December 17, 2017

Nets start off strong against Trail Blazers, but could not close the circle down the stretch, as Lillard and Nurkic lift Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter

High hopes.

Oftentimes, we see potential in an individual or a group and we do our best to be supportive to see them through. Today, the Friday after Thanksgiving at the Barclays Center, Nets fans filed into the arena to support the home team’s efforts against the Portland Trail Blazers. This was the second and final meeting of these two teams this season. Brooklyn defeated Portland 101-97 at their first meeting of the season exactly two weeks ago. So the stage was set, firstly both teams wanted a “W” just for the sake of winning because that’s the reason why you play the game in the first place. Next, layer that with the fact that for deeper statistical reasons, Brooklyn also wanted a win for a 2-0 series against Portland and the Trail Blazers also wanted a win to even the series.

The Nets started off strong, but in the closing minutes just couldn’t close the deal. Former Trail Blazers' guard Allen Crabbe hit a floater, which put the Nets up 121-115. But then the next eight points belonged to Portland, moving up to 123-121. Spencer Dinwiddie then evened the score at 123 points with a put-back layup after missing his own 15-foot pull-up shot, that was a sight to behold. Next, DeMarre Carroll blocked a Jusuf Nurkic shot, and Nurkic snatched the rebound away from Caris LeVert and finished with a foul for a three-point play that put the Blazers up 126-123. Dinwiddie got a bucket which brought the Nets within 126-125, but Portland got a free throw from CJ McCollum, and Dinwiddie’s 3-pointer rimmed out on the following possession and the game ended 127-125.

This was a tough loss for the Nets and Nets’ fans; the crowd left the arena near silence.

“Disappointing,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “You know, games come down to the end like that and go either way. I thought they made the big plays and we shot ourselves in the foot a few times. Turnovers, a couple turnovers there at the end, but good experience for our guys to go against a really good team like that. Good experience for our young guys Jarrett (Allen) and Caris (LeVert), getting their feet wet. We’ll learn from it. Tough loss, really tough loss.”

Dinwiddie had ideas about what could have been done differently down the stretch.

“I think we had a couple of turnovers, a couple of missed shots,” Dinwiddie explained. “Probably we should have gotten to the line and that probably would have helped us out. Free throws are what, the best shots in the game probably? So that probably would have helped us.”

“I think that’s the hardest thing to do in the NBA, you know, is to close games,” Atkinson added. “We saw it the other night in Cleveland, play really well for three quarters. There are great players on these other teams that are determined not to let you win and I think that was a little bit the case tonight. They really relied on their experience, but it’s also a positive experience for us. We can look at this, we can say “how can we close out games, what can we do better, how can we execute better, what can we do defensively differently to close out games?” So that’s on all of us, the coaching staff too, not just the players. So that’s a good point, closing games is a next step for us.”

All five of Brooklyn’s starters scored in double figures today, doing so in the same game for the first time this season. Dinwiddie led the Nets with 23 points and six assists, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 17 points, Crabbe had 12 points, Carroll and Tyler Zeller each had 10 points and Carroll had nine rebounds, and the Nets bench added 53 points.

For Portland, Damian Lillard scored 34 points and nine assists, Nurkic added 29 points and 15 rebounds, and McCollum chipped in 26 points and five assists.

The Brooklyn Nets will meet up with the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, the first of three games on the road and will be back home at the Barclays Center to play the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, December 2, 2017, at 3:00 p.m.

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.

The Brooklyn Nets have acquired guard/forward Allen Crabbe from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for forward Andrew Nicholson.

Crabbe joins the Nets after spending the first four seasons of his NBA career with Portland. In 226 games (24 starts), the 25-year-old Crabbe has registered averages of 8.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 22.8 minutes per game while shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 41.1 percent from 3-point range and 84.8 percent from the free-throw line. This past season, the Los Angeles native saw action in 79 games (seven starts), averaging a career-best 10.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 28.5 minutes per contest while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from 3-point range, good for the second-highest 3-point field goal percentage in the league among qualifying players. Crabbe has also appeared in the postseason with the Blazers in each of the last three seasons, averaging 8.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 25.5 minutes per game through 17 playoff contests.

Crabbe was originally selected with the 31st overall pick (second round) in the 2013 NBA Draft by Cleveland before being traded to Portland on draft night. Prior to beginning his NBA career, he spent three years (2010-13) at the University of California, where he was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, All-Pac-12 First Team as a sophomore and junior and Pac-12 Player of the Year in his third and final collegiate season.

