July 14, 2020

Kyrie Irving held to 17 points, Spencer Dinwiddie gets 11, and Caris LeVert scores just six points; but rookie Nicolas Claxton shows promise with 14 points

Last night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the 18-22 Brooklyn Nets met up with the 37-6 Milwaukee Bucks, a team that is clearly on a mission to represent the NBA Eastern Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals and it wasn’t pretty. The Nets fell to 18-23 with their 117-97 loss to the Bucks last night, while the Bucks improved to 38-6 on the season with the victory.

How the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Brooklyn Nets by the numbers:

In terms of metrics, the Brooklyn Nets shined at the free-throw line. Brooklyn shot a season-high-tying .941 (16-of-17) from the free-throw line, which was previously done against the Phoenix Suns on November 10, 2019, at Phoenix (also 16-of-17 FT). The Nets also edged Milwaukee 18-13 in fast breakpoints.

However, Milwaukee shot .500 (45-of-90 FG) from the field last night compared to Brooklyn’s .333 (33 of 99 FG) from the field. From behind the arc, the Bucks outpaced the Nets 45.9 percent (17-of-37) to 30.6 percent (15-of-49), and of course, the Bucks’ 117 points overall to the Nets’ 97 points sealed the winning deal.

Milwaukee Bucks Leading Scorers

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo registered a game-high 29 points, 12 rebounds, along with four assists in 25 minutes. Khris Middleton added 20 points, four assists, four rebounds, and three steals in 29 minutes; Brook Lopez scored 12 points, seven rebounds, five blocked shots, and four assists in 26 minutes; Wesley Matthews accumulated 11 points and three assists in 27 minutes; Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench and also posted 11 points, with sides of six rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes, and; Kyle Korver chipped in 10 points in 17 minutes off the bench.

Coach Speak: Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer on the Bucks’ defense

“Brooklyn is a team that drives it a ton, like everybody in the league, a lot of pick-and-rolls too,” said Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer. “I thought the discipline in just getting over screens, playing without fouling, making them uncomfortable, making them hopefully get to spots that they don’t want to be in. Brook Lopez is always good in the paint. Giannis (Antetokounmpo) was good in the paint.”

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on what was the most difficult part about playing the Milwaukee Bucks

“I thought our defense was actually decent,” responded Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I’m not saying it was great or outstanding. I thought we fought defensively and offensively, obviously didn’t make shots. They’re the number one rim protection team in the league and I don’t know – I feel like, yes, we attacked the rim, but we also have to figure out how – against a great rim protecting team – maybe just make that extra pass, those extra two passes. I thought they were going against a wall, especially in the first half. I thought the second half we moved it a little better. I thought there were a ton of open threes. We knew we were going to get the threes, it didn’t go down, that makes it look worse. But credit to Milwaukee. I think they are playing as good as anybody I’ve seen in a while in this league. So just have to give them credit, give Bud (Mike Budenholzer) credit. They’re playing great basketball.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Kyrie Irving led the Nets with 17 points, six rebounds, six assists, and a season-high four steals in 31 minutes. Brooklyn Nets rookie player, Nicolas Claxton, a member of the Nets second unit, scored a career-high 14 points (on a career-high 7-of-12 FG) with a career-high-tying six rebounds, and a career-high-tying three blocks in a career-high 19 minutes; Taurean Prince recorded 13 points in 24 minutes; Spencer Dinwiddie, who had been carrying the Brooklyn Nets in point-scoring during Kyrie Irving’s absence, registered 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists in 27 minutes, and; Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot chipped in 10 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.

Nets rookie Nicolas Claxton, who came off the bench against Milwaukee last night, told the media what kind of feedback he is receiving from Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks, and the Brooklyn Nets coaching staff.

“They all have been giving me great feedback,” said Claxton. “In Long Island, I’ve been solid, and that’s what they want, especially from a young guy like me who they’re really trying to develop. So, I’m just doing the best that I can with that.”

What’s Next for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets?

The Milwaukee Bucks will return home to Milwaukee to host the Chicago Bulls on Monday, January 20, 2020, at 4:00 p.m. CT.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Philadelphia 76ers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn also on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 20, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. ET.

 

TIP-INS:

Taurean Prince’s second 3-pointer made last night against the Milwaukee Bucks was his 100th of the season, moving him past Joe Harris (99 threes) for the team lead. He now has made 101 threes on the season.

