January 19, 2018

Crabbe leads Nets with 20 points and career-high-tying eight rebounds; Carroll scores sixth double-double for the Nets, and it’s LeVerts’ 100th NBA game

Last night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs started off fairly well for the Brooklyn Nets, who led the Spurs by as much as eight points in the first quarter. However, quarter by quarter, the Nets’ reversal of fortune started to show in a big way down the stretch with the Spurs leading the Nets by as much as 17 points at 6:56 in the third quarter. Brooklyn battled back to come within four points (85-81) at 5:38 in the fourth quarter and then again at 2:48, but ultimately lost to the Spurs 100-95 in regulation.

This loss to the Spurs extends the Nets losing streak to six-games including five of those losses at home. And, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that a six-game losing streak can begin to wear on a team’s morale. Here’s where good coaching helps. A really good coach can help people to keep their spirits up when the challenge of reaching a goal is difficult and facilitating the feeling that ultimate victory is near. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told his team that he believes the breakthrough for them is just around the corner.

“I told the guys I do,” Atkinson told the media postgame after speaking with his team. “I feel like we’re getting close. This is San Antonio, Toronto, and Boston, these are elite teams in our league and there are no moral victories.”

Atkinson is right, in competitive sports, there are no moral victories per se. However, the Nets have more wins today than they had this time last year. Also, to lose with five or fewer points to elite teams such as the Spurs, Raptors, and Boston even with these teams’ best players on the floor, Brooklyn should be heartened.

“…I do think they’re encouraged,” Atkinson continued. “We’re improving and getting better. Like on a night like tonight we got better, we improved, we can look at things. How can we get over the hump, how can we execute a little better? Again, I think our mistakes are execution mistakes and are things we can control. And it’s not just a Joe [Harris] missed shot, which was a great look but are things we can clean up.”

Brooklyn proved it can execute better. A week ago the Nets lost to Detroit 114-80. This week, for the divide to be only five points against the San Antonio Spurs, a team that is No. 3 in the Western Conference, shows the Nets were not totally demoralized because last night they executed better. Not enough to win, but close.

Patty Mills’ five threes, those are the ones that stick in your mind..,” Atkinson added. “…I know there were a couple breakdowns on our part, just execution, leaving him. That was not part of the game plan, obviously…”

Speaking of San Antonio guard Patty Mills, he scored 25 points on 7-for-10 shooting off the bench. And, Mills was not the Spurs’ leading scorer that honor goes to forward LaMarcus Aldridge who led all scorers with 34 points, 8 rebounds on 54.2 percent shooting.

“I give credit to the Nets,” San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “They had a tough time making some shots down the stretch, but overall their execution, I thought, was better than ours. Brooklyn’s attack to the rim, finding open people I thought was spectacular. They played very physically. We made a few shots, made some 3’s and took care of the ball pretty well. We came out with a win we’re thrilled about because overall I think Brooklyn did a great job.”

For the Nets, its leading scorers were Allen Crabbe, who recorded a team-high 20 points, a career-high-tying eight rebounds, and three assists in 31 minutes. Joe Harris scored 18 points (7-of-13 FG, 4-of-9 3FG) in 32 minutes off the bench. This game against the Spurs marked Caris LeVert’s 100th game as an NBA player and he added 13 points off the bench with two boards and two assists in 22 minutes. DeMarre Carroll posted 11 points and 10 rebounds, recording his sixth double-double of this season. Although Spencer Dinwiddie did not score points in double-digits, Dinwiddie recorded a career-high 13 assists (with no turnovers), nine points and two steals in 35 minutes for the Nets. Dinwiddie’s 13 assists last night were the most assists in a game for a Net without recording a turnover since Jason Kidd handed out 15 assists with no turnovers on January 8, 2006, at Toronto.

Although the Nets didn’t win, and ultimately, that is why teams play, to win, the stats weren’t all bad. Brooklyn’s bench outscored San Antonio’s reserves 44-34. Entering last night’s game, the Nets’ bench was averaging 44.5 points per game, which ranked second in the league in bench ppg. The Nets also edged San Antonio 42-30 in points in the paint and 13-6 in second-chance points.

Next up, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Miami Heat on Friday, January 19th at the Barclays Center. And, of course, the Nets look to get off of its current losing streak. Perhaps, D’Angelo Russell will make an appearance on Friday, as he has been in full practices with the Long Island Nets.

We can only hope.

