December 16, 2017

Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson score career-highs, Caris LeVert leads Nets 2nd Unit, but team could not capitalize on Porzingas absence

For this reporter, being at the Barclays Center last night watching the Brooklyn Nets get routed by the New York Knicks was a bit surreal. It wasn’t that the Knicks defeated the Nets 111-104, but the atmosphere didn’t feel like a Nets home game. The home crowd was overrun by Knicks fans. The Nets entertainment team was hard-pressed to get a response from Nets fans to engage in its usual t-shirt toss and other activities. Who turns down a free t-shirt? Even if the Nets isn’t your team, it’s the holidays, give it away to a Nets fan. Next, as I was checking in on Facebook, every business came up as if I was at Madison Square Garden. Seriously, Facebook; I’m in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center.

Now back to the Nets game against the Knicks. Although the Nets seemed to be off-kilter, there were flashes of brilliance. Both Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson put in strong performances for the Nets scoring career-highs of 26 and 25 points, and seven rebounds respectively.

“I was just fortunate to hit shots,” Dinwiddie said about his performance against the Knicks on Thursday. “Last game, I couldn’t hit the side of a barn so today they went in and looked like a better game. That’s really it.”

Other Nets scoring leaders were Caris LeVert, who added 15 points, 5 rebounds, and five assists; and DeMarre Carroll chipped in 13 points. Tyler Zeller didn’t cross the double-digit line in points for the Nets, but he led the Nets in rebounds with eight.

The Nets’ bench is rated second in the NBA, but last night, the second unit just couldn’t find its rhythm, only mustering up 27 points. Meanwhile, the Knicks bench put up 45 points.

“I thought their second unit came in and just really took the game over,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media in his postgame presser. “Similar to the first game [against the Knicks], they turned up their pressure, their physicality really. I thought they were the much more physical team.”

Yes, the Knicks were very physical and proud of it.

Even the Nets three-point shooting was off as a result of the Knicks physicality. Brooklyn hit 12 of its 42 three-point shots partly because the Knicks’ physicality forced the Nets to take bad shots. Joe Harris, the Nets G/F, is a three-point specialist and Harris shot 1 for 7. Allen Crabbe, who has had a rough go of it lately, shot just 1 for 8, including 1 for 7 from behind the arc.

New York Knicks center Kristaps Porzingas, who proved nearly unguardable, left the game in the second quarter with an injured knee and the Nets could not take advantage of his absence for a “W” mainly because of the Knicks’ physical play.

For the Knicks, Courtney Lee led all scorers with 27 points. Michael Beasley scored 15 points; both Porzingas and Enes Kanter had 13 points with Kanter putting up nine rebounds, and Kyle O’Quinn was the leading rebounder for the Knicks with 10 rebounds.

Up next, the Knicks will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night, which will be Carmelo Anthony’s first visit to Madison Square Garden since leaving the team this season.

The Nets will visit the Toronto Raptors today and it will mark DeMarre Carroll’s first return to Toronto since leaving the Raptors. The Nets’ next home game is Sunday, December 17, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. against the Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center.

Spencer Dinwiddie says no excuses… “we have to make plays”; rookie Jarrett Allen scores a career-high 12 points

A mid-afternoon NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center on Saturday featuring the first of a home and home game between the Brooklyn Nets (8-13) and the Atlantic Hawks (4-17) on paper looked promising for the Nets. The Nets were riding high from a two out of three-game road win against Western conference teams. Brooklyn also had twice as many wins as the Hawks, and Atlanta was without three players. However, to the Hawks good fortune, they met up with a lethargic Nets team allowing Atlanta to leave the building with a 114-102 victory.

“I thought they dominated us in every area, they were the more aggressive team,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media during a postgame presser. “I thought they were the quicker team, they were outstanding. I really have to give them a lot of credit. Coach Bud and his staff; we could never really guard them. We could not keep them in front of us. I don’t know how many paint points they had and that was really the story of the game. Couldn’t guard them, couldn’t keep them in front.”

