April 25, 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.

Caris LeVert and Allen Crabbe were scoring leaders for the Brooklyn Nets, each scoring 22 points

Fresh off a win against the Dallas Mavericks on St. Patrick’s Day, the Brooklyn Nets were home at the Barclays Center tonight to take on the Memphis Grizzlies and came up with another win. Defeating the Grizzlies 118-115, the Nets have now won two consecutive games (tonight and a win against the Dallas Mavericks) for the first time since January 19 vs. Miami and January 21 at Detroit.

Caris LeVert and Allen Crabbe both led the Brooklyn Nets in scoring with 22 points. LeVert (7-of-9 FG, 4-of-4 3FG, 4-of-6 FT - tonight) added to his 22 points, three rebounds, two assists and one block. Crabbe (7-of-10 FG, 4-of-7 3FG, 4-of-4 FT - tonight), who is returning tonight after missing the team’s last two games due to illness, with his first made 3-pointer against the Grizzlies, moved into sole possession of second place in Nets single-season history in 3-pointers made. Crabbe has made 166 3FG this season. Next up is Deron Williams’ record of 169 three-pointers made in 2012-13.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was pleased with Crabbe’s performance considering he’s just coming back after recovering from a bug that hitting several players.

“I just think that, especially coming off of a pretty tough illness where he went through well, what we’ve all gone through with the throwing up and the not being able to eat and all that stuff for a couple of days and to come out, I thought that he was a difference maker in terms of shot-making,” Atkinson explained. “His shot-making really put us over the edge and he came back and got a couple of offensive rebounds. He had a big offensive rebound in the fourth quarter I thought when it was a two or four-point game, so that was really good. He was excellent tonight.”

Nets guard D’Angelo Russell co-signs on Crabbe’s return.

“Glad we got him back,” Russell stated. “He came out like he never left, so glad we got him back.”

Russell also likes his team’s back-to-back wins, two months is really a drought.

“It’s a good feeling, Russell said regarding the Nets two consecutive wins. “Like I said, no matter when it comes in the season, the two wins to build off of is a great feeling.”

On the other side of the ledger, Memphis Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff gave his assessment of the game.

“I think there was a stretch in that fourth quarter when we just turned the ball over too much,” Bickerstaff said. “We were penetrating, we were getting where we wanted to go, but then the play that we made when we got there wasn’t the right play. And when you’re in the paint, on that baseline, and you make turnovers going towards Brooklyn’s bucket, with their speed and athleticism it’s hard to catch up. Just us understanding the importance of those moments in crunch time, and valuing the basketball, and valuing every possession. If you get a shot, then you at least get a chance to offensive rebound it, and you get a chance to get back and set your defense.”

In addition to both LeVert and Crabbe, scoring 22 points each, other scoring leaders for the Nets included DeMarre Carroll who posted 18 points (5-of-8 FG, 4-of-7 3FG, 4-of-5 FT) with six rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 32 minutes.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson recorded 16 points and 12 rebounds with three assists, one steal, and one block in 37 minutes. D’Angelo Russell tallied 14 points, five rebounds, a team-high seven assists, two steals and a season-high-tying two blocks in 29 minutes. In his last five games, Russell has averaged 20.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.4 apg and 1.0 bpg in 29.5 mpg.

The Grizzlies had seven team members with 10-plus points. Starters who scored in double-digits were Andrew Harrison with 19 points and eight assists; Dillon Brooks scored 15 points; JaMychal Green posted 14 points, 16 rebounds, and three assists. Tops scorers coming off the bench for the Grizzlies were Wayne Selden who scored 17 points, Briante Weber tallied 15 points and four rebounds, Chandler Parsons contributed 13 points, and Ivan Rabb chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

The Memphis Grizzlies will meet up with the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, March 21st in Philadelphia.

The Brooklyn Nets will take on the Charlotte Hornets at home at the Barclays Center, also on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

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