June 17, 2019

In the loss, Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell leads Nets in scoring with 27 points, seven rebounds, and six assists

It wasn’t a blowout last night at the Barclays Center when the Brooklyn Nets lost 115-105 to the Toronto Raptors, the second-best team in the NBA Eastern Conference. Some say a loss is a loss no matter what the point spread is. But, in this case, when you’re fighting to clinch a spot in the playoffs, a loss can be more than a loss.

With the loss, the Nets fell to 39-40 overall and 22-18 at the Barclays Center, while the Raptors improved to 56-23 overall and 25-14 on the road with the win. But, moreover, the musical chairs of who’s in the NBA playoff seeding and who isn’t shifted last night and is likely to be a game of musical chairs over the remaining week. The Nets are still in the seventh spot, but the Miami Heat's loss to the Boston Celtics put the Orlando Magic in the eighth spot, while Miami fell to the ninth position.

So, what happened to the Nets last night.

“They were the better team,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I don’t know how else to tell you that. I think they were the better team tonight – from start to finish, gotta give credit. Excellent team. A team that’s going to compete for a championship. We were not up to that. Like I said before the game, those standards, you’ve got to be almost perfect. We weren’t. I would say we were average, and that’s not getting it done against a team like that.”

Toronto is the better team, hence the reason they are in the second position in the Eastern Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks are a better team, hence the reason, it is first in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Nets have no experience of turning it up in the final stretch of the regular season. And, they are traveling to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and then will travel to play the Indiana Pacers the very next day on Sunday. So, should we expect an upset in Milwaukee or in Indiana or both or two losses for the Nets? The best scenario for the Nets to make the playoffs is that since Miami is in the ninth position that Miami loses to Toronto on Sunday and Philadelphia on Tuesday and when Miami comes to Brooklyn on Wednesday, it would be too tired on the second game of a back-to-back to be victorious over Brooklyn. Of the three games on the Orlando Magic’s schedule, only the Boston Celtics are worrisome because the Magic could overtake Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets. But, of course, anything could happen.

The Nets really do have to turn it up because last night, the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Toronto Raptors despite shooting .477 (41-of-86) from the field and limiting Toronto to .419 (44-of-105) from the field. The Nets also edged the Raptors 60-48 in points in the paint.

With the Toronto Raptors in the rearview mirror and as the Net face the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, a question was posed to Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell: What can the Nets do against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo on Saturday?

“Just you know, make him feel us,” Russell responded. “He’s dominated the league this whole season. It’s a tough matchup. But we know what we gotta do. It’s going to take five of us to stop him, it’s not just (one) individual.”

Nets fans hear you, D’Angelo Russell, and they hope that you and the rest of the team can muster up a strategy and the energy to follow the strategy to prevail.

The Brooklyn Nets will play its final game of the regular season on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. Hopefully, it won’t be the last game of the season and this team that has faced so many adversities this season gets a taste of what the NBA postseason is all about.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers with 28 points, Caris LeVert put up 24 points off the bench, but the loss is a cloud hanging over Nets’ head

Last night at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets met up with the Milwaukee Bucks, the best team in the NBA, by its 58-20 record; yes, the Bucks’ record is better than the Golden State Warriors’ record, which is 52-24.

The bad news is that the Nets lost to the Bucks 131-121. The good news for the moment is that the Nets are still holding on to the seventh playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference (EC). The three other teams that are also jockeying for position for the NBA’s sixth through eighth playoff spots in the EC, the Detroit Pistons (#6), Miami Heat (#8), and the Orlando Magic (#9), also lost last night.

The Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, and the Orlando Magic all have at least two formidable teams to play between now and April 10, 2019, the last day of the NBA regular season. And, by formidable, these teams have already clinched the 1 through 5 NBA Eastern Conference playoff spots. NBA Eastern Conference spots 6 through 8 are up for grabs between four teams or five, depending on how you feel about the Charlotte Hornets because technically, right now, sitting at 35-42, mathematically, the Hornets are not out of contention. Teams that the Hornets have on their schedule right now are the New Orleans Pelicans (32-46) a Western Conference team, and then EC teams, the Toronto Raptors (55-23), Detroit Pistons (39-38), Cleveland Cavaliers (21-57) and the Orlando Magic (38-40).

