August 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, you should.

So, what’s Denver’s next move?

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

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



Johnson hits 3-pointer at the buzzer; it stings the Nuggets and stuns the crowd

Instead of sending the Brooklyn faithful home with a comfortable win vs. the Denver Nuggets, Joe Johnson and co. elected to go the thrilling route. The savvy veteran coolly banked in a game-winning three with time expiring, on one leg, to defeat the Nuggets, 105-104. Prior to the shot, the Nets seemed to have shot themselves in the foot on their last possession.

With 45 seconds left in the 4th, Markel Brown turned the ball over looking for a cutting Johnson, who was moving towards the basket, on the baseline. The Nuggets intercepted and Kenneth Faried made the Nets pay by converting a tough layup defended by Shane Larkin, a mismatch, which gave the Nuggets a 104-102 lead, 1.3 secs left in the final quarter.

“I thought it was over,” Faried said regarding his go-ahead basket.

The Nets could've sulked, hung their heads and looked towards the next opponent but they didn't. They responded, and Johnson, like he's done for the majority of his career, hit another big shot.

“I didn’t think that thing had a chance when he (Joe Johnson) threw it up, but shooters are going to shoot and they’re going to make big shots,” said Faried who finished with a double-double, in 22 points and 13 rebounds. “I mean, he’s been an All-Star. He’s known for making big shots like that, and he did it tonight against us.”

The game had all the makings of what could've been a tough Nets home loss because they led and were in control in the first half. The Nets hit nine of their first 11 shots, up 19-11 with under six min left in the 1st quarter, led by Thaddeus Young who scored 10 points during the stretch.

They went up by as many as 16 in the second until Faried led a Denver comeback with eight points in the final four minutes of the second that closed the gap to six points, 49-55 at the break. In the second half of the game, the Nets and Nuggets traded baskets continuously and we all knew that at the pace both teams were competing at, an exciting finish was expected. Although the Nets won the game, execution down the stretch continued to hurt the Nets.

In the final seven minutes of the game, the Nets committed five costly turnovers which allowed the Nuggets to keep the game within distance and even take the lead to which Brown referenced turnovers.

“We tried to run a couple of plays and for whatever reason we still make poor decisions down the stretch, and we are still trying to work on that,” Brown said post-game.

Brooklyn’s interim head coach Tony Brown mentioned two plays down the stretch involving Brook Lopez (16 points) and Johnson (12 points) where the team tried to feed their best players the ball and on both occasions ended up in the visitor’s hands.

“So those situations hopefully we learn from because if we can get a shot, I like our chances in making them but we just can’t do it when we give away the ball like that, Coach Brown said.”

Off the bench, the Nets received healthy contributions from Markel Brown, the team’s 2nd leading scorer for this game, recording 19 points; and Bojan Bogdanovic who chipped in 12 points. The buzzer-beater won the headlines but so did Nets rookie forward Chris McCullough.

McCullough (2015 1st round draft pick), who hasn’t played since January of 2015 when he tore his ACL-16 games into his collegiate career-checked into the Nets win early in the second quarter and scored his first NBA basket on a mid-range jumper, according to

“It just felt good to be out there, playing my game, doing what I do, block shots, rebound on the floor,” McCullough said who added two points, two rebounds one block and a steal. “Just to finally hear my name called, it felt great.”

Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver’s 2015 lottery pick was a little sloppy. He flashed brilliance dishing eight assists but struggled with his shot, and totaled just seven points and turned the ball over four times too many. Mudiay showed the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon exactly what they are missing at the point, with 15 points and nine assists but against the Nets, couldn’t mirror his performance offensively.

“He was only 3-10 from the field,” said Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. “He had eight assists and four turnovers, so he did some good things.”

Gary Harris his backcourt mate, played well, totaling 17 points and former Knick, Danilo Gallinari led all Nuggets with 24 points. The Nets will have a day off to enjoy the win and then will get back to work hosting the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

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