August 18, 2019

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

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

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

Even Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer agrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Yorkers are happy with the NFL Draft picks of Saquon Barkley and Sam Darnold for NY Giants, and NY Jets respectively; everyone applauds Shaquem Griffin pick

In this episode of What’s The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking about the NBA Playoffs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs, the NFL Draft 2018, the NY Knicks search for a new coach, Shaquem Griffin, and more.

Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin set the tone from the start to spoil Paul Millsap’s return to the Atlanta Hawks lineup

On January 10, 2017, the last time the Brooklyn Nets played the Atlanta Hawks at the Barclays Center, the Hawks ate their lunch beating the Nets 117-97. Tonight, it was a different story, the tables were reversed. In fact, the Brooklyn Nets looked like it was the team headed for the playoffs instead of the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks, as the Nets grounded the Hawks, 91-82.

What plagued Atlanta this time around? Several things according to Atlanta Hawks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer, but especially the Nets’ three-point shooting and the versatility of Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez.

“He’s become such a great 3-point shooter,” Budenholzer said about trying to contain Lopez. “We tried to stay connected to him at the 3-point line more. And Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, I think he’s shooting 20 percent on the year at the 3-point line, he had two that helped them. Trevor Booker had one and that helped them.”

Lopez scored 18 points in the first quarter and 29 points overall (12-of-21 FG) with five rebounds, five assists and five blocks in 30:32 minutes of playing time. In so doing, Lopez became the second Net in franchise history to record 25+ points, five+ rebounds, five+ assists and five+ blocks in the same game. The last person to do that was Darnell Hillman almost 40 years ago vs. Chicago on November 11, 1977. Hillman now works for the Indiana Pacers.

With Lopez scoring 18 points in the first quarter, Budenholzer saw a need to change Atlanta’s strategy.

“I think we felt like we could keep Dwight Howard around the rim, around the paint,” Budenholzer said about his center. “Brooklyn is driving the ball a lot, and really our defense is not our problem – 91 points. So of course Brook Lopez had a really good game. Generally speaking, I don’t think our defense was the issue. I think we need to look closer at our offense and how we can score more, score better.”

But, seriously, it just wasn’t Atlanta’s night.

“We were just trying to be aggressive and we got hot,” said Nets point guard Jeremy Lin. “I feel like on the back end of a back-to-back that’s kind of just setting that tone, and establishing that just felt like we were in control of the game throughout, and even though we were the ones scoring points, that our whole starting five defensively came out and did a great job.”

“When you replay the game really quickly and you feel like there were some good chances we didn’t make – everybody, lots of different guys. And at times we were a little sloppy. It’d probably be great to get to the free-throw line a little bit more. I think it was just a combination of a lot of things and we just weren’t very good offensively,” Budenholzer added.

Yes, because sometimes playoff-bound teams sleep on teams that are not headed to the playoffs. They tend to think that it may be a cakewalk when they encounter a team like the Nets (17-59) that is in the last place in the NBA standings. However, in Brooklyn’s case, they are better than their win-loss record shows.

“They denied us, they gave us a little pressure,” Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap stated. “Something we could have done a better job of was countering off of their aggressiveness.”

Atlanta’s center Dwight Howard was more pointed in his remarks, “We have to play team basketball; we can’t do it by ourselves. One person isn’t going to win us a game.”

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, known for his young player development abilities, has been drilling that mantra into his young team all season, that basketball is team ball. The Nets’ young players led by Lin and Lopez set Atkinson’s tone early in the game.

“That’s kind of why they’re your two best players,” Atkinson said about Lin and Lopez. “There’s just a mentality, I was saying that about Brook. Brook after a bad game or a not good shooting game like Detroit, he’s going to come back and bring it the next game. They set the tone; I thought Jeremy and Brook really set the tone. Look at Brook and we’re talking about his offense; five blocks, I thought he was monstrous defensively, helping off Dwight and just kind of controlling the paint basically. No doubt about it, they set the tone.”

“Coach always stresses, just be resilient,” said Nets shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick, who added 11 boards towards the Nets total of 51 rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. “Make sure that you’re doing everything for the team and I think that’s something that everyone is doing on a normal basis. Down to recovery and down to the fact that everyone’s getting their work in early and making sure that we’re playing for one another.”

Brooklyn Nets players scoring in double digits in addition to Lopez were Lin with 15 points, six rebounds, and six assists; and Hollis-Jefferson with 11 points, five rebounds, and three steals.

