February 22, 2019

In the loss, Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis, lead the Brooklyn Nets in scoring against their old team, the Portland Trail Blazers

Last night, fresh from the excitement of the NBA All-Star extravaganza, which saw four Brooklyn Nets players participating in different activities and Nets forward Joe Harris beating out Stephen Curry to win the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest, the Brooklyn Nets sputtered in its first game after the NBA All-Star break losing to the Portland Trail Blazers 113-99. With the loss, the Nets have a 30-30 overall win-loss record and 17-14 at the Barclays Center. They are also still in the sixth position in the NBA Eastern Conference playoff berth standings right behind the Boston Celtics. On the contrary, the Portland Trail Blazers improved to 35-23 overall and 11-15 on the road with the win.

Like the Nets’ game against the Chicago Bulls, Portland’s starting five out-sized the Nets starters with the Trail Blazers’ center and forward being 7’0” and both forwards 6’9” while the Nets players in those positions are 6’11” (center) and 6’7” and 6’5” for the forwards. Also, Portland’s players in those positions have more experienced with 6, 8, and 4-years’ NBA experience versus no more than two years of experience (2, 2, and 1) for Nets players in similar positions. This not to excuse the Nets loss, but to put into context things that can contribute to the ups and downs in the NBA and sports in general.

When Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was asked about the biggest difference between the two teams, he responded, “I think rebounding, I think physicality. I think they were the more physical team. I see 19 offensive rebounds. We couldn’t corral. I think we did a decent job on (Damian) Lillard and (CJ) McCollum, just a tough time rebounding tonight. I said pregame that’s one of the things we’re focused on, so I’m disappointed there was no carryover from the emphasis at the All-Star break. So, credit to Portland – I thought overall, they were the more energetic, more physical team, and deserved to win.”

Atkinson also added what he would like to clean up regarding the Nets’ rhythm and flow: “We didn’t have great rhythm tonight, didn’t play well. I think that’s across the board – didn’t coach well, didn’t play well. It’s just one of those games where Portland was simply the better team. There’s just no way around it. I thought in all facets they played really well.”

All of the Portland Trail Blazers starting five scored in double digits. Jusuf Nurkic, the team’s center achieved 27 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocked shots; CJ McCollum recorded 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two blocked shots; both Maurice Harkless and Damian Lillard each scored 13 points and eight rebounds, while Lillard added 8 assists to his total and Harkless added four assists; Al-Farouq Aminu contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds, and; Enes Kanter, who recently landed in Portland via a transaction with the New York Knicks, came off the bench and registered 18points and nine rebounds to help his team get the “W”.

“Good to get a road win, good to get that first win after the break,” Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said about his team’s victory against the Brooklyn Nets. “Brooklyn played a lot of zone. We didn’t have a lot of offense in with Enes Kanter, so it was just kind of playing free basketball. I thought we did a good job with pick-and-rolls when we had it. Obviously, our two big guys dominated inside. That was an important part of our offense.”

“Yeah, that’s my game,” Kanter said not shying away from his style of basketball. “Just go out there, I play hard and bring energy, rebounds – the inside game. I think it’s just the important thing to go out there and get a win.”

Allen Crabbe, a former member of the Portland Trail Blazers and in his second season with the Nets, summed up his thoughts on where the Trail Blazers hurt the Nets most: “Offensive rebounds. They got a lot of second-chance points, they got a lot of offensive rebounds. It’s hard to beat a team when you give up that many offensive rebounds and they get that many looks, second chance aside, so you’ve just got to give them credit. They outworked us tonight. We’ve just got to get back to the drawing board and figure it out.”

Crabbe understands there is no time to dwell on this loss and what to do next is not rocket science. Everyone understands what needs to be done to be ready for the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

“I think just practice really, just keep going back, watching film, looking at things we can correct, things we can sharpen up a little bit,” Crabbe added. “Like you said, finally getting back to a full, healthy roster, so just that rhythm of playing with the regular lineups we had at the beginning of the season. I think in due time it will come, so we’re not worried about it. We know we have a lot of guys capable of doing good stuff for us each and every night, so I think it will click for us eventually.”

Oddly enough, the players that led the Nets in scoring last night were former players from the Portland Trail Blazers, Crabbe and Ed Davis and they both came off the bench. Crabbe scored 17 points and four rebounds, while Davis scored a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets first unit with 14 points, eight assists, and four rebounds; Joe Harris scored 13 points and four rebounds, both Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen each scored 12 points, while Allen added 11 rebounds to his total.

Some have called this loss to Portland a wake-up call for the Brooklyn Nets.

Davis begs to differ: “It’s not really a wake-up call, I mean we’re woke. They’re a good team – they were the third seed (in the NBA Western Conference) coming in here. They played well, they(are) coached well and they just beat us. That’s the NBA. Like you said, you gotta move on and get ready for the next game.”