Nicholson appeared in 10 games with the Nets after being acquired in a trade from Washington on February 22, 2017, recording averages of 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game. In 285 career games split between Brooklyn, Washington, and Orlando, the five-year pro has averaged 6.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.

UPDATE (September 5, 2017): According to international basketball reporter David Pick, Andrew Nicholson will join the Guangdong Tigers on the heels of his waiver from Portland.

 

 

Nets pick up DeMarre Carroll in exchange for Justin Hamilton and draft picks from Toronto

The Brooklyn Nets have acquired DeMarre Carroll and 2018 first and second round draft picks from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Justin Hamilton.

Carroll joins Brooklyn after spending the previous two seasons in Toronto. This past season, the 30-year-old native of Birmingham, Ala., appeared in and started 72 games, registering averages of 8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.1 steals in 26.1 minutes per game. Prior to his time with the Raptors, Carroll put together his two best professional seasons (2013-15) with the Atlanta Hawks while Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson served as an Atlanta assistant. In those two seasons, Carroll saw action in 143 games, averaging 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 31.7 minutes per game while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from 3-point range.

In 414 career games (258 starts) split between Memphis, Houston, Denver, Utah, Atlanta and Toronto, the eight-year veteran has recorded averages of 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 steals in 22.9 minutes per game. Carroll has also appeared in the postseason in five of the last six seasons, including each of the last four, and owns career playoff averages of 9.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 28.6 minutes per contest. Carroll was originally selected by Memphis with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft out of the University of Missouri. After spending two years (2004-06) at Vanderbilt, Carroll transferred and spent his junior and senior seasons (2007-09) at Missouri, helping to lead the Tigers to an Elite Eight appearance as a senior while garnering All-Big 12 First Team honors.

NOTE: Hamilton, who originally signed as a free agent with Brooklyn on July 11, 2016, saw action in 64 games in his lone season with the Nets, averaging 6.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per game. In 113 career games with Brooklyn, Minnesota, Miami, and Charlotte, the three-year NBA veteran has posted averages of 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per contest.

Portland’s McCollum, Lillard, and Turner lift team over Nets; Brook Lopez leads Nets in scoring despite loss

The Portland Trail Blazers came into the Barclays Center to play the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon. Both teams were hoping to turn around a three-game losing streak. The Nets lost their third straight game to the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 124-105 loss on the road on Friday. Unfortunately for the Nets, the Blazers came out ahead extending Brooklyn’s skid to four; the score: Portland 129; Brooklyn 109.

The Nets kept the game competitive for the first half; they were only down by three at the end of the first quarter (32-29) and down by just six at the end of the first half (70-64). However, the third quarter is becoming an abyss for the Nets.

"I think one of the things that is difficult for us is the third quarters," Nets center Brook Lopez said. "I think there are usually games where we've come out and teams have made a run and come out and hit first. It is tough to come back from that playing behind the rest of the night."

"I just think we come out flat,” Lopez added. “I think it's on us 100 percent. I mean, I don't think you can look at the other teams. We've had a variety of different guys, and they play differently. I think that one is on us for sure."

C.J. McCollum took over in the third quarter setting the Trail Blazers up for the win. McCollum scored 33 points, Evan Turner had 19 points, and Damian Lillard posted 18 points and five assists.

Brook Lopez led the Nets with 21 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Trevor Booker scored 16 points, Bojan Bogdanovic posted 15 points; and Isaiah Whitehead and Justin Hamilton chipped in 11 points each.

Hats off to Whitehead, he’s been filling in for Jeremy Lin and it’s been baptism by fire for the rookie player. Whitehead, who is looking to be a better player, didn’t hesitate to ask his idol Damian Lillard for a few pointers.

“While we were shooting free throws or they were shooting free throws, I was asking him questions,” Whitehead told reporters in the locker room after the game. “He’s either going to answer them or he’s not. He was great enough to answer them. I asked him how he got so quick and how do you read ball screens. I’m trying to learn as much as possible. I just went for it.”

Good for you, Isaiah Whitehead; and big ups to Lillard!

So when is Lin scheduled to return, inquiring minds want to know?

"Jeremy is progressing well," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I can't give you a timetable or an update in terms of a specific day he's back. I just think he's progressing on schedule."

 

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