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Wizards lose in Brooklyn debut


Wizards lose in Brooklyn debut

By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Nets brought professional sports back to Brooklyn with a victory Monday night, beating the Washington Wizards 98-88 in the first basketball game at the Barclays Center.

Brook Lopez had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who left New Jersey after last season for a new $1 billion home in Brooklyn. They were greeted by 14,219 fans on the night they became Brooklyn's first major pro sports team since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957.

Clearly trying for a triumphant opener even in a meaningless preseason game, the Nets brought All-Star point guard Deron Williams back on the floor to help protect a six-point lead with about 3 1/2 minutes left. He fed Gerald Wallace for a basket about 30 seconds later, and exchanged words and technical fouls with Wizards reserve A.J. Price after Price fouled him with 56.5 seconds remaining.

Andray Blatche scored 16 points, Joe Johnson had 14 and Williams finished with 11 points and nine assists for the Nets, 2-0 in the preseason.

Martell Webster scored 18 points and rookie Bradley Beal added 13 for the Wizards.

The Nets wore their road black uniforms with the word "Brooklyn" across the chest, designed and unveiled by rap mogul and team part-owner Jay-Z in one of his concerts here last month.

His influence, the new home and a flurry of offseason moves have brought the Nets nearly unprecedented attention for a team that was often ignored in its multiple New Jersey homes, no matter how good or bad the Knicks were during that time.

Shortly after the public address announcer greeted fans with a "Hello Brooklyn!" before introducing the Nets' lineup, Emeka Okafor made the first basket at the Barclays Center. The Wizards led by one after one, and the Nets took a 50-48 lead into halftime.

The Nets assembled a team they think will be a solid competitor during their first season here, re-signing Williams, Lopez, Wallace and Kris Humphries while acquiring players such as Johnson, C.J. Watson, Blatche, Reggie Evans, a quick rebuild for a team that lost 70 games just three seasons ago.

The move to Brooklyn took much longer. Owner and developer Bruce Ratner had to fight off dozens of lawsuits before the project could go forward, eventually selling a majority stake in the team to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov for enough funding to move ahead.

Minor work is still being completed, but the Nets will deal with any inconveniences after two years at the Prudential Center in Newark while waiting for the Barclays Center to be ready.

"It feels great on all levels to finally be here," Nets coach Avery Johnson said before the game. "You know, I left the building for two hours today, two or three hours, and just was kind of anxious to get back."

Seating 17,732 for basketball, the arena sits above the exit to an expanded subway station that is directly accessible by nine lines. Team officials believe the ease of traveling to the arena will help provide them with a home-court advantage that they never found in New Jersey. Fans were into the game, with a chant of "Brooklyn!" breaking out late in the fourth quarter.

NOTES: The Nets are the featured team this season on NBA TV's "The Association," a series offering behind-the-scenes access to the team. The debut episode is Tuesday night at 10 p.m. EDT.

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

USA Today Sports Images

Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!