 
 

Kyrie Irving’s 32 points were not enough for the Brooklyn Nets to overtake the Utah Jazz

Kyrie Irving was back in the Brooklyn Nets lineup for his second game after a shoulder injury sidelined the star for 26 games, and from the thumping the Brooklyn Nets took from the Utah Jazz last night, it’s official, Irving is not a savior for this team. The Nets lost to the Jazz 118-107, and thus, fell to 18-21 on the season with the loss, meanwhile the Jazz improved to 28-12 on the season with the victory.

How the Utah Jazz beat the Brooklyn Nets by the numbers:

Brooklyn shot .500 (45-of-90 FG) from the field last night, shooting .500 or better in a game for the fourth time this season and for the first time in a loss. However, Utah also shot .500 on 46-of-92 FG shooting. Utah also went further, it shot 36.1 percent (13-of-36) from behind the arc versus Brooklyn’s 30.8 percent (8-of-26), and it also punished the Nets on the free throw line 86.7 percent versus 60 percent.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on the aspects of the game where the Utah Jazz caused problems for his team

“First of all, just give them credit,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson about the Utah Jazz. “What you saw tonight backs up their stellar play recently. They’ve been the number one offense over 15, 20 games and we could never find a way to stop them. Just that simple. Transition defense, pick-and-roll defense, rebounding, physicality, all of this stuff, I think they just dominated. We’ve been really good defensively for the last couple of months, over a long period of time, and tonight we just weren’t. We never found a solution to stop them. I do want to look big picture and understand that we have been defending well lately. But they were just too strong tonight – made shots, screened us, great job by the Utah Jazz.”

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving pretty much co-signed on Coach Atkinson’s assessment of last night’s game against the Utah Jazz.

“I mean, when you look at them on film—I’ve watched a few of their games and there is a reason why they are 15-1 in their last 16 games, so we have to give them credit, said Kyrie Irving. “They finished off the first quarter, we gave up five points. We were up 26-25 then it was 30-26 to end the last four minutes and then the second quarter, you play against really good teams like that, they go on runs. We were down 13 going into halftime and we were just climbing uphill. And we’ve had a tendency to do that over our fair share of games and we just can’t get into that kind of position moving forward. But that’s a good team in that locker room. They’ve really played well together this season and they’re developing, so you give them credit. But also, we can correct some things on the defensive end. Switches, communication, being there to switch when we call out switches, just little things like that and we just have to keep developing that and we’ll be alright.”

The Brooklyn Nets’ Leading Scorers

Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 32 points, with a season-high 11 assists, five rebounds, and two steals in 32 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie recorded 17 points, five assists, and four rebounds in 36 minutes; Joe Harris added 13 points (5-of-10 FG) in 34 minutes, and; Caris LeVert chipped in 11 points, and three assists in 26 minutes off the bench.

Utah Jazz Leading Scorers

John Ingles scored a team-high 27 points, four assists, and three rebounds for the Utah Jazz in 30 minutes; Donovan Mitchell recorded 25 points and four assists in 36 minutes; Rudy Gobert accumulated 22 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, and two blocked shots in 37 minutes; Bojan Bogdanovic, a former Nets player, registered 18 points in 32 minutes, and; Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to chip in 13 points and three rebounds in 26 minutes.

Coach Speak: Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

“I think we’re getting contributions from a lot of guys,” said Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder on what he saw in last night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. I thought Rudy Gobert was terrific. It was a dominant performance by him on both ends of the floor. Joe Ingles obviously playing with Rudy, even driving and making plays. You kind of go on Donovan Mitchell, especially late when we really needed to score. Brooklyn was scoring, and we had to answer, and Donovan made some big moves to the rim and finished. So, all the way down the line, and everyone is defending. It’s not going to be perfect every possession, but the guys are really committed to defending together.”

At 6:20 in the third quarter, the Utah Jazz led the Brooklyn Nets by as much as 20 points and ended the third quarter up by 14 points at 88-74. In the fourth quarter at 6:48, the Nets got as close as eight points (99-91) on a Kyrie Irving five-foot pull-up jump shot, which pulled Nets fans in closer with the notion that the Nets just might be able to turn things around. However, it wasn’t to be as the Jazz had answers at every turn.

