April 23, 2019

Caris LeVert’s return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup spoiled with 125-106 loss to the 12-42 Chicago Bulls

On the heels of a 135-130 win on Wednesday night over the Denver Nuggets, the team that happens to be the No.2 seed in the NBA’s Western Conference, the Brooklyn Nets managed to get shut down at home last night by the 12-42 Chicago Bulls, 125-106.

Brooklyn allowed Chicago to shoot .541 from the field, .500 (14-of-28) from three-point land and was out-rebounded 50-33. The only metric that the Nets overpowered the Bulls on last night was bench points, 43-24.

So, what was the big difference between last night and 10 days ago when the Nets played the Bulls?

The Bulls traded Jabari Parker to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter Jr. and in so doing, its starters have greater size over the Brooklyn Nets starting five. Both Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez are seven feet tall, the only Nets player close to seven feet tall is Jarrett Allen, who is in his second year in the NBA. Also, according to the NBA, Parker’s average points per game this season is seven and Porter’s PPG this season is 18. Averages for Chicago’s starting five with Jabari Parker was 66.2 and with Otto Porter Jr. is 77.2, which potentially is a big difference between Chicago on January 29, 2019, and last night. From an eyeball test, it was also Chicago’s aggressiveness and Brooklyn seemed to be missing a beat allowing the Chicago Bulls to shoot .541 from the field, .500 (14-of-28) from 3-point land and was out-rebounded 50-33. And, it’s obvious, if you can’t beat those numbers, you’re not going to win.

“I’ve said this before, but I thought we got a lot from a lot from a lot of guys,” Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen told the media. “Obviously, the addition of Otto Porter Jr. changes the way we look, how we play sliding Lauri Markkanen to the five. It’s obviously a difficult matchup for people. I thought we played hard. This team beat us three times and we defensively needed to do a better job. I thought defensively for most of the game we were really good, so I’m proud of us for that. We kind of ham and egged it a little bit. Kris Dunn had a great third quarter. Zach LaVine had his moments in the fourth. And we just kind of played together and I felt like we looked like a team out there and played like a team. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for our guys. I’m proud of our guys.”

“We just weren’t really locked in defensively tonight,” said Allen Crabbe. “They basically got whatever they wanted, did whatever they wanted to do. I don’t think we gave them any resistance on the defensive side. Guys were comfortable out there. They’ve got guys who are capable. It’s the NBA, regardless of their record, every team has players who can play, and we just weren’t ready to play tonight, and they took advantage of that.”

“Poor rating overall,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about his team’s performance last night. “Our defense was just non-existent. Couldn’t keep them in front of us. Couldn’t guard them. There wasn’t, one or two guys, I thought collectively we couldn’t guard them. Give them (Bulls) a lot of credit. I thought they played great. They obviously made shots. They added shooting with Otto (Porter Jr.) in there. It was really poor.”

And, Coach Atkinson said he tried everything.

“I think we tried one through 25 tonight,” Atkinson added. “If we had 25, we probably would have tried them. Yeah, we played some guys, but I don’t think that was an excuse tonight. They outplayed us 1 through 12. It’s just that simple. I don’t think tonight was a lineup thing.”

Truth.

Unfortunately, the Nets’ overall performance spoiled Caris LeVert’s return to the lineup. LeVert missed the previous 42 games with a subtalar dislocation of his right foot, which he sustained playing the Minnesota Timberwolves on November 12, 2018. Coming off the bench, LeVert gave the Nets an instant boost, which is what he always does. LeVert registered a career-high-tying (and Nets season-high) five steals, to go along with his 11 points, four assists, and two rebounds in 15 minutes.

“It felt good to get back out there with the team,” LeVert said about his return to the lineup. “Obviously, we didn’t get the win out there, but it felt good to be back out there for sure. I was kind of tired the first little stint I played, the first six minutes, but after that I kind of settled into the game and got more comfortable.”

Of course, when an athlete gets injured everyone is concerned about the return on a physical level.

“I prepared for it,” LeVert explained. “We put a lot of time in over the last couple of months, so it was kind of expected for me. I don’t want to make it about me because I wish we would have won the game for sure, but that’s expected. We didn’t come back to just be there. We wanted to be better than before.”

As for Coach Atkinson, LeVert’s return was the silver lining about last night’s game against the Bulls.

“If I had to take one positive from tonight that was a positive, I thought he looked good, looked athletic, he was athletic, came downhill like he does, make some passes,” Atkinson said. “Obviously there were a few bumps here and there, but for the most part I think he was a plus-five on the sheet, so he had some positives tonight and played well.”

