February 22, 2019

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.

Allen Crabbe leads Brooklyn Nets scorers with 21 points, as Nets break eight-game losing streak with 104-87 win over Bulls

Last night, Brooklyn Nets fans came out of the doldrums, as the Nets ended an eight-game losing streak with their 104-87 win over the Chicago Bulls and the fans could not have been happier. As the clock ticked down to the final minute at the Barclays Center, Nets fans showed their approval with spontaneous applause.

And, Monday night’s win against the Chicago Bulls was no ordinary win; it is a significant milestone in the recent development of the Brooklyn Nets. This win against the Bulls is the Nets’ 61st game of the 2017-18 NBA season and marks the 20th win of the season for the Nets and matches their win total from all of last season. Moreover, the Nets didn’t win their 20th game last season until their 80th game, which was a home win over Chicago on April 8, 2017.

This game wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. During the first half, the Nets lead by as much as 10 points at 4:27 in the first quarter and ended the first quarter up by nine points. Taking it into to the second quarter, the Nets were up by as much as nine points, 49-40 at 2:24. But by the closing horn of the second quarter, the Nets had lost its edge allowing the Bulls to depart the court at half-time up two points 51-49 and leaving this reporter with thoughts of which Brooklyn Nets team was going to show up in the second-half. Fortunately, the Nets played the second-half with a “take no prisoners” intensity. Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen, with an assist from Spencer Dinwiddie, using a reverse dunk tied the game 51-51 within the first minute of the third quarter. Starting the fourth stanza up 14 points at 84-70, the Nets stayed in control and ended this session with a 104-87 win over the Chicago Bulls, a victory that the team and Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson could feel good about.

“I thought our defense was really good,” Coach Atkinson said regarding the Nets power moves in the third quarter. “I thought our activity was good. I thought we got into them. Spencer (Dinwiddie) starts the first play of the second half, gets the deflection, DeMarre (Carroll) gets the deny and we just kept getting stops and that’s the real story. I think defensively, really good game by us and then 31 assists on the offensive end. I thought we really shared it, really moved it around.”

And, Atkinson didn’t stop there, heaping a whole bunch of praise on Allen Crabbe, who was the Nets leading scorer with 21 points.

“What I’m most proud of, I just told our staff, he was really good defensively also,” Atkinson said about Crabbe whose confidence level has noticeably increased. “When I watch him now, you’re really not worried about him defensively. He’s fighting through screens, he’s breaking up passes and I think that’s been a while now. I’m just glad he’s starting to realize that he can do it on both ends. Then offensively he’s just ultra-aggressive. I still think he can add some things to his game, I still think he can drive it more to the rim with the shot he has, but excellent all-around game by Allen (Crabbe).”

Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg was disappointed that Bulls did not get a “W,” and in his team’s offensive play.

“We missed some easy ones early and I thought that affected everybody, Hoiberg said. “We weren’t getting out with the same aggressiveness in transition. I was really pleased with how we finished the second quarter. I thought we had a really good stretch of basketball, I think we held them to 32 points in the final 22 minutes of the first half and that’s growth for our team.”

“…End of the first half was great and then we came out so sluggish with no energy and the adversity hit and we got stagnant, Hoiberg continued. “It’s just something that has to be a constant, playing through the good times and the bad. Handling adversity well is what you have to do as a young group. Tonight we handled the adversity in the first half but not the second. You have to keep playing through the tough times and we did not do that well tonight.”

In addition to Crabbe, the Nets’ players leading the offense were DeMarre Carroll and Jarrett Allen who both scored 18 points; Allen added nine rebounds and Carroll posted six. Joe Harris added 15 points and seven rebounds. Although newly acquired player, Dante Cunningham, was not a points scoring leader for the Nets, he chipped in nine rebounds (eight of them defensive rebounds). Dinwiddie, who is the NBA All-Star Game’s Taco Bell Skills Challenge winner, wasn’t a leading points’ scorer for the Nets this time around, but he helped his teammates by tallying nine assists and five rebounds.

For the Chicago Bulls, Kris Dunn led all scorers with 23 points. Lauri Markkanen totaled 19 points and six rebounds; Bobby Portia scored 12 points and nine rebounds, and; Denzel Valentine chipped in 11 points and 13 rebounds. It should be noted that Noah Vonleh recorded eight rebounds for the Bulls.

Next, the Bulls travel to Charlotte to face the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday, while the Nets travel to Cleveland to meet up with the Cleveland Cavaliers, also on Tuesday.

The next home game for the Brooklyn Nets is against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, March 11, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., at the Barclays Center.

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