DeMarre Carroll scored 22 points and eight rebounds in loss to Knicks

Not a good day for the Brooklyn Nets on this Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday. The event started with a pre-game montage of Nets players giving their views on Dr. King and the significance of his life. That was Thing 1, as Chris Hayes says on his MSNBC show, All in With Chris Hayes. Thing 2, the Nets lost to the Knicks 119-104.

The Nets fell to 16-28 this season and 8-13 at Barclays Center with today’s loss, while the Knicks improved to 20-24 overall and 3-11 on the road with the win.

“I thought they did a great job waiting for us at the rim on our drives,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about the Knicks effort today. “But we do have to do a better job of kicking it out. If they have two guys waiting for us at the rim, we have to make that extra pass. I think we’ve regressed in our ‘making the extra pass’ philosophy and against this team, that’s flood the rim all the time with two bigs, you have to make that extra pass.”

Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson expressed his thoughts on some of the successful things the Nets did tonight, “I think we did a better job at rebounding the first three quarters, the first half especially. I feel like we could have done a better job at keeping them from driving in and fouling them, too.”

For the Nets, DeMarre Carroll scored a team-high 22 points with eight rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes today. Caris LeVert totaled 20 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes as a Nets’ reserve this afternoon. Hollis-Jefferson recorded 16 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes. Quincy Acy added 13 points off the bench and Joe Harris chipped in 10 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.

In the win, Knicks center Kristaps Porzingis led all scorers with 26 points in 27 minutes.

“I just try to slow down mentally and that’s helping,” Porzingas said about his shot selection tonight. “Just not thinking I need to score as much, I just want to be involved and when the shots come I’m gonna take them and those are going to be higher percentage shots. You know, not as many contested shots and not as much me fighting to get the bucket. Just trying to make it easier for myself and I think it’s just mentally, I’m slowing down a little bit and that’s helped me. ”

Knicks rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, who has been a big concern of many Knicks fans, finished with 10 points and 10 assists in 29 minutes for his first career double-double.

And, Ntilikina’s performance did not get past Porzingas.

“He played great,” Porzingas said congratulating his teammate. “The last few games he wasn’t really in rhythm but tonight you could see that he was pushing the ball and making plays. He was close to that triple-double that I talked about early in the season and you know I still believe that and moving forward as he keeps growing as a player, he will be that type of player.”

Today was the start of the Knicks’ seven-game road trip, the next stop for the Knicks is the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, January 17.

The Nets will host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Brooklyn Nets were outmatched by the Detroit Pistons; Allen Crabbe scores 20 points for the Nets in the loss against the Detroit Pistons

The Brooklyn Nets played the Detroit Pistons at the Barclays Center last night, and honestly, it’s been a long time since I witnessed a lopsided performance during an NBA game. It was as if I was watching an NBA team playing a mid-range team on the college level. Yes, it was that bad.

Midway through the fourth quarter, when it was crystal clear that the Nets were not going to pull a rabbit out of a hat and close in on the Pistons, fans started booing. I tend to think booing is disrespectful, but it was hard not to empathize with the fans because NBA ticket prices are not cheap particularly as you get close to the floor.

The Nets appeared to be managing well during the first quarter; Brooklyn was behind, but the Detroit only led by eight points 34-26. Fast forward to the start of the fourth, Detroit led 90-61, a differential of 29 points.

Brooklyn Nets Detroit Pistons Scoreboard 20180110 211047 750x491

At the end, it was Pistons 114, the Nets 80. Yes, the Detroit Pistons took the Brooklyn Nets to the proverbial woodshed.

“Just give them a lot of credit…,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media after the game. “I thought they dominated us. We got off to a decent start and then they dominated us the rest of the way in every phase of the game and there’s really not a lot to say much more than that. One aspect of the game, obviously we couldn’t stop them, that was first case. We’re missing a lot of shots and running back. When you’re missing all the time and you’re running back it puts a lot of pressure on your defense. I’ve got to give credit to them, they dominated us.”

As my mother used to say, “You got that right.”

But, she also said, there are at least two sides to every coin and, there is a reason for everything. Atkinson looking for reasons for how this Nets team, could perform so poorly, particularly when lately even in losses they have been taking teams to the buzzer.

Did the team hit a wall because of the multiple close games?

“I think that could be a logical way of looking at things,” Atkinson responded. “There’s physical part of it and there’s a mental focus and we let the mental part down too. Tonight, it wasn’t just the physical part of it. You know when you’re competing against high-level teams like we did the last two teams here, here’s a very good NBA team, playoff team, and we just didn’t have that level of focus or that level of physical readiness for whatever reason. We’ll analyze it a little more. But listen, I’ve been very pleased with the way the guys have been playing, the way they’ve been competing. Tonight we fell off a cliff a little bit. I always look at this league, especially when you’re playing decently, it’s really the other team that causes a loss like this and they played a great game.”

