July 19, 2019

On The Way To NBA Playoffs, Nets Take Advantage of 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers were clearly the surprise team in the eastern conference in a strike-shortened season last year under third-year head coach Doug Collins. They stunned the heavily favored Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs after Derrick Rose tore up his knee in Game 1. Then they pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games before succumbing in a very physical series. So there was plenty of optimism coming into this year especially after they traded for center Andrew Bynum. Unfortunately for Bynum and the team, he never played a minute because of knee surgery. Philadelphia is basically playing out the string 14 games under .500 (31-45) when they came to Brooklyn to face the playoff-bound Nets.

The Nets took advantage of an undersized Philly team as Brook Lopez (19) and Reggie Evans (14) first-half points helped establish a 19-point (56-37) first half lead. As a team, the Nets also dominated the boards outrebounding the 76ers by 20 (36-16). Defensively, Brooklyn limited Philadelphia to a meager 34% on 14 of 41 shooting. The Nets shot 49% themselves turning the ball over only 4 times. Shooting guard Joe Johnson playing in his second consecutive game after missing the previous 5, connected on 4 of 7 shots (8 points) still a little confused as to why he was passed over as an offensive option in the last two possessions in the loss to Chicago last Thursday. His backcourt mate Deron Williams was held scoreless for the first time this season attempting only 2 shots.

Philadelphia was down 1 point (16-15) after a Jrue Holiday 3-pointer when Brooklyn outscored them 15-3 the rest of the quarter for a 13 point lead (31-18). Lopez and Evans combining for 25 of the 31 points. The 76ers managed to get back in the game trimming the lead to 5 (38-33) after a Nick Young short jumper. Again, the Nets went on a scoring tear finishing the half on an 18 to 5 run extending the lead to 18 (56-38).

Things would only get worse for the 76ers in the second half as the Nets continued to dominate on both ends of the floor. The rebounding number was an astounding 67 to 34 (24-8 offensive) in favor of Brooklyn with Evans corralling in 24 all by himself.

Said Evans afterward on what the team wanted to do to Philly, "We wanted to hit (the 76ers) upside the head."

It was blunt force trauma in the 104-83 win.

Five Nets finished with double-figure points as Lopez finished with 29. Nick Young came off the bench for Philly to score 18 points in a season that can't end fast enough for them.

Even with the win, Brooklyn lost a chance at winning the division when the Knicks routed Washington. The Nets, however, will be looking to lock up the 4th seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Their next 2 games on the road against Boston and Indiana will be tough before ending the year against lesser teams Toronto, Washington, and Detroit.

The Brooklyn Nets may not have any NBA All-Stars this season, but that did not stop their confidence, as they beat the Atlanta Hawks tonight at the Barclays Center, 94-89.

After a 14-point loss to the Hawks Wednesday night, Deron Williams led his team with 24 points; Brook Lopez finished with 20 points.

Nets interim coach, PJ Carlesimo said before the game, "It's easier when you play the same team, just makes your preparation better."

Former Hawks' guard Joe Johnson added 18 points and helped Brooklyn maintain its lead for the entire fourth quarter.

Prior to tonight's game, Hawks' head coach Larry Drew praised Johnson as a great addition to his new team.

"Brooklyn is a talented team. Joe is starting to find his rhythm."

A (Joe) rhythm that Drew still lacks on his team.

"When Joe left, it was tough. We had 9-10 new faces and we had to make them look familiar."

Familiarity was not in Atlanta's favor tonight, hitting only 5 of 22 from the field in the final quarter. Jeff Teague finished with a double-double, 21 points, and 10 assists.

Brooklyn is now 16-7 at home, with an overall record of 24-16. Under Carlesimo, the team has won 10 games.

The Nets play the Knicks on Monday, their third matchup this season.

Nets Lose to the Bulls 92-90

With Derrick Rose still contemplating his return to the Chicago Bulls lineup and the Brooklyn Nets looking to solidify its playoff spot, both teams met for the last time in the regular season Thursday night at the Barclays Center. The Nets Joe Johnson returned to the starting lineup after missing the last five games (sore left heel) while the Bulls were without Rose, Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain), Taj Gibson (left knee), Richard Hamilton (lower back) and Joakim Noah (right foot) who were all listed day to day.

