May 20, 2019

Nets forward DeMarre Carroll leads all scorers with 22 points; Dirk Nowitzki on “retirement tour”, receives a warm welcome from NBA fans at Barclays Center

Oh, what a night! The Brooklyn Nets took advantage of the Dallas Mavericks vulnerabilities at the Barclays Center on Monday night and came up with a 127-88 win for the home crowd. The Nets improved to 33-33 overall and 19-16 at Barclays Center with tonight’s win, while the Mavericks fell to 27-36 overall and 6-25 on the road with the loss.

So, what did it take to get the Brooklyn Nets back on track?

“It was really about the two things we emphasized before the game, defense and rebounding,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson responded. “I thought we defended much better tonight and we secured rebounds. We held them to one possession, and on the other side, we made shots. We were struggling to make shots before tonight, and it was nice to see the ball go through the basket. This helped our spirit. Good team win.”

“We drove the ball more tonight than in previous games, but I still think we can take it to another level,” Coach Atkinson continued. “We are still a little timid getting to the rim. I would love to see more rim attacks and free throw attempts. It was better tonight.”

The Nets snatched a win from the Mavericks right on time to stop a three-game losing streak in preparation for one more home game tomorrow against the Cleveland Cavaliers before hitting the road to play the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. Hopefully, Brooklyn can get two more wins under its belt before the team plays the Detroit Pistons on Monday at the Barclays Center and before hits the road to play six Western Conference teams and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Nets need these wins against the Cavaliers and the Hawks because they need the wins and a win against these two non-playoff bound teams will help with the Nets standing in the Eastern Conference as things get tight in the coming weeks. They also need to have a recent memory of what it feels like to win and because the upcoming stretch starting with the Detroit Pistons on Monday is going to be a dogfight. After Detroit, the Brooklyn Nets face OKC Thunder, Jazz, Clippers, Kings, Lakers, Trail Blazers, and the 76ers.

Right now, the Nets are neck and neck in the Eastern Conference standings with the Pistons. The win against the Mavericks was good because a win is a win. But let’s face it, the game looked like a pro team playing against amateurs save a few players. And, Dirk Nowitzki really looked old. He was struggling to keep up and his numbers prove it, four points, four rebounds, and two assists. The conversation all season has been this may be Nowitzki's last season and no disrespect to Dirk, but by his performance last night, it should be. Dirk really looked old and the Nets took advantage, as they should.

“It was ugly from start to finish,” Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle bemoaned. “When you lose every quarter of an NBA game, you certainly haven’t done what you needed to do. It’s a very disappointing night.”

“I thought Brooklyn’s effort was phenomenally great and I know ours wasn’t up to it,” Carlisle continued. “The effort can’t be good if you lose by this number of points. We just simply have to do better.”

Doing better might start with limiting Nowitzki’s minutes. And, this is not to beat up on Nowitzki, as he has nobly put in 20 years in the NBA. He was a force to reckon with. However, this season, Nowitzki is averaging 5.5 points per game, while over the course of his career, Nowitzki averaged 20 PPG.

“…I was just fighting out there,” Nowitzki said. “I was just trying to get one down and get one in. In the first half, I had some great looks there – the trailing three and another one, a wide-open three from the corner. Frustrating night for me, but I kept on playing.”

In last night’s game, the Mavericks only had three scoring leaders. Dwight Powell led the Mavericks with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and six assists; Luka Doncic scored 16 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots, and; Jalen Brown chipped in 10 points and three rebounds.

For the Nets, DeMarre Carroll came off the bench to lead all scorers with 22 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Rodions Kurucs registered 19 points and six rebounds; Caris LeVert accumulated 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists off the bench; Spencer Dinwiddie, also came off the bench and scored 16 points and five assists; D’Angelo Russell posted 13 points and 11 assists; Joe Harris chipped in 11 points, and; Ed Davis, who is not a prolific scorer, brought the heat around the rim with 10 rebounds.

And, with this win, D’Angelo Russell agrees that the Nets may have stumbled upon a winning formula.

“…With that second unit, you’ve got five starters coming off the bench. That team could start and be their own team and compete in this league, so I think that’s where we can get advantages. A lot of teams don’t have the personnel to do that so, it was a great move by coach,” Russell opined.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leads the Nets’ charge to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 114-106

The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Dallas Mavericks at the Barclays Center in the evening on St. Patrick’s Day, and the luck of the Irish was on the side of Nets, as they defeated the Mavericks 114-106. The win gives the Nets a record of 22-48 so far this season, which is two more than all of last season.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was clicking on all cylinders; he scored a team-high 23 points (9-of-16 FG, 5-of-6 FT) with five rebounds and four assists for the Nets in 32 minutes.

“He had a stretch there that carried us when we were struggling to score,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about Hollis-Jefferson’s performance. “They were switching and it’s nice to have Rondae there because we can throw it to him on the block and he can take advantage of the switch. That’s huge. If you don’t have that then it’s just iso-ball and you’re driving it every time, you’ve got your guards with the ball out top… I felt like he had a couple of tough ones but I thought he was getting in the lane, that’s his elite skill, driving the ball, got in the lane, got to a spot, made some big shots.”

It wasn’t a walk in the park for the Nets, ending the first quarter with a six-point lead over Dallas, 30-24. Although the Nets led at halftime, 59-56, the Mavericks came charging back in the third quarter to end the third stanza with a one-point lead over the Nets 89-88.