Yes, indeed, in addition to the overall score, the Pistons out-rebounded the Nets 54-35.

Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who has been a scoring machine as of late, fell off a steep cliff. Last night, Dinwiddie only scored two points for the Nets and on Monday against the Toronto Raptors, Dinwiddie scored a career-high 31 points. He also posted five rebounds and eight assists with only one turnover. He also had two steals.

And, Dinwiddie, who obviously thinks like a true champion, is not dwelling on last night’s loss against the Pistons.

“Just kind of gotta flush it, really,” Dinwiddie said after the game.

An Allen Crabbe layup sends game into overtime; Spencer Dinwiddie led all Nets scorers with a career-high 31 points

It was a one-point heartbreaking 114-113 overtime loss for the Brooklyn Nets as they fell to the Toronto Raptors, the second-seeded team in the NBA Eastern Conference. This loss was on top of the Nets’ two-point loss (87-85) to the Boston Celtics, the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference on Saturday evening. The good news is that for the Nets to go toe-to-toe with these teams and to lose by a basket says that the Nets can play with anyone.

The Nets tied the game at 107-107 on an Allen Crabbe layup with 9.8 seconds remaining in the game to send the game into overtime, but the Raptors edged Brooklyn 7-6 in the extra frame for the win. In the loss, the Nets edged the Raptors 55-51 on the glass, 22-19 in assists and 31-26 in bench points tonight.

Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie led all Nets scorers with a career-high 31 points (on 10-of-24 FG – with both 10 FGM and 24 FGA marking career highs – and 8-of-9 FT). He also posted five rebounds, eight assists (with just one turnover) and two steals in a career-high 42 minutes. At the end of regulation, Dinwiddie had scored 27 points and 17 of those points were scored in the fourth quarter.

In responding to a reporter’s question regarding Dinwiddie’s scoring, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said, “I said this earlier, that’s the best bargain in this league. That young man has really improved his game. I tell young players all the time, he’s taken advantage of an opportunity. He’s playing well. He’s producing. He’s playing like a big-time point guard. My hat is off to this team. They’re scrapping. Coach (Kenny) Atkinson has them playing hard every possession, and that’s all you could ask for from his team with as many injuries as they have.”

Crabbe recorded 20 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in 34 minutes tonight for the Nets, his fourth 20-point game of the season. Crabbe absorbed contact on a drive in the closing minutes of the fourth, left the game in pain, but came back in overtime.

“I just came down pretty awkward on my left leg, but I’ll be alright,” Crabbe told the media in a postgame presser. “Other than that, it just sucks that I missed most of overtime and couldn’t be out there to help get a win with my team. But I loved the effort tonight. I feel like we’re going in the right direction, and we just need to continue to build off a miss.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a big night. Hollis-Jefferson posted 14 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Other Nets scorers in double digits were Jarrett Allen, who tallied 14 points (5-of-5 FG, 4-of-6 FT) and five rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. Allen scored in double figures for the eighth time this season. Joe Harris, making his fifth start of the season, recorded 12 points and six rebounds.

For Toronto, Demar DeRozen led all scorers with 35 points. Kyle Lowry led all players in assists with 11.

The Nets have now played a franchise-record five straight games decided by three or fewer points, of which the Nets won three of the five games.

Regarding tonight’s loss, Nets guard Caris LeVert said, “This is extremely heartbreaking for us. We felt we fought hard and we deserved to win the game, but we’ve just got to play better down the stretch.”

The Nets will have another opportunity on Wednesday when they play the Detroit Pistons.

Spencer Dinwiddie recorded a team-high 20 points with three rebounds and three assists; and despite the loss, everyone’s talking about Dinwiddie

After winning two consecutive games and outlasting the Minnesota Timberwolves with Karl-Anthony Towns and scoring-machine Jimmy Butler, the Nets, as they readied themselves to go up against the Boston Celtics, were ready to show and prove that they can play with anybody. The Brooklyn Nets players were amped up and so were the fans.

Then, down the stretch, fans, reporters, analysts, and even the coaching staffs could see that the Nets were not getting legitimate calls in their favor by the officials. Towards the end of the matchup, it was the conversation heard by those entertaining the viewers watching on television, in the corridors at the Barclays Center, and in the locker room. It’s okay for fans and reporters to talk about NBA officials, but for players and coaches, absolutely not, or risk the hammer coming down from the NBA.