“You have to give credit to the Atlanta Hawks,” Nets forward DeMarre Carroll said in a locker room postgame presser. “They came out and basically kicked our butt. We didn’t have any energy. We came out lackadaisical and we knew coming off of a three-game road trip, this tends to happen and we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”

A follow-up question was asked if the lack of confidence or fatigue could have factored into the loss. It could not have been lack of confidence, as Atlanta came into the Barclays Center with a 4-17 record vs. the Nets’ 8-13 record. But let “DC” explain it.

“No, I think it was a little bit more of coming back home, sleeping in your own bed, trying to get that rhythm and I feel that we just couldn’t get it,” Carroll explained. “No matter who we put out there, we just couldn’t get it. But the beauty of it, we play them again and hopefully, we can get them on the road.”

“There’s no blaming on the road trip,” Spencer Dinwiddie responded with a no excuses attitude. “Being what we aspire to be, which is a good team, we have to make plays, whether it’s a road trip, home game, away game or whatever it is. We have to come out and bring the juice and get a win.”

Dinwiddie scored a team-high 15 points with six rebounds, a game-high nine assists, and a career-high three blocks for the Brooklyn Nets. Joe Harris added 13 points, and Allen Crabbe, Sean Kilpatrick, and Jarrett Allen each contributed 12 points. The rookie Allen’s 12 points is a career-high to go along with his six rebounds and one block in 17 minutes off the bench today. It marked Allen’s first career double-digit scoring game.

For Atlanta, Dennis Schroder scored 24 points and Luke Babbitt scored 20 points off the bench.

The Nets get an opportunity to redeem themselves against the Hawks on Monday in Atlanta. Brooklyn also has two “home games” in Mexico City before returning to the Barclays Center; they play OKC on December 7 and the Miami Heat on December 9, and then return to the Barclays Center to play the Wizards on Tuesday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Without D’Angelo Russell, the Nets leading scorer, the Boston Celtics defeat the Brooklyn Nets 109-102

Returning from a West coast swing, Tuesday night at the Barclays Center was the Nets first game at home in 14 days, and they were without leading scorer, D’Angelo Russell who is suffering from a left knee contusion. He was hurt in the loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

As good as the Celtics are, this wasn’t a game where Boston was out front for the entirety and Brooklyn was trying to play catch up all night. The Celtics started 7 of 9 from the field to lead 17-4, and ended the first quarter 30-21. However, the Nets jumped ahead in the second quarter and countered every time Boston threatened to pull away until the final minutes. Ultimately, the Celtics won their 13th straight victory, defeating the Nets 109-102.

What made the difference in tonight’s game for the Celtics?

“I thought, obviously, answering Brooklyn’s runs,” responded Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “You knew they (Nets) were going to come out and the first part we played great but we didn’t sustain it through probably the next two quarters. But then we mustered up enough at the end of the third to get a lead that went quick, which if you watch Brooklyn play that happens all the time. They do a great job of continuing to grind on you and making it as tough as possible. And they come back a lot. You knew it was going to be tough. I thought our group, once it got settled, played pretty well. ”

In the metrics that mattered, Boston out-rebounded Brooklyn 59-48 and the Nets 62.5 free throw percentage was abysmal compared to the Celtics’ 81.5 percent.

Joe Harris, the Nets three-point specialist, led Nets scorers with 19 points and described the Nets deficiencies against the Celtics.

“A lot of times bad shots offensively can make it really tough on your defense and I think that was a little bit of what happened to us,” Harris explained. “When we don’t play together and when we don’t play with the pass, a lot of times we take difficult shots and a lot of times that’s very similar to a turnover and they’re able to get in a good offense off of tough shots that we were taking.”

“I thought we had a lot of periods where we were really good moving it (the ball),” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought Caris (LeVert) gave us a big boost. He really came in and he’s able to break down the switches when they do switch so he can go by guys, go by their bigs when they do switch. But overall, first half we had 15 assists. I’m not sure what we ended up with, 27? So that’s good news for us. That’s higher than our season average so a lot of positives. Obviously frustrated with the result but they’re an excellent team. They have a lot of talent, a lot of athletic talent that you saw on display tonight.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 16 points and nine rebounds for the Nets; while Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert added 15 points apiece. Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 12 points, a career-high-tying 11 assists (with just one turnover), four rebounds and one block in his third start of the season tonight.

