2 percent of his shots just two seasons ago, and he hit big shots in the postseason for Golden State.

SportsNation

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Last season, Jack’s averages dipped to 9.5 points, 4.1 assists and 41 percent shooting for the Cavaliers. Jack is eager to show that his down season was more a product of his role and the offensive system in Cleveland.

With the Nets, Jack could be Hollins’ sixth man. He can spell Deron Williams at point guard and run the second unit. He also could potentially play alongside Williams.

In many ways, Jack will have to replace Shaun Livingston, who signed with Golden State in July; he could play multiple positions and often played alongside Williams.

The Nets have plenty of key contributors coming off the bench this season. Mason Plumlee is looking to continue his rise after helping Team USA win gold at the World Cup. With Brook Lopez coming off surgery and Kevin Garnett likely playing on minutes restriction this season, Plumlee will be a key big for the Nets and should see more minutes than his rookie season.

Andrei Kirilenko will be needed to provide energy, defense and his unique hustle plays. Mirza Teletovic will be looking to show that last season’s breakout year was no fluke and that he will continue to provide dead-eye shooting. And Alan Anderson should play a key role as Hollins’ best defender off the bench.

The Nets also hope to develop youngsters like Bojan Bogdanovic, Sergey Karasev and Markel Brown.

But Jack will be needed to provide a bit of everything. He has to give the team a boost off the bench, be able to heat up and hit some big shots, spell Williams, be ready to play both guard positions, and give the team an edge and provide some leadership with the second unit.

With Williams coming off surgeries on his ankles, Jack could see a bigger role early in the season and provide the Nets with a potential starter if Williams needs a night to rest his ankles. If Jack plays the way he did two seasons ago for the Warriors, the Nets will be thrilled with their offseason acquisition.

Question: Who do you think is the Nets' most important bench player?

#NBArank Hates Big Men

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
12:19
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Why are so many quality big men at the bottom of ESPN.com's #NBArank list?

King defends embattled Hawks GM

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
10:19
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King
King
Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King told Grantland in a statement that embattled Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry is “the furthest thing from a racist.”

“I have known him since we were 15 years old,” King said Thursday. “He is like a brother to me and he is the furthest thing from a racist.”

Audio obtained by ESPN and other media outlets confirmed that Ferry used racial comments during a conference call with ownership in the offseason regarding free agent Luol Deng.

" Andrei Kirilenko’s home in Utah was burglarized this past weekend, according to the Desert News.

Burning Q's: Who has the most pressure?

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
10:15
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With training camp a few weeks away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.

Today’s question: Who has the most pressure on him?

[+] EnlargeDeron Williams
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesComing off ankle surgeries, Deron Williams will be looking to regain his all-star form.
All eyes will be on Deron Williams once again. Yes, D-Will is coming off surgeries on his ankles and health is a concern again. And he has another new head coach and a new offensive system to get acclimated to.

Without a doubt, Williams has a lot to deal with besides just regaining his old All-Star form. But if the Nets are going to make any noise this season, Williams has to be the one to lead them on the court.

With Paul Pierce gone, the Nets become Williams’ team again. Last season, Pierce and Kevin Garnett constantly tried to build Williams’ confidence up and let him know that it was his team. But Williams’ achy ankles and wavering confidence never allowed him to be the point guard he used to be.

Also, Williams understandably deferred to Pierce at times last season as the Nets tried to meet enormous expectations following the Pierce and Garnett trade. In the playoffs, Williams was up and down with his low coming on an 0-for-9, zero-point outing in Game 2 against Miami.

Now with Pierce gone, Williams is the man who has to take over the reins.

Pierce
Johnson
Sure, Joe Johnson will be counted on as usual for his steady scoring and clutch shooting at the end of games. But Johnson is not the vocal type. KG is still around to provide the vocal leadership but his playing time might be reduced from last season.

Like Williams, Brook Lopez is returning from surgery and the Nets will incorporate their big man back into the mix.

But it’s Williams who has to make the Nets his team again. A confident and dominant Williams is what can take the Nets from a team contending for a playoff spot to a team that could get past the first round. When Williams kicks it into another gear, the Nets do the same.

Jason Kidd tried to let Williams concentrate on scoring by putting the ball in Shaun Livingston’s hands more and playing the two point guards together. With Kidd and Livingston both gone, new coach Lionel Hollins is ready to hand the ball to Williams.