However, one player, who is in his fourth year in the league and who spent some of his time in NBA Developmental League, out of frustration, spoke up.

“It's funny you mention it being physical and not a lot of calls,” Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie said in responding to a reporter’s question. “It's a tough loss for us. It makes us 0-3 against the Celtics. Obviously, we wanted to be there and these are games we feel we should have won. It's become a trend this year. As a leader of the team, I can express our frustrations. We’re losing guys to whatever random contact, people are driving to the basket and getting knocked down- things of that nature. To see the same type of respect not reciprocated is very frustrating for us.”

“The other thing that is very frustrating as well,” Dinwiddie continued, “is we have these meetings right, as teams, or with PA about respect and so we want to treat everybody with respect because everybody is doing their jobs and they're trying their best including us. We turned the ball over calls are missed whatever it is. But when you approach somebody and they shush you or they wave you off like you're not a man or something of that nature that's also very frustrating. To already be in the position of feeling like you're not getting the same respect whether true or false it is an opinion at the end of the day. It’s very subjective. That is an opinion. But to have that and not just in one case but time after time, and like I said to be shushed [as] if you're not a man, those are the things that are really frustrating for guys on this team for sure. Especially games that are so hard-fought that come down to the last second.”

As thrilling as last night’s Brooklyn Nets game against the Boston Celtics was, it is a wake-up call, a clear sign that it is time for the NBA to clean up its officiating house.

I know, the common response is, just play and don’t look for the refs to bail you out. But if the calls were evenly distributed on the merits, perhaps, the officiating in the NBA wouldn’t be an issue. Imagine if this game was an early game during the Olympics and USA Basketball was playing the Russian team. During the game, you notice the Russian team is getting preferential treatment because the officials feel they need to help the Russians because USA Basketball is better. Or, if this was any game during the NBA Finals, the favored team gets all the favorable calls. No one would be silent.

So, Dinwiddie started the conversation this season, now it is time for anyone that cares about NBA Basketball, to speak up for the integrity of the game. Do away with the preferential calls because a player is a superstar, or it’s the home team, or the team is the best in its conference, etc. At the end of the day, preference distorts stats for players and teams.

The #NBA needs to do better and clean up its officiating act for the integrity of the game.

#DinwiddieIsAbsolutelyRight!

Spencer Dinwiddie leads Nets with 26 points and nine assists in the win; Jimmy Butler misses jumper at the buzzer; Okafor gets first play at home

It was the calm before the “Bomb Cyclone” hit New York City. Bomb Cyclone, a new ride coming to Coney Island? No, it’s winds gusting as high as 60 mph and a bone-chilling blast of Arctic air and, in this case, on top of all that, a prediction of six to nine inches of snow. Some even joked that it’s the Minnesota Timberwolves coming to Brooklyn to beat up on the Brooklyn Nets.

At the outset, the “Tims” came into the Barclays Center having won seven of its last eight games and Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler with a record of practically scoring at will. Butler did lead all scorers racking up 30 points when it was all said and done. Meanwhile, it has been a struggle for the Nets to win two consecutive games all season. So with a win against the Orlando Magic on Monday night, many predicted the Timberwolves would blow the Nets out of the Barclays Center.

But not so fast! Brooklyn pulled out that old-fashioned defense keeping the ‘Wolves to under 100 points, and the Nets led by 12 points at 9:43 in the third quarter. The biggest lead for Minnesota was five, and with seven lead changes, the Nets were leading by one point in the closing seconds. Although Butler took a pull-up jumper for the win at the one-second mark, he missed (hey, I didn’t say he was perfect) and time ran out on a Minnesota rebound with the score Nets 98 and Timberwolves 97.

Nets fans jumped with excitement, but the Timberwolves and their fans wondered how could Butler miss a shot that he could probably do with his eyes closed?

“Get a rhythm, rise up, shoot it like I always shoot it,” Butler explained his last shot. “Just didn’t make it. I shoot that shot a lot of times. When it leaves my hand I always think that it’s going in, this time it just didn’t. ”

“There were three options on the play and he (Butler) got it,” Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s got open floor, get to his spot, rise up and shoot. That’s what he saw and I thought he got a good look at it and didn’t make it. I’ve seen him make that pull up a million times. I trust him in those situations. He’s a big shot maker, he’s got good balance. The play before he back cut and got fouled on that one. You’ve got to trust that he’ll make the right decision. That’s what he saw and I was good with the shot.”