For Boston, Kyrie Irving, who wore a facial mask all night because of a facial fracture, led all scorers with 25 points. Irving suffered a facial fracture in Boston's win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. Marcus Morris scored 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, Al Horford led the Celtics in rebounding with 11 boards, and Jayson Tatum added 19 points.

Next up, Boston meets up with the Golden State Warriors in Boston on Thursday night, while the Nets host the Utah Jazz on Friday at the Barclays Center.

In a tale of two halves, the Nuggets defeat the Nets 124-111 at the Barclays Center

In a game where the Brooklyn Nets ended the first half with a 63-60 lead against the Denver Nuggets at the Barclays Center, it makes you wonder what happened during the halftime break. A one-sided, lop-sided third quarter saw the Nets shoot 1-for-15 to start the second half allowing the Nuggets to outscore Brooklyn 34-6 over the first 8:15 of the quarter to run their lead to 94-69. Ouch, yes really ouch.

In the fourth quarter, the Nets got close, 106-95 with 8:49 to go, but a pivotal moment came when Denver’s Gary Harris scored a 3-pointer for Denver and the Nets just couldn’t close the gap.

So how did the Nets start the downhill slide?

“I thought we were pretty good defensively for three quarters and the third quarter we gave up 40 points,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “Felt like the ball stopped moving collectively and sometimes bad offense turns into good offense for the other team. Just a disappointing third quarter, I think that’s where they got their edge. ”

“Defense,” explained Nets guard D’Angelo Russell. “We struggled to get stops, they capitalized. That was it.”

“Teams are good, so when you turn the ball over or struggle to get good offense, other teams will make something happen out of that – and they’re a great offensive team so, like I said, they made something happen,” Russell continued. “I think we started playing harder, but it was too late. It kind of knocked us back and woke us up at the same time. Just try to go into games and not need that wake-up call for us to get going and play harder.”

Spencer Dinwiddie scored a career-high-tying 22 points for the Nets with four rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes off the bench. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 18 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes tonight, and Joe Harris tied his season-high with 16 points. Timofey Mozgov recorded a season-high 11 rebounds to go along with seven points in 21 minutes.

For Denver, the scoring leaders were Jamal Murray with 26 points, and Nikola Jokic had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

The Nets take on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

Without D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie leads all Nets scorers to help overcome LeBron James’ triple-double for the win

When the NBA’s best Eastern Conference team with the best player in the league comes to play the team that finished last in the league, no one would begrudge you if you thought that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers would crush the Brooklyn Nets. However, in true Brooklyn Nets fashion, expect the unexpected; the Nets spoiled the Cavaliers narrative with a 112-107 upset. This isn’t supposed to happen and on the second night of a back-to-back, incredible!

With D’Angelo Russell on the bench, the Nets were a little sluggish shooting 2-of-11 from the field coming out the gate in the first stanza. But, then something clicked and the Nets finished the first quarter leading the Cavaliers led 26-23.

Spencer Dinwiddie in for Russell made the best of his “call-up.” Usually part of the second unit, on this night, Dinwiddie was part of the starting five. Maximizing the opportunity, Dinwiddie scored a career-high 22 points (7-of-13 FG, 4-of-8 3FG, 4-of-4 FT) to go along with five rebounds and a season-high six assists in a season-high 32 minutes.

“Spencer organized us,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He hit some big shots, he was aggressive. We keep pushing him to be more aggressive, be more aggressive and tonight he really stepped up, hit some big shots and played excellent defense.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson put his "stamp on" the third quarter and when it was all said and done, Hollis-Jefferson scored a season-high 19 points with six rebounds, two assists and a season-high-tying three blocks in 35 minutes.

A real team effort, Allen Crabbe scored 19 points (6-of-14, 4-10 3PT, 3-3 FT), 3 assists, 2 rebounds in 24 minutes. DeMarre Carroll recorded 18 points, seven rebounds, and a season-high four steals in 32 minutes. Joe Harris’ ability to space the floor and his three-point shooting ability, gave the Nets 11 points (3-of-7 from three) in 18 minutes.

For Cleveland, LeBron James led all scorers with 29 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists, and four blocked shots. Kyle Korver scored 22 points, Jeff Green added 18 points and six rebounds, and Kevin Love chipped in 15 points and 12 rebounds.