Like Kidd last offseason, Hollins is reiterating that this is Williams’ team.

“He’s a point guard," Hollins told the New York Post of Williams. “He’s our point guard. Will we play Jarrett Jack and Deron together? I’m sure we will. But that doesn’t mean Deron has to be off the ball. When you have two guys who can handle the ball, it doesn’t matter who handles it, but he’s going to be the primary ballhandler."

First, Deron has to regain confidence in his ankles. That might take some time. So the Nets will have to be patient.

But this is Williams’ team. The Nets will go as far as a healthy Williams can take them.

Question: Which Net has the most pressure on him?

Nets sign ex-Knick Jerome Jordan

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
1:47
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The Brooklyn Nets have signed former New York Knicks center Jerome Jordan, the team announced Thursday.

Jordan, 27, appeared in 21 games for the Knicks in 2011-12, averaging two points in 5.1 minutes. The 7-footer spent last season in the Italian League.

Jordan could have a chance to compete for a spot at the end of the roster during training camp.

The Nets have 13 fully guaranteed contracts -- Cory Jefferson and Jorge Gutierrez not among them.

D-Will clarifies statements about New York

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
11:01
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Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams clarified his comments in which he said he doesn’t feel like a New Yorker.

“It’s just a different lifestyle here,” Williams told FOX’s “GoodDay New York” morning show on Wednesday. “That’s all I was pointing out. I enjoy my time in the summers away, but I definitely love it in New York. You know, I signed here for five years.”

Williams had told Resident Magazine: “I grew up in an apartment in Texas where you could send your kids outside like, ‘Yeah, go play in the sun.’ Here it’s more challenging. The process of getting them into school (in New York) is a nightmare. Even private schools where you pay are an ordeal. In Utah, you just send your kids to the first public school in the area because they’re all great. Truth is, we enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle and going back to Utah every summer. It’s a relief to take that timeout. No traffic. No crowds. My daughters still have their friends there. There’s a big backyard. They go to the pool; the playground and they jump on the trampoline. Kids running wild and free here…? I don’t think so.”

Feeling better: Williams underwent surgery on both of his ankles in the offseason.

“I’m feeling good. The ankles are doing a lot better,” Williams aid. “We’ve got about 20 days until training camp starts (Sept. 27), and hopefully I’ll be ready for it.”

Coach speak: Williams said he recently had a meeting with his new coach, Lionel Hollins.

“He’s a point guard," Hollins told the New York Post at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night. “He’s our point guard. Will we play Jarrett Jack and Deron together? I’m sure we will. But that doesn’t mean Deron has to be off the ball. When you have two guys who can handle the ball, it doesn’t matter who handles it, but he’s going to be the primary ballhandler."

Hollins to perform roll call at Yankee game

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
6:48
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New Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins will perform the roll call in the bleachers during the first inning Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. Hollins grew up in Las Vegas, but is a lifelong Yankee fan.

"I like successful teams because everyone thinks losing is easy, but I always say that losing is easy, but winning is hard," Hollins said. "Winning takes a lot more. You go back to the old Celtics, the old UCLA teams, the Yankees, those teams, they have just do something that not everybody else does. It is not just talent. You go back to the Green Bay Packers in the '60. You just watch those teams, their professionalism, their togetherness. Their work ethic has been amazing. Of course, I love Joe Torre. I have been following the Yankees since Reggie Jackson was here. Reggie went to ASU. I went to ASU. We had the same agent. There are a lot of connections. I was a baseball player growing up. I was glad I didn't play baseball -- 162 games nearly every day."

Hollins was a first baseman.

Burning Q's: How should D-Will play?

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
2:33
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With training camp less than a month away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.

Today’s question: What type of player should Deron Williams be?

Deron Williams had the most efficient season of his career in 2007-08, shooting a career-high 50.7 percent from in the field and 39.5 percent from 3-point range. He attempted 1,117 field goals: 425 came at the rim (38 percent) and 210 came from downtown (18.8 percent). He dunked 15 times.

During his last two seasons with the Nets, Williams, plagued by ankle injuries, shot 44.4 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from 3-point range. Over that span, Williams attempted 1,840 field goals: 318 came at the rim (17.3 percent) and 715 came from downtown (38.9 percent). He dunked 10 times.