“It’s like coach said, we got the ball in the man’s hand that we wanted, got him the ball,” Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said backing up his coach. “You know he made a play (Butler), not every day you’re going to hit that shot but you know what, we got it to the man we wanted, we got the shot we wanted, it didn’t fall. It just happens like that some days but it wasn’t Jimmy, it was all of us collectively, especially me in the first half. We just didn’t play with the energy like I told you. And that urgency that made us so great the last two wins.”

“We really just kind of need to get out of these situations honestly,” Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie said after the game. “These do or die situations. I’d rather just win the game by like 10.”

Lately, the Timberwolves have been shutting out teams in the first quarter. Understanding this, the Nets put their preparation into action.

“I think we made them (Nets’ players) aware, like this team is taking teams out here, you know 16-0, 18-0,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I think our guys are conscious enough and understood the importance of getting out to a good start
tonight, so, good job by our first unit. Like I said, they’ve (the Nets)been struggling in the first quarter, I think we addressed it two games ago -- our poor starts. So that was important to hold them at bay.”

Adam Harrington did a great job with the scouting,” Dinwiddie added. “You know the last couple games he told us they’ve started 15-plus to zero and when you spot a team that many points, it’s always hard to come back, so that was something that we really didn’t want to let happen and we didn’t.”

Fortunately, the Nets put that knowledge to work because there have been far too many games where they allowed the opposing team to set the tone of the game from the start.

Oddly enough, only three Nets players scored in double digits. Dinwiddie scored 26 points and nine assists for the Nets. Other Nets players scoring in double digits were Joe Harris with 17 points off the bench, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10 points and five rebounds.

Four of five Minnesota starters scored in double digits. In addition to Butler, Andrew Wiggins scored 17 points, Karl-Anthony Towns had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Tyus Jones added 11 points, and Jamal Crawford chipped in 10 points.

Brooklyn’s bench outscored Minnesota 38-18.

Jahlil Okafor, who the Nets recently acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers, and is being worked into the Nets system, made his first appearance at the Barclays Center at the start of the second quarter getting a warm reception from the crowd.

“It was exciting just to be playing in front of the home crowd,” Okafor told the media after the game. “It was a lot of fun. It was my first time in a while because when I played with Philly for a long time I was in Toronto, Utah. And then when I played with Brooklyn, I played in Toronto, so to finally play in front of a supportive crowd, it was a good feeling.”

In his first play at home for the Nets, Okafor scored 2 points and two rebounds.

“I thought he was solid,” Atkinson said about Okafor getting playing time. “Understood what we’re doing. I just think it’s going to take him time. He really understood our system and was in the right place. Now our guys have got to learn how to play with him. It’s more with the chemistry with the group he’s going to be out there with when to throw him the ball, when not. When does he go pick and roll? So there’s some hesitancy. But executed our pick and roll coverages perfectly. Offensively was in the right spots. I’d say very positive.”

The Nets improved to 15-23 this season and 8-9 at Barclays Center with tonight’s win, while the Wolves fell to 24-15 with the loss. This stat alone shows that last night’s win for the Nets was huge. Additionally, The Nets improved to 10-0 this season when holding their opponent under 100 points and have now held three of their last four opponents to under 100 points.

Next up, the Brooklyn Nets will play the Boston Celtics on Saturday, January 6, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center at 6:00 p.m.

Brooklyn Nets Defeat Orlando Magic 98-95, on the second night of a back-to-back; Caris LeVert comes up big with 15 hustle points, 8 Assists, five rebounds

Tonight the Brooklyn Nets met up with the Orlando Magic for the third time this season and for their second meeting at the Barclays Center this season. With a team effort, the Nets did not disappoint the hometown fans. Starting the New Year on a good note, the Nets held Orlando to under 100 points and came up victorious 98-95.

What is significant about this win is that it is the second night of a back-to-back, something that this team hasn’t had much success with and tonight’s accomplishment wasn’t lost on Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“It was a good, great way to come back from last night,” Atkinson said. “We played Boston tough and this is a talented team, especially with Aaron Gordon back, so great job by our guys. Great resiliency, we weren’t great offensively but we did it with our defense. I thought we got some real big 50-50 balls and rebounds. Allen Crabbe gets the block at the end of the game, so a lot of guys contributed. Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson), I thought was really good, made some big plays and free throws. A really good team win.”

Crabbe’s block at the end of the game and his career-high total of three blocks for tonight didn’t go unnoticed by the media. When asked about tonight’s block stat, Crabbe told the media, "I'm low key tired of hearing people trying to question my defense.”

Okay, we hear you.

In addition to showing off his defensive chops with three blocks, Crabbe also scored 15 points and eight rebounds.

