December 17, 2017

Nets overcome 28–point deficit to move within four points of Warriors, but couldn’t get the lead

Many a professional athlete or team has heard the term “fear no team” or “make them play your game” or “bring the game to them.” Unfortunately, during the first half of the Nets’ game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn played as though they didn’t get this directive.

The Nets ended the first-half down 22 points with the score 64-42; and slipped to a 28-point deficit (78-50) with 8:34 left in the third stanza.

No disrespect to the home team because despite serious injuries to its top players D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin, the Nets are showing flashes of brilliance, most recently with its win against the Utah Jazz and the second half of this game against the Warriors.

The cause of the first-half free-fall is bewildering, but Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson says it was, “energy”.

“I would say energy, not being locked in from the start, Hollis-Jefferson offered as an explanation. “We have to put some blame on ourselves. Couple turnovers, missed shots. Just my energy wasn't there like it should be from the start of the game.”

But then suddenly, a switch was turned on and Brooklyn miraculously outscored the Warriors 42-34 in the third quarter. Those 42 points marking the most points the Nets have ever scored in any quarter this season (previous high: 39 points in the first quarter in its last game vs. Utah on Friday). Overall, the Nets outscored the Warriors 69-54 in the second half.

Even Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson couldn’t put his finger on what happened to make this game a tale of two halves?

“Our spirit,” responded Atkinson. “I really can’t explain what happened in the first half – why we came out so spiritless and lack of energy. Granted, great team and respect, I thought we were kind of frozen by the moment. The second half, our spirit was better. We competed much better. I thought we handled their switches a lot better, so a lot of positive things there. I thought Jarrett Allen came in and gave us a guy that could roll to the rim and that opened up a little bit for us.”

Energy and spirit are a bit ethereal, but somehow it translated into physicality in the second half in order for the Nets to claw its way back to within four points with two-and-half minutes left in the game. But, on the real, Atkinson believes it was the Nets’ defensive effort in the second half that helped.

“I thought we did a better job defensively fighting through their screens,” Atkinson continued. “That’s the real (thing). They have their on-ball screens, their pick-and-roll defense and they hit you on those screens and we’ve got to avoid – I thought we did a better job. And their off-ball screens, I thought we did a better job fighting through. But really, our offense was historically poor in that first half and talking about the defense, we just weren’t very good. I thought in the second half we figured out their switches a little better. We didn’t figure it out totally, but that’s what makes them so good. They can switch on you and then they can guard you. They can sit down and guard one through five, and it makes it difficult but we did do a better job of attacking the switches in the second half.”

However, as Atkinson said, in the second half, the Nets started fighting through screens on defense and attacking switches on offense, which ultimately helped the Nets to chip away at their deficit. Seeing the Nets storm back to come within four points of the Warriors with two-and-a-half minutes left to play was a bit worrisome for Golden State’s head coach Steve Kerr, but in the end, he breathed a sigh of relief and gave a tip of the hat to the Nets.

“Winning on the road on a back-to-back is a hard thing to do so it’s a great accomplishment to win these last two,” Kerr stated. “It wasn’t a great second half for us, obviously, but Brooklyn brought it and I give them credit. They (Nets) set the tone. We had to withstand their run and luckily we did. It was good execution in the last few minutes when Steph Curry went out.”

“In the second half Brooklyn was putting their heads down and going to the rim,” Kerr added. The aggressors will always get the benefit of doubt. They earned their free throws in the second half. We committed some silly fouls. We committed some that were questionable. It didn’t matter, they were the aggressors. That’s how they got back in the game, at the line.”

Hollis-Jefferson agreed.

“I would just say it was our resiliency, our grit, toughness, you know getting into the ball,” Hollis-Jefferson proffered. “Playing our game and having fun doing it. I feel like that got us over the hump. Enjoying seeing one another succeed was something, we kind of, it felt good to be out there doing that. The outcome wasn't as we expected, but we gotta give ourselves credit for that second half.”

For the Nets, Allen Crabbe scored a season-high-tying 25 points (9-of-19 FG, 6-of-11 3FG, 1-of-2 FT) with seven rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes in the Nets’ loss. Crabbe’s six made 3-pointers marked a season-high and matched the Nets’ season-high set by Spencer Dinwiddie’s six made threes on Friday vs. Utah.