“It was pretty much just locking in,” Hollis-Jefferson said about taking control of the fourth quarter. “Like, who’s going to start it? A lot of the time it’s Caris (LeVert), a lot of the time it’s myself, but pretty much it was definitely a team effort. We talked in the huddle at half court like ‘Hey let’s do it now, let’s do it together, let’s make it hard for them.’ A lot of teams, that’s what they do to us, they want to speed us up, make us take tough shots. Tonight, it worked for us.”

Other Nets scoring leaders included D’Angelo Russell, who recorded 22 points (9-of-17 FG, 4-of-9 3FG) with four rebounds and a team-high six assists in 29 minutes vs. Dallas. Russell is on a scoring roll, he has now tallied 20-plus points in three of his last four games and four of his last six games overall. DeMarre Carroll tallied 19 points and 12 rebounds with three assists, recording his team-leading 12th double-double of the season. Caris LeVert posted 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 27 minutes off the bench against the Mavs. LeVert has now scored in double figures in seven straight games. Spencer Dinwiddie posted 12 points, five boards, and four assists in 31 minutes.

Mavericks’ rookie Dennis Smith Jr. led Dallas with 21 points. Unfortunately, Smith left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury. He got hurt when he stepped on the foot of Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Dwight Powell added 18 points. Jalen Jones achieved a career-high 16 for the Mavericks, who made 12 of 22 3-point attempts (54.5 percent) but shot 44.6 percent overall. Dirk Nowitzki contributed 13. Yogi Ferrell, a former Nets player, had 12 points and 12 assists.

Win, lose or draw, it was a great night for Nowitzki, as he reached a milestone in his career against the Nets, appearing in his 1,463rd game, moving past Kevin Garnett into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list. Congratulations to Nowitzki.

“It’s unbelievable, really,’ Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Dirk had a terrific game I thought. He shot the ball well when open. He’s still rebounding well. He’s a leader out there. It’s just amazing that he has just been able to keep going. We all hope it never ends.”

Next, up for the Mavericks, they travel to New Orleans to play the Pelicans on Tuesday, March 20th at 7 p.m. CDT.

Meanwhile, the Nets take on the Memphis Grizzlies at home at the Barclays Center on Monday, March 19th at 7:30 p.m.

Jeremy Lin leaves game with a sprained right ankle

The Brooklyn Nets outing against the Dallas Mavericks just started out bad. A 12-noon start-time, which I don’t mind by the way, but inside of eight minutes of play, Brooklyn's point guard Jeremy Lin sprained his right ankle on a drive to the basket and missed the remainder of the game. Lin, nevertheless, was productive while he was there; he left the game with four points.

The Nets trouble didn’t start with Lin’s exit, they were down 11 points before Lin left the game at 7:42 in the first quarter. At the end of the quarter, it looked like the Nets could right the ship, ending the first stanza with only a six-point deficit (32-26).

During the second quarter, the Nets were down by as much as 18 points. And, in a game, in which they never led, the Nets came within one point (93-92) with just under six minutes in regulation. However, the combination of Mavericks center Dirk Nowitzki and backup guard J.J. Barea proved to be a power couple that would thwart the Nets’ drive for a comeback. With just over five minutes left to play, Barea went on a tear, scoring nine straight points for Dallas. When it was all said and done, the Mavericks stole the show with an 111-104 ending.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson offered his critique of the Nets last few possessions.

“Yeah, not great execution on our part,” Atkinson said. “And I think what happens is teams start switching everything at the end of the game and the thought is you have to go one-on-one and I think we just have to realize we can keep them moving and when teams switch they’ll eventually break down …”

However, even in defeat Atkinson saw a silver lining.

“To me, the story of the game was getting down 18 in the first half,” Atkinson added. “I thought the second half we brought it, we brought the energy, we were competitive, we were going towards a 40-point blowout quite honestly in that first half the way we came out. We dug ourselves a huge hole, and we used a lot of energy to get back in it, then couldn’t close it, we didn’t have enough to get over the hump.”

Brook Lopez led all scorers with 27 points. Randy Foye was the only other Nets starter in double digits, he scored 11 points and six rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to score 18 for the Nets. Also, off the bench, Quincy Acy added 11 points, and Isaiah Whitehead chipped in 10 points.

Dallas had three starters in double digits. Nowitzki had 23 points and nine rebounds, Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and six rebounds; while Wesley Matthews chipped in 15 points and five rebounds. Barea and Devin Harris were double-digit contributors off the bench. Barea supplied 20 points and seven assists, while Harris chipped in 11 points.

Before the game, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle talked about former Nets rookie guard Yogi Ferrell.

"We were all banged up,” said Carlisle. “We had a lot of guys out. We desperately needed a guy that could play the position and hold the fort. I wasn't sure he was going to be a starter right away, but the way we were structured at the time it seemed like the best way to go. He started the first game, did a lot of good things and had a really terrific first couple of weeks. Now, we're at a point where he's pretty much held that position and he's done a lot of good things."

Ferrell did indeed help the Mavericks hold things together against the Nets; he contributed eight points and five assists.

Next up, the Nets will host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday and then the Phoenix Suns on Thursday. Perhaps, the Nets could string together back-to-back victories with this homestand?

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