Riding the hot hand of Brooklyn's Brook Lopez (18 points on 8 of 9 shooting) and taking advantage of the absence of Noah, the Nets jumped all over Chicago right from the start getting out to a 13-point first period (26-13) lead. While Lopez sat for half of the second period, guard Deron Williams picked up the slack scoring 8 points as the defense stepped up limiting the Bulls to only 37% from the floor (0-5 from 3 point land) taking 9-point (47-36) halftime lead. Then Chicago's head coach Tom Thibodeau delivered a message to his team that was well received.

It began on the defensive end as Chicago allowed Brooklyn only 20 points clamping down on their perimeter shooting.

Said Thibodeau, "I thought our intensity picked up. and we had more energy on offense."

The Nets missed 11 out of 16 shots (31%) while the Bulls made 50% of their own (13-26) putting 29 points on the scoreboard. Brooklyn, who at one point enjoyed a 16 (36-20) point lead, entered the final quarter leading only by 2 (67-65) after 2 Williams free throws.

Neither team would lead by no more than 4 points (4 ties) as both squads intensified their defense. The last tie coming with 1:55 left (84-84) when Williams was fouled on a drive to the basket. After converting the free throw, he scored on a short jumper extending the lead to 3 (90-87) the last lead his team would see.

Chicago began its winning 5-0 run with Luol Deng hitting a long jump shot to get them within 1 point (90-89) before ex-Knicks and perennial pest Nate Robinson made his presence known. Robinson began by forcing a Lopez turnover and after a 20 second Bulls timeout, he dribbled right past the free throw line floating up a soft jump shot that gave Chicago the lead (91-90).

"Coach said get it and go if we got a turnover or rebound," said Robinson describing the play.

Brooklyn had plenty of time left (22.7) with a chance to at least send the game into overtime. It did not happen.

Williams broke down the Bulls defense and shuffled the ball off to Lopez who looked like he had a clear layup or dunk but did not have total control of the ball on the way up. It allowed the Bulls veteran Nzar Mohammed to fully extend, cleanly blocking the shot. He then had the composure to grab the rebound. A Chicago free throw pushed the lead to 2 (92-90) giving Brooklyn yet another shot at tying or outright winning the game.

Inbounding the ball with 5.5 seconds, Williams once again penetrated to below the foul line and shuffles the pass to Lopez again. His 17' fadeaway rolled around the rim before falling out as Chicago escaped with the 92-90 victory.

Brooklyn's interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo had no problem with the decisions Williams made down the stretch.

"Deron made a very good decision both times. He found Brook going to the basket the first time and he found him wide open the second time," he said.

Unfortunately, neither resulted in a basket.

The Chicago Bulls took 3 out of 4 games from the Brooklyn Nets which may be a factor in the playoff seedings if they end up with the same record at the end of the year.

"We're trying to get better each game," said Robinson. "It's something that the coach always harps on. Play your best basketball towards the end of the season."

Brooklyn Nets host more than basketball, the game featured Russian Culture Night and a welcome back to Brooklyn for Lance Stephenson 

On a game night when the Brooklyn Nets hosted an Evening of Russian Culture, the team needed a fourth-quarter rush to prevail for its sixth straight victory over the scorching Indiana Pacers, who came in on this late Sunday night riding its own four-game winning streak. These two streaking teams could possibly see each other in the playoffs. Way too early to say, but right now if the playoffs started today the Nets would be the fourth seed and the Pacers would be the third seed. Also, the Nets and Pacers present great match-ups of all-star caliber players Joe Johnson vs. Paul George and Brook Lopez vs. Roy Hibbert.

This was no ordinary night at the Barclays Center, there was a great team matchup inter-weaved with two big stories: Russian Culture Night and the homecoming of Lance Stephenson.

