Blake Griffin finally made his debut for the Nets on Sunday.
It was the veteran forward’s two-handed dunk, the first since 2019, that brought the Barclays Center crowd to its feet. But it was Griffin’s subtle shock in the Nets’ win over Washington that made Steve Nash smile.
“I thought Blake was cool,” Nash said. “I don’t think he filled out the stat sheet, just his experience, intelligence, he made winning plays. In 15 minutes it was a plus-12, so I thought Blake was great, and you can see how he can help us. “
Griffin had just two points and two rebounds in 14:57. But by finishing one more-12 game, he showed basketball acumen and defensive versatility.
“He was a great man, just being back and getting a little rhythm was great,” Griffin said. “It is difficult to recreate the atmosphere of a real game. So to go out, you know you felt good and you felt like it was a good start. But you know, some have room for improvement, obviously. “
Griffin took over from Bradley Beal, pinned Landry Shamet wide for a corner triple and yes, he went through center Robin Lopez for a two-handed dunk. It was the first since December 2019, and the Cheshire Cat’s smile on the way to the court, with the Nets bench erupting, showed just how much it meant.
“It felt great. I knew that once it happened, it was going to be one thing. So I tried not to look at the bench when it came back down. But then I looked out and saw the DeAndre from the side, and I saw [everybody] standing. That is why it is difficult not to smile in that situation. But it felt good to get that out of the way and move on, ”said Griffin, who said he heard the reaction from the crowd.
“I think our crowd has been great,” he said. “Obviously limited, but our audience has been excellent. I noticed a bit, I was trying to stay locked in but I definitely listened [them]. But the best part about the big crowds is that when there is a moment in the game and the fans are informed, they know what is going on, they will cheer on anyone on our team. I always appreciate playing in front of crowds who know what’s going on. “
Landry Shamet sprained his right ankle and will be evaluated on Monday.
“I do not know [the severity]. They’ll definitely do a CT scan or imaging and we’ll go from there, ”Nash said. “But sadly, I have no further details.”
Kevin Durant missed his 15th straight game with a hamstring injury.
With the Nets having to fill one of their two open spots on the roster by Monday, they’ll do so by adding 6-foot-7, 212-pound forward Alize Johnson. The move was first reported by ESPN and confirmed by The Post.
Johnson, a 2018 second-round draft pick, had played sparingly for Indiana his first two years, shooting 41.4 percent from the field last season and 37.5 percent from deep. He dominated the G-League for Raptors 905 and is one of the favorites to be named the league MVP on Monday. He averaged 16.6 points and was second in rebounds (13.3) and efficiency (27.2).
Johnson attracted the interest of the Magic, Raptors, Rockets, Spurs and Suns, according to The Ringer. Brooklyn still has an open spot on the list with the trade deadline looming Thursday and Shamet’s injury. If they need a long-term replacement, JJ Redick, who lives in Brooklyn during the offseason, could be the fit.