Brooklyn Nets Jarrett Allen Delivers On the Consistency and Takes it Further

CLEVELAND — If only all things could be as simple as this.

Before the Brooklyn Nets played the Sacramento Kings back home at Barclays Center last Friday, head coach Kenny Atkinson was telling a little story about Jarrett Allen and consistency, something that was missing a bit for the third-year center over the first few weeks of this new season.

“I was kind of on him, quite honestly,” said Atkinson. “He responds. You say, ‘hey, you’re not consistent enough.’ He responded, ‘OK, I’ll become more consistent coach,’ and he becomes more consistent. It’s amazing. Just give him a task and he does it.

“I think he’s still a young guy learning the game and still progressing. But the rebounding, it keeps improving and the offensive rebounding was a big boon to us last game. We need that from him. We need it more consistently. There’s a lot more in Jarrett Allen. I think he can give us more.”

Since that evening, Allen has kept up that consistency. And Monday night against the Cavaliers, he delivered on the “give us more” part too. The 21-year-old posted his second career 20/20 game with 22 points and 21 rebounds in an every-bit-counts 108-106 win over the Cavs.

Afterwards, Spencer Dinwiddie, who ended up hitting the game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go, was dropping all the love for the win on the big man.

“My man had 20-20; 20 and 20. He won us the game,” said Dinwiddie. “We don’t have a game-winner without his block. We don’t have a game-winner without his rebound. He’s the one who got the loose ball after I blocked (Collin) Sexton’s shot. This is all JA. He won us the game. I’m just fortunate to hit a shot.”

Dinwiddie was so high on Allen’s play Monday night that his plan for the last possession — part of it at least — was just to get the ball on the rim and let Allen go get a rebound. And why not? Dinwiddie had nine offensive boards on the night. His putbacks were part of a 9-for-10 shooting performance that included a healthy variety of lob finishes.

“Still working on getting offensive rebounds,” said Allen. “I’m learning I can be a lot more careless with pushing people and being more physical now. When I got in the league, I wanted to do the right thing and not foul, but they don’t really call much.”

“Just his physical development,” said Atkinson. “That’s not the coaching staff. That’s our performance team. That guy spent another offseason with us, stayed in Brooklyn and worked on his body again. We knew that’s kind of his growth area. Real credit to him and our performance team, strength and conditioning team. He’s really matched Tristan (Thompson) kind of pound for pound tonight.”

And as for that block Dinwiddie mentioned, it really did make the game-winner possible. Jordan Clarkson was doing his usual number — “Please don’t go looking at the stats, because we cannot stop him,” said Atkinson. “He always plays great against us.” — in putting up 23 points, including a 3-pointer that brought the Cavs within a point with just over a minute to go.

Now with the game tied and under 10 seconds to go, he busted down the right side and lofted up a potential go-ahead shot. And then Allen flew in and sent it back into the Cleveland bench.

“Jordan was driving. (Garrett Temple) was doing a good job of staying on his hip, trying to make it tough for him,” said Dinwiddie. “He gave a little stutter step, continued to go to the basket, shot a floater. JA does what he does best, came weak side, punched it. I would have liked if he just caught it really. We’ll save that for another time.”

“I should have kept it in bounds,” said Allen. “I got a little excited, throw it out of bounds. If I would have tipped it up to myself and grabbed it, we would have got the possession.”

It was just as well. There were 5.6 seconds left on the shot clock when Allen rejected the shot, and the Nets quickly forced a shot clock violation to set up their final possession.

That covers the “give us more” bit, but as for the consistency that we opened up with, Allen has now posted five double-doubles in his last seven games, scoring in double figures every time. Over that run he’s averaging 14.4 points and 12.2 rebounds.

When it comes to Allen’s play over the last 10 days, his night-in, night-out assertiveness, Dinwiddie decided to take that for a ride a little bit.

“He’s finally playing like a man,” said Dinwiddie. “It’s so nice to see. It’s like when your little brother grows up and just starts doing things that you knew he could do, but you’re just like man, I’m waiting to see it. It brings a tear of joy to my eye. You have no idea.”