Clearly, Williams, who turned 30 on June 26, was no longer attacking the way he used to. Injuries likely had something to do with that. In 2013-14, he got to the free-throw line just 3.8 times per 36 minutes -- his lowest average since 2006-07, his second season in the NBA. He also dished out just 6.9 assists per 36 minutes -- his lowest average since his rookie year.

“If you’re injured, you can’t be who you are,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said recently. “You can’t make the same moves or be as explosive as you are, and it’s difficult to go out there and go 100 percent. You’re always worried about what’s going to happen if you push off, stop, change direction, all of those things.”

As Hollins said, it’s on him to put Williams in the best position to be successful. Does that mean playing the point guard off the ball more, something he did really well in Utah? Does it mean more pick-and-rolls than he’s run in the past? We’ll have to wait and see. But, as we’ve said a million times, if Williams is going to turn it around, it all starts with his health.
“I’m feeling good. The ankles are a lot better. We’ve got about 20 days until training camp starts [on Sept. 27],” Williams told FOX5 Wednesday. “Hopefully I’ll be ready for it.”

• The Nets will hold Media Day on Sept. 26, then participate in training camp from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6 at their practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J.

Shawn Marion signs with Cavs

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
3:26
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CLEVELAND -- Shawn Marion knows what it takes to win an NBA championship. The Cavs hope his experience will help them get one.

Cleveland signed the veteran free agent forward Tuesday, adding a player with an extensive postseason resume to a team targeting an NBA title.

Marion agreed to a one-year contract with the Cavs last month, but the sides didn't make it official until Tuesday. A 15-year veteran and four-time All-Star, Marion won a title with the Dallas Mavericks and wants to get a second in Cleveland.

"I'm excited to be a Cavalier," said Marion. "I can see the hunger and mentality of everyone in the organization and l look forward to being a part of it. The goal is to win a championship and that's what I want."

Last season, the 6-foot-7 Marion averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in 76 starts for the Mavericks. The Cavs believe he can help them offensively and defensively, but more importantly, in the playoffs. He's played in 103 career postseason games -- all starts -- and averaged 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds.

"Shawn brings great versatility, talent and championship experience to the team," said Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who previously worked with Marion in Phoenix. "He will impact both ends of the floor and his ability to guard multiple positions will be particularly important for us."


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Nets finish last in ESPN Insider's rankings

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
2:35
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The Brooklyn Nets finished dead last in ESPN Insider’s Future Power Rankings for September 2014.

A brief explanation: The Future Power Rankings are ESPN Insider's projection of the on-court success expected for each team in the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

The Nets received an overall score of 27.04 on a scale of 100. They got a 28/100 in players, 26/100 in management, 79/100 in market, 7/100 in draft and 9/100 in money.

Writes Amin Elhassan:

This is Russian for "welcome to the basement!" -- which is where the Ghosts of Bad Decisions Past have banished the Nets to for the foreseeable future. When they gave pick-swap rights to Atlanta for the right to overpay Joe Johnson, we said in unison, "No!"

When they gave up all those unprotected first-rounders for the last gasps of Kevin Garnett,Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, we all cried, "Don't do it!" When their luxury tax dwarfed the total payroll of every other NBA team, we collectively face-palmed.

But it didn't matter, as the Nets steamrolled their way to a team destined to be a second-round knockout, doubling down on an aging roster with limited upside. Add onto that Lawrence Frank debacle a month into last season, and the failed coup (and eventual departure) by Jason Kidd this summer, and it's easy to place the Nets among the most dysfunctional franchises in the NBA. As a result, here they are, with no cap respite until 2016, a depleted pick inventory and no blue-chip talent outside of the oft-injured Brook Lopez.
Mason Plumlee, Sergey Karasev and Bojan Bogdanovic are nice complementary pieces, and hiring Lionel Hollins was a solid move after the Kidd misstep, but the infrastructure in Brooklyn is so rotten that success cannot be realized without serious overhaul.


Over the summer, we touched on this in our mini-series about Nets GM Billy King and the need to define a clear direction for the franchise moving forward into the future.

Durant
The conversation inevitably turns to the summer of 2016, when Kevin Durant can become a free agent. Durant was recently at Barclays Center for a charity basketball game on behalf of his agency, RocNation Sports. While the game was going on, Durant walked around the bowels of the arena with RocNation president and chief of branding Michael Yormark, whose twin brother, Brett, is the CEO of the Nets. RocNation, of course, is hip hop mogul Jay Z’s agency, and the history between the Nets and Jay Z is well-documented at this point. You see the connections, and, well, you can’t help but dream.