Other Brooklyn Nets scoring leaders were Dinwiddie who posted 21 points with eight assists in 31 minutes. DeMarre Carroll recorded his second double-double of the season with 15 points and a season-high-tying 11 rebounds in 34 minutes. Hollis-Jefferson posted his first double-double of the season. He totaled 16 points, a game-high and season-high 12 rebounds and a season-high five assists. Caris LeVert came off the bench and tallied 13 points with four rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 22 minutes.

For the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry was a little more aggressive because of Kevin Durant’s absence. He scored 39 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out of the game. Draymond Green had eight assists for the Warriors.

Up next, the Brooklyn Nets will play the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday. The Nets next home game will be against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, November 24, 2017, at 12 noon at the Barclays Center.

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.”

Allen Crabbe leads Nets with 20 points and with success against the Hawks, the team secures back-to-back wins

Can you say Brooklyn Nets and winning streak? Yes, you can!

The Nets defeated the Hawks, 116-104, on Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center and now have a two-game winning streak. If you’ve been following the Nets for the last two seasons, you may recall that it wasn’t until the Nets played 71 games of an 82-game schedule last season before winning back-to-back games.

Allen Crabbe, one of the new members of the Brooklyn Nets acquired this summer came up big Sunday, scoring 20 points with 10 in the fourth quarter to help the Nets beat the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets improve to 2-1 with their second straight victory.

"I told myself I just wanted to be a little more aggressive within the offense," Crabbe said. "They're giving me the green light to shoot the ball, so why not. It's not going to hurt me to get them up."

Crabbe made 7 of 12 shots in 25 minutes, and with Jeremy Lin out for the season, Crabbe could have started, but he asked to come off the bench.

"He is the ultimate team guy, ultimate professional," Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. "He said, 'I'll come off the bench. That's better for my rhythm.' Everybody wants to start. To me, it shows what kind of guy he is."

NBA veteran, DeMarre Carroll, who has been a wonderful pick up for the Nets, added 17 points, while Caris LeVert, and D'Angelo Russell each added 16 points. Russell also had eight assists.

Even rookie Jarrett Allen got into the act. Allen had a career-high four blocks off the bench in 14 minutes.

Marco Belinelli had 19 points for Atlanta. The Hawks have lost two in a row to drop to 1-2.

There was a point where the game could have gone either way. In the fourth quarter, the Hawks began to take advantage of the Nets inability to convert on the offensive end and tied the game at 99 with 5:19 remaining.

“Teams make runs,” said Russell. “Teams come back; we handled adversity the right way.”

Next up, the Nets play the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.

Big moves in the NBA, power centers shifted for NBA 2017-18 Season

In this Quick Bites segment:
Derrick Rose says he’s no longer in a “dark place,” he is happy with the Cavaliers.
Russell Westbrook signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the OKC Thunder and the OKC mayor declared everyday Russell Westbrook Day
• With Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony on the same team, NBA analyst Stephen Jackson said that OKC is the scariest team in the NBA.
Carmelo Anthony is happy being in OKC, he told ESPN, "... From an individual standpoint, I feel born again, feel rebirth, a different type of energy within myself, around the guys, around the organization, around the city. You can feel it."
• And, as we all know by now, Dwyane Wade has joined LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers

Sloane Stephens and Rafael Nadal came up winners at the US OPEN; the Cavs and Celtics Kyrie Irving – Isaiah Thomas trade dissected, Brooklyn Nets sale news

In this 96th episode of What's The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald, are talking about how Sloane Stephens and Rafael Nadal  slayed at the 2017 US OPEN, the Cavaliers, and Celtics trade of Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas, Danny Ainge getting thrown under the bus, Roger Goodell and the NFL on Ezekiel Elliott and Josh Brown, Seattle Seahawks' Michael Bennett's arrest by the Las Vegas police, the proposed sale of the Brooklyn Nets, the NY Yankees, Carmelo Anthony's outlook with the NY Knicks and his wife La La Anthony. Our Photo of the Week is Jeremy Lin and Caris Levert in Taiwan.

