August 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He did just that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LeBron James: "Northeast Ohio is Bigger Than Basketball"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big 4th Quarter from Kyrie Irving sends Nets to 5th straight loss

Kyrie Irving hasn’t played since last year when he scored 32 points in a win against the Boston Celtics on December 29. Unfortunately for the Brooklyn Nets who hosted the “Super Friends”, Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, Irving showed no signs of rust.

The sixth-year guard picked up from where he left off and torched the young Nets in the second half. He scored 16 of his 32 points in the 4th quarter, leading the Cavs, alongside Lebron James to an entertaining 116-108 win.

Through the first three quarters, Irving struggled from the field. He entered the fourth quarter with 16 points but shot five of 17 from the field. But when it mattered, “Uncle Drew” showed up. The Nets cut what was an 18-point lead from the Cavs to six to start the 4th quarter, down 86-80, capped off by a three from Caris LeVert with 10 minutes left until the end of regulation. Irving then took over.

After two made free-throws, Irving would go on a 10-6 run all by himself. He drained a couple of threes in the eyes of the defense and capped off his run converting a tough contested reverse layup that put the Cavs up by 16, 98-82 with 7:36 left in the fourth.

“He (Irving) loves big moments,” James said post-game. “No matter if a team with a record that they have and the record that we have, games get close he’s going to step up to the plate and its always great to see him come through.”

Despite the Cavs lead the Nets continued to fight. After James connected on a turnaround bank shot that put the Cavs up by 12, 100-88 with 5:45 left in the quarter, Bojan Bogdanovic hit a three-pointer that pulled the Nets to within nine.

The Nets would cut the deficit to within seven on a running layup by Trevor Booker, 113-106 with 1:17 left but by then it was already too late. Despite the offensive success the Cavs enjoyed in addition to the win, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was satisfied with his team’s defensive effort.

“I know the score looks high, but I think for the pace, our defense was much better, much better than last night so I’m happy with that,” Atkinson said post-game.

Like Irving, Kevin Love struggled early as well. At the end of the third, Love scored 14 points on four of 12 shooting but it didn’t matter. Irving caught fire and James added a sneaky team-high 36 points which included several signature James dunks to wow the crowd.

Whether it’s James or Irving or even Love, the Cavs’ big three are too much for just about anybody.

“It’s pick your poison you know,” Atkinson said. “They just spread you out with their shooting and obviously they’ve got two excellent “iso” players in Irving and James.”

As for Brooklyn, LeVert enjoyed a career night. The rookie out of Michigan who missed summer league and struggled to stay on the court through training camp, due to a left foot fracture scored 19 points on 58 percent shooting from the field. He hit some big shots to keep the Nets competitive late in the game and even guarded James on occasion, welcoming the defensive challenge.

“I love competition,” LeVert said post-game. “I’m from Ohio as well, so I grew up watching them (Cavaliers) play a lot, so that’s someone that I’ve wanted to play against since I was younger, so I just wanted to compete.”

On offense, LeVert said that he tried to stay aggressive the whole game and was encouraged by his coaches and teammates to do so.

“I felt like Caris really stepped it up there and made some really good plays,” said Atkinson on the rookie’s play.

Other than Caris, Booker added a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, Bogdanovic scored a team-high 23, Brook Lopez added 17 and Isaiah Whitehead added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

It’s difficult to find the good in any loss but against the Cavs, the play of the younger pieces on the Nets was encouraging to see and even still, Lopez believes the Cavs are just one of 30 teams that the Nets will have to treat equally.

“It’s important to treat every game like that,” Lopez said post-game. “I know it’s easy to prepare and get ready for a game like this and get up for a game like this when you’re playing the premier players in the league, but you have to treat every game like this. Our next one is just as important. We have to take it one game at a time.”

Brook Lopez’s position outside of the post and passing ability a key strategy in Nets win over the Cavs

After hosting the Milwaukee Bucks, the Cleveland Cavaliers traveled east to take on the Brooklyn Nets for the second game of a back to back. Coming into tonight’s game, the Cavaliers held a 2-0 record against Brooklyn. If the Nets have their way, the Cavs will fail to go undefeated against them for the season.