After playing the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, February 23rd, the Nets return home to take on the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, February 25, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Theo Pinson, a Brooklyn Nets two-way player, leads the Nets with 19 points; Shabbaz Napier steps in for Spencer Dinwiddie and scores 18 points

Watching the New York Knicks play the Brooklyn Nets last night was reminiscent of the Brooklyn Nets the last three seasons before they found their way. The Knicks led the Brooklyn Nets for almost two full quarters, as the Nets have led countless other teams in the past, and then suddenly the opponent dropped the boom and surged for the win. The Nets trailed the Knicks by as much as 10 points in the first quarter and ended that quarter down seven 37-30. A similar occurrence happened in the second, this time down by as much as 11 points, 51-40 at 7:10, but creating a different ending at the half finishing with a tie score, 60-60. Through the third, the Nets ended on top 87-82, and the fourth leading by as much as 17 points at 3:33 and ending the game with a 109-99 win.

In a game when the Nets were without Spencer Dinwiddie because of a thumb injury, the real story of the night was Theo Pinson, an undrafted graduate from the University of North Carolina. On a two-way contract with the Brooklyn Nets, Pinson led all Nets scorers with a career-high and team-high 19 points (5-of-11 FG, 3-of-5 3FG, 6-of-6 FT), a career-high eight rebounds, and a career-high two steals and two assists. Pinson now holds the most points tallied in a game by a Nets two-way player in the two seasons since two-way contracts have been implemented. This wasn’t Pinson’s first game with the Nets and his previous career-high was nine points against Toronto on January 11, 2018.

And, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson had not even considered Pinson to be in the rotation.

“It’s a great job,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about Pinson. “Shouldn’t say unexpected but didn’t originally have him in the rotation. Thought we were struggling and threw him in there, and we didn’t want to take him out. Heck of a job. It’s a credit to our G League – the Long Island Nets – the job they’ve done there, Will Weaver, the head coach, and all the assistants. He’s a part of our program, did a heck of a job and didn’t skip a beat. (He) knew everything we were doing tactically. Just a really smooth transition.”

Pinson, who was on the ready, said of his opportunity, “it was huge, I was actually looking forward to it. Once we went down early, I was just hoping I got the shot and tried to make the best of it.”

Sometimes people, and even reporters, think of players in the NBA’s G-League as not as good as their NBA counterparts. As such, a reporter asked Pinson where he got the confidence to go in and play well tonight.

“Confidence,” Pinson responded. “Confidence and I know I can shoot the ball and they encourage you to shoot here. It was something that I’ve been working all summer and every single day with Shaun Fein, Will Weaver and all those guys who have helped me to this point. I can’t thank those two enough as far as keeping us ready. We run the same stuff up there (Long Island) so I’m not behind when I come here, and it’s helped me out tremendously.”

In addition to Pinson, the other leading Brooklyn Nets scorers came from its bench. Shabbaz Napier scored 18 points; Ed Davis, who is not a prolific scorer, registered a double-double 17 points, 16 rebounds, and three assists, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson tallied 10 points, seven rebounds, and three rebounds.

Napier filling in for Dinwiddie told reporters what it felt like being in the starting line-up.

“Just be myself,” Napier said. “At the end of the day I play with a lot of heart and I just go out there and try my best to give any type of spark I can. I think collectively we all did that.”

Napier also responded to a question of whether the chemistry he and Ed Davis had coming from Portland helped him in last night’s game.

“Yea I think so. I’ve been playing with Ed (Davis) for three years now. On and off the court he’s been a tremendous help for myself and I think the chemistry, being together with somebody for three years – you build something. I think today we were able to contribute in a lot of ways.”

As for the Nets starters, D’Angelo Russell scored 12 points, four assist, and three rebounds; while Joe Harris chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

For the New York Knicks, Trey Burke led all scorers with 25 points, five assists, and two steals; Noah Vonleh scored 22 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots; Allonzo Trier registered 13 points, and; Tim Hardaway, Jr. chipped in 10 points and three rebounds.

David Fizdale was disappointed in his team’s fourth-quarter performance, particularly in the first half.

“The offense stalled from that standpoint and we weren’t finishing our defensive stops with rebounds,” Fizdale said. “One way or another we put Brooklyn on the line 47 times. It’s very difficult to win a game on the road when you do that.”

Knicks fans, who seemed to outnumber Brooklyn Nets fans at the Barclays Center, left the Barclays Center with similar disappointment. Unfortunately, Knicks fans had to grapple with seeing the Nets improve to 27-23 overall and the Knicks falling to 10-37. The Nets are a league-best 19-5 in their last 24 games, matching their best 24-game stretch in franchise history.

