Nets Notes: Jarrett Allen Wins an Elite Matchup

Brooklyn center goes for 19 points and 18 rebounds against Utah and Gobert

In his first start of the season, Jarrett Allen matched up against one of the NBA’s top centers, and delivered a monster performance in Brooklyn’s 130-96 win over the Utah Jazz.

“He did it all,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “He rebounded, he protected the basket, he had a lot of pressure on protecting the basket. He blocked shots, he got steals. He was just so impactful. Incredible energy. Effective. Scored in traffic, scored through contact. Just did it all. Really proud of him and we’ve seen him continue to develop, and tonight was a phenomenal game against a top-quality team and a top-quality center.”

Allen turned in season highs of 19 points and 18 rebounds for his third double-double in the last four games, and he’s now sixth in the NBA with 11.6 rebounds per game. With his five offensive boards, he leads the league with 3.9 per game. Allen shot 8-for-9 to raise his field goal percentage to 69.2, and though he doesn’t qualify for the league leaderboard, that’s a higher rate than league leader Enes Kanter (69.2). He added three steals and two blocks in 32 minutes.

“JA is playing great basketball right now,” said Caris LeVert. “The whole season, he’s been playing great. But tonight, he definitely took a step forward in his own maturation, playing against one of the best defensive centers in the NBA and outplaying him tonight in my opinion. He played great basketball tonight, and that was really great to see because we know how much he works behind the scenes. It’s been cool to see his development over the past four years. From where he was on day one until now, I think he’s a totally different player and he’s only going to get better going forward.”

Utah center Rudy Gobert is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year who came into the game No. 2 in the league in rebounds, with the Jazz leading the league in team rebounding. But on Tuesday night, the paint belonged to Allen, who led the way in Brooklyn’s 51-42 rebounding advantage.

Aside from the physicality it took to win the battle against Gobert, Allen was fluid in working seamlessly with guards Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert in turning rolls to the rim into finishing plays. The highlight was a behind-the-back dish from Irving that Allen slammed home in traffic.

“Over the past couple years, one of the things was keep your hands ready, always have your hands ready to catch a ball,” said Allen, “and I think I’ve excelled at converting passes, being able to catch the hard throw ones, the ones that the guards won’t say are bad passes but kind of looks bad if I don’t catch it when they are, and just being able to be ready for anything.”

Allen closed his third NBA season last summer with a strong performance on the NBA Campus in Orlando, averaging 13.7 points and 14.0 rebounds over 10 games. Though he came off the bench over Brooklyn’s first seven games, the 22-year-old has continued to elevate his game, with double-digit rebounds in six of Brooklyn’s eight games so far. His per-36 rebounding rate of 17.4 is the highest in the NBA.

“Going back to rookie year, you’re a deer in the headlights,” said Allen. “I had a lot coming at me, and just looking at all the bigs that came before me, looking at all the bigs I had to play against, like being thrown into the fire at 19. And then, after that, playoffs and just having to learn on the job, and finally this year, I’m starting to put it all together, knowing what I have to do, knowing I could still be more physical out there and not being able to call fouls, getting respect from the refs, that’s a thing. Just going out there, playing my game, being comfortable over the past few years.”

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