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets’ with 23 points, six assists, and two steals; Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe each scored 19 points, and Harris added five assists to his total, and; Jarrett Allen chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds.

For the Bulls, Lauri Markkanen led all scorers with 31 points, 18 rebounds, and two blocked shots; Zach LaVine added 26 points, five assists, three rebounds, and two steals; Otto Porter Jr. accumulated 18 points and four rebounds; Kris Dunn tallied 14 points, nine assists, and five rebounds; Robin Lopez registered 12 points and five rebounds, and; Wayne Selden chipped in 11 points.

The Bulls will play the Washington Wizards today, February 9, 2019, in the nation’s capital. Meanwhile, the Nets have two road games before the NBA All-Star break. The Nets will travel to Toronto to play the Toronto Raptors on Monday, February 11, 2019, and then the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. The next time the Brooklyn Nets will be at home is on Thursday, February 21, 2019, to play the Portland Trail Blazers at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

D’Angelo Russell leads all scorers with 30 points and Shabazz Napier adds 24 points off the bench to help Brooklyn Nets defeat the Chicago Bulls

On the heels of losing to the Boston Celtics on Monday night, the Brooklyn Nets had just enough energy to bounce back on the second night of a back-to-back to get their 9th-straight win at home by overtaking the Chicago Bulls 122-117. The Nets are now 28-24 overall and a testament to a popular saying, “believe in the system”. With the win last night, the Nets have matched their win total for all of last season.

“That’s good to hear,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I didn’t know that. I think that says we’re ahead of schedule, so happy about that, happy for our guys, happy for our organization. I think it’s a good accomplishment so far. We obviously want more.”

And, that wasn’t the only good news of the night. The Nets learned that the NBA selected Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs to play during the NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. Allen and Kurucs will play in the NBA All-Star Rising Stars game on February 15, 2019, which is a great opportunity for these young men to play on the world stage.

"It means a lot,” Allen said about his selection to be part of the NBA All-Star festivities. “Just showing how far Brooklyn's come and for me to represent them, it means a lot to me."

But, Allen and Kurucs won’t be on the same team. Kurucs, who is a native of Latvia, will play on the international team with other players from outside the U.S. and Allen will be on the American team.

So, what will that be like with Allen and Kurucs playing against each other?

"Me and Rodi were talking about it,” Allen added. “He's going to try to dunk on me, so I'm going to show him what happens if he tries."

Both Allen and Kurucs are NBA newbies; Allen came into the league in 2017 and this is Kurucs’ rookie season, and both have bought into Coach Atkinson’s system of teamwork, offense and defense, and grinding it out to the last buzzer sounds.

“Guys are saying in the locker room – grinding it out, we’re keeping our head above water,” Atkinson responded to a question about what it took to grind out the win against the Chicago Bulls last night. “Toward the (NBA) All-Star break, everybody’s fatigued. They’re fatigued, we’re fatigued. We just found a way. It wasn’t pretty at all. I thought our defense was good. We obviously did not shoot the ball well tonight, but credit to their defense. I thought their defense was really good.”

Atkinson is right, the Nets didn’t shoot well. They made 42 out of their 94 field goal attempts (44.7 percent) and only 10 of 35 of their 3-point attempts (28.6 percent).

D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 30 points (10-of-22 FG) along with a game-high seven assists and three steals in 36 minutes. Russell has now recorded nine 30-point games this season alone. Shabazz Napier scored 24 points with three rebounds, four assists, and three steals in 25 minutes off the bench. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson recorded 18 points (7-of-10 FG) with four rebounds, and two assists in 21 minutes also as a reserve player. Joe Harris, a starter, tallied 17 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 32 minutes, and; DeMarre Carroll posted 11 points, three rebounds, and two steals in 26 minutes.

For the Chicago Bulls, Zach LaVine, scored 26 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals; Jabari Parker came off the bench for the Bulls and posted 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 23 minutes; Lauri Markkanen registered 18 points and 19 rebounds; Kris Dunn tallied 15 points, three rebounds, and two blocked shots, and Bobby Portis chipped in 12 points and five rebounds.

Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen summed up his team’s performance.

“I thought we battled,” Boylen said. “I thought we hung around and tried to put three stops together to take the lead, but we never got over the hump there. I thought we hung in there. I thought in the fourth quarter we had a few loose ball situations where we knocked it loose, but we couldn’t get it and I thought those were big plays down the stretch… I’ve got to give Brooklyn credit. I thought they made some plays off of the bounce and some three’s that were contested. Those were big plays for them.”