“I thought Brooklyn was playing well,” responded Jazz coach Quin Snyder to a question about the Nets cutting the lead down to eight in the fourth quarter. “They were scoring, whether it was (Spencer) Dinwiddie or Kyrie (Irving). They came up with a couple of loose balls, and I thought we answered offensively when we needed to. Sometimes you’re just against a good team and you’re not going to get every stop. You have to respond, and I think we continued to defend and got some big ones when we needed.”

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on catching a team like the Utah Jazz, “I would say right now they are far ahead of us; we’ve got a long way to go to catch a team like that.”

What’s Next for the Utah Jazz and the Brooklyn Nets?

 The Utah Jazz will travel to New Orleans with its sights on getting a win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, January 16, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. CT.

The Brooklyn Nets traveled to Philadelphia last night to be ready to play the Philadelphia 76ers tonight, January 15, at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Nets will return to Brooklyn, NY to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, January 18, 2020, at the Barclays Center at 6:00 p.m. and you may want to arrive early to cop a Spencer Dinwiddie bobblehead doll.

 

In the loss, Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell leads Nets in scoring with 27 points, seven rebounds, and six assists

It wasn’t a blowout last night at the Barclays Center when the Brooklyn Nets lost 115-105 to the Toronto Raptors, the second-best team in the NBA Eastern Conference. Some say a loss is a loss no matter what the point spread is. But, in this case, when you’re fighting to clinch a spot in the playoffs, a loss can be more than a loss.

With the loss, the Nets fell to 39-40 overall and 22-18 at the Barclays Center, while the Raptors improved to 56-23 overall and 25-14 on the road with the win. But, moreover, the musical chairs of who’s in the NBA playoff seeding and who isn’t shifted last night and is likely to be a game of musical chairs over the remaining week. The Nets are still in the seventh spot, but the Miami Heat's loss to the Boston Celtics put the Orlando Magic in the eighth spot, while Miami fell to the ninth position.

So, what happened to the Nets last night.

“They were the better team,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I don’t know how else to tell you that. I think they were the better team tonight – from start to finish, gotta give credit. Excellent team. A team that’s going to compete for a championship. We were not up to that. Like I said before the game, those standards, you’ve got to be almost perfect. We weren’t. I would say we were average, and that’s not getting it done against a team like that.”

Toronto is the better team, hence the reason they are in the second position in the Eastern Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks are a better team, hence the reason, it is first in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Nets have no experience of turning it up in the final stretch of the regular season. And, they are traveling to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and then will travel to play the Indiana Pacers the very next day on Sunday. So, should we expect an upset in Milwaukee or in Indiana or both or two losses for the Nets? The best scenario for the Nets to make the playoffs is that since Miami is in the ninth position that Miami loses to Toronto on Sunday and Philadelphia on Tuesday and when Miami comes to Brooklyn on Wednesday, it would be too tired on the second game of a back-to-back to be victorious over Brooklyn. Of the three games on the Orlando Magic’s schedule, only the Boston Celtics are worrisome because the Magic could overtake Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets. But, of course, anything could happen.

The Nets really do have to turn it up because last night, the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Toronto Raptors despite shooting .477 (41-of-86) from the field and limiting Toronto to .419 (44-of-105) from the field. The Nets also edged the Raptors 60-48 in points in the paint.

With the Toronto Raptors in the rearview mirror and as the Net face the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, a question was posed to Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell: What can the Nets do against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo on Saturday?

“Just you know, make him feel us,” Russell responded. “He’s dominated the league this whole season. It’s a tough matchup. But we know what we gotta do. It’s going to take five of us to stop him, it’s not just (one) individual.”

Nets fans hear you, D’Angelo Russell, and they hope that you and the rest of the team can muster up a strategy and the energy to follow the strategy to prevail.

The Brooklyn Nets will play its final game of the regular season on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. Hopefully, it won’t be the last game of the season and this team that has faced so many adversities this season gets a taste of what the NBA postseason is all about.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers with 28 points, Caris LeVert put up 24 points off the bench, but the loss is a cloud hanging over Nets’ head

Last night at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets met up with the Milwaukee Bucks, the best team in the NBA, by its 58-20 record; yes, the Bucks’ record is better than the Golden State Warriors’ record, which is 52-24.

The bad news is that the Nets lost to the Bucks 131-121. The good news for the moment is that the Nets are still holding on to the seventh playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference (EC). The three other teams that are also jockeying for position for the NBA’s sixth through eighth playoff spots in the EC, the Detroit Pistons (#6), Miami Heat (#8), and the Orlando Magic (#9), also lost last night.

The Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, and the Orlando Magic all have at least two formidable teams to play between now and April 10, 2019, the last day of the NBA regular season. And, by formidable, these teams have already clinched the 1 through 5 NBA Eastern Conference playoff spots. NBA Eastern Conference spots 6 through 8 are up for grabs between four teams or five, depending on how you feel about the Charlotte Hornets because technically, right now, sitting at 35-42, mathematically, the Hornets are not out of contention. Teams that the Hornets have on their schedule right now are the New Orleans Pelicans (32-46) a Western Conference team, and then EC teams, the Toronto Raptors (55-23), Detroit Pistons (39-38), Cleveland Cavaliers (21-57) and the Orlando Magic (38-40).

But, looking at the upcoming schedule for the teams that most people believe are in the race, Detroit has two strong teams to play, the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. On Miami’s schedule are the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Orlando Magic being in the ninth spot is currently on the outside looking in and seemingly has the easiest schedule. The Magic’s last three games are against the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and the Boston Celtics. Of this lot, only the Boston Celtics is a playoff team. However, that doesn’t mean that the Magic would only lose to the Boston Celtics. Not in the least, the Nets just beat the Celtics, who were without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, on Saturday. These are all NBA teams and on any given night, there could be key players out, there could be an upset or the outcome could be predictable, which will make the next few days very exciting for some and not so exciting for others.

Focusing on the Nets, they have four more games on their schedule. The Nets play the Toronto Raptors tomorrow at the Barclays Center, a back-to-back on the road on Saturday and Sunday, against the Milwaukee Bucks again, and the Indiana Pacers and then they come back home to play the Miami Heat on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the last day of the regular season.

Wednesday, April 10, could be the determining day between the Nets and the Miami Heat, as well as other teams. Or, it could be over before the Nets get home depending upon what they do from this point forward and what the other teams do. Clearly, this is not a good position to be in.

And, as Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert, who scored 24 points, four rebounds and six assists, assessed last night’s game against the Bucks, the Nets have to be focused and dialed in from start to finish if they truly want to secure a playoff spot.

“I think we put ourselves in a big hole in that first quarter and it was tough fighting back, especially against a good team like that,” said LeVert. “They’re number one in the East for a reason. But we just have to learn from it. We played great basketball for like three-and-a-half quarters, so we have to learn from it and keep going.”

D’Angelo Russell lights up the Boston Celtics with 20 points in the third quarter

We’re coming into the homestretch for the NBA regular season and the Brooklyn Nets are fighting to hold onto a playoff spot. And, boy, did the Nets catch a break to win this matchup over the Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center last night! No Kyrie Irving and no Al Horford, both players were nursing illnesses. For Irving, it was low back soreness and for Horford, it was left knee soreness. But the Celtics had scoring leaders Gordon Hayward, who scored 19 points, six rebounds, and three assists off the bench, and; both Marcus Morris and Daniel Theis each scored 16 points, and five and four rebounds respectively. Also, it should be noted that Theis racked up his totals coming off the bench.

The Celtics led the Nets at the end of the first quarter 21-17, not a big margin. But small margins can balloon, and at the end of the first half, it was anybody’s guess how things would eventually turn out, as the Nets led the Celtics by one point, 49-48. But then came the third quarter and Brooklyn ended this stanza with an 11-point lead over Boston (82-70). As the fourth quarter was closing out, it was clear that the Brooklyn Nets was defending home turf mightily and there was a possibility of holding yet another opponent to less than 100 points.

With the 110-96 win over the Boston Celtics last night, the Nets improved to 39-38 overall and 22-16 at Barclays Center and are currently holding down the seventh playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference, while the Celtics fell to 45-32 overall and 18-20 on the road with the loss. And, don't cry for the Celtics, Argentina, as they are in the fourth playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference. And, unlike the Nets, the Celtics have already clinched their playoff spot so no matter what happens from this point on, the Celtics will be playing when the NBA's regular season ends.

Nevertheless, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was visibly upset during a timeout in the third quarter.