But, looking at the upcoming schedule for the teams that most people believe are in the race, Detroit has two strong teams to play, the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. On Miami’s schedule are the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Orlando Magic being in the ninth spot is currently on the outside looking in and seemingly has the easiest schedule. The Magic’s last three games are against the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and the Boston Celtics. Of this lot, only the Boston Celtics is a playoff team. However, that doesn’t mean that the Magic would only lose to the Boston Celtics. Not in the least, the Nets just beat the Celtics, who were without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, on Saturday. These are all NBA teams and on any given night, there could be key players out, there could be an upset or the outcome could be predictable, which will make the next few days very exciting for some and not so exciting for others.

Focusing on the Nets, they have four more games on their schedule. The Nets play the Toronto Raptors tomorrow at the Barclays Center, a back-to-back on the road on Saturday and Sunday, against the Milwaukee Bucks again, and the Indiana Pacers and then they come back home to play the Miami Heat on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the last day of the regular season.

Wednesday, April 10, could be the determining day between the Nets and the Miami Heat, as well as other teams. Or, it could be over before the Nets get home depending upon what they do from this point forward and what the other teams do. Clearly, this is not a good position to be in.

And, as Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert, who scored 24 points, four rebounds and six assists, assessed last night’s game against the Bucks, the Nets have to be focused and dialed in from start to finish if they truly want to secure a playoff spot.

“I think we put ourselves in a big hole in that first quarter and it was tough fighting back, especially against a good team like that,” said LeVert. “They’re number one in the East for a reason. But we just have to learn from it. We played great basketball for like three-and-a-half quarters, so we have to learn from it and keep going.”

Spencer Dinwiddie leads all scorers with 28 points

The Cleveland Cavaliers put up a good fight last night but ultimately lost to the Brooklyn Nets 113-107. A good win for the Nets, as the team is now back over .500, improving their record to 34-33 overall, while the Cavaliers fell to 16-49 overall and 6-25 on the road with the loss. The Nets also improved its wins against Eastern Conference teams, which could be needed to sort out placement and ties if the Nets are still in the running for a playoff position at the end of the regular season.

After the NBA All-Star break and into the month of March, the playoffs are on everyone’s mind, especially, as with the Nets, if your team hasn’t been there in a few years. As much as Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson would like not to have the NBA playoffs front and center, at this point there is no escaping it, particularly when a reporter asks, what tonight’s win means for a playoff push.

“Yeah, I think there was a moment in the fourth quarter where we were desperate,” Coach Atkinson responded. “And even in the third, they had an eight-point lead, I think. I’m glad we kept our cool though because you know, maybe last year or two years ago we would lose that lead, or the lead would go to 16 or 18. The fact that we kept our cool, weathered the storm and came back was important. We won that game without playing great.”

Atkinson didn’t respond directly to the playoffs. But reading between the lines, if a team doesn’t know how to come back from a deficit, it probably won’t be in NBA playoff conversation at least from a positive perspective. In years past, the Nets would get into trouble in the third quarter even after leading in the first half. However, players have bought into Atkinson’s system and have learned to take back control when they are not leading coming out of the third quarter, as in this case, Cleveland led 85-80.

“I thought our defense was good all night,” Atkinson said starting to explain how the Nets were able to take control of the fourth quarter. “I think we did a pretty good job – they hit a few too many three’s – but for the most part, we defended. I think Caris (LeVert) had an important stretch there when we were struggling and couldn’t really score. He made some big plays, started to get downhill, and obviously, Spencer (Dinwiddie) too. Those two guys, I thought they turned it up. Our offense, we’re struggling. And we really needed those two guys tonight. I think they did a good job.”

“We needed stops,” Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell proffered. “Teams get going like that. Any team in the league can get going. It’s hard to stop the bleeding without getting stops so we knew we had to get stops.”

And, the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew pretty much co-signed on how the Brooklyn Nets were able to take down his team.