Russian Culture Night envisioned by Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the Barclay's Center was packed with thousands of Russian-Americans waving the Russian flag. Among the Russians highlighted this night were Oleg Kolomyets who brought a lot of energy introducing the players on both teams and Alexander Markov, a violinist, who did a stunning job with the American National Anthem and at the halftime show with a glow-in-the-dark violin and bow performance.

The other half of the biggest story of the night was the homecoming of one of the most successful New York City high school basketball players in PSAL history. Pacers starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson of Abraham Lincoln High School was coming into Barclays with a season-high 39 minutes, 17 points, and four steals in a win against the Bobcats. Stephenson's improved play definitely caught the attention of Brooklyn Nets Interim Head Coach PJ Carlesimo who clearly knows a lot about New York City players. After all, Carlesimo played college ball at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY and he coached men's college basketball at Wagner College on Staten Island. At the pregame press conference, P.J. Carlesimo illustrated his knowledge about Lance and the history of New York City basketball.

"I have followed Lance Stephenson a lot," said Coach Carlesimo. "He has really improved from last year. He has really matured doing the little things that are helping his team win games."

"I recall not only watching the PSAL, and CHSAA but also the CYO leagues. Brooklyn is a big city they also have talent that even pre-dates me, Billy Cunningham, and Connie Hawkins," Coach Carlesimo added.

Unfortunately, due to a re-aggravated toe injury in the first quarter, Lance Stephenson's storied homecoming was short-lived, as he only played six minutes. However, taking the spotlight was tri-state area star, Teaneck, NJ David West of the Pacers who was coming off his first career triple-double (14,12,10). West gave the Nets problems for the first three quarters. West had 23 points at the end of the third quarter keeping the Nets down by six.

Nevertheless, the fourth quarter was an entirely different story for Nets.

Защита is Russian for defense and it was chanted over the surround sound at the Barclays Center, which seemed to help the Nets defense. The defense then sparked the offense, which guided the Nets turnaround. P.J. Carlesimo sent a furious double team commanded by Kris Humphries to shut down West. Pacers could not adjust and ended up shooting three for twenty-two in the fourth quarter prompting a 17-0 run by the Nets. A strong fourth quarter performance by the Nets big three, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez really put Brooklyn over the top scoring 22, 20, and 15 (ten in the fourth quarter) respectively. All three players talked about how they are starting to gel which allows them to be more aggressive.

With a final game score of Nets 97 – Pacers 86, the Nets have no time to rest. On Tuesday, January 15, it faces the team in which it grand opened the Barclays Center--- the Toronto Raptors. The Nets look to extend its winning streak to seven and improve to 9-1 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Brook Lopez led Nets in scoring, while Kris Humphreys hits his second double-double of the season in Nets win over Magic

With a crowd of more than 16,500 fans, the Brooklyn Nets won its second back-to-back game against the Orlando Magic, with a final score of 82-74 at The Barclays Center on Sunday night.

Brook Lopez led the team with 20 points, while Kris Humphries landed his second double-double of the season with 14 points and 21 rebounds.

Orlando's Glen "Big Baby" Davis finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Orlando only led the game once-- early in the first quarter.

Despite the win, Nets head coach Avery Johnson still wants the team to start growing in areas.

"This is the second time we've had a substantial lead and couldn't hold it," said Johnson.

"Mentally, we weren't ready for a full game. We should've scored more," Johnson continued.

The Nets (3-2) take on Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers (2-5) Tuesday at The Barclays Center.

Brooklyn Nets take the first Battle of the Boroughs defeating the New York Knicks 96-89; Brook Lopez scores 22 points and 11 rebounds

It took 13 games and one overtime before the official birth of the Brooklyn (still sounds kind of weird) Nets.

Both teams were supposed to face each other to start the NBA season but then Hurricane Sandy blew into town forcing the game to be canceled. When they finally stepped on the floor Monday night at the Barclays Center, both teams had gotten off to a good start. The first place Knicks had a 1 game lead over the second place Nets who were eager to see if their fan base would truly make this a "home game" for Brooklyn.