To start the game, Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez set up outside of the post drawing defender Timofey Mozgov from the basket, away from his comfort zone. Setting up Lopez outside of the low post not only removed a shot blocker from the basket but also took advantage of Lopez’s passing ability as his teammates cut to the basket to either score or dish to an open teammate. Mozgov picked up two fouls with a little over six minutes remaining in the first quarter and was replaced by Tristan Thompson. The Cavaliers were able to penetrate the Nets defense scoring 18 points in the paint in the first quarter however, the Nets had the hot hands from beyond the arc shooting just under 56%. In addition to shooting the ball well, the Nets defense forced turnovers which converted to points. However, the Nets didn’t quite have an answer for LeBron James, as he scored with relative ease not missing a shot from the field for a total of fifteen points for the half.

Going into the third quarter, the Nets had a ten-point lead over Cleveland and momentum was on their side. Perhaps sensing that his team was in danger, LeBron James continued his scoring dominance by going 13 for 14 for fifteen points in the quarter. Three of James’ points in the quarter came from a bank shot from beyond the arc as the shot clock expired. The Cavs took possession of the lead 83-80 at the end of the quarter.

Given LeBron James’ performance in the third quarter, it was quite interesting that James started the final quarter on the bench. Brooklyn took full advantage of James being on the bench as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson quickly scored six points. The Cavs lead was cut to two points which ushered the re-entrance of LeBron James. After three outstanding quarters, the Nets held James scoreless in the last quarter while the Nets went on a decisive run that led Brooklyn to victory.

Sergey Karasev comes up big with a career-high 17 points to help Nets

On Thursday evening, the Brooklyn Nets hammered the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-95 and then picked up its second consecutive win last evening against another playoff-bound team, the Indiana Pacers 120-110.

Initially, with Brook Lopez not playing his best for most of the first three quarters against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday evening, the Nets looked a bit lethargic; not falling off the cliff lethargy, but a beat behind.

Leading the Nets by as many as 14 in the first half and then by 10 early in the fourth quarter, the Pacers dominated until Lopez got his groove back and took control.

Lopez had only scored nine points by the end of the third quarter and with fire in his belly, he scored 14 points in the last stanza for a total of 23 points for the night. Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points. However, the surprise Brooklyn Nets double-digit point scorer of the night was Sergey Karasev.

Karasev, who was rumored to want off the Nets and possibly the NBA altogether, had a big night. Making the most of his starting minutes (25:44), Karasev scored a career-high 17 points, seven boards, four assists, and two steals.

In a postgame interview, Karasev with humility deflected credit from himself and heaped praise on his teammates, Brook Lopez and Bojan Bogdanovic.

"Bojan hit a big three and Brook played a great fourth quarter," Karasev said. "Everyone was touching the ball on the court. Everybody looked pretty good today and when we moved the ball we looked pretty good, like a team."

Sean Kilpatrick, who recently was called up from the D-League and received a multi-year contract from the Nets, and Markel Brown contributed 14 and 11 points respectively off-the-bench for Nets. Kilpatrick, known as a scorer, surprised a few people with his defensive moves.

VIDEO: Sean Kilpatrick talks about his defensive play in his own words

Pacers’ starters Paul George led the Pacers with 27 points; Ian Mahinmi scored 18 points and George Hill added 17 points to round out the starters in double-digits.  C.J. Miles and Jordan Hill both chipped in 12 points each coming off the bench.

Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers, its 120-110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets is the team’s first loss to a sub-.500 team since January 23rd. The Pacers are trying to hold on for a playoff spot.

The Brooklyn Nets, who are not playoff bound, finished off the Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday like it was fighting for an eighth playoff spot or home-court advantage. Nets starting guard Shane Larkin in a postgame interview talked about how the players are still sticking together and playing for each other even though the Nets are not playoff bound.

VIDEO: Brooklyn Nets guard Shane Larkin in his own words

The Nets visit Miami on Monday to face off against Dwyane Wade and former Nets player Joe Johnson and the rest of the Miami Heat.

Nets struggled on both ends, but to their credit, held Cavs to 91 points

On Monday night, at primetime, the Golden State Warriors handed the Cleveland Cavaliers their worst home loss of the season, 132-98. Unfortunately for the Brooklyn Nets, the Cavs were their next opponent. It was fun for Brooklyn and all of the fans in attendance who paid to see the stars that Cleveland has to offer, but not for the home team expected to defend their home-court.