Each team will have another opportunity to improve their records. The New York Knicks will play the Miami Heat tomorrow, at Madison Square Garden. As for the Nets, they travel to Boston to play the Boston Celtics on Monday, January 28, 2019, and then on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, the Nets will be at home to play the Chicago Bulls at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

D’Angelo Russell leads all scorers with 31 points and is the NBA’s reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week

The Brooklyn Nets’ comeback is making noise!

Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, the Brooklyn Nets smoothly defeated the Sacramento Kings 123-94. Okay, so what’s all the hubbub about you ask? The Nets are now 17-5 since December 7th, which matches their best 22-game stretch in the Brooklyn era. The last time the Nets had a 22-game stretch this good was way back in the 2013-14 season. Still not convinced, the Nets are 8-2 this month, tied with Toronto for the second-best record in the East in January, trailing only Milwaukee (9-2). Oh, yeah, and if that isn’t enough, the Nets have now won six straight games against Western Conference opponents, including James Harden and his crew, the Houston Rockets, marking their longest winning streak against West teams within a season since the 2005-06 campaign when they won eight straight.

Now, last night’s game wasn’t a total walk in the park, the Kings had a 60-55 lead at the end of the first half, but the Nets turned up the heat in the third quarter outscoring the Kings 38-25, ending the third 93-85. In the fourth stanza, the Kings should have called the fire department to help because the Nets smoked them 30-9, which brings us back to the final score of 123-94.

The way the Brooklyn Nets turned up the heat on the Sacramento Kings in the second-half made Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson extremely proud and he pinpointed the x-factor that made all the difference.

“I think more our defense,” Atkinson told reporters. “We obviously made some shots, but I thought our defense was excellent. I thought TG’s (Treveon Graham) job on Buddy Hield was fantastic. I don’t think he scored in the second half. He was a real concern for us but great job on him and great defensive performance.”

Atkinson was right, Hield was held to zero points on 7:04 minutes of play in the third and zero in 4:39 minutes of play in the fourth. At the game’s conclusion, Hield only scored 11 points and 7 rebounds.

But defense is a general term and Atkinson has been preaching defense since day one, and he elaborated to be more specific.

“It was transition defense,” Atkinson added. “I thought they annihilated us in the first half with their transition buckets. We couldn’t get matched up. They were coming at you so fast, even off dead balls, makes. This is one of the most impressive transition offense teams I’ve seen. They’re fast and we had real trouble with it. We showed some clips, we talked about it. We said run back, it doesn’t matter your matchup, just pick up anybody. It’s a little bit like a pick-up game. You have to find somebody, you have to play them, and the guys did a much better job in the second of at least limiting their transitions.”

The only other Sacramento starter to score in double-digits was Willie Cauley-Stein with 12 points and six rebounds, which was not much more than Hield. If you’re wondering about De’Aaron Fox, he had an off-day, as he only scored nine points, six assists, and three rebounds. Consequently, Brooklyn’s starting backcourt of Russell and Joe Harris outscored Sacramento’s starting backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, 50-20. But more on Russell and Harris later.

The Kings’ bench did help. Bogdan Bogdanovic, who only has one year under his belt in the NBA, led the Kings in scoring with 22 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and two steals. Justin Jackson, who also has just one year with the NBA, added 14 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one blocked shot.

Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger made a calculated decision to put Jackson in as a starter in the second-half.

“Yea, I thought (Rodions) Kurucs really hurt us and it was our first time seeing him,” Joerger explained. “But it was layup, layup, layup first half and then we switched the matchup in the second half and Justin (Jackson) – we did some other things and he’s a nice player. That was a very good pick up.”

And, Jackson saw his start for the Kings in the second half as a vote of confidence by Coach Joerger.

“Yeah, any basketball player would tell you it feels good whenever guys around you have confidence in you,” Jackson told the assembled media. “For him to feel confident enough to put me out there on the floor for one helps a lot, and for him to put me in different types of situations is definitely big because then I know I can just go out there and play because he has the confidence in me for me to go out there and do what I can do.”

D'Angelo Russell, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, led all scorers with 31 points, eight assists, four rebounds, 1 steal and one blocked shot.

When the Los Angeles Lakers dealt Russell to the Brooklyn Nets along with Timofey Mozgov in 2017, there were some media skeptics. However, Nets general manager Sean Marks and coach Atkinson saw Russell as an asset.

“Those pull-up threes are something,” Atkinson said about Russell’s performance last night and as of late. “Those are (James) Harden-esque. They switch and he gets in a couple moves, couple dribbles, and punishes the switch with the pull-up three. And then I thought, later, he mixed in the drive against the switches. So, to me, that was a growth area for him, handling switches better. But if he keeps making that pull-up three, it’s going to be tough to keep him in front. Impressive, impressive shots he hit tonight.”