Brooklyn Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen is blossoming right before our eyes. He led the Nets in scoring tonight with a career-high 16 points. He also added eight rebounds and two blocks.

Caris LeVert scored 15 points, eight assists, and five rebounds for the Nets. LeVert has also registered seven or more assists in each of his last four games, becoming just the second Net since the 1983-84 season to record seven or more assists in four straight games off the bench.

LeVert and Allen are emerging as a dynamic duo. When they are both on the floor, LeVert will find Allen because he knows that unlike a lot of big men, Allen keeps his eye on the ball. To his credit, with just two months of NBA playing time, Allen is being recognized as a “catching and going” type of big man. And, LeVert is not too shabby either as he’s tough to defend with his great on-the-court decision-making.

Regarding his chemistry with LeVert, Allen said, “I don’t know where it came from, but it’s just been there since we started playing together. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

DeMarre Carroll scored a double-double adding 14 points and 10 rebounds, this is Carroll’s fourth double-double of the season, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson chipped in 13 points and seven rebounds for the Nets.

Orlando had five players in double digits. Aaron Gordon led all players with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Elfrid Payton added 17 points and seven assists. Bismack Biyombo scored a double-double with 13 points and 17 rebounds. Also scoring 13 points for Orlando was Evan Fournier, and; Jonathan Simmons chipped in 10 points and five rebounds.

Next up, the Brooklyn Nets meet the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, January 3, 2018, at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. According to Atkinson, Nets recent addition from the Philadelphia 76ers, Jahlil Okafor, could make his debut at home for the Nets on Wednesday.

“He’s close. I’d expect to see him against Minnesota,” Atkinson told the media. “I think we’ll start to get him some minutes. He’s been doing a phenomenal job getting ready physically with our assistant coaches learning what we’re doing. Collectively we feel like he’s ready to get some minutes.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leads Nets with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and a career-high-tying six assists in win over Wizards; only two Wizards in double digits

At last…yes, at last, the Brooklyn Nets played a good team in a manner that displays their real talents, and in so doing, defeated the Washington Wizards on Friday night at the Barclays Center 119-84.

According to NBA stats, tonight’s 35-point win marked Brooklyn’s largest victory of the season. It is also the third-most lopsided win in Barclays Center history behind a 37-point victory, 117-80, over Washington on April 10, 2015, and; a 36-point victory, 130-94, over Philadelphia on December 16, 2013.

Yeah, this is the same Brooklyn Nets team that just two days prior allowed the Sacramento Kings on the second night of its back-to-back to come into Barclays Center and deny the Nets a win, defeating Brooklyn 104-99. It begs the question, how did this turnaround happen so quickly and it turns out that the Nets weren’t short on answers.

“We talked about it this morning, about how important this game was for us,” Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris said. “Washington is a great team, especially now with John Wall back. So for us to come out and play the way we did, full four quarters, we are happy about it and we want to build off of it and get one tomorrow in Indiana and go into the holiday on the right note.”

“I don’t think the guys, I don’t think any of us were too comfortable after that Sacramento loss, it hurt,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media. “It was a bad loss. No disrespect to Sacramento, but they were on a back-to-back and I think we all felt frustrated that we didn’t show the right mentality for where we are. It was nice to get back on track a little bit tonight…”

“I thought our mindset from the tipoff was good,” Atkinson added. “I thought that first group really decided to get some stops and brought the energy and brought the defense. Then after that it was kind of everybody got on the train, got on board and a lot of guys played well.”

Currently, the Washington Wizards are an Eastern Conference playoff contender, albeit sitting at the eighth position, while the Nets are still sitting in the 11th spot in the East. So, were the Wizards complacent with no sense of urgency?

“I don’t think so,” Wizards guard John Wall responded, who scored 10 points in just under 17 minutes. “We came out missing easy shots, didn’t take care of the ball. Then when they got out in transition they scored some baskets. They just played with more energy and I think we lost both games because they played with more energy than we played with.”

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks, who was a little more direct, summed up the loss this way, “we got our butts kicked, we all did, myself included. Give Brooklyn credit, they played a good basketball game. We couldn’t stay in front of the basketball tonight. We just seemed like a step slow all the way around. We’ve got to play better. We have to show more physicality and we have to show more toughness. We’ve got to show more resolve and we didn’t do that tonight.”

“In order to win in this league, it doesn’t matter who you play, no matter what the record the team has, you still have to go out there and compete in order to win,” Brooks added. “And we didn’t give ourselves a chance to do that tonight.”

Only two Wizards players scored 10 or more points; Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 13 points and Wall added 10 points. The Wizards’ bench added 48 points compared to 53 points from the Nets’ bench.