Said Nets head coach Avery Johnson before the game, "my first two years was an 80-20 split for their side. I'm hoping for an 80-20 split on our side this time." It was more like 50-50 at the beginning after both teams were introduced in front of the sold out (17,732) crowd.

The Knicks were without Jason Kidd who was out with a sore lower back so head coach Mike Woodson had to tinker with the line-up starting veteran Kurt Thomas and moving Ronnie Brewer to the shooting guard spot. Both teams relied heavily on their bench and in the end, it came down to gritty defense and stamina that allowed Brooklyn to come away with the 96-89 win.

Neither team would lead by more than seven points the entire game. The game, tied 12 times, also had 13 lead changes in regulation. The Nets took a 5-point lead (81-76) with 4:01 left in the 4th quarter after a Brook Lopez dunk. Knicks Carmelo Anthony quickly answered that with a 3-pointer of his own to get them within two points (81-79). It began an 8-0 Knicks run that put them up by 3 (84-81) with 1:38 left and victory in sight.

The teams would trade baskets down the stretch, as a Lopez lay-up and free throw tied the game at 84 (he missed the second attempt that would have given them the lead) once again giving New York a chance at stealing the victory but Anthony's jump shot hit off the rim sending the game into overtime.

Brooklyn then took advantage of the extra five minutes outscoring the Knicks 12-5 to take the first Battle of the Boroughs. The win overshadowed New York's center Tyson Chandler and his career-high 28 points. Anthony, who played 50 minutes, finished with a game-high 35 points on 11-25 shooting. On more than one occasion when Melo went to the free throw line, he was serenaded with chants of M-V-P which were quickly drowned out by the Brooklyn fans.

Nets guard Deron Williams, who finished with a double-double (16 points, 14 assists) was very aware of the home crowd, "It was good to hear them cheering for us the entire game," Williams stated.

Joe Johnson noticed the support as well.

"Every time some sort of Knick contingency started to cheer, our fans got louder and this is what we have been dreaming about since I've been here," Johnson said.

A victory will do that.

Never knowing which Nets team is going to show up, Keith Bogans rises to the occasion and Joe Johnson hits the winning shot

When the Brooklyn Nets stepped on the floor at the Barclays Center to start the second half of their NBA season, everyone from the players, to the coaching staff, to the fans wondered which team they would see. Would it be the team that won 11 of its first 14 games to start the year resulting in then-head coach Avery Johnson being named Coach of the Month? Or would it be the team that lost 11 games the following month that cost Johnson his job? Or would it be the team that won 9 of its first 10 (7 wins in a row at one point) games under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo finishing the first half with a 17-8 record under him? Their overall record of 31-22 had them in second place in the Atlantic Division only 2 1/2 games behind the Knicks. Despite Deron Williams' health and inconsistent play between him and fellow guard Joe Johnson, center Brook Lopez responded from an early ankle injury to play his way onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team. They faced the Milwaukee Bucks at the Barclay Center last night a team they had not beaten in 13 straight games. By night's end, there were still many questions to be answered.

At the start, there were more positive answers, as Brooklyn jumped all over the Bucks taking a seven-point lead (31-24) at the end of the first period. The trio of Williams, Johnson, and Lopez combined for 20 points. It got better in the second period as the Nets extended the lead to as many as 15 (56-41) after a short Lopez jumper. Milwaukee dwindled the lead to 10 at the half, as Bucks guard Brandon Jennings started what would be a big night for him scoring five of his 11 first-half points.

Jennings, on the strength of scoring 16 third-period points, carried the Bucks to a one-point lead (81-80) nailing 6 of 9 shots (2 of 3 from 3-point land) going into the final period. The largest lead by any team was no more than 5 points (87-82) after Bucks Ekpe Udoh bank shot as both teams made big baskets down the stretch.

With the score tied at 94 and 5:26 left, each remaining possession was treated like a Game 7 playoff, with no team ever leading by more than three points. After a Williams jumper brings Brooklyn within 1 (101-100) Andray Blatche gives them a brief lead after making two free throws. After a Larry Sanders offensive tip regains the Milwaukee lead (102-101), Nets Williams got called for an offensive foul and sent Jennings to the free throw line (he made both) giving them what looked like an insurmountable lead 105-102. Brooklyn's Joe Johnson then broke the Bucks heart not once but twice.