Joe Harris, a Nets starting forward, tallied 19 points and seven boards, shooting 3-of-4 from distance and 8-of-14 overall. Rodions Kurucs, an NBA rookie, also started for the Nets and registered 16 points.

Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets second-unit with 11 points, six assists, and three rebounds, and; Shabazz Napier chipped in 10 points off the bench. Ed Davis led the Nets rebounding charge with 16 rebounds, and; starting center, Jarrett Allen, another player with just one-year NBA experience, posted 12 rebounds.

Up next, the Sacramento Kings will travel to Toronto to play the Toronto Raptors tonight, and the Nets will play the Orlando Magic tomorrow, Wednesday, January 23, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m.

 

D’Angelo Russell leads Brooklyn Nets with 23 points; Vince Carter gets a video tribute, and; Jeremy Lin says he feels good

Last night was evidence that the Brooklyn Nets are working hard to turn a corner and a page on losing seasons of the recent past. Early on in last night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn dug itself into an 18-point hole at the 38.3-second mark in the first quarter and minus 19 points with a score of Hawks 46 and Nets 27 at the 9:02 mark in the second quarter. But, by the end of the first half, the Nets whittled the Hawks lead to six at 57-51. The reversal of fortunes for the Hawks occurred in the third quarter as the Nets ended the third stanza up by six points with the score 86-80. In the fourth is where the Nets kicked things into high gear leading by 20 points at the 2:38 mark on a Shabazz Napier running layup, and then ultimately defeating the Atlanta Hawks 116-100.

With this win, the Nets improved to 21-22 overall and 11-11 at Barclays Center, while the Hawks fell to 12-29 overall and 5-19 on the road with the loss. The Nets are now 13-4 in their last 17 games, which marks their best 17-game stretch since the 2013-14 season when the Nets had a 13-4 stretch from March 9, 2014, through April 8, 2014. Wow, that seems like eons ago. But hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen because right now, the Brooklyn Nets are now the sixth seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference, which would make them playoff bound. If the NBA playoffs were held today, the Nets would be playing the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Not my favorite choice, I think they would have a better chance emerging from the first round if they were to play the Philadelphia 76ers. Just saying.

Die-hard Nets fans know that 2014 was the last time the Brooklyn Nets were in the NBA Playoffs. They also know during the Nets’ “Dark Ages” starting with the 2014-15 NBA season through 2017-18, that if the Nets got behind by more than 10 points, most likely, it would be a wrap because they lacked the strategic basketball acumen to climb back to the top. In many cases, the individual talent was there but collectively, they just didn’t know how to mix all of the strategic elements to survive as winners. And, last night, it was if someone hit a switch and pulled them out of a losing trance. Perhaps, it’s the influence of the respected new veteran players, or, hungrier new younger players, their own growth and maturity as a team, listening to the coaches, or, just tired of losing, or, any combination of the listed reasons and more.

But somehow, last night, the Nets figured out a way to climb out of a 20-point deficit to win by 16 points.

“First of all, no easy games in the NBA, that’s for sure,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about how his team turned around a losing game to a winning one. “They blitzed us in the first quarter. I think a lot of that was them and some of it was us. And 38 points in the first quarter, it’s like you’re playing with fire when you dig a hole like that. Then I think 19 points in the second quarter we gave up and then 43 points in the second half, so we turned our defense around. I think the zone helped us, just got them out of rhythm a little bit, wasn’t our main kind of slice, but it was helpful. I thought it got them out of rhythm a little bit, helped us.”

Nets guard Joe Harris also chimed in on how this comeback showed the maturity and growth of the team.

“Yeah, obviously not the start that we wanted,” Harris said. “We talk about it a lot, trying to be consistent over four quarters, and if you’re not, you have a blimp. Say you have a quarter like today, 38-23, a little sluggish, especially on the defensive end – that’s where the veteran leadership comes in. Guys like J.D. (Jared Dudley) and DeMarre (Carroll) and Ed (Davis), they’re the ones who are vocalizing. They’re talking about aspirations that we have for this team. We can’t have these lapses if we want to get where we’re trying to go. I think considering where we’ve been, where we’re at now says a lot about the team. A lot of it rests with those veteran guys.”

What’s really amazing is that the Brooklyn Nets have found their way to win even without Caris LeVert, who was scoring 18 points per game and seemed destined to be the team’s rising star before his injury on November 12, 2018, when the Nets were playing the Minnesota Timberwolves. So, right now, we are witnessing “next man up” in action.

Obviously, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce was disappointed in the game’s outcome and he pinpoints where things went awry for his team.

“I think we came out with the momentum from last night’s game, Atlanta Hawks coach Pierce told reporters. “A lot of energy, a lot of ball movement, a lot of pace, attacking downhill, and we just ran out of gas in the second quarter is where it started. It looks like the second half, but it really started in the second quarter. I don’t think we had a turnover in the first quarter, I could be wrong, it may have been at the end. But to end up with 22 turnovers basically over three quarters and just being flat. Tough, tough.”