In the loss, four of the five Hawks’ starters scored in double digits. Dennis Schroder had 16 points, five rebounds, and eight assists. Tim Hardaway Jr., who is probably grateful that the NY Knicks set him free, scored 14 points and six rebounds; Taurean Prince added 13 points and five rebounds and; Howard chipped in 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Nets take on the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

NOTE:

Kilpatrick’s 11 boards marked his second-most rebounds in a game in his career (high: 14 in double OT on 11/29 against the Clippers).

Kilpatrick became just the third Nets guard to record 11 or more rebounds off the bench in a game since 1983-84, joining Markel Brown (4/10/16 at Indiana) and Stephen Jackson (12/10/00 vs. Dallas).

VIDEO: Not a splashy name; but Atkinson gets high marks from other coaches and players

In this video, What's The 411Sports hosts, Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald, are talking about the Brooklyn Nets hire of Kenny Atkinson as the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. 

Do you think the Nets made the best decision?

Atkinson comes to Brooklyn Nets with rave reviews from Jeremy Lin and others

We knew it was coming, but we didn’t know the timeframe; but four days after the Brooklyn Nets season ended, the Nets announced its new head coach, Kenny Atkinson.

Atkinson will become the 21st head coach in the franchise’s NBA history and its sixth coach since 2012.

“We are thrilled to announce Kenny Atkinson as our new head coach and to welcome him and his family to Brooklyn,” Nets General Manager Sean Marks stated in a press release. “Kenny’s years of NBA coaching experience working under successful head coaches such as Mike Budenholzer and Mike D’Antoni have provided him with the foundation and experience we were looking for in a head coach. We believe that Kenny’s core principles, leadership, communication skills and exceptional background in player development make him an ideal fit for the culture we are building in Brooklyn.”

From the comments made by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, he is continuing to signal patience with the team’s building process.

“I’d like to extend a personal welcome to Kenny and wish all of us success as we begin a new era at the Brooklyn Nets,” said Prokhorov. “Aside from his tremendous skills and experience, he has the mindset we need to build a winning team day by day, step by step. Together, we can do great things.”

And, glowing comments about Atkinson are coming from people outside the Nets organization including Charlotte Hornets point guard Jeremy Lin, who was coached by Atkinson when Lin played for the New York Knicks.

"I’ve kind of been saying it was just a matter of time for him because I know how good he is, I know how much he was there for me in New York," said Charlotte Hornets point guard Jeremy Lin. "When you’re around him, you kind of understand there’s something different about him: his energy, his passion, the juice he approaches his work with."

Lin added: "He doesn’t leave any stone unturned. He’s always the first one in, and I’m saying first one in by, like, hours."

Atkinson joins the Nets after spending the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks under Head Coach Mike Budenholzer. The Hawks made playoff appearances in each of Atkinson’s four seasons, including the club’s first-ever trip to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The 2014-15 Hawks registered a franchise-record 60 wins, including a franchise-best 19-game win streak, and captured their first division title in more than 20 years. Atkinson served on the 2015 Eastern Conference All-Star coaching staff, and he guided Team World in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend in New York. Prior to his tenure with the Hawks, Atkinson was an assistant coach for four seasons with the New York Knicks (2008-12), helping the team reach the postseason in 2011 and 2012. Atkinson also spent one season as the Director of Player Development for the Houston Rockets (2007-08).

“I am truly honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, and I would like to thank Nets’ ownership and management for this tremendous opportunity,” said Atkinson. “Together with Sean and his staff, we look forward to building a winning tradition here in Brooklyn. I also want to acknowledge and thank Mike Budenholzer and the entire Atlanta Hawks organization for their cooperation and support throughout this process. While I am eager to begin working with the Nets, I remain committed to my coaching responsibilities with the Hawks for the remainder of the postseason.”

A native of Huntington, New York, Atkinson has also held various coaching positions abroad, serving as Director of Player Development/Assistant Coach for Paris Basket Racing Club in France (2004-06), Director of Player Development/Assistant Coach for the national team of the Republic of Georgia in the summer of 2006 and as an assistant coach with the Ukraine national team at the European championships in 2011. Most recently, Atkinson was Head Coach of the Dominican Republic national team in last summer’s FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico City.

Prior to beginning his coaching career, Atkinson played professionally for 14 years (1990-2004), beginning his pro career in the CBA and USBL before competing for teams in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. A standout collegiate player at the University of Richmond, Atkinson earned All-CAA First Team honors as a junior and senior and helped lead the Spiders to a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 1988. He was also selected as the 1987 CAA Rookie of the Year.