“First of all, come out ready to play at the start of the game,” Drew said. “I believe we had eight turnovers in the first quarter, but we were able to overcome that. Playing on the road you just can’t play like that. Going down the stretch we just didn’t make the plays on either end. Brooklyn’s been playing well. You have to give credit where credit is due. They’ve really been getting after people. We allowed them to speed us up a little bit. When it came down to it down the stretch, we just didn’t make the plays. We had some bad shots. We had a couple of turnovers and we let it get away from us.”

At the end of the day, it was the Nets’ defense and keeping their composure under pressure.

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and led all scorers with 28 points, four rebounds, and five assists. D'Angelo Russell registered 25 points, four rebounds, and five assists, and three steals; Jarrett Allen had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and he added three assists to his total; Caris LeVert accumulated 14 points and four rebounds off the bench; Rodions Kurucs chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds, and; Ed Davis crashed the boards with 12 rebounds.

The Nets’ bench outscored the Cavs’ bench 50-45 points. Brooklyn also edged the Cavs 7-3 (+4) in blocks, 58-38 (+20) in points in the paint and 22-14 (+8) in second-chance points.

Leading scorers for the Cavaliers were Kevin Love with 24 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists; David Nwaba added 22 points off the bench; Larry Nance Jr. registered 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and four steals; Jordan Clarkson came off the bench and accumulated 14 points and seven rebounds, and; Colin Sexton chipped in 12 points and five assists.

The Cavaliers will travel to Miami to take on the Heat on Friday, March 8, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET., and the Brooklyn Nets won’t see its next opponent, the Atlanta Hawks until Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Atlanta. The Nets will then travel back to Brooklyn and take on the Detroit Pistons on Monday, March 11, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

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.

D’Angelo Russell leads Brooklyn Nets with 23 points; Vince Carter gets a video tribute, and; Jeremy Lin says he feels good

Last night was evidence that the Brooklyn Nets are working hard to turn a corner and a page on losing seasons of the recent past. Early on in last night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn dug itself into an 18-point hole at the 38.3-second mark in the first quarter and minus 19 points with a score of Hawks 46 and Nets 27 at the 9:02 mark in the second quarter. But, by the end of the first half, the Nets whittled the Hawks lead to six at 57-51. The reversal of fortunes for the Hawks occurred in the third quarter as the Nets ended the third stanza up by six points with the score 86-80. In the fourth is where the Nets kicked things into high gear leading by 20 points at the 2:38 mark on a Shabazz Napier running layup, and then ultimately defeating the Atlanta Hawks 116-100.

With this win, the Nets improved to 21-22 overall and 11-11 at Barclays Center, while the Hawks fell to 12-29 overall and 5-19 on the road with the loss. The Nets are now 13-4 in their last 17 games, which marks their best 17-game stretch since the 2013-14 season when the Nets had a 13-4 stretch from March 9, 2014, through April 8, 2014. Wow, that seems like eons ago. But hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen because right now, the Brooklyn Nets are now the sixth seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference, which would make them playoff bound. If the NBA playoffs were held today, the Nets would be playing the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Not my favorite choice, I think they would have a better chance emerging from the first round if they were to play the Philadelphia 76ers. Just saying.

Die-hard Nets fans know that 2014 was the last time the Brooklyn Nets were in the NBA Playoffs. They also know during the Nets’ “Dark Ages” starting with the 2014-15 NBA season through 2017-18, that if the Nets got behind by more than 10 points, most likely, it would be a wrap because they lacked the strategic basketball acumen to climb back to the top. In many cases, the individual talent was there but collectively, they just didn’t know how to mix all of the strategic elements to survive as winners. And, last night, it was if someone hit a switch and pulled them out of a losing trance. Perhaps, it’s the influence of the respected new veteran players, or, hungrier new younger players, their own growth and maturity as a team, listening to the coaches, or, just tired of losing, or, any combination of the listed reasons and more.

But somehow, last night, the Nets figured out a way to climb out of a 20-point deficit to win by 16 points.