The first came when he hit a three-pointer at the end of the regular period buzzer (105-105) sending the game into overtime. Nets Keith Bogans began the extra frame by contributing his own three giving Brooklyn a very brief 108-105 lead. The Bucks crashed the offensive boards their next two possessions outscoring the Nets 6-0 pushing ahead 111-108. But Brooklyn was not done. Bogans continued his hot streak draining another three-pointer, tying the game at 111. With 1.4 seconds left, Johnson curls left at the top of the key after getting a pass from Williams and hits nothing but the bottom of the net sending the Bucks home and putting an end to their 13-game losing streak at the hands of the Bucks. It was Johnson's third game-winning shot of the season.

Brooklyn had a lot of questions coming into the game against the Bucks. The win was a good answer to start the second half of their season. A win they can't celebrate for long, as they travel to Milwaukee Wednesday night where the Bucks will look to begin another winning streak.

Nets get a new arena in Brooklyn, a city with a long history of basketball and across the river from the iconic MSG

Admit it. Most of you newly minted Brooklyn Nets fans were not shouting for Deron Williams and company in the Prudential Center when they ended their 2011-2012 NBA season, winning 22 of 66 games total.

But that's okay; new city, new team, new fans and oh... a new coach, right? You're entitled to jump on the bandwagon.

It may be too early to decide whether or not the city of Brooklyn has accepted the Nets as their home team. However, it's quite evident that the NBA has already made a rivalry between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks. The Nets continue to prove themselves as a lead contender in the Eastern Conference, with an even 2-2 record with New York. But in my opinion, the rivalry is a bit over-hyped.

Don't get me wrong, Brooklyn has raw talent; Joe Johnson is probably one of the most underrated and under-appreciated guards in the league. Brook Lopez, a great scorer, averaging 18.6 points this season so far, is still justifying Shaq's thoughts on him being better than Dwight Howard. Hopefully, if Deron Williams doesn't whisk away another coach, maybe he can lead this team to a Division championship.

MAYBE.

But for a Brooklyn girl, like myself, the tale of these two teams is more than just a bridge between boroughs; it's about two iconic territories: The Garden and The Barclays Center. Brooklyn has history, but Madison Square Garden is historic.

Every kid in New York City aspired to play at The Garden. Since 1903, The Garden has hosted the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) basketball championships. In New York City, Brooklyn is legendary for basketball, producing an epic list of high school basketball players, such as Lenny Wilkins; Fly Williams; Bernard King; Albert King; Connie Hawkins; World B. Free; Chris Mullins; Mark Jackson; Billy Cunningham; Mike Dunleavy; Stephon Marbury; Sebastian Telfair; Gary Forbes; Lance Stephenson; and Epiphanny Prince.

In a recent interview, Telfair said regarding playing for the Brooklyn Nets one day, "I would love to if the opportunity comes, I think I would, I'm from here. I think before I get out of the league, I think I'd give it a shot."

I mean, who wouldn't want to play for Brooklyn? More than just an NBA team, it is home for many of us. Smack dead in the middle of Brooklyn, Barclays is surrounded by at least 10 high schools that are within walking distance:

Brooklyn Technical High School
Brooklyn HS of the Arts
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School
Pacific High School
ACORN Community High School
Metropolitan Corporate Academy High School
Berkeley Carroll School
Benjamin Banneker Academy
International High School at Prospect Heights
Brooklyn School for Global Studies

The Nets' new home has paved a path for a restructured city and bigger dreams for city kids. A dream for a city kid is right--you can even take in a view of the practice court by stopping into Starbucks at the Barclays Center.

Even "go-hard" Spike Lee, raised in Brooklyn thinks Barclays "is great for Brooklyn." (Don't count on him ever rooting for Brooklyn though.)