“They shoot the long ball and they shoot it, “said James. “They shot 46 three’s I believe. They’re just playing free, free of mind, that’s exactly how they are playing. They’re just moving it, they’re sharing it, and that’s good ball.”

“They let it fly,” Love added. “They drive the ball, drive-and-kick, and then play up-tempo. They use it as a weapon and showed that tonight.”

While Cleveland gave the Nets their props on a game well-played, Nets coach Atkinson tried to downplay it just a little.

“It’s the NBA and there’s another game in two days, but yeah I think it shows that we’re making progress. I’m sure they’re (Cavaliers) rounding into form, maybe not in peak form right now, I do understand that. We’re not going to celebrate all night long because of this but I do think we should feel good about ourselves and again I think it’s more about bouncing back from last night is a real key. Then on top of it, it’s a great team, it’s a good win for our organization.”

Brooklyn Nets defeat the Miami Heat 107-88 and win two-consecutive games

The Brooklyn Nets are back and Thursday night was the Nets’ first preseason home game for the NBA’s 2017-18 season. Playing the Miami Heat in front of a decent size crowd at the Barclays Center, the Nets showed its hometown fans that they are attempting to live up to its marketing slogan, #WeGoHard, as it crushed the Miami Heat 107-88.

And, for the answer to the question many Nets observers have been waiting for…how well will Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell play on the court?

So far, it looks pretty well. There were no obvious displays of ball hogging and side-eye looks. Lin, who had three fouls in the first quarter, scored 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting; while Russell struggled a bit only putting up nine points on 4-of-12 shooting with four turnovers.

In addition to Lin, other double-digit scorers included Sean Kilpatrick with 14 points, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris chipped in 10 each.

Spencer Dinwiddie had a team-high six assists.

The Nets are still pushing the three-pointer, nailing 10-of-30 from behind the arc; even Timofey Mozgov hit a three-pointer and Quincy Acy, moving with the fast tempo offense, scored back-to-back threes in the first quarter.

Defensively, judging by tonight’s game, the Nets look like they are moving in a positive direction, scoring 27 points off turnovers and out-rebounding the Heat, 62-37. Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll, Mozgov and Trevor Booker each had eight rebounds or just over 51 percent of the Nets’ rebounds.

The referees thought Booker was taking the #WeGoHard a little bit too literally and so, Booker was called for a Flagrant 1 foul in the first quarter.

Jarrett Allen, a rookie from the University Texas that the Nets picked up at No. 22 in the first round of this year’s NBA Draft, made his NBA debut grabbing five rebounds and a block heard around the arena.

There were a lot of things to like about the Nets tonight, here’s to pushing the envelope for the rest of the season.

#BrooklynProud.

NOTES:

  • The next home preseason game for the Nets is on Sunday, October 8, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. against the New York Knicks.
  • Speaking of calls, it looks like the NBA is cracking down on traveling, as the referees made a number of traveling calls tonight.

Jeremy Lin still on the sideline with injury; Nets go into NBA All-Star break with a 13-game losing streak and a 9-47 record, the worst in the league

‘Twas their last game before the NBA All-Star break and fans were flowing into the Barclays Center to watch the Brooklyn Nets host the Milwaukee Bucks. It has been a rough season for the Nets who entered the contest looking to break a 13-game losing streak and avoid a series sweep with the Bucks for the season. Nets point guard Jeremy Lin was on the sideline again with a hamstring injury but it is believed that Lin will return to action after the All-Star break. Quincy Acy was also listed as inactive for the Nets. On a positive note, Brooklyn power forward Trevor Booker was listed as questionable prior to the game but did suit up to take the court.

While the Bucks would be without their power forward Jabari Parker, they did have the man affectionately known as the “Greek Freak”, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Limiting the offensive power of Antetokounmpo would be a tall order but one that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was capable of fulfilling.

After winning the opening tip-off, the Nets exploited the Bucks’ inability at defending the three-point line as center Brook Lopez hit his first two three-point attempts helping Brooklyn jump to an early 11-5 lead. In the first quarter, Brooklyn only committed two turnovers. The Nets’ inability to take care of the ball has plagued them this season. Even though they were able to reduce their turnovers, the Nets were ineffective at defending the pick and roll leading to Milwaukee points in the paint. At the end of the quarter, Brooklyn trailed by six points.