“I was really frustrated,” Stevens told the media after the game. “I didn’t think we valued possessions at the level we need to, to be a good team. That’s what I just talked about and I get it. We played really hard last night. Last night was a tough game but every possession all year matters. We haven’t been great at that and that’s one of the things if we’re going to make it anywhere significant, they’ve all got to matter equally. Offensively and defensively. Moving it. All of those things. I didn’t think anyone was on their “A” game by any means tonight and I just think we’ll need to be better.”

“We weren’t very good in the first half, and that’s a credit to their defense,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said as he started to break down the two halves. “My biggest fear against this team – against the Celtics – was, can you score against them? I think they’re just a great defensive team. We struggled in the first half and got it going in the third quarter. Obviously, D’Angelo... I think we were getting stopped when we got out on a break and I think playing against their set defense is very difficult. You have to get them back in a transition situation where they’re not set. I thought we did a great job at that. I think that’s how D’Angelo got loose. We had a couple (of) guys get to the rim a few times. And, also, just a good defensive effort by us, really good defensive effort.”

The Brooklyn Nets’ primary floor general, D’Angelo Russell, also chimed in with his assessment of the two halves.

“There’s two halves in a game,” Russell stated. “First half was a little suspect, costly turnovers, questionable shot selection, so I just knew I had to tighten up and we’re a team when someone sets an example we’re going to follow. DeMarre Carroll was solid for us, kept us solid and then I just wanted to take it over at the start of the third.”

D’Angelo Russell led the Brooklyn Nets with a game-high 29 points, a game-high 10 assists, three rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes. Caris LeVert scored 15 points and four steals in 29 minutes off the bench. Both Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll tallied 13 points each for the Nets. Harris also accumulated a game-high eight rebounds, while Carroll added four rebounds to his total, and; Jarrett Allen posted 10 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

The Nets will host the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center on Monday, April 1, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Also, on Monday, the Celtics will return home to host the Miami Heat, who is currently holding the eighth playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference. The Celtics vs. Heat game is also at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Nets hit 19 3-pointers; D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 27 points and Shabazz Napier gets his first career double-double against the Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets may be No. 2 in the NBA Western Conference, but there is something about the Brooklyn Nets that the Nuggets just can’t shake. The Nets became the second team this season to sweep the Nuggets (2-0), the other being the Milwaukee Bucks. And, because teams only play teams outside their conference twice in a season, there won’t be an opportunity for the Nuggets to even the score, so see you next season.

Perhaps, the Nuggets got too comfortable with their 14-point lead in the first quarter. Or, perhaps it was Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson’s decision to pull starting forward Rodions Kurucs, who wasn’t as productive as he could have been, and slide in DeMarre Carroll in his place, but whatever the reason, in short order the momentum changed. The Nets ended the first quarter down five points, Nuggets 35 – Nets 30. Brooklyn turned up the heat in the second leading by as much as 14 points at 5.6 seconds before ending the half up by 12 with a score of 72-60. The Nets saw more gold in the third quarter ending it up by 21 with a score of 108-87. Now, the Denver Nuggets are No. 2 in the Western Conference for a reason, and in the fourth stanza, the Nuggets dug deep into their inner being and gave the Nets a run for the money. Fortunately for the Nets, the Nuggets couldn’t seal the deal and the Nets won 135-130.

With the win, the Nets improved to 29-27 overall and 17-12 at Barclays Center and besting last season’s win total of 28-54, a huge accomplishment.

“I think it’s a sign of real progress,” Coach Atkinson said about the Nets’ current standing in the NBA. “It’s a sign that we’re a little ahead of schedule – I don’t want to get too excited because I look at the schedule for the rest of the year, but this was one of those games I looked at the schedule and said this is gonna be a tough one to get. But, I’m proud of the guys, proud of the organization. We’ve reached this victory mark this early – it’s a sign of real progress.”

At the end of a game, there are some coaches that take a loss and don’t show their disgust or disappointment in their team’s performance. However, last night, Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone gave kudos to the Brooklyn Nets, and overall, he was not happy with his some of his starters.

“The 3-point line was a byproduct of the real difference in the game which was how hard Brooklyn played,” Coach Malone told the media. “I think it’s a shame I have to take five starters out in the third quarter because you’re not playing at the level you’re supposed to play. This is a game of mistakes, you’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to miss shots. Things are going to happen but when you’re out there and you’re going through the motion, that’s one thing I can’t stand to watch and will not stand to watch. I was really happy and proud of the guys who went into the game in that third quarter. They got us back in the game and gave us a little bit of life. Nineteen threes is an awful number, but alarming for me is back-to-back games when we have guys out there in our starting lineup and not playing as hard as they need to play.”

Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell explained how the Nets were able to take advantage of the Nuggets.

“I think it’s just us figuring out how to win,” Russell said. “Last year we were in this position a lot of the times and it came down to that – figuring out how to win situation. I think we were really putting our foot on that.”

And, on how good it felt as a group for the Nets to get their offensive groove going after Monday night’s shellacking by the Milwaukee Bucks, Russell said: “It’s special. To be honest, we got our guys coming back. We’ve been doing this without our guys so just to get our guys back in one at a time and keep that groove going, I think it’s really special.”

D’Angelo Russell was one of seven Nets players scoring in double-digits against the Denver Nuggets. Russell led the Nets with 27 points (6-of-9 3FG), six rebounds and 11 assists in 35 minutes and registered his single-season career-high sixth double-double in the process. And, he will now play in the NBA All-Star game replacing the Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo who is out with an injury. DeMarre Carroll, posting his third double-double of the season, recorded 18 points, 10 rebounds, a career-high-tying six assists and a season-high four steals (matching the most steals recorded in a game by any Net this season) in 28 minutes off the bench. Joe Harris scored 17 points (7-of-13 FG, 3-of-6 3FG) with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 32 minutes. Treveon Graham tallied 16 points (6-of-9 FG, 4-of-6 3FG) – marking his second-most points scored in a game in his career – with three rebounds, two steals and, an assist in 23 minutes. Both Jarrett Allen and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson logged 15 points and Allen added five rebounds to his total. Shabazz Napier, part of the Nets second unit last night, posted his first-career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 11 assists in 27 minutes.

For the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic registered 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists; former Nets player, Mason Plumlee, posted 24 points, six rebounds, and three blocked shots; Jamal Murray accumulated 19 points, 11 assists, and three rebounds; Monte Harris, came off the bench and scored 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists; Malik Beasley, a starting guard, tallied 17 points, and; Trey Lyles, a member of Denver’s second unit chipped in 15 points and five rebounds.

With Plumlee being a former Nets player, of course, someone had to ask Coach Malone about Plumlee’s performance last night.

“He was everywhere,” Malone responded. “The guy was blocking shots on defense, running the floor and finishing around the basket. He was screening, rolling. What didn’t Mason Plumlee do to start that game? Literally, Mason was everywhere. Mason played hard. Mason cared. Mason left everything he had on the floor until he fouled out. You have to give a guy who plays that hard respect.”

Yes, you should.

So, what’s Denver’s next move?

The Denver Nuggets will be in Philadelphia tomorrow, Friday, January 8, 2019, to play the Philadelphia 76ers.

Meanwhile, the Nets will still be at home and will host the Chicago Bulls, also tomorrow, Friday, January 8, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

 

 

Nets in striking distance of Bucks through first-half, but overwhelmed by Bucks in 3rd quarter 36-22; Nets still 6th in NBA Eastern Conference

The Brooklyn Nets have been undergoing a rough patch lately. All teams in the NBA go through a backward slide during the NBA season at some point or another, even the reigning NBA champion, the Golden State Warriors, as of today, has lost 15 games this season. However, when you’re fighting for relevancy and trying not to fall out of NBA playoff positioning, you have little room for error and so is the case for the Brooklyn Nets.

Last night, and every game at this point and going forward is important for the Nets. Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Nets couldn’t pull off a win against the Milwaukee Bucks, the current number 1 team in the NBA. The Bucks defeated the Brooklyn Nets, 113-94. With the loss, the Nets fell to 28-27 overall and 16-12 at Barclays Center. Meanwhile, the Bucks improved to 39-13 overall and 17-9 on the road. There’s little surprise that the Nets would lose to a team aiming to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, but the play of game exposed how Nets player injuries have put a serious dent in the Nets ability to keep pace with an elite team operating at full strength.

Even Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer agrees.

“Brooklyn’s really banged up so it’s almost not fair,” Budenholzer said graciously. “But for us on the end of a road trip, it’s a good win.”

Budenholzer highlighted key elements that helped the Bucks pull off a win against the Nets: “Really good win. The focus coming out of the halftime was really good. Khris (Middleton) had a stretch there for two or three minutes -- kind of put us on his back, and obviously, Giannis is special. I thought the defense between (Eric) Bledsoe and Malcolm (Brogdon) on D’Angelo Russell and Shabazz Napier was very good.”