From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the Cavs came to Barclays Center on Wednesday night and handled their business, beating the Nets, 91-78. It was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Eastern Conference leaders and while the Nets were within striking distance for the majority of the first half, the Cavs made their statement late in the third and never looked back. After Thomas Robinson’s layup cut the Cavs lead to 10, 63-53 with 4:41 left in the 3rd, Cavs reserve Matthew Dellavedova answered with a two of his own. Moments later, LeBron James added a three with three minutes and a half left in the third.

Dellavedova’s jumper kick-started a 10-2 run, increasing what was a harmless 10-point lead to an 18-point uphill climb for the Nets. To begin the 4th, the only Cavs starter in the game was J.R. Smith. For Lebron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, their night was over. After scoring just three points against the Warriors, Love found his footing and rebounded in a big way.

He scored 17 points like Lebron and also grabbed 18 boards for the second time this season.

“I was just happy with Kevin going out there with a great mindset and getting back to his normal self,” Cavs head coach David Blatt said regarding Love’s bounce-back game. “Those are the kind of games he’s been giving us since the beginning of the year and for me, that is normal Kevin Love.”

He also assisted Lebron on his first two points of the game; a breakaway tomahawk slam. And the highlight play was the result of the vexing Cavs defense the Nets dealt with all night long. The Cavs scored 16 fast-break points and 19 off of turnovers they caused.

“Well, Coach has been pushing us about pushing the tempo, pushing our pace, getting up the floor, and I think we did that tonight,” Lebron said who also had five assists, just under his regular season average of six.

From the start, you could sense the urgency from the opposing team who looked like they were out to prove something and it would be difficult not crediting Golden State’s loss as inspiration.

“I’m sure it had something to do with it, but mostly it had to do with our guys reaching down and recognizing we had to get back on track right away,” said Blatt post-game. “It’s painful to get knocked down but it’s shameful to not get back up if you get knocked down. To the guys’ credit, they got back up and played a terrific basketball game.”

The Nets wish they could say the same. They only allowed 91 points to clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference but the offense wasn’t there.

Outside of Brook Lopez’s 16 points, Thaddeus Young chipped in 14 and Donald Sloan added 12 and nine assists. Wednesday’s loss signaled the Nets fourth straight and interim Head Coach Tony Brown continues to look for answers.

“I didn’t think it was our best effort since I have taken over,” Brown said post-game. “I don’t know if it was just because it was Cleveland, I don’t know, but clearly we can do better on both ends of the floor.”

If playing the best team in the Eastern Conference doesn’t rev you up to play, then what will?

Since Lionel Hollins was dismissed as the Brooklyn Nets head coach, the Nets have shown fight but against the Cavs they did not put forth the kind of effort they displayed against the Toronto Raptors, their previous game. As the offense went, the Nets went and the inability to get a rhythm going in the first half sealed the Nets fate for the remainder of the game.

After Cleveland, the road gets tougher. The Nets will host the Utah Jazz on Friday night who are fresh off of a tough OT loss to the New York Knicks and will then welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat. Nets’ fans expect wins, but more than wins, they expect a fight. It’s up to the Nets to decide whether that will be the norm going forward no matter how rough their season continues to be.

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Will LeBron James play less minutes in the 2015-16 NBA Season?

The Cleveland Cavaliers want to cut Kyrie Irving and Lebron James’s minutes next season.

Signing Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson is a move that could help the Cavs do just that.

Is this a smart move and will the Cavs gain an advantage when other teams follow suit?

VIDEO DISCUSSION: J.R. Smith signed a two-year deal with Cleveland worth more than $10 million

J.R. Smith will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Smith’s deal is for two years and worth more than $10 million. The second year of Smith’s contract will be a player option. Should the Cavs have signed J.R.?

Justin Harper Comes to Brooklyn Nets after playing the 2014-15 season in Italy

The Brooklyn Nets signed forward Justin Harper, General Manager Billy King announced today.

Harper (6’10”, 225) joins the Nets after spending the 2014-15 season with S.S. Felice Scandone in Italy’s Serie A. Originally selected with the 32nd pick (second round) of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Harper was dealt to the Orlando Magic on draft night. He appeared in 14 games with the Magic during his rookie season, averaging 1.4 points and 0.9 rebounds in 6.0 minutes per game. He also saw action in one postseason game.

Following his rookie season, Harper competed for the D-League’s Idaho Stampede (2012-13) and Hapoel Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League (2013-14) before landing in Italy. Most recently, Harper was a member of the Phoenix Suns’ entry in the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League. A four-year player at Richmond University, Harper’s collegiate career culminated in his selection to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team as a senior.

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