Milwaukee built on their lead in the second quarter but the offensive spark provided by Booker off the bench kept the game within reach for the Nets. Lopez continued his excellent play which brought Brooklyn within two points at the half.

The start of the third quarter was difficult for the Nets as their offense went cold and further hampered by the amount of turnovers committed by the Nets. In his postgame conference, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson acknowledged the issue and the possible causes of the turnovers.

“I just felt like we’re trying to make difficult plays when the simple play is available,” Atkinson told reporters after the game. “And, what can I say? We’re going to keep working on it.”

Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s offense ran like a machine going on a 15-4 run resulting in Brooklyn trailing by 13 points going into the fourth quarter. In order to leave the court with a win, the Nets had very little margin for error. Lopez’s play has always been steady and stellar but one man can’t do it alone. Fortunately for Brooklyn, he didn’t have to. Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie were instrumental in the surge that brought the Nets within two points with one minute remaining. Unfortunately, the Nets fell short by four points, 129-125. Dinwiddie gave some insight into his goals going into the fourth when he said that he wanted to “just get quality looks and hopefully get stops on the other end and just cut into the lead.”

Even though the season has not been stellar in terms of wins and losses, one thing that has remained consistent and positive for Brooklyn has been their competitive spirit.

Brooklyn Nets could not contain the fiery Paul George

Paul George and Jeff Teague were the tag team that carried the Pacers to a 106-97 win over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Friday night. In the loss, the Nets dropped eight straight and 11 consecutive losses at home.

Brooklyn trailed for the entire game before taking its first lead 85-83 with 8:37 left on a 3-pointer from Quincy Acy, who just signed a multi-year contract with the Nets. Acy scored his eight points in 12:33 minutes. Although Acy was signed for his defensive skills and physicality, his 12 minutes were in the fourth quarter.

On the other hand, Caris LeVert, who only scored four points, saw 29:42 minutes.

“I thought we needed his defense really at the end,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about LeVert at a postgame presser. “I know we struggled offensively, but I feel very comfortable with having him out there. Defensive end, we knew that they were going to go to that one-three pick and roll, so putting him on (Jeff) Teague – turned out he got on Paul George after the switch and really did a good job – Paul hit a great shot with a hand in his face. So it was really defensively. And then offensively, sure, they’re young guys and sometimes they do too much and I think that’s our job. We have to rein them in a little bit and again improve our execution, help them make the simpler play, keep defining their roles and what we are looking from them offensively.”

George and Teague led all scorers with 24 points each and George added to his tally 11 rebounds. Helping out Indiana were Myles Turner and Aaron Brooks both with 11 points, and Thaddeus Young chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds.

In the loss, Brook Lopez scored 23 points and six rebounds for the Nets. Sean Kilpatrick had 18 points, Joe Harris added 15 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 13 points.

The Nets have had several close losses, even if they bounce back the next day, right after the loss you can tell it hurts.

“It’s not for lack of effort or lack of trying,” said Lopez after the Nets loss to the Pacers. “We just have to really get over that hump. It’s just going to take all of us being on the same page and working and believing we can do it in the last five or three minutes of the game.”

The Nets play Toronto on Sunday at 12 noon at the Barclays Center.

A bright spot, rookie Isaiah Whitehead led all Brooklyn Nets scorers with his career-high 19 points in 29 minutes

The San Antonio Spurs arrived in Brooklyn for Monday evening’s matchup with the Nets as a banged up group. Pau Gasol (left hand), Manu Ginobili (back spasms), and Tony Parker (foot) are all on the mend right now. Even Kawhi Leonard (hand), who will be starting his second straight All-Star game in February, is resting for precautionary reasons. One would think that the Nets would be getting a break not having to deal with Leonard’s many talents, but this is the Spurs, and for this storied franchise, drafting and finding quality talent across the globe is a significant part of their fabric.

Without their stars, the Spurs displayed that global talent through their depth as Patty Mill’s big second quarter set the stage for an 112-86 rout over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. The Nets were competitive in the first half for the most part but with three minutes left until the half, Brooklyn had a melt-down defensively and the Aussie had a lot to do with it. With the Spurs nursing a slim one-point lead, 39-38, Kyle Anderson would find Mills at the top of the key, wide-open, for a three that improved their lead to 42-38 with 2:41 remaining in the quarter.