Six Nets players led the night in double digits. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored his team-leading fifth double-double of the season with 21 points, 11 rebounds, a career-high-tying six assists (which he has achieved twice previously) and one block in just under 24 minutes. Caris LeVert recorded 17 points (7-of-9 FG, 2-of-2 3FG, 1-of-1 FT) with six rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMarre Carroll, and Nik Stauskas each scored 15 points, and Carroll added six rebounds. Nets rookie Jarrett Allen chipped in 10 points and six rebounds off the bench.

While Tyler Zeller, Allen Crabbe, and Quincy Acy did not score in double digits, their rebounding was critical to the Nets success tonight, scoring nine, eight and seven rebounds respectively.

Brooklyn also out-rebounded the Wizards, as a whole, 60-35.

Joe Harris led the Nets in assists with seven.

Overall, the Nets’ win had a number of redeeming qualities.

“…Now the question is, can we do it again another night, go to Indiana and see if we can compete the same way defensively,” stated Atkinson.

The Nets play the Indiana Pacers on Saturday in Indiana at 7:00 p.m.

Tip in:

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie scored all of his 15 points in the third quarter in eight minutes. Dinwiddie is the second Nets player to accomplish this feat this season. DeMarre Carroll, who scored 15 points and six rebounds tonight is the other Nets Player that scored 15 points in a quarter. Carroll accomplished this feat on November 29, 2017, against the Dallas Mavericks at Dallas, also in the third quarter.

Nets rally in second half, too little, too late as Kings defeat Nets on the second night of their back-to-back on the road

The Brooklyn Nets loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night was a tough pill to swallow. Sacramento came into the Barclays Center with a 10-20 record compared to the Nets’ 11-18 record, not much of a difference, but it should mean something particularly when you’re at home. To add insult to injury, the Kings had just defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 101-95 the night before, so the Kings were playing the second game of a back-to-back when they played the Nets at the Barclays Center. Instead of showing sign of lethargy, Sacramento took the floor and busted the game wide open. Sacramento closed out the first half by 16 points (64-48); just after doing the same thing in the first quarter. The Nets allowed the Kings to score 36 points in the first quarter, ending the first at 36-20.

“Yeah, giving up 36 points in the first quarter,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson remarked about the Nets’ abysmal first half. “They have good players on the other side and you can’t get in a hole like that. It is [a] disappointment in our defense and our defensive mentality to start the game. Obviously, the second half shows we are capable of doing it and capable of getting stops. But we let our guard down in the first quarter, dug a hole, and too deep of a hole.”

Yes, it was too deep of a hole. The Nets tried to claw their way back by scoring and getting stops in the second half, but it wasn’t enough and the Kings walked away with a 104-99 win over the Nets.

Once again, the Nets let a team force them to play their game. Instead of leading out of the gate, the Kings made the Nets play their game.

“I don’t know what you want to call it,” Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie said regarding the Nets slow start. “Lack of focus, lack of attention to detail, lack of effort, I don’t know what you want to call it. Sixty-four points in the first half is inexcusable, regardless of what team you play…”

“I think they had 30-something points in the first quarter,” Nets guard Caris LeVert said. “We can’t start a game off like that.”

Darn straight, not if you want to win! Why make the game harder than it needs to be, particularly with middling teams. What happens when Houston, Boston, and Cleveland come to town? Fortunately, Atkinson is not adverse to looking at changing the starting lineup, which is a good thing.

“I think four losses in a row, we have to look at everything,” Atkinson told the media. “We have to look at the start, what our lineup looks like to start. I definitely think we have to look at it. We have to analyze it and see if there is something to change up. We will look at that in the next day and see what is going on there.”

The one thing of many that is puzzling to the media is Atkinson’s reticence to putting Jahlil Okafor in the lineup. Looking for answers, one reporter did ask with Trevor Booker traded for Okafor and if Okafor is not playing, does this leave the Nets shorthanded?

“No, we are not shorthanded,” Atkinson responded. “We have Quincy (Acy) and Jarrett (Allen) in there as our back up bigs and Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson)and Tyler (Zeller), so we are not playing shorthanded there. I thought Quincy gave us some decent minutes. You know Jarrett is a young guy trying to learn this league, obviously, that is a physical team – did some good things. I thought he had some big blocks in the second half. We got to get our rhythm in general. We have lost it these last four games. It is a little perplexing this game after I thought we had two good days to get ready for this game. I was hoping we had the juice to compete at a higher level. But again, perplexed with the first quarter and the first half in general.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson

Dinwiddie led all Nets players with 16 points. DeMarre Carroll scored 15 points and seven rebounds; both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris scored 14 points and Hollis-Jefferson also added 10 rebounds to his total. LeVert and Allen Crabbe each chipped in 13 and 10 points respectively.