Nets starting point guard, D’Angelo Russell, scored a team-high 23 points (11-of-20 FG) with three rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 26 minutes. Joe Harris registered 16 points and eight rebounds, and; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen, also starters, each contributed 11 points, Allen added five rebounds, while Kurucs, a rookie, added four rebounds.

Brooklyn’s bench outscored the Hawks’ reserves 55-31, led by DeMarre Carroll’s 17 points and four rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie added 16 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals, and; Shabazz Napier chipped in 11 points, and three rebounds, assists, and steals respectively.

Veteran player, Ed Davis, who Nets center Jarrett Allen credits with helping him to up his game, crashed the boards with 16 rebounds to go along with his eight points.

John Collins led the Atlanta Hawks and all scorers in points last night against the Brooklyn Nets with 30 points and 14 rebounds; Trae Young registered 17 points and seven assists, and; Kevin Huerter rounded out the Hawks starters in double digits with 14points, 10 rebounds, and three assists.

The Hawks’ bench players in double digits were Jeremy Lin with 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals, and; Alex Len who contributed 10 points, and four assists.

This is Jeremy Lin’s second time at the Barclays Center since being traded from the Nets to the Atlanta Hawks. Lin was plagued with injuries the two seasons he was on the Nets roster. He spoke with reporters about how feels about his game right now.

“I feel good,” Lin told reporters. “I know tonight shots didn’t fall the way I wanted to. But for me, it’s not about makes or misses, it’s about the quality of the shot. I felt like I got really high-quality shots tonight and honestly, a ton of them felt great. That’s how it is sometimes. As many of those nights as I have, where they feel great and don’t fall, I’ll have many where they do. So I’m not too worried about it, I’m more just concerned with making sure I take great shots that I know I can hit and continuing to ride this momentum of trying to be aggressive, trying to make plays for my teammates as well, just trying to be disruptive on both ends of the floor.”

Veteran NBA player Vince Carter who was a Net from 2004 -2009, when the team was in New Jersey, received a video tribute to commemorate his 21st year in the NBA, as he had the night before in Toronto. No one really knows if this is Carter’s last season in the NBA, however, Carter was grateful.

“It’s a great trip – stressful sometimes, a lot of people to see,” Carter said about the reception from both teams. “But the appreciation, I’m very thankful for and I’ll never forget. The video – yes, it could be premature or not –they’re thinking about me and I’m very thankful.”

And, what’s up for the Atlanta Hawks’ immediate future, the Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, the Hawks will travel to Philadelphia to play the 76ers tomorrow, Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will have their own test as they travel to another country to face the Toronto Raptors, the team with the most wins in the NBA at 31, also on Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Nets then play the Boston Celtics at home at the Barclays Center on Monday, January 14, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets scorers with 22 points; Nets Sitting Right Outside 8th Seed in NBA Eastern Conference

It's January 2nd and it's supposed to be cold, but it's not. Today, the Brooklyn Nets fought off the New Orleans Pelicans, with one of the best players in the league in the name of Anthony Davis and sent them home in defeat to the Nets 126-121.

The Nets playing with poise and skill improved to 18-21 overall and 10-11 at the Barclays Center, while the Pelicans fell to 17-22 overall and 4-16 on the road with the loss.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers and starters with a team-high 22 points, a career-high-tying (and Nets season-high-tying) 13 assists, five rebounds, and two steals. Other Nets starting players scoring in double-digits were Joe Harris who scored 21 points (9-of-16 FG, 3-of-4 3FG) with two rebounds, one assist and one steal in 29 minutes; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen each scored 10 points, while Allen added 11 rebounds.

DeMarre Carroll led the Nets bench with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 points, and four assists, and; Shabbazz Napier chipped in 12 points and four assists.

Ed Davis, not a prolific scorer, led all Nets rebounders with 12 rebounds.

When asked about the effort from the Nets’ bench, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson responded: “It’s a heck of a win against a very good team, so great job all around. I thought everybody contributed – big play from all the guys. I thought we were very balanced, and the bench was great.”

Brooklyn’s bench is legendary; it outscored New Orleans’ reserves 55-5, yep 55-5. Entering tonight’s game, the Nets bench ranked second in the NBA with 46.3 points per game.

As good as the Nets scoring leaders were, Pelicans’ Anthony Davis led all scorers with 34 points and 26 rebounds. In fact, all of the New Orleans Pelicans scored in double digits. Elfrid Payton had 25 points and seven assists; Julius Randle registered 21 points, four rebounds, and two blocked shots; Jrue Holiday posted 20 points and four assists, and; E'Twaun Moore chipped in 16 points and two steals.

Even with the firepower from the Pelicans starters, it just wasn’t enough.