After Trevor Booker’s one-handed dunk brought the Nets to within three, 43-40, Mills slipped around a screen to drain a mid-range jumper assisted by former New York Knick David Lee, which put the Spurs up five, 45-40 with 1:30 left until halftime. A couple plays later, following two Nets turnovers, Mills would be involved, contributing to three straight Spurs baskets, finding Dewayne Dedmon off a pick-n-roll, draining a 20-foot jumper and another three. He scored nine points in the final three minutes of the quarter, helping the Spurs to build a ten-point 52-42 lead heading into halftime.

“The game plan is still the same,” Mills said post-game in regards to not having their stars. “What’s expected of us is the same. So it’s just that opportunity.”

And I am assuming what is expected is excellence. Midway through the third, the Spurs defense buckled down and frustrated the Nets into bad shots, which included Booker attempting a three at the 6:33 mark, which is not what the Nets want on offense.

Prior to Booker’s miss, Jonathan Simmons 19-foot jumper which put the Spurs up 68-54 with 6:43 left till the fourth jumpstarted an 11-2 run that signaled the end of any competitiveness this game displayed earlier during the first half.

The Nets average 105.8 points per game and the Spurs held them to 86 points total. They also forced the Nets to shoot a horrendous 5-25 from three-point range equivalent to 20 percent. Despite the defensive turnaround favoring his teams’ effort in the second, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich still wants more from his team early in games.

“I think it’s been our pattern really,” Popovich said post-game. “The first half we usually play pretty mediocre defense for some reason, I haven’t figured it out yet. Second half we turned it up defensively and that’s usually the key for us because it fuels the offense, so it’s just a matter of trying to make stops.”

Brook Lopez, the Nets leading scorer (20.3 ppg) scored eight first quarter points and two points each in the second and third quarters, finishing with 12 points and four rebounds for the game. He would go scoreless in the fourth but by that time the game was already decided. The Spurs frustrated Lopez down on the block, so much so that the big collected a technical foul within the first minute of the second quarter.

The Nets, collectively, had a tough shooting night (39 percent) and Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson believes that their recent stretch of playing three games in four nights could have something to do with it.

“I think we fought in New Orleans, Charlotte, but tonight we just didn’t have the requisite energy,” Atkinson said during his post-game press conference. “…I just think their energy level was at a much higher level than ours.”

As far as positives for the young group, Isaiah Whitehead led all Nets scorers with 19 points in 29 minutes but was a minus 20 on the floor which needs to be better. The steady Sean Kilpatrick scored 17 points and Spencer Dinwiddie, who started chipped in 13.

What’s missing in all of this is the play of Caris LeVert. The rookie’s play of late has been inspiring and in their ninth win of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans last Friday, the former Wolverine scored 17 points. The Net’s could’ve used his length and size against someone like Mills on the perimeter who finished with 20 points on the evening.

“We can’t blame it on (LeVert) and Joe Harris for that matter being out,” Atkinson said post-game. “We have a roster of 15 and we expect the same type of energy from our guys that are going to take those minutes.”

It’s pretty clear that the Nets are not the Spurs. The Spurs can afford to have as many stars out and still play at a top-tier level. Even without, Gasol, Parker, Leonard and Ginobili, Lamarcus Aldridge still played and Mills is a champion.

Aldridge (16 pts 9 rebs), Anderson (14 pts), Dedmon (10 pts), Lee (15 pts), Davis Bertans (11 pts) and Jonathan Simmons (11 pts) would all join Mills in double figures which illustrate a luxury that the Nets just don’t have.

Against the Miami Heat (15-30), who will invade Barclays on Wednesday night, the Nets will need all the help they can get.

Raptors Backcourt, Minus Lowry, Sends Nets To 11th Straight Loss

The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Toronto Raptors, Tuesday evening, for the second time in less than a week. In the last contest, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan would combine to score 48 points, leading Toronto to a 19-point win, 132-113. Unfortunately for the Nets, they would endure the same fate, this time around, losing 119-109, but instead of DeRozan teaming up with his usual backcourt mate in Lowry, and unlikely hero came off the bench to start and torched the Nets perimeter defense.