Durant just signed a decade-long extension with Nike that could pay him upwards of $300 million, so he’ll already have the whole money thing taken care of. And that doesn’t even count other endorsements and his next max NBA deal. Pretty much any team with the requisite cap space is going to be clamoring for his services. So what may separate the Nets from the rest of the pack? Well, obviously the New York City market helps. A new state-of-the-art practice facility that is slated to open in 2015-16 should help, too. And as long as Russian billionaire still owns the team, the Nets are going to be committed to spending money and building a winner.

But what about surrounding talent? At the end of the day, that’s probably what Durant is going to be after: championships and legacy. Maybe he ends up winning a title or two in Oklahoma City before his contract is up and stays. If not, then how do the Nets go about separating themselves from other suitors in that department? LeBron James went to Miami because the Heat already had Dwyane Wade and were able to bring in Chris Bosh. He then went back home to Cleveland because the Cavaliers had Kyrie Irving and were able to bring in Kevin Love. Insta-Big 3s seem to be all the rage these days.

The Nets books for 2016-17 look like this: Deron Williams $22.3 million (early termination option); Jarrett Jack $6.3 million (unguaranteed); Bojan Bogdanovic $3.6 million (guaranteed); Sergey Karasev $2.5 million (team option); Mason Plumlee $2.3 million (team option); Marquis Teague $ million (qualifying offer); Markel Brown $1.2 million (qualifying offer) and Cory Jefferson $1.2 million (qualifying offer).

Basically, there’s a lot of flexibility there. Some nice pieces too. Just not that Wade or Iriving-type impact player. Using James as a comp, it seems that the key to luring a superstar of that caliber requires having an established superstar and the ability to bring in another.

The Nets have made some significant strides toward moving to Brooklyn. They went from being a lottery team to a consistent playoff team. Their fanbase continues to grow. Barclays Center is filled to capacity on most nights.

Still, have they reached their ceiling -- the second round of the playoffs -- with this core?

The Nets are at a crossroads. They have some talented veterans, but recently brought in some young complementary players. They traded several future draft picks away, but feel like they can buy picks to bring in young talent. Their strategy appears to be focused on the summer of 2016, which means they may have a tough decision on Brook Lopez. Do they sign him long-term? Or do they move in another direction.

Tough decisions must be made. A championship remains the goal. It’s just a matter of getting there. But if Durant stays or goes elsewhere, what is King’s contingency plan?

The Nets have been down this road of dreams before only to it shatter. Granted, they were still in New Jersey then. They’re in Brooklyn now. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Burning Q's: Most important defender?

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
8:00
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With training camp less than a month away, we’re examining the burning questions facing the Brooklyn Nets.

Today’s question: Who is the team’s most important defensive player?

Brook Lopez. And it’s up to Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins to help elevate his 26-year-old center’s D.

It’s weird. Lopez’s defensive stats last season were actually pretty good. In the 17 games he played, Lopez allowed opponents to shoot just 39.7 percent at the rim (9.2 attempts per game), and the Nets gave up only 102.7 points per 100 possessions with the 7-footer on the court.

But, for a variety of reasons -- you could see many of them with your own eyes on a nightly basis -- they weren’t a good team overall. They were 9-17 when he was lost for the season due to a foot injury, and then turned their season around without him, going 35-21 the rest of the way.

With Lopez out, the Nets went to a smaller, longer lineup and began forcing turnovers at a high rate.

Now, of course, Lopez is back. And assuming he’s healthy, Hollins will likely ask him to be the team’s defensive anchor in the paint once again.

Though his defense seems to have improved, Lopez has never been known for it. His pick-and-roll defense gets dissected constantly, as does his rebounding.

The Nets finished 28th in defensive rebound rate last season. And putting together a good defensive possession means forcing a missed shot and then not allowing second and third-chance opportunities, something the Nets struggled mightily with in 2013-14.

Hollins turned the Grizzlies into one of the best defensive teams in the NBA during his final three seasons in Memphis, the team finishing in the top-10 in defensive efficiency in each of those seasons.

Part of that, of course, was that Hollins had really good personnel. The other part was that Hollins can really coach up a defense.

Lopez is obviously a very gifted offensive player. But it’s on the defensive end where Hollins wants him to make an even bigger impact.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8