Sacramento’s scoring leaders were also rebounding machines. George Hill led all scorers with 22 points and seven rebounds; Zach Randolph scored 21 points and eight rebounds; former Nets player Bojan Bogdanovic added 14 points; Willie Cauley-Stein had 13 points and nine rebounds, and; Kosta Koufos chipped in 12 points and 8 rebounds.

Next up: Sacramento plays the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, December 23rd, and the Nets will play the Washington Wizards for the second time this month at home at the Barclays Center on Friday, December 22, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.

Allen Crabbe finds his rhythm, but Nets lose its third consecutive loss against the Pacers

Prior to any game in any sport, there’s no way to know the outcome. So, you look at the recent history of the teams or athletes about to square off. The Indiana Pacers came into Brooklyn just finishing up a six-game homestand 4-2. Meanwhile, the Nets were coming off a loss to the Toronto Raptors two days prior and finished its last six games (3-3), with only one win at home. So the stats were on the side of the Pacers, and unfortunately for Nets’ fans, tonight’s outcome wasn’t a good one, they fell to the Pacers 109-97. And, it gets uglier, the Nets are now 11-18 for the season and 5-8 at the Barclays Center, while the Pacers improved to 17-13 overall and are 7-7 on the road with the win.

Brooklyn ended the first quarter with the slimmest of leads, one point, at 29-28. By the end of the first half, Indiana was up by 11 points, at 59-48. Suffice it to say the Nets struggled during the second-half allowing the Pacers to pull ahead and stay ahead.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson knows that there is something brewing with his team as evidenced by recent games.

“I just felt like the whole game – well, really the past two games – whatever the ‘it’ is in terms of energy and physicality, it hasn’t been there,” Atkinson told the media in his postgame presser. “Then tonight was another case. I thought they (Indiana) were the more physical team, the more energetic team, credit to them. I thought they took us out of our stuff, pressured us, ran us off our cuts, bumped us off screens, so really heck of a game by the Pacers.”

This eerie common thread breaking through with the Nets over the last few games does appear to be keeping Atkinson up at nights.

“On both sides of the ball, not the requisite sharpness, energy,” Atkinson added. “Somehow in these next two days, we have to find a way to get that back. It is a little disappointing because our guys are high-level competitors and we are just not getting over the hump. Like I said, that ‘it’ – whatever that ‘it’ is – we are missing that physicality, that energy. We got to find it and we have to help them get it back.”

So given the lack of energy on the part of Nets players, why didn’t Jahlil Okafor, a new acquisition from the Philadelphia 76ers, get any action against the Pacers? In Okafor’s first appearance for the Nets, which was a loss to the Raptors, Okafor went 5-of-11 from the field for 10 points.

“I talked to Jahlil,” Atkinson responded. “I had a great conversation with him. I think the plan going forward is a couple things. We need to help him get in better condition that is first off. We need to integrate him more into the system. I think it is going to take some time. I’m not going to give you a date, but it is a strategic plan, just like we have done with all our guys, integrating guys into the team. It is going to take some time.”

Philadelphia dealt Nik Stauskas with Okafor. Atkinson did take a chance on Stauskas tonight, perhaps, because Stauskas scored a team-best 22 points in his debut, making five 3-pointers against the Raptors. However, tonight he was 0-5 on field goals and 0-2 from behind the arc in 15 minutes of play.

Allen Crabbe, who had been struggling as of late, was out front tonight, leading Nets players with 17 points in 29 minutes. Quincy Acy, Joe Harris, and Caris LeVert each scored 14 points, and Tyler Zeller added 13 points. Spencer Dinwiddie, who had been leading the Nets in scoring in recent games, only scored five points but added nine assists with no turnovers.

Indiana shot 44.4 percent from behind the arc and defended the 3-point line holding the Nets 3-point percentage to 36.4. The Pacers also out-dueled the Nets on field goal shooting 56.6 vs. 42.0 percent.

Victor Oladipo helped to put Indiana over the line, leading all scorers with 26 points and seven rebounds. Other Indiana scoring leaders were Myles Turner with 16 points and six rebounds; Corey Joseph had 15 points and six rebounds, and Darren Collision added 14 points and seven assists.

Next up, the Pacers fly home to play the Boston Celtics tomorrow; while the Nets play the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

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