So, what's next for the Chicago Bulls? They will travel to Miami to face the Miami Heat tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Nets will also hit the road and travel to San Antonio to play the Spurs tomorrow, Thursday, January 31, 2019, at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Orlando Magic will get a visit from the Nets on Saturday, February 2nd, and then the Nets travel back home to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, February 4, 2019, at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

What's The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are also talking about NY baseball, NY Knicks, Nets, the Athlete of the Week, and more!

 

Listen to the Podcast for this episode and others by clicking the menu button

 

Watch the video for this episode

POPPIN PART 1

NBA Playoffs

The NBA PLAYOFFS are finally here, and the excitement is building.

Q. Was the run-up to the playoffs anything that you could have predicted?

UFC fighter Conor McGregor will always remember Brooklyn. McGregor was arrested and charged with felony criminal mischief charges and misdemeanor assault, menacing and reckless endangerment after McGregor and his entourage stormed the Barclays Center and threw a hand truck at a bus full of fighters after a news conference for UFC 223.

Q. Is Dana White and the UFC done with Conor McGregor or, will he return?

The Baltimore Ravens signed Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick fans are livid.

Q. Are Kaepernick fans justified in their outrage over the RG III signing?

QUICK BITES

• Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was involved in an accident when his Ferrari F12 was rear-ended by a dump truck. According to TMZ, Newton was not injured.

• Former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins told TMZ that he believes that Rob Gronkowski is frustrated with Patriots because he’s not being paid what he’s worth.

• University of Alabama guard Collin Sexton announced that he was “officially declaring” for the 2018 NBA Draft! Sexton is the first player to attend Alabama for one season before leaving for the NBA since the league added the “one and done” rule before the 2006 draft.
• Red Sox minor league prospect Michael Chavis just lost 80 games’ worth of his player development (and salary) thanks to testing positive for DHCMT a banned substance.
• Congrats to Villanova Wildcats on winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.

Quick Question: Augusta National Golf Club officials don’t like the phrase, “Dilly Dilly” and threatened to throw out anyone who uttered the words, Dilly Dilly in an effort to crack down on unruly fans.

Q. Is this silly, silly?

Poppin Part 2

Welcome back to What’s The 411Sports. Professional golfer Tiger Woods made a comeback appearance at the Masters in Augusta this past Weekend.

Q. What’s the verdict?

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, Russell Westbrook, praised Houston Rockets guard James Harden’s accomplishments for this NBA season but stopped short of an MVP endorsement.

Q. Was this a back-handed compliment or, is Westbrook not counting himself out?

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Our Photo of the Week is a photo of Brooklyn Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen blocking a shot at the rim by Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker. The Nets defeated the Bucks 119-111.

NEW YORK SPORTS REPORT

Welcome back to What’s The 411Sports. It’s time for our NY Sports Report.

Let’s have a little fun with baseball.

Q. Right now, looking at both New York baseball teams, who has a better chance of playing in the World Series?

LeBron James to the Knicks for the 2018-2019 NBA Season?

A billboard went up near Madison Square Garden attempting to recruit LeBron James to the Knicks. Dwyane Wade says good luck with that one.

Q. Do you think LeBron James would ever consider the NY Knicks?

End of the NBA Regular Season and Nets with no playoff opportunity still playing hard

The Brooklyn Nets threw a wrinkle in the Milwaukee Bucks game plan. The Bucks were looking for a win over the struggling Nets to move up in the NBA Eastern Conference playoff standings, but the Nets beat the Bucks 119-111.

Q. In light of the Nets win over the Bucks, there’s a question floating, why do teams who are out of the playoff picture have to play so hard?

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK:

Our Athlete of the Week spotlight goes to Elgin Baylor. The legendary Los Angeles Lakers’ player recently received a great honor. The Lakers unveiled a statue of Elgin Baylor outside the Staples Center becoming the 10th person to be honored with a statue.

DeMarre Carroll scores 11 of 15 points in first quarter; Nets bench kept team in the game; Coach Atkinson visibly disturbed by Nets effort in first quarter

It’s NFL Super Bowl Sunday, and the Brooklyn Nets had a 12-noon date with the Milwaukee Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo aka the “Greek Freak”.