I'm actually looking forward to the future of Brooklyn and the Nets. Once the hype dies down between the Nets and the Knicks, hopefully, Brooklyn can re-establish a tone for basketball, and maybe even street ball.

Let's thank Jay-Z for that.

Deron Williams out of Nets lineup and "next man up" mentality propels Nets to a victory; Brook Lopez thanks fans for NBA All-Star Support

Despite Deron Williams missing his second straight game of the season, the Brooklyn Nets managed to defeat the Denver Nuggets 119-108 Wednesday night at Barclays Center.

The 119 points were a season-high for Brooklyn, topping the 115-point game against the Sacramento Kings on January 5.

Brooklyn was led by Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and C.J. Watson, who each scored over 20 points. Watson replaced Deron Williams in the starting lineup.

Williams has missed 23 games since joining the Nets, including the Nets' wins over the Pacers and Nuggets this week because of inflammation in his ankles.

When all was said and done, Williams' replacement scored a season-high 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting and five threes.

Denver was led by Ty Lawson, who had 26 points and 9 assists in the game.

Lopez who finished the game with 23 points, acknowledged the fans at Barclays before the start of the game, expressing his excitement for the All-Star game Sunday.

After the game, the 24-year-old center told reporters that he was "thankful" and admitted he heard the "Lopez All-Star" chant while sitting on the bench.

"I'm expecting to have a lot of fun. The guys have been great so far," Lopez said on February 13 in an interview.

Kris Humphries, who has been dealing with an ongoing divorce battle with estranged wife, Kim Kardashian, provided much of the offense of the first half for the Nets.

Humphries scored 10 points in just 10 minutes. The Nets shot 9-of-14 from the 3-point line in first half and ended the half with a 62-57 lead over Denver. Despite NBA trade rumors, Humphries finished with 14 points.

The Nets (31-22) will play the Milwaukee Bucks on February 19 at the Barclays Center.

Brooklyn Nets snatch a win and force Game 6 vs. Chicago Bulls in NBA Playoffs

Deron Williams needed to have a perfect game last night against the Chicago Bulls to force a Game 6, and he nearly did that, as the Nets overcame the Bulls in a 110-91 home win Monday night at the Barclays Center.

Williams scored 23 points and 10 assists and Brook Lopez added 28 points for the Nets, who blew a 14-point lead in the three-overtime loss in Game 4 on Saturday in Chicago.

Reggie Evans grabbed 12 rebounds and Gerald Wallace scored 12 points which contributed to Brooklyn's miracle comeback on Monday. Andray Blatche was clutch in the fourth quarter scoring 10 of his 13 points in the last 12 minutes of the game that potentially would've been his team's last game of the season.

Nate Robinson started Monday night for Chicago in place of Kirk Hinrich who suffered from a bruised left calf. He added 20 points and eight assists for the Bulls.

Before the game, Bulls' head coach Tom Thibodeau said that he wasn't worried about Robinson's behavior in Game 4 that resulted in a scuffle between the 5-foot-9 point guard and Nets' guard C.J. Watson. Both guards, who have developed a hate relationship throughout their careers received technical fouls. After Saturday's game, the NBA reviewed the fouls and league revoked Watson's call.

"Nate Robinson is never going to change," Thibodeau said. "He makes things happen."

The talk of the night centered also around Jason Collins, the free agent now known for becoming the first active NBA player to come out as gay. Many of the NBA players sent messages to Collins after the story broke Monday, with most sending supportive tweets through social media.

"Jason Collins has announced that he is gay. I know Jason and his family well and I support him 100%," NBA Legend Magic Johnson tweeted. "Jason can feel good in knowing that the NBA will support him."

P.J. Carlesimo expressed his support for Collins and said the center is reflective of what the NBA stands for. The Nets coach also reminisced on how the NBA was 10 years ago and said that the league wasn't ready for Collins' sexuality back in 2003.

He also added that he wasn't worried about any same-sex issue in the Nets' locker room.

For now, the only thing Carlesimo is worried about is winning Game 6, as Brooklyn will travel to Chicago to revive their season.

The Nets take on the Bulls on May 2 and Nets fans will be watching!

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