“Brooklyn started out shooting the ball extremely well,” New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry told the media postgame. “We got behind and you’re playing uphill. We know the story. We’ve seen the story before. We’re playing uphill – it’s extremely hard against a team with that talent level that has the ability to score. Once again, you’re talking about a perfect storm to get back and we almost got there but we just didn’t. You can’t start the game and get that type of separation and think that against a team with that kind of firepower that you’re going to be able to get all the way back.”

“We weren’t playing good defense,” Pelicans forward Anthony Davis echoed. “The whole first half they did what they wanted. They didn’t feel us on the defensive end. We weren’t physical. We weren’t talking. They had a lot of layups, a lot of open threes. They shot the ball well in the first half.”

Each team will have another opportunity to gain a win this weekend. The Nets will travel to Memphis to play the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, January 4, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET. The Pelicans will be in Cleveland to face off against the Cavaliers on Saturday, January 5, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Nets defeat weary Suns 111-103 and get back on the winning trail with eight wins in nine games

The Brooklyn Nets came out of the gate last night a bit sluggish but managed to snatch a 111-103 win from the Phoenix Suns who had just lost a 149-146 triple-overtime game against the Washington Wizards the night before.

With the win, the Nets get their eighth win in nine games and improved to 16-19 overall and 8-11 at Barclays Center, while the Suns fell to 8-26 overall and 3-15 on the road with the loss.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead Brooklyn with 24 points (7-of-14 FG), seven assists, and two rebounds in 26 minutes. Ed Davis, also part of the Nets second unit, totaled 15 points (7-of-8 FG), nine rebounds and a career-high-tying three steals (done 14 times previously) in 24 minutes.

Although last night’s victory marked Brooklyn’s eighth win in the team’s last nine games. It was not a walk in the park.

“We had to grind it,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said regarding what it took to pull away in the second half. “First of all, I want to give them (Phoenix Suns) a ton of credit. They came off a triple-overtime game and they fought us tooth and nail. That was not an easy victory at all, excellent job by them. I think they’re playing much better. They gave us a tussle; it was a tough game for us.”

D’Angelo Russell, who led Brooklyn Nets starters with 18 points (6-of-18 FG), a team-high eight assists, six rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes, underscored Coach Atkinson’s assessment of the work needed to get some separation from the Phoenix Suns.

“We just had to make winning plays in order to get a little separation,” Russell explained. “We had to get stops and it took a lot.”

“Just locking in,” Russell added on what changed defensively in the third quarter. “Definitely the game plan with what we’re supposed to do with each individual guy, but just locking in.”

Rodions Kurucs recorded his first-career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 10 rebounds in 33 minutes. He also recorded two assists and a steal in the win. Kurucs, an NBA rookie, has scored in double figures in five of his last seven games, averaging 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per contest during that stretch. Joe Harris tallied 13 points, three rebounds, and two assists in 32 minutes. Jarrett Allen posted 11 points with nine rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 24 minutes.

Leading scorers for the Phoenix Suns were Deandre Ayton with 26 points, 18 rebounds, three blocked shots, and two steals. Devin Booker registered 25 points and nine assists, and; Josh Jackson chipped in 11 points and three rebounds.

Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov summed up his team’s loss: “We knew it was going to be a tough game. (A) tough game when it came to finding fresh legs and energy. Overall, I think the energy was there. We tried and competed to the end of the game. We were looking for our chance. Brooklyn was ready. They came prepared and fresh with the understanding that we played last night and you could feel they were putting pressure on us with the hope we’re going to collapse at some point.”

One person who is not losing any sleep over the Suns’ loss is the Nets elder statesman and forward, Jared Dudley, who was unceremoniously traded to the Nets. Dudley had a lot to say about the Nets win over the Suns.

“I would say for me personally, every time you get to play the Suns…a team that traded me basically for nothing, a player they didn’t even want,” Dudley told the media. “So, for that franchise – to be able to come out there and get two dubs (wins) on those guys and keep it moving, it feels good.”

Next up for the Phoenix Suns is a road game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, December 26, 2018. The Nets will remain home to play the Charlotte Hornets also on Wednesday, December 26th at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

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.

Nets continue to struggle to close out games; D’Angelo Russell scores 30 points in Nets loss

Seven is often looked upon as a lucky number in many quarters but when it comes to the Brooklyn Nets, the team isn’t wearing that number very well. Seven is the number of consecutive losses the Nets have racked up with its loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. Yes, the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets lost to the Cavaliers 99-97.

With the loss, the Nets fell to 8-17 overall and 3-9 at Barclays Center, meanwhile, the Cavaliers improved to 5-18 overall and 2-10 on the road with the win. Of the last seven losses, only the 102-88 loss to the Washington Wizards was more than 10 points. The other six games were winnable. The Wizards game was the second of a back-to-back to which the team had to travel to Washington to play. Now, back-to-back games are not unique to the Nets; every team has back-to-back games on their schedule but watching the Nets play the Wizards on Saturday, you could see a certain kind of exhaustion. The Nets looked downright tired.