Jarrett Jack’s defensive moves with nearly 30 seconds left in regulation panicked Atlanta’s Schroder

The Brooklyn Nets have been off to a rough start for the 2015-15 NBA Season. However, last night offered a glimpse of hope. The Nets toughed it out and survived a nail-biting, 90-88 win over the Atlanta Hawks, one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. And they did it all on the defensive end of the court when it counted the most.

After Jarrett Jack drained a jumper, tying the game at 88-all with 33.3 seconds until the end of regulation, Jack nearly forced a turnover from Hawks, Dennis Schroder on the ensuing possession. With the Hawks shot-clock expiring, Jack's defense compelled Schroder to dribble into no man's land, using the baseline as an extra defender. A panicking Schroder almost lost the ball and had to resort to a rushed floater, which was rebounded by Paul Millsap, who was blocked by Brook Lopez, on his attempt to tie the game.

The Nets defense, when it was needed the most, got a stop, giving the team an opportunity to win the game, which was executed by Thaddeus Young, who sank two free-throws after being fouled on the fastbreak. And that particular sequence involving Schroder mirrored the entire game. Atlanta's, Spurs-like makeup of a team scored 10-less points than they are used to, averaging 101.6 points per game, the 11th best in the league, according to ESPN.com.

Mike Budenholzer's team committed 20 turnovers, the most they've committed this year in a single game.

"I give Brooklyn credit," said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. "They played well. They forced the turnovers. We didn't take care of the ball. So we're going to have to clean that up."

The win, which improved the Nets record to (2-9), exhibited the solution to their season, which has been disastrous to say the least and it all derives from the defensive side of the ball.

As a team, the Nets racked up 14 steals and seven blocks which are the type of production that will help the Nets remain in games against teams with superior talent. Although their defense was the star of the game, five players scored in double figures, led by Lopez's double-double, 24-10. Shane Larkin, in his first season with the Nets, had another great game, posting 14 points and Joe Johnson nearly reached a triple-double in 13 points, 9 assists, and seven rebounds.

Deron Williams 35 Points led the way

All they needed was one.

All the Brooklyn Nets needed was one win in their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks to generate the confidence they needed going forward to have a realistic shot of winning or just being competitive, after losing the season series 4-0.

And after failing to return home with a win, the Nets answered the call in game three to extend this series, at least for another game.

They defeated the Hawks 91-83 in their 2015 postseason home debut, recapturing the attention of the fans while dispelling the early projections of an opening-round sweep, of course, favoring the Hawks.

I mean they are the no.1 seed in the Eastern Conference and pretty much owned the Nets all season long.

But those fortunes have changed.

The tides have turned, and on Monday night, the Nets enjoyed that good ol' home-cooking for the second straight game behind the performance of an unlikely hero.

After an up-and-down year of injuries and inconsistent play, Deron Williams erupted for a team-high 35 points and helped lead the Nets to a 120-115 win in extra time, tying the series at two apiece.

Unlike any other game this season, as an observer watching how he was able to exploit his match-ups and get to his spots, you actually wanted the ball in Williams’ hands.

He finished the first quarter with 11 points, but I highly doubt that anyone saw what was to come from the Texas native once the second half arrived.

Williams scored 16 points in the 4th quarter alone, connecting on four threes, none bigger than his last points of the quarter, a trey, which put the Nets up, 102-101 with under two minutes to go.

And moments later, Brook Lopez, who feasted down low for 26 points, found the basket for two on a floater, a critical possession, improving the Nets lead to three, 104-101.

Brook Lopez 600x591Brooklyn Nets center, Brook Lopez

You could almost feel it. The Nets were about to execute the unthinkable and what seemed like a long shot a week ago was becoming a reality, but this is the Nets were talking about, 38-44 at season's end and that's not how this past regular season played out for the home team.

This 2014-15 campaign was a roller coaster ride, and the Nets, staying true to who they really are, took the crowd on yet another twisted turn.

One made free-throw by Jeff Teague, poor defense on Paul Millsap and a missed game-winner by Williams, was all the Hawks would need to tie this game up in the closing minutes of the 4th and send this game into OT.

At least if you were a fan, you got your money's worth in addition to a free "We Are Playoffs", T-shirt.

But in all honestly, Brooklyn was provided with a reason to smile.

In the OT period, the Nets traded baskets with the Hawks and in the end, made the necessary plays to secure the victory.

And this time, they didn't need Williams to rise to the occasion.

Instead, Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young took turns saving the Nets season from an improbable 3-1 comeback situation.