WHAT’S POPPIN’

2017 US OPEN

Congratulations are due to professional tennis players Sloane Stephens and Rafael Nadal on their grand slam wins at the 2017 US OPEN. Stephens beat Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0, to win the Women’s Final. And, on the men’s side, Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to win the men’s US OPEN FINAL.

Boston Celtics – Cleveland Cavaliers Trade

Kyrie Irving has left the building. Irving is now with the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 pick by way of the Boston Celtics, and a 2020 pick from Boston.

The Courts Give Ezekiel Elliot a Reprieve

The Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot can play for the Cowboys this season despite Roger Goodell handing down a six-game suspension to Elliot for domestic violence. The NFL Players Association took the NFL to court to get a Temporary Restraining Order over the process by which Goodell came to Elliot’s punishment, and won.

NFL Give Josh Brown a Six-Game Suspension

The NFL, after suspending former New York Giants kicker Josh Brown 1 Game for beating his wife, quietly suspended him for 6 games. The league reopened the investigation based on new info and has yet to release its findings. The NFL concluded there was a violation of its personal conduct policy and imposed a 6-game suspension which Brown accepted without appeal.

NFL Supports Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett had a run-in with Las Vegas police when he was leaving a night club. Bennett says that the officer told him he would "blow my f*cking head off"

NBA and NBA Players Association Issue Joint Statement on Social Issues

Here’s a big contrast between the NBA and the NFL. Recently, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Players Association executive director Michelle Roberts are encouraging players to speak out on social issues, stating to NBA players:

“None of us operates in a vacuum. Critical issues that affect our society also impact you directly. Fortunately, you are not only the world’s greatest basketball players — you have real power to make a difference in the world, and we want you know that the Players Association and the League are always available to help you figure out the most meaningful way to make that difference.”

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Our Photo of the Week is a photo of Brooklyn Nets’ players Jeremy Lin and Caris LeVert in Taiwan.

NY SPORTS REPORT

Brooklyn Nets for Sale

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is ready to do a slow dance to sell the team. Initially, Prokhorov wanted to sell a minority stake in the team, but because of the pace, he is willing to sell up to 49 percent and the remaining 51 percent shortly thereafter. Sources say Prokhorov is encouraged by the sale of the Houston Rockets for $2.2 Billion.

Carmelo Anthony Still with the NY Knicks

Carmelo Anthony is still a member of the New York Knicks even though both the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers have expressed interest in him. Additionally, the Knicks point guard situation isn’t knocking anyone’s socks off and the team is considering bringing in point guards Trey Burke and Jarrett Jack for training camp.

The New York Yankees in the Hunt

 Right now, there is enough space between the Yankees and the Orioles for the Yanks to get a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

OFF TOPIC

Now, let’s go off topic. New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony showed up unexpectedly at the launch of his estranged wife, La La Anthony’s, new denim line at Lord & Taylor in New York City. Carmelo proudly posted a photo of La La on Instagram.

Carmelo Anthony Instagram post of the launch of LaLa Anthonys new denim line at Lord and Taylor 613x400

 

VIDEO: NBA Playoffs Final Four

The NBA playoffs are now down to four teams. What can we expect in the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Finals?

This one really hurt, riding a - game winning streak and creeping closer to the final playoff spot, the New York Knicks faced the Cleveland Cavaliers knowing the team they are chasing (Atlanta Hawks) had already lost earlier in the day. That news seemed to bolster the Blue and Orange from the very beginning as they jumped out to a 34-27 first quarter lead paced by Carmelo Anthony's 12 points.

The bench kicked in scoring a combined 17 points between Pablo Prigioni, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and Shannon Brown to take a 1- point halftime lead. For a change, it appeared that New York regained the home court confidence they established last year. Then, Cleveland led by Jarrett Jack's (31) and Dion Waiters' (22) points played with the mindset that if they can't make the playoffs, neither should the Knicks.

The comeback began with the Cavs outscoring the Knicks 28-23 in the third getting within 7 (84-77). Then, New York could not hit a shot and could not defend the pick and roll. They missed 13 shots while turning the ball over 5 times. Meanwhile, Cleveland took advantage on the inside, scoring 40 points in the paint. They shot a ridiculous 77% in the second half erasing a 17-point deficit after a Jack 3-pointer with 3:54 left gave them their first lead of the game.

