Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Nets sign Jason Collins

HISTORY? Pressure? Jason Collins would have none of it after becoming the NBA's first active openly gay player. After all, it was almost game time.

"Right now I'm focusing on trying to learn the plays, learning the coverages and the game plan and the assignments. So I didn't have time to really think about history," Collins said at a crowded press conference less than an hour before his Brooklyn Nets faced the Lakers in Los Angeles last night.

Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Nets earlier yesterday. The 35-year-old center revealed at the end of last season he is gay, but he was a free agent and had remained unsigned.

Collins said he was aware of the magnitude of his signing, but repeatedly said he was most concerned with learning the Nets' schemes.

"The pressure is playing in an NBA game tonight and last time I played in an NBA game was last April," Collins said. "So I think that's enough pressure right there."

With a need for another big man, the Nets turned to the 7-foot Collins, who helped them reach two NBA Finals in the early 2000s.

"The decision to sign Jason was a basketball decision," general manager Billy King said in a statement. "We needed to increase our depth inside, and with his experience and size, we felt he was the right choice for a 10-day contract."

Collins has played 12 NBA seasons, including his first seven with the Nets, when they were in New Jersey and Jason Kidd was their point guard. Kidd is now the Nets' coach and Collins has been a teammate of several other current Nets.

In last night's game, Collins entered with 10:28 left in the second quarter and the crowd welcomed him with a nice ovation. Collins didn't score and had two rebounds in 11 minutes of play. The Nets edged the Lakers, 108-102, led by Deron Williams (30) and Paul Pierce (25).

In games yesterday

* At Oklahoma City, Jamal Crawford scored 36 points to help the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Thunder, 125-117. Kevin Durant had 42 points and 10 assists and Serge Ibaka added 20 points for the Thunder, who lost their second straight. It was the most points the Thunder have allowed this season.

* At Miami, with LeBron James watching from the bench in a suit and tie, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade powered the Heat to a 93-79 victory over the Chicago Bulls. James was a late scratch after he broke his nose in Thursday's win at Oklahoma City, and his teammates picked up the slack.

* At Toronto, Kyle Lowry scored 28 points, DeMar DeRozan had 24 and the Raptors beat Orlando, 105-90, handing the Magic their 15th straight road loss.

* At Cleveland, John Wall scored 21 points, Bradley Beal had 17 and the Washington Wizards beat the Cavaliers, 96-83. Spencer Hawes, in his second game with the Cavs, had 16 points and 12 rebounds.

* At Denver, Isaiah Thomas (33), Rudy Gay (32) and DeMarcus Cousins (27) combined for 92 points as Sacramento beat the Nuggets, 109-95.

* At Phoenix, Dwight Howard scored 25 points and James Harden added 23 as the Houston Rockets topped the Suns, 115-112.

* At Portland, Damian Lillard scored 32 and Nicolas Batum added 22 to help the Trail Blazers past Minnesota, 108-97.

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