Bojan Bogdanovic 600x338Brooklyn Nets shooting guard,  Bojan Bogdanovic

 

Thaddeus Young 650x366Brooklyn Nets power forward, Thaddeus Young

With the Nets down by a deuce, 113-111 and a little over a min remaining in the 5-minute period, Lopez found Bogdanovic for a corner three, giving the Nets the go-ahead basket, now 114-113, quickly erasing the thoughts of a loss looming which seemed like the likely narrative just 20 seconds ago.

With the Nets down by a deuce, 113-111 and a little over a min remaining in the 5-minute period, Lopez found Bogdanovic for a corner three, giving the Nets the go-ahead basket, now 114-113, quickly erasing the thoughts of a loss looming which seemed like the likely narrative just 20 seconds ago.

"I got a couple open shots today because we are doing a great job on the pick and rolls," said Bogdanovic following the game.

"Brook is doing a great job swinging the ball to shooters."

And then Young, who has been a godsend since his arrival in Brooklyn, scored the final basket the Nets would need in this contest, sinking a running jump shot and collected the foul, missing the and-1, which put the Nets up for good 116-113, with 54 seconds left.

In a must-win game, the Nets delivered despite the constant criticism from the outsiders especially Washington Wizards own Paul Pierce, who last week, was openly critical about his time with the Nets last season and the core players which this team was built on.

Pierce said he "Hated" his time with the Nets and called out Williams for not wanting to be the man that $99 million dollars would warrant him being, but yesterday night, Williams showed up and quieted the critics.

He was the man and every man.

He was the man the Nets needed to come alive in a crucial game four and everyone including Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins-loved every minute of it.

Lionel Hollins 07072014 resized 700x586 Brooklyn Nets head coach, Lionel Hollins

"For him to come out, it showed a lot of character to put on the performance like that, especially when we needed it because without that performance, I don't know if we get out of here with a win," Hollins said during his post-game press conference.

But that's why Williams has been the target of the criticism aimed in the Nets direction.

In the team’s season-long struggles, Williams has struggled and as the "Star" of the team, all of the blame, unfortunately, has landed on the shoulders of No.8.

But it's only right to shower him with the praise he deserves because William's performance has provided the Nets with new life in this first round series.

"We really needed to get this win to stay in the series," Williams said.

"It was definitely one of my better games this year for sure and probably as a Net."

And how can you argue with that?

Williams also said that this win was a team win, and that is a fact as six Net's scored in double-figures.

In addition to Deron and Lopez, Bogdanovic scored 15, Young added 10, Joe Johnson poured in 17 and Alan Anderson finished with 11.

As a team, the Nets were out-rebounded, 55-40 especially during the second half of tonight's game where Hollins elected to go small surrendering rebounding and defense for offense.

"Well, Brook got in foul trouble and he was tired, and we needed a change," Hollins said.

"It's just something that sometimes your gut says, 'what else is there to do?' That was what came about in my gut, and fortunately for us, it worked."

And what worked for the Nets, on this night, happened to be enough to fend off the Hawks, who boasted six players in double-figures, just like the Nets.

Teague and DeMarre Carroll led the way with 20 points each.

Kyle Korver and Millsap both scored 16 points. Al Horford added 17 and Dennis Schroder chipped in 10.

But it wasn't enough.

"We had some opportunities tonight that we just didn't take advantage of,” said Mike Budenholzer Atlanta Hawks Head Coach and NBA Head Coach of The Year, for your information.

"In this situation and in this time, it's important when you get an advantage or an opportunity. You have to take advantage of it. Credit to Brooklyn."

The Hawks led by 12, late in the 3rd and also led by eight heading into the 4th, to no avail.

Monday night belonged to the Nets, and most importantly Deron Williams.

"I played with Deron in Utah for a few years and that's the Deron I remember," Korver said post-game.

No kidding.

He continued: "You know, that's what he's capable of. He hit some really amazing shots, and you've got to give him credit."

This team will go as far as Deron will take them; and with the series tied 2-2, the Nets have the momentum and are in the right position to upset the no.1 seed.

It also doesn't hurt that Deron has the full support of Coach Hollins, who defended the point-guard earlier today regarding all of the criticism he's received recently.

"It means a lot when you're struggling like that and your coach comes out and defends you the way he did," Deron said.

"It means a lot. Says a lot about him and how much he cares about not only me but, this team and our players."

For the first time in a long time, the Nets are actually in a good place.

Game 5 is tomorrow night back in Atlanta.

The Last time the Nets won a road playoff game was when they outlasted the Toronto Raptors, in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, game 7 to be exact.

It's time for the Nets to mirror those results come Wednesday night.

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