Waiters scored his last points with a trifecta and Anderson Varejao victimized the Knicks with yet another pick and roll ending in his slam extending the lead to 6 (100-94). A J.R. Smith jumper and two Anthony free throws got the Knicks within 2 (102-100) but that's as close as they would get.

As a unit, the Knicks knew they blew an opportunity to not only extend their winning streak to 8 but to get within 2 games of the Hawks. Especially knowing they are about to embark on a 5 game western swing that starts Tuesday night against the Kobe-less Lakers.

Head coach Mike Woodson wanted this game as a springboard to the upcoming trip.

"This was like a getaway game for us to get us set up for the road," he said afterward. "We didn't close it out. So we got to go on the road and win all 5 if we can."

Center Tyson Chandler (4 points) coming off the game against Philadelphia in which he scored 17 points in the win gave kudos to Jack.

"Jarrett Jack took control of the pick and roll in the second-half. He made some tough shots especially down the stretch."

The New York Knicks have 12 games left in the regular season, eight of them on the road.

If they do make the playoffs, they will face either Miami or Indiana. They will be facing teams that are still jockeying for playoff positions. That's why games like last night were one they could not afford to lose.

Fresh off of claiming victory against the Phoenix Suns in their last home game 108-95, all while achieving wins in eight of their last 10 games, the Brooklyn Nets continued their three-game homestand against the Charlotte Bobcats, mirroring their results of the previous game obtaining a five-point victory on the Bobcats, 104-99.

This is the second straight win, improving their overall regular season record to (35-31) in a position to make their second straight playoff appearance since the inaugural grand opening of the Barclays Center in 2012.

The Bobcats are currently the 7th seed, one seed below the Nets, in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race one month away from the end of the regular season.

With aspirations of completing the season on a high note, each game for the Nets holds a certain level of significance and tonight is another game against an opponent the Nets are capable of defeating.

Each NBA team features its own difficulties for its opponents and the Bobcats provide a down-low offensive force in F Al Jefferson, averaging a double-double for the season recording 21.3 points per game along with 10.4 rebounds.

"We're not going to have Mason go up against him one on one," said Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd prior to the tip-off of tonight's match-up in his pre-game press conference to numerous media outlets.

"He's patient and knows how to put the ball in the basket," Kidd continues.

He did just that.

Jefferson displayed his talents early scoring 10 points while grabbing six rebounds in the first-half causing match-up problems for the Nets frontcourt, particularly C Mason Plumlee who defended Jefferson for the better part of the first half committing 3 fouls in the process.

With the score tied 20 all with 2:17 left in the second quarter, back-to-back jump shots by reserves F Andray Blatche and G Marcus Thornton in addition to two made free throws by first unit PG Deron Williams, improved the Nets lead to six, 26-20, going into the second half ahead, 26-21 as one made free throw by Jefferson cut the overall deficit to 5 in the closing minutes.

In the second quarter, the Nets capitalized on their early slim lead extending it to a game-high advantage of 13 points, when SG Thornton connected from behind the arc, Nets leading 38-25 with 8:20 remaining in the second quarter.

The Nets struggled to maintain their lead throughout second-half as the Bobcats sustained a relentless effort which decided the result of the game towards final minutes of regulation.

With the game hanging in the balance, the Nets and Bobcats engaged in a back and forth rally where one team had to make enough plays to avenge the response of the opposing team and in that battle, the Nets made enough plays spearheaded by Williams who led the charge.

With the Nets leading by three, 90-87 with 4:16 to go a missed Jefferson jumper allowed the Nets to get out on the break.

Williams pushed the ball to the top of the key and dished it to G Joe Johnson the trailer for a three-point shot attempt which he missed only to be rewarded with another field goal attempt due to the offensive rebound by Williams who kicked it back to Johnson, this time draining it increasing the Nets lead to five 92-87.

The Bobcats answered with a dunk via G Gerald Henderson cutting the lead to three 92-89 with 3:27 remaining until the resolution.