For the Brooklyn Nets, things got ugly fast. Save, DeMarre Carroll and Jahlil Okafor off the bench, the Nets shots weren’t going down; their trajectory seemed to be off, too much force, too much spin, etc., etc. Meanwhile, the Bucks seemed to be scoring at will.

At the end of the first quarter, it was Bucks 36, Nets 22. When the Nets dig themselves into a hole early, the outcome is usually not good, and today’s 109-94 thumping by the Bucks proved the point.

What hurt the Nets the most this afternoon?

“Our start,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media without hesitation.

“Somehow, for some reason, we weren’t ready,” Atkinson continued. “I don’t understand how that happens. I’m a little upset with our group that we weren’t more ready mentally, physically. You give up 36 points in the first quarter; it’s like, that team is too good, too good to let that happen. We did show some fight with our bench. I thought they came in and gave a glimmer of hope there. But too big of a hole against a very talented team.”

The Nets’ bench outscored the Bucks’ bench 38 – 30; however, the Bucks outrebounded the Net 54-36.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: BROOKLYN NETS HEAD COACH KENNY ATKINSON (AUDIO)

“Against some of the best teams in the league, we’ve competed and we’re ready, but we were on our heels from the start,” Atkinson added. “And if you do that against a bigger team, a more athletic team, that’s just going to happen. You have to take 36 (points Bucks made in the first quarter) on the chin. So we just weren’t ready for the fight. I thought (Eric) Bledsoe set the tone. I thought he was the difference. He was an absolute ball of fire out there. We couldn’t stop him. Obviously, Giannis (Antetokounmpo) is going to do what he’s going to do, but Bledsoe really set the tone for them and dominated us.”

Spencer Dinwiddie, who did not have a good day in the points’ column, picked up his eighth game of double-digit assists this season. He totaled one such game in his first three NBA seasons combined and he credits his teammates for getting the Nets back in the game.

“I think Caris [LeVert] and D-Lo [D’Angelo Russell] did a great job picking up the pace, Staus [Nik Stauskas] hit a big shot,” Dinwiddie said. “I think Joe [Harris] had great energy, DC [DeMarre Carroll] was part of that run as well as Quincy [Acy], so I think those guys should be attributed for that run. Give all credit to those guys for getting us back into it; obviously, we didn’t get close enough.”

DeMarre Carroll recorded a team-high-tying 15 points and three rebounds in 32 minutes, with 11 of his points coming in the first quarter. Caris Levert came off the bench to also score 15 points and he leads the Nets with 27 games scoring in double figures off the bench this season. Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen tallied 14 points (7-of-11 FG) and a team-high seven rebounds in 27 minutes in his fourth-career start for Brooklyn. Allen Crabbe chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.

Like Dinwiddie, D’Angelo Russell was not a points’ leader against the Bucks, but he recorded seven assists in 18 minutes off the bench.

Eric Bledsoe led all scorers with 28 points and six assists in the win for the Bucks. John Henson tallied 19 points and 18 rebounds; both Khris Middleton and Antetokounmpo scored 16 points, while Antetokounmpo added eight rebounds to his tally.

Antetokounmpo twisted his right ankle with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining and left the game, not long after the Nets had cut what had been a 28-point deficit to seven. Post-game, the Greek Freak assured the media that he’s fine and would have gone back into the game if his team needed him.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO AKA "THE GREEK FREAK" (VIDEO)

This game against the Nets was Jabari Parker's second game after returning from a year-long injury and he helped the Bucks with 11 points off the bench. Bucks head coach Joe Prunty is pleased with Parker’s progress so far and is looking forward to Parker’s contributions.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: JOE PRUNTY, MILWAUKEE BUCKS, INTERIM HEAD COACH (VIDEO)

Next up for the Milwaukee Bucks is the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

The Nets will host the Houston Rockets also on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at home at the Barclays Center.

The Milwaukee Bucks coached by former Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd, came into the Barclays Center and wreaked havoc on the Brooklyn Nets. Just two days before, the Nets played like they belong in the conversation about top NBA teams when they stunned the Los Angeles Clippers with a 127-122 double overtime win.

The Nets started off staying close; in fact, during the first half, the teams looked evenly matched. The Nets were even up 60-59 three minutes into the third quarter. But the Nets’ the third quarter nemesis showed up and said not so fast, and the team’s fortunes quickly changed. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks went on a tear ending the third quarter 90-78.

“I think turnovers hurt us,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “Just giving them too many easy baskets and, you know, third quarter again – they outscored us pretty good there, so we’ve really got to look at what we are doing there. And we are looking at it and trying to figure it out, but we haven’t figured it out yet.”