Fast-forward to Monday, team standouts D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie are still showing up even though Dinwiddie, who took and missed the last shot with three seconds left on the clock that could have given the Nets a win. Russell scored a game-high 30 points, his third-most points in a game this season. He also tallied eight rebounds, a game-high six assists, and two steals in 33 minutes.

When Russell was asked, where he was able to expose the Cavs and get hot, his response was very telling.

“I feel like I get what I want but it’s not really about the offense, Russell answered. “I would say for us it's defensively. We’ve got a few guys over here who can really get it going but, it’s defensive. At the end of the game, we need that stop. We always need that rebound and unfortunately, we don’t get it, so, the results are like this.”

Dinwiddie registered 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds in 32 minutes. Nets rookie, Rodions Kurucs, recorded a season-high-tying 12 points with four rebounds and one steal in 14 minutes off the bench. Kurucs shot 6-of-10 from the field last night, with his six field goals made and 10 field goals attempted both marking season highs.

Kurucs’ effort did not go unnoticed by Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“He just plays hard,” Atkinson commented about Kurucs' energy off the bench. “He’s got extreme energy, but he turned the game for us and got us back in it. His energy was contagious. He gets in there, so it’s good news for the Nets. Disappointing loss, but, to have a young player like that contribute at this level this early is good news.”

Kurucs, who is mainly hanging out with the Nets G-League team, has now scored in double figures in three games with the Nets this season. He previously scored in double figures in the second and third games of the season.

Could Kurucs be playing himself into the rotation?

“He’s in the conversation, you can’t deny it,” Atkinson responded. We’ll have to look at it. We’ll have to consider getting him minutes. I think he’s shown that he can do it. Now, it’s a competitive environment in the NBA. Minutes are out there, and guys have to compete for minutes, but he’s definitely earning some playing time.”

Shabazz Napier also scored in double figures for Brooklyn, posting 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists in 18 minutes off the bench. Napier has scored in double figures in four of his last six games, recording averages of 10.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game in those six contests.

Ed Davis, not a prolific scorer, made his expected contribution to Nets, pulling down 10 rebounds in 16 minutes.

For the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points off the bench, along with 11 rebounds and four assists. Tristan Thompson registered 19 points and 14 rebounds; Collin Sexton tallied 15 points, and Alec Burks chipped 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Next up for Cleveland will be the Golden State Warriors at home in Cleveland on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, at 7 p.m. ET.

The Brooklyn Nets will remain home to host Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Barclays Center on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Brooklyn Nets were close for the first three quarters against the Utah Jazz, but could not close it out

With losing four consecutive winnable games, it is probably an understatement to say that the Brooklyn Nets are really missing Caris LeVert right about now. LeVert, who was averaging 18 points per game for the Nets, took a spill in a game against the Timberwolves in Minnesota on November 12, 2018, and the team has been trying to find its way to close out games ever since. Last night, was one of those nights when every member on the team probably wished it could rewind the clock and prevent LeVert’s injury because no matter how many people step up to try to fill the void, that vacuum just hasn’t been filled. On Wednesday evening, the Nets were at home to play the Utah Jazz, a fairly evenly matched team. Although the Jazz led at the end of the first two quarters, the spread was very thin. The first quarter ended 17-16, and at the half, the score was 43-42. Surprisingly, the Nets led at the end of the third, 78-70. Then came the fourth quarter where the Jazz outscored the Nets 31-13, ending the game on top with a score of 101-91. This is the third straight home loss for the Nets.

So were the Nets fourth-quarter struggles self-inflicted?

“When you miss shots, you just power downhill until you can break the streak,” Nets center Jarrett Allen responded. “And they just kept up the defense for the whole game really, and you can tell it escalated in the fourth quarter.”

“I didn’t think we had open shots,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media postgame. “I thought they locked us up. I thought that they played great defense. We couldn’t find clear looks and Jarrett (Allen) had one in the lane after a timeout and there was a travel or something, but it wasn’t like Philly where I felt like we had a ton of open looks. We didn’t have open looks. It’s a credit to their defense. I thought they were superb defensively and obviously, we weren’t at our best offensively. The ball stuck a lot.”