The ball finds Johnson again on the right baseline guarded by Henderson which he posted up only to fade away off of Henderson's pressure netting yet another basket, edging the Bobcats now by five, 94-89 with 3 min remaining in the 4th.

On the following possession, Henderson drains a three-pointer assisted by G Gary Neal with 2:46 left in the 4th coming to within two points shy of a tie trailing the Nets 92-94.

In close games, teams rely on their stars to influence the final outcome of a game, and this moment belonged to Williams as his contract warrants that responsibility to put the Nets over the top as all else fails.

He did not have to go far as the ball found him and he delivered as he should.

With the Nets clinging to a three-point lead as the one minute mark passed, the crowd stood on its feet growing louder with each passing second as Williams stared down his defender, applied a crossover hesitation dribble and pulled up for a jump-shot locating the Net without and trouble from the rim as the Nets grabbed a 5-point lead, 100-95 grabbing control of the game for good.

Williams led all scorers accumulating 25 points and 8 assists as his back-court mate in Johnson complimented his cause adding 20 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.

High scorers for the Bobcats featured Jefferson who was neutralized in the second half finishing with 18 points and Neal who finished with 17.

Williams performance grants him the player of the game award and Kidd took notice.

"Deron took control of the game," Kidd expressed to media correspondents in his post-game press conference.

Regarding his team's efforts Kidd continued saying, "They didn't panic, they stayed the course and executed on both ends when it mattered."

This win propelled the Nets past the Washington Wizards in the eastern conference standings as the Nets are now positioned as the 5th seed behind the Chicago Bulls.

Due to the Eastern Conference experiencing a down year, the Nets have an opportunity to seize the Bulls' spot as the 4th seed as long as they continue to win and pray for the Bulls demise which is very unlikely.

Over the next five games, the Nets will face teams who contain a combined record of 150-192, which include the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Bobcats once more for the final time this season.

Based on talent alone, the Nets should be able to handle their business against the teams previously listed.

As for Brooklyn, a Nets win translates to a comfortable slumber.

LeBron James: "Northeast Ohio is Bigger Than Basketball"

The longer LeBRON JAMES' free-agency period lasted, the more it looked like he was headed to Cleveland. It became even more apparent that King James might be headed to Cleveland when he reportedly summoned PAT RILEY to meet with him in Las Vegas and that meeting lasted all of 30 minutes. Additionally, speculation that CHRIS BOSH would be signing with the Houston Rockets heightened the chatter that James was on his way to Cleveland. Then, there was the media blackout.

Today, as anticipation continued to build about LeBRON JAMES' status, things started to hit a fever pitch.

The conversation focused on the #LeBronLetter; the now infamous letter written by the Cleveland Cavaliers owner DAN GILBERT after King James left Cleveland in search of a championship with his compatriots in Miami. Twitter was on fire with comments about the #LeBronLetter. I even added my two cents on Twitter regarding the letter, including advice for what it’s worth.

In my humble opinion, the #LeBronLetter was a very sophomoric move by an owner whose net worth is probably 10 figures. Gilbert came across like a spurned lover, not like a savvy businessperson. After all, basketball, and sports in general, is a business.

Hopefully, going forward, DAN GILBERT will be able to demonstrate that he, the elder in the room, has matured. A cool head is needed for the sake of the team and for the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With this new decision, the moving trucks, planes, and trains are headed to Ohio. And, we now all know why LeBRON JAMES' camp didn’t leak a morsel. He wanted to get his “moving on” story out to the public without interruption from reporters.

Now that we know King James is moving his castle back to Northeast Ohio, we can now move on and wait to hear from Prince CARMELO ANTHONY.

Lack of execution, turnovers, and iso-ball give Nets its third straight loss

Dion Waiters is having a very productive week. On Monday, Waiters danced on Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson with 2.4 seconds left in the fourth and drained the go-ahead three-pointer to beat the western conference power 105-102. On Wednesday night, Waiters would send the Nets to the same fate.

The Miami Heat overcame an 18-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter and used a 15-2 run in final 4:35, setting up Waiters dagger trey, to lead the Heat to an exhilarating 109-106 victory. With 30 seconds remaining in the final period, Randy Foye found Trevor Booker in the paint for a layup that gave the Nets an opportunity for the win, down one, 104-103. And then it happened.