Early in the fourth quarter, it was a 10-point game, Bucks 92 and the Nets 82. But, the Nets just couldn’t get over the hump. They had too many missed opportunities in the fourth quarter, shooting 2-for-14 over the first six minutes. Meanwhile, the Bucks knocked down three 3s in less than 90 seconds.

“I think our offense got really stagnant,” Atkinson said. “Give them credit, they switched a lot of our stuff and forced us into a lot of one-and-one play and the ball stopped moving.”

In the win, Milwaukee’s Antetokounmpo had 23 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, Jabari Parker scored 22 points, and Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell each added 13 points.

Brook Lopez posted 15 points for the Nets. Sean Kilpatrick, who was signed out of the D-League last season, and who scored a career-high 38 points against the Clippers on Tuesday, only scored 14 points tonight. Bojan Bogdanovic added 13 for the Nets.

This was not a fun game to watch. Only the presence of former president Bill Clinton, a marriage proposal, and Clinton taking a photo with the engaged couple made it interesting.

Next up, the Nets have an opportunity to avenge the loss as they play the Bucks again on Saturday in Milwaukee.

Did New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony diss Jeremy Lin, the starting guard for the Brooklyn Nets?; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton still in concussion protocol

In Episode 79 of What's The 411Sports, the panel of Keisha Wilson, Mike McDonald, and Sydney Wayman, are talking about:

Quick Bites:

Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker took the ball to the hole a little too forcefully, so the rim hit back
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is still in concussion protocol
Legendary golfer Tiger Woods pulls out of the Safeway Open
Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy is hanging up his football cleats for Mixed Martial Arts

What's Poppin'!

The return of Tom Brady after serving an NFL four-game suspension for deflated footballs
MLB Playoffs - in particular, the Chicago Cubs; can the Chicago Cubs take it all?
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will come under center in NFL Week 6;
Not everyone can successfully make the transition from college football coaching to coaching in the NFL. So we ask the question, is the NFL a right fit for San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly?
The NFL is cracking down on all end zone dances. Has the NFL become the No Fun League?
Professional tennis player Maria Sharapova's suspension from tennis is reduced to 15 months from 24 months. Did Sharapova special treatment?
Michigan blows out the Rutgers football team 78-0, should Rutgers be in Division 1A?

What's The 411Sports New York Sports Report:

  • Did New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony diss Jeremy Lin, the Brooklyn Nets starting guard? You be the judge.
  • NY Jets Week 5 results
  • NY Giants Week 5 results
  • Ode to the New York Mets

IN THE DOG HOUSE:

New York knicks guard Derrick Rose for the information coming out at his sexual abuse civil trial.

Sean Kilpatrick’s spectacular home debut spoiled by Nets turnovers in the fourth quarter

The Milwaukee Bucks came into Brooklyn this afternoon after beating the New Orleans Pelicans yesterday at home 103-92.

In a pre-game interview, acknowledging the energy drain of back-to-back games and plane trouble, which prevented the Milwaukee Bucks from having an earlier arrival, Bucks head coach Jason Kidd stated that “we’re going to need everybody.”

Everybody wasn’t necessary because Giannis Antetokounmpo was on fire! Antetokounmpo aka “The Greek Freak” scored 28 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds, nearly obtaining his fourth triple-double in the last 11 games by halftime. Antetokounmpo already had 12 points, nine assists and eight rebounds by the half.

Jabari Parker added 23 points, and Khris Middleton chipped in 19 points to help the Bucks beat the Nets 109-100; securing the Bucks third straight game.

The Nets didn’t exactly roll over and play dead, as team Black and White led by one heading into the fourth quarter. However, Brook Lopez, who scored 20 points for the Nets, was held scoreless in the fourth.

Sean Kilpatrick, who recently signed a 10-day contract with the Nets, added 19 points in his first home game. Thaddeus Young pulled down 17 points and 10 rebounds, his 26th double-double of the year. Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 13 points and a career-high seven assists.

So, what happened?

In a nutshell, it was a 31-21 fourth quarter advantage for Milwaukee. Add to that, Lopez was held scoreless in the fourth, and the Nets committed 12 turnovers in the fourth and 20 on the night.

“Turnovers. We played well enough for three-quarters and then we had crucial turnovers that you can’t recover from,” Nets interim coach Tony Brown said.

"I wouldn't even say it was their pressure," Thaddeus Young said. "We were throwing the ball all over the place. We had a lot of turnovers that were kind of unforced."