Corey Joseph, who started in Lowry’s place (rest), scored a career-high 33 points, supplemented with DeRozan’s monster performance of 36 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to lead the Raptors to their third straight victory over the Nets for the season.

At halftime, Joseph scored nearly half of his game total, with 18 points, but in the third quarter, the Raptors, thanks to their fifth year guard, would start to pull away after a competitive first half.

Toronto (28-13) would trade baskets with the Nets for the first six minutes of the third, and after Jonas Valanciunas’s layup, which put the Raptors up by two, 73-71, Joseph went on a mini-scoring run all by himself. He would score five straight points, including a desperation three, at the top of the key, with the shot-clock expiring.

“(Kyle) provides a lot of scoring for us,” Joseph said post-game. “I knew that slot would be missing today, so I took it upon myself to try to be more aggressive, try to be aggressive and take what the defense gave me.”

It was only five points and put the Raptors up 78-73 at the five-minute mark, but following that make, Toronto would get into a groove defensively, forcing three turnovers in the next two and a half minutes. Their five-point lead became nine, as the Raptors would transform those turnovers into points, capped off by a breakaway fast-break dunk by Valanciunas, off of a Randy Foye turnover.

In the final period, Joseph would continue terrorizing the Nets, scoring 13 points, blowing by his defenders, making them look silly. But this particular fourth quarter, where games are decided, belonged to DeRozan.

Joseph scored more than his All-Star teammate’s 10 points but the difference is, it seemed like DeRozan made shots exactly when Toronto needed them. When Sean Kilpatrick cut the deficit to six points on two made free-throws, 99-93, DeRozan answered on the other end converting a floater, spinning off of his defender, to put the Raptors back up by eight for the second time in the quarter, with 7:54 remaining.

With the Nets threatening to cut into the lead, once again, down nine at the 6:50 minute mark, 103-94, DeRozan would hush the crowd again. He drained a 10-foot jumper at the free-throw line increasing the Raptors lead to 11 and on their next offensive possession, DeRozan struck again, hitting a floater over the defense, which put Toronto up 13, 107-94 with six minutes left in the quarter.

Prior to DeRozan’s big second half, he struggled early, shooting three of 14 from the field for 16 points heading into the half.

“I just kept playing the same way,” DeRozan said post-game. “You know, getting good looks and just going out there and I know it’s going to come, it’s just more so being patient, not really worrying about the misses.”

For the Nets, Brook Lopez led all scorers with 28 points and Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert, all scored in double-figures chipping in 11 and 14 each respectively.

In the first half, the Nets were clicking on both sides of the ball, led by Lopez and Jefferson. Lopez scored 19 of his 28 points in the first half, highlighted by a couple of spin, step-through layups in the post that were Hakeem Olajuwon-esque on Valanciunas. Jefferson had some nice moments, taking his defender off the dribble, scoring 10 points at the half and as a group the Nets were looking good up 61-58.

In the third and fourth quarters, things went downhill for the Nets on offense due to the Raptors increased defensive pressure on Lopez. Toronto keyed in on the big-man, sending extra defenders and made sure to get the ball out of his hands. On several occasions, turnovers ensued and the Nets, collectively, just couldn’t find a rhythm on offense to prevent their 11th straight loss.

Despite their issues, the Nets know the season is far from over and can only do one thing: keep playing.

“You got to keep going,” Lopez said post-game. “We have a young group and we’re learning a lot on the fly so you got to just stay positive. We’re doing a lot well, just has not translated in the win column. I think we’re definitely going to break through soon. We just got to give ourselves a chance every night.”

One of the bright spots on the Nets has been LeVert’s play as of late. The rookie who missed most of training camp, scored 14 points with four assists and took the challenge of going up against DeRozan, at times, on both ends. His play has sparked the debate of whether he should be taking teammate, Joe Harris’s minutes and head coach Kenny Atkinson acknowledged that it is something that he has to mull over going forward.

“He’s getting more confidence,” Atkinson said regarding LeVert’s play. “He’s got the athleticism at that position that we need and the size and the quickness. I think, again, once the game slows down a little more, he’s even going to get better.”

The Nets are now 8-33 on the season, and haven’t won since last year in late December against the Charlotte Hornets.

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