Wayne Ellington inbounded the ball to Waiters who streaked towards the ball behind the three-point line. He dribbled once defended by Foye, pulled up without hesitation and fired a high-arching, 27-footer, giving the Heat a 107-103 lead with 6.8 seconds left to play.

“I love those type of moments,” Waiters said post-game. “Coach just drew up a play, and I looked at (Ellington) and said, ‘give it to me, I want it.”

It was a play that capped off the Heat’s big fourth quarter in which they outscored the Nets 38-17. And it also highlights the stellar defense they played down the stretch, especially on Brook Lopez, who after torching the Heat for 26 first half points, was limited to a two-point fourth quarter.

With 4:35 remaining in the fourth, the Nets were in good shape. They were up by 10, 99-89 after two made free-throws by Lopez and had the opportunity to put the nail in the coffin and eliminate any chance of a Heat comeback, but they didn’t. They folded.

And while Lopez misfired on two consecutive trips on offense, the Heat, led by Goran Dragic and Waiters, spearheaded a 10-0 run capped off by Ellington’s three, that tied the game at 99-all with 2:16 remaining in the quarter.

A couple possessions later, with the Heat down one, 101-99 on two made free-throws by Nets rookie guard Caris LeVert, Miami rookie forward Okaro White buried a three, assisted by Waiters 102-101, which gave the Heat the lead for good.

“You know (Waiters) drew two at the end and I was wide open in that corner and he had that trust and the faith in me that I’ll knock it down and kicked it right to me,” White said post-game. “I went up into the shot and it was good so it’s nothing but God.”

At the end of the day, the Heat made shots when it counted and the Nets didn’t. The Nets also relied heavily on Lopez to create down the stretch and settled for “iso-ball”. It also doesn’t help that after Waiters’ layup cut the Nets lead to three 99-96 with 2:54 left to play, LeVert turned the ball over coming out of a timeout on the next possession.

After White’s three put the Heat up one, 102-101, the Nets left it up to Spencer Dinwiddie who missed a big three that could have put the Nets up two, with 43 seconds left. Late game execution has plagued the Nets all season long and on Wednesday night, it cost them another contest, this time against the Heat.

“I think we didn’t execute,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said post-game. “We started playing iso-ball and they turned us over a few times. We were missing shots, and then on the defensive end, we couldn’t get stops. You can’t give up 38 points in the fourth quarter, that’s way too many.”

Atkinson also said that he has to do a better job coaching, in finding the right balance between getting Lopez the ball and when to run plays and move the ball effectively for good shots. On too many occasions in the fourth, Atkinson said that Lopez wasn’t getting the ball in good positions to score and in doing so felt that it was up to him to save the day.

Despite his shortcomings, the Nets should’ve won this game and Lopez, who said post-game, that he has to do a better job of keeping the Nets offense going, knows that the Nets let one get away in large part to one single quarter.

“We really gave ourselves a chance for 40 minutes tonight, but obviously, it’s a full 48-minute game,” Lopez said post-game.

He led all scorers with a game-high 33 points. Bojan Bogdanovic added 17 points and LeVert, who broke Ellington’s ankles in the third quarter on a vicious crossover step-back three, recorded 12 points.

The hero of the game, Waiters scored a team-high 24 points and dished out eight assists while his backcourt mate, Dragic nearly clinched a double-double with 17 points and nine dimes. Ellington, who hit several big shots in this game and seemed eager to face his former team, handed the Nets 22 painful points off the bench and Willie Reed, another former Net scored 14 points.

This is a young team and you have to think that late game execution and defending for 48 minutes will be issues the Nets will tackle going forward. Like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Nets need to “Trust The Process,” and continue to learn from their mistakes to become a better team in the future.

The Nets will have Thursday off and then face the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers and with Lebron James voicing his disappointment in his team’s play as of late and the inability of his front-office to find a playmaker for their bench, this is the absolute worst time for the Nets to face the Cavaliers.

Following the Cavaliers, the Nets will still be on the road and will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday and the Miami Heat in Miami on Monday. The Nets will be home on Wednesday, February 1 to play the other struggling New York team, the New York Knicks.

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