With the loss, the Nets fell to 8-14 overall and 3-7 at Barclays Center, while the Jazz improved to 10-12 overall and 8-6 on the road with the win. There were some bright metrics for the Nets last evening, as it recorded a season-high 12 steals, one better than its previous high of 11 steals against the Philadelphia 76ers just a few weeks ago on November 4. Although it didn’t give Brooklyn a win, team Black and White did edge the Jazz 14-8 on the offensive glass tonight. And, entering tonight’s game, Brooklyn was tied for sixth in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game (12.2), which is a bright spot showing that the team hasn’t totally fallen apart.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead Brooklyn with 18 points, three rebounds, and two blocks in 22 minutes. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie collected six fouls. The Nets do have to learn to be aggressive without collecting unnecessary fouls, as fouls were one of the things that hurt them against Philadelphia on Sunday. But, on the bright side, among NBA reserves this season, Dinwiddie ranks first in points (351), first in assists (105), first in games scoring in double figures (21) and second in 3FGM (44). If Dinwiddie keeps going with these metrics, he should be a lock for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.

Starters, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen, and D’Angelo Russell each scored 14 points. Jefferson and Allen had 11 and 10 rebounds respectively, while Russell accumulated seven assists and five rebounds. Shabazz Napier, who is part of the Nets second unit, scored 10 points.

Although not a prolific scorer, Ed Davis, known for his defense, pulled down 10 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.

Leading scorers for the Utah Jazz were starters Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gorbert, and Royce O’Neale, and Raul Neto from Utah’s secondary unit. Mitchell, who is in his second year with the NBA, registered 29 points, five rebounds, and 4 steals; Gorbert, tallied 23 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, and four blocked shots; O’Neale scored 13 points and four rebounds, and Neto chipped in 11 points and three rebounds.

With LeVert, the Nets scoring leader, out for the next few months, don’t think the Nets are falling apart.

“We just want to win,” Allen responded knowing how close the team could have pulled off a win last night and against Philadelphia on Sunday. “We were up two games in the fourth quarter, so we just want to learn how to close it out and finally close a game out in the fourth.”

The Brooklyn Nets get another opportunity to show they can close out games without LeVert when they play the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow, Friday, November 30, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

Nets led for three quarters and in a reversal of fortunes, have lead snatched away in the fourth quarter

Oh, it was going so well for the Brooklyn Nets straight up until the fourth quarter when the proverbial floor fell out from under them. The Nets were leading the Clippers for the first three quarters, ending the third and starting the fourth quarter 97-92. The 97 points not only marked the most Brooklyn has scored through three quarters this season, but the most the Nets have scored through three quarters at Barclays Center since the 2015-16 season, when it scored 98 points against the Washington Wizards on April 11, 2016.

Now, back to the reality of Saturday, because although the numbers through the third quarter were great and perhaps, displaying the upward leap the team is making overall, the only number that matters is the number that is on the board when the clock strikes zero at the end of the fourth quarter. And in this case, when the clock hit zero, it was the Clippers 127 and the Nets 119. With the loss, Brooklyn is 7-10 overall and 3-4 at Barclays Center, while the Clippers improved to 10-5 overall and 3-4 on the road with the win.

When asked how the game slipped away, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson responded, “I thought their bench did a phenomenal job. Give them credit. I thought they brought the energy. We obviously missed some shots, but I thought (Montrezl) Harrell and Lou (Williams), obviously, those guys came in and changed the game.”

As Atkinson stated, coming off the bench for the Clippers with verve and vigor, Montrezl Harrell scored 16 points and 10 rebounds, and one blocked shot, while Lou Williams registered 16 points, five assists, and one steal. Meanwhile, Danilo Gallinari led all scorers with 28 points and three rebounds; Tobias Harris tallied 27 points, eight rebounds, and three assists; and Marcin Gortat chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

On the other side of the ledger, Atkinson did not throw his team under the bus.

“Listen, I thought we competed,” Atkinson said about the Nets. “I thought we played hard. We gave them a darn good game, we’re just not at that point where we could get over the hump.”

The Nets didn’t win, which is ultimately the objective of the game, but they did compete.

Nets center, Jarrett Allen, led all Nets scorers with 24 points and 11 rebounds, two assists, and one steal; D’Angelo Russell scored 23 points, 10 assists, three rebounds, and two steals; Joe Harris tallied 19 points and four assists, Allen Crabbe registered 15 points and four rebounds, and; Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 11 assists and four rebounds. Ed Davis pulled down a game-high-tying 11 rebounds tonight along with four points in 19 minutes off the bench.

“I like the way we competed,” Crabbe told reporters in the Nets locker room about how the Nets played the Clippers. “I think we gave ourselves a chance. First three quarters we played great. I just feel like that last quarter they out-competed us. They made more plays than us and they went home with the W.”

Okay, note to the team, play four quarters; as it isn’t over until it's over.

What’s next for Brooklyn? The Nets will hit the road and travel to Miami to play the Heat on Tuesday, November 20, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Then, they will travel to Dallas to play the Maverick on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The Nets will be back home at the Barclays Center, the day after Thanksgiving on Friday, November 23rd to play the Minnesota Timberwolves at 12 noon.

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