BROOKLYN – Even for Queens native Hamidou Diallo, there were a series of firsts coming back to New York this week.
Diallo had never played in the Barclays Center until Wednesday’s 114-112 win against the Brooklyn Nets. Despite being a subway ride away from downtown Brooklyn, Diallo’s only live exposure to the Nets was when they were representing New Jersey.
“I didn’t get to make it to any games when they were the Brooklyn Nets,” Diallo said. The Nets moved to Brooklyn in 2012 when Diallo was 14.
Diallo also had to adjust to coming off an injury and missing significant playing time for the first time in his young career. The results weren’t pretty in five minutes of game action.
Diallo did the hard part, grabbing an offensive rebound, but then sent a pass sailing over Dennis Schroder‘s head. It was Diallo’s second turnover in two minutes to start the second quarter. He played less than three minutes before he was subbed out for Terrance Ferguson.
Diallo was understandably rusty, the 20-year-old playing his first game in two weeks. He missed the Thunder’s previous five games after spraining his left ankle against Golden State on Nov. 21.
That didn’t matter to Magor Mbengue, 30, a childhood friend of Diallo’s sister, who was seated just a few rows from the Thunder’s bench.
“Hami and my little sister are best friends, around the same age range,” Mbengue said. “I remember playing basketball in the neighborhood and he used to come around.
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