The Nets loss to Milwaukee tonight was the Nets’ first game at Barclays Center after an unprecedented nine-game, three-week road trip.

Nets Loss: It doesn’t help that Joe Johnson scored one point less than Jarrett Jack

In this 2015-16 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets haven't gotten off to the start they envisioned. In three games, the Nets are winless, losing to the likes of the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Memphis Grizzlies, a tough start for any NBA team. Fortunately for the Nets, the Milwaukee Bucks, their opponent on Monday night were winless as well but it didn't matter.

The Nets offensive execution crumbled in the fourth quarter and the Bucks capitalized on their mistakes, pulling out a 103-96 win, their first of the season. The Nets dropped their 4th straight (0-4) and are still looking for answers. Despite an ugly first half on both sides of the ball, the Nets improved drastically in the 3rd, especially on the defensive side of the ball. An improved effort helped the Nets force seven turnovers while closing in on the Bucks who held a 10-point lead after Jerryd Bayless drained a three with 5:36 mins to go, Bucks up 74-64.

A string of baskets by Thaddeus Young, Joe Johnson, and Markel Brown over the next three minutes allowed the Nets to close the gap towards the end of the third, highlighted by off-season acquisition, Andrea Bargnani, who converted a three-point play, tying the game at 80 all as time expired.

With the game tied going into the 4th, a victory was up for grabs and the Nets had plenty of chances to earn their first win of the year and gain the confidence that they are sorely lacking currently. In the 4th where the money plays are made that secure wins, the Nets came up empty and while the defense continued their strong second half, the offense struggled to match its counterpart.

After former New York Knicks guard, Shane Larkin hit a floater which gave the Nets their first lead since the 2nd quarter, 96-94 with 2:45 left in the 4th, Johnson and Jarrett Jack would combine to miss the Nets last four field goal attempts. In other words, Brook Lopez was severely missed. The 7-footer who led the Nets in points (18) picked up his 5th foul with 4:44 remaining in the final quarter, prompting Hollins to make a tough decision in removing him from the game.

“When Brook got his fifth foul we had to take him out,” Nets head coach Lionel Hollins said. “I didn’t want to put (Andrea) Bargnani on Monroe, and I came with T-Rob (Thomas Robinson), and we lost a little of the offensive dynamic that we had, but I saw a good game.”

Without Brook, the Nets lost arguably their best player and go-to-guy capable of winning a game for them which spelled the Nets doom. Without Brook, newly signed Greg Monroe of the Bucks scored the tying points (96-96) on a turnaround jump-shot with 2:24 left, which set up a late Bucks’ run in the final minute that would propel them to victory.

“I was just trying to get it inside,” Monroe said regarding the shot. “I had a little mishap with the ball, but I was just trying to be aggressive and make big shots for my team.”

Monroe finished with a double-double, 23 and 13, Giannis Antetokounmpo “The Greek Freak” finished with 21 and eight and Jerryd Bayless, starting in place of O.J. Mayo recorded a team-high 26 points.

As for the Nets, Johnson logged in 14 and 6 assists, while Young, Jack, and Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 13, 15 and 14 points respectively. It’s quite obvious that if Lopez is not on the floor in critical moments of the game or just in general, the Nets will lose their way. He is their best chance of winning and tonight after he occupied the bench following his fifth foul, the offense looked lethargic and lacked life and excitement.

There was a lot of standing around with no plan in sight and it doesn’t help that Johnson scored one point less than Jack. Behind Brook, Johnson is one of the Nets most important players and his production is essential to the Nets enjoying any type of success this season. Although the Bucks are still without their 2014 2nd overall pick Jabari Parker, Monroe and co. were able to get the job done.

“We got a good win for sure, but the way we won, it kind of showed a little toughness from the team,” said Monroe post-game. Monroe continued: “Especially coming into this game losing the first three, but going through adversity in this game and fighting through it, it was definitely a good win for us.”

The Nets are waiting to utter such words. How they respond to this 0-4 start will illustrate the rest of this November and it starts tomorrow at the Atlanta Hawks, another tough game. The Nets can’t wait for the second half to flip the switch. A full 48 mins of inspired ball is the only way the Nets can reverse their early troubles into fortunes and it all depends on the Nets big four. Lopez, Jack, Young and Johnson all have to bring their A-game.

It might not seem like it now, but the four guys mentioned above all have what it takes to lead this Nets team collectively and feed off of each other. If not, the Nets will be facing 0-5 on Wednesday night.

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