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson sees a silver-lining ahead for his team, as Caris LeVert and Allen Crabbe will be at a full-on practice today.

“Progressing great,” Atkinson said about LeVert during his pregame press conference last night. “He will practice with the G-League team tomorrow, a full-on practice. Allen Crabbe will be in that bucket too and then we will evaluate after the practice, but both of them (are) progressing nicely.”

Nets guard D’Angelo Russell is chomping at the bit for Crabbe and LeVert’s return to the lineup because he knows how much their return will help the team.

“A lot, a lot, a lot,” Russell said about how much getting Crabbe and LeVert back in the lineup would help the team. “It’s forcing Coach to really go deep in the bench (player absences), but you get that caliber of guys back and you’re at another level, so the sooner the better.”

In addition to LeVert and Crabbe being out for the Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie, a team leader, is also out. Dinwiddie underwent successful surgery last week to repair ligaments in his right thumb. There is no timetable for his return as yet. And, Nets center Jarrett Allen acknowledges Dinwiddie's importance to the team and what the Nets are missing without Dinwiddie’s presence.

“Just Spencer driving to the rim,” Allen said. “Just Spencer being able to create space. Just him all around.”

Regarding Nets scoring leaders, Russell led the Nets with 18 points and five assists in 29 minutes against the Bucks. Shabazz Napier, who made his second start for the Nets last night, recorded 15 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 28 minutes. Theo Pinson added 10 points, a career-high-tying eight rebounds, and two assists in 26 minutes off the bench.

Although (Jarrett) Allen did not score in double-digits, he led the Nets in rebounding with 11.

For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 30 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, and three blocked shots; Malcolm Brogdon scored 15 points and eight rebounds; Eric Bledsoe registered 15 points, five assists, five steals, and three rebounds, and; Khris Middleton chipped in 12 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

The Bucks are heading home to Milwaukee to host the Washington Wizards, tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6, at 8 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Nets will stay at home and host the Denver Nuggets at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets win with 29 points against the NBA leader, the Toronto Raptors

For the Brooklyn Nets, the end to the long drought of wins came yesterday against the No. 1 team in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors. It took an overtime session to clinch the win, a third overtime game this season for the Nets by the way, but the Nets beat the Raptors 106-105.

This win, took down a number of demons, the first of which, the Nets ended a 12-game losing streak against the Raptors and the team’s season-worst eight-game losing streak. The win improved Brooklyn’s overall win-loss record so far this season to 9-18, and 4-10 at the Barclays Center.

The last time the Brooklyn Nets won a game this season was way back on November 20, 2018, against the Miami Heat on the road in Miami. The journey to get here was a bit tumultuous, as Brooklyn led so many games in the closing minutes only to drop the ball and allow the other team to win. Watching them give up double-digit leads and lose games in the closing minutes this season, gave many the feeling that perhaps, the team felt they were not worthy of winning. However, Friday night, Brooklyn pushed that monkey off its back and was justly rewarded by the basketball gods. Beating the Raptors should be a sign that this is a win they can build upon. And, don’t cry for the Raptors, they still hold the best record in the NBA.

“Obviously, it’s a great win for us just to get off of the losing streak, the skid that we were on,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about finally getting a game in the win column after a long drought. “We’ve been playing great basketball, and we just haven’t been able to execute and finish down the stretch. Tonight it was with our defense. Big plays. Big possessions. Winning plays all the way around. Obviously, Rondae did a hell of a job individually, defensively, but it was a collective effort for sure.”

Harris also felt this Nets win against the Toronto Raptors is better than other wins this season because the Raptors are number one in the league.

“Yeah, I think it just kind of validates what we were already feeling,” Harris continued. “We’ve obviously been able to compete night in night out with everybody that we’ve played against. Toronto up to this point, even now, has been record-wise the best team in the NBA, and they really have been playing the best basketball. For us to come in and get some validation that our process, we’ve been sticking with it, staying consistent, and we were finally able to execute and finish one off.”

To say that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was elated with this win would be an understatement.

“I think that stop at the end of the game was indicative of who we were all night,” Atkinson said about his guys. “We fought, we clawed and the basketball gods shined on guys that have been playing good basketball and guys of high character and guys that are together and spirited. So it’s just nice to see those guys in that locker room rewarded for their efforts.”

Leading the way in points for the Brooklyn Nets were D’Angelo Russell with a team-high 29 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and registered 17 points and eight assists; Jarrett Allen scored a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and added two steals and two blocked shots; both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Allen Crabbe tallied 11 points and four rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

Nets forward Ed Davis led the way in rebounding with 15 rebounds, of which 13 were defensive rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 32 points for the Raptors; teammates Jonas Valanciunas added 24 points and eight rebounds, while Pascal Siakam contributed 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Toronto returns home to host the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow, Sunday, December 9, 2018, at 6 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Nets will travel across the East River to Manhattan to play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden tonight, Saturday, December 8, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Can the Nets make it a two-game winning streak?

Only time will tell.

Brandon Jennings scored a game and season-high 36 points for the Bucks, and Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 35 points for the New York Knicks

With the New York Knicks offense struggling and the team on a 5-game losing streak, head coach Mike D 'Antoni can't wait until Baron Davis gets healthy enough to bring stability and veteran leadership to the backcourt. It may not happen for a couple of more weeks, but it's not because of a lack of effort on Davis' part.

Prior to the game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night, Davis talked about his health and the state of the team. It hasn't been easy watching the team go through the offensive funk that has them averaging only 88 points in their 8 losses. They have scored over 100 points only 3 times, winning 2 of those games. Defensively they have been better than in the past under D 'Antoni giving up 100 points or more in 4 out of the 14 games they've played. With Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the floor, points should not be hard to come by. Both have been in a funk evidenced by their poor performance in the Wednesday night loss to Phoenix. They combined for 35 points but needed 44 shots to do so. Only Stoudemire's free throws (9 out of 10) made his final line look respectable. Granted, Anthony has been hampered by a sore wrist and ankle and Stoudemire may still be dealing with a sore back, but as a team, they have not moved the ball well enough to give their teammates open looks and uncontested shots. That's where Davis is hoping to contribute when he's ready to play.

"I can shoot, dribble and a lot of spot shooting," said Davis sitting in front of his locker.

He basically does this alone with the help of the assistant coaches and watched closely by the training staff. He's doing things in moderation while working on conditioning drills.

"It's a process," he continued. "It's strength, it's conditioning, it's balance. It's being able to do that on a consistent basis day in and day out and wake up the next day and be ready to progress forward. I'm making leaps and bounds and huge strides to get myself on the court."

In the meantime, when the ball goes up in the air, Davis is relegated to being a cheerleader and teacher. When Toney Douglas' poor early season play forced D 'Antoni to bench him in favor of first-year guard Iman Shumpert, Davis had already been mentoring him while he was waiting to come off the bench. He was giving Shumpert advice and making sure he never lost confidence. Shumpert isn't his only pupil.

"We have a lot of young guys on the team," Davis continued. "If I see a weakness in a defender on the floor I will talk with Toney or Shumpert about it. I try and work with the younger guys to get them to hone in on the fundamentals. As we proceed thru the season, those are the things that are going to push us over the top."

As he watches his team from the bench, dressed to the nines, Baron Davis is learning the offense he will be running as soon as his back can handle the everyday pounding. As easy as it may look from his vantage point, putting it into action with a new group won't be easy. He doesn't think it will take that long to pick things up.

"I'm the type of person that I pick up things very, very quickly when I'm out there."

He will do that with a starting line-up that is still trying to develop offensive cohesiveness.

"Any time you have these many new faces in a system, it takes everyone to really catch a rhythm and to get on a roll. You have to be patient. Offensively I know that will come around."

It didn't come around against the Bucks as New York fell behind early in the fourth quarter by as many as 17 points in their 100-86 loss. Brandon Jennings, who torched the Knicks the last time he touched the Madison Square Garden floor for 37 points, scored a game and season-high 36 points. Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 35 points but his frustration showed after with 1:33 left in the game as he was hit with his second technical foul resulting in his ejection. The Knicks lost for the 5th straight time and their 3rd straight at home. D 'Antoni said the team was in "crisis" after Wednesday's loss. You can add turmoil as well.

"It's the whole team," he said afterward. "We are just not sharp. It looks like they are running circles around us. It is not just one guy. We wouldn't be this bad. Again, we have to dig deeper and get through this."

Getting Baron Davis on the floor would be a good start.

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.

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