“First of all, no easy games in the NBA, that’s for sure,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about how his team turned around a losing game to a winning one. “They blitzed us in the first quarter. I think a lot of that was them and some of it was us. And 38 points in the first quarter, it’s like you’re playing with fire when you dig a hole like that. Then I think 19 points in the second quarter we gave up and then 43 points in the second half, so we turned our defense around. I think the zone helped us, just got them out of rhythm a little bit, wasn’t our main kind of slice, but it was helpful. I thought it got them out of rhythm a little bit, helped us.”

Nets guard Joe Harris also chimed in on how this comeback showed the maturity and growth of the team.

“Yeah, obviously not the start that we wanted,” Harris said. “We talk about it a lot, trying to be consistent over four quarters, and if you’re not, you have a blimp. Say you have a quarter like today, 38-23, a little sluggish, especially on the defensive end – that’s where the veteran leadership comes in. Guys like J.D. (Jared Dudley) and DeMarre (Carroll) and Ed (Davis), they’re the ones who are vocalizing. They’re talking about aspirations that we have for this team. We can’t have these lapses if we want to get where we’re trying to go. I think considering where we’ve been, where we’re at now says a lot about the team. A lot of it rests with those veteran guys.”

What’s really amazing is that the Brooklyn Nets have found their way to win even without Caris LeVert, who was scoring 18 points per game and seemed destined to be the team’s rising star before his injury on November 12, 2018, when the Nets were playing the Minnesota Timberwolves. So, right now, we are witnessing “next man up” in action.

Obviously, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce was disappointed in the game’s outcome and he pinpoints where things went awry for his team.

“I think we came out with the momentum from last night’s game, Atlanta Hawks coach Pierce told reporters. “A lot of energy, a lot of ball movement, a lot of pace, attacking downhill, and we just ran out of gas in the second quarter is where it started. It looks like the second half, but it really started in the second quarter. I don’t think we had a turnover in the first quarter, I could be wrong, it may have been at the end. But to end up with 22 turnovers basically over three quarters and just being flat. Tough, tough.”

Nets starting point guard, D’Angelo Russell, scored a team-high 23 points (11-of-20 FG) with three rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 26 minutes. Joe Harris registered 16 points and eight rebounds, and; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen, also starters, each contributed 11 points, Allen added five rebounds, while Kurucs, a rookie, added four rebounds.

Brooklyn’s bench outscored the Hawks’ reserves 55-31, led by DeMarre Carroll’s 17 points and four rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie added 16 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals, and; Shabazz Napier chipped in 11 points, and three rebounds, assists, and steals respectively.

Veteran player, Ed Davis, who Nets center Jarrett Allen credits with helping him to up his game, crashed the boards with 16 rebounds to go along with his eight points.

John Collins led the Atlanta Hawks and all scorers in points last night against the Brooklyn Nets with 30 points and 14 rebounds; Trae Young registered 17 points and seven assists, and; Kevin Huerter rounded out the Hawks starters in double digits with 14points, 10 rebounds, and three assists.

The Hawks’ bench players in double digits were Jeremy Lin with 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals, and; Alex Len who contributed 10 points, and four assists.

This is Jeremy Lin’s second time at the Barclays Center since being traded from the Nets to the Atlanta Hawks. Lin was plagued with injuries the two seasons he was on the Nets roster. He spoke with reporters about how feels about his game right now.

“I feel good,” Lin told reporters. “I know tonight shots didn’t fall the way I wanted to. But for me, it’s not about makes or misses, it’s about the quality of the shot. I felt like I got really high-quality shots tonight and honestly, a ton of them felt great. That’s how it is sometimes. As many of those nights as I have, where they feel great and don’t fall, I’ll have many where they do. So I’m not too worried about it, I’m more just concerned with making sure I take great shots that I know I can hit and continuing to ride this momentum of trying to be aggressive, trying to make plays for my teammates as well, just trying to be disruptive on both ends of the floor.”

Veteran NBA player Vince Carter who was a Net from 2004 -2009, when the team was in New Jersey, received a video tribute to commemorate his 21st year in the NBA, as he had the night before in Toronto. No one really knows if this is Carter’s last season in the NBA, however, Carter was grateful.

“It’s a great trip – stressful sometimes, a lot of people to see,” Carter said about the reception from both teams. “But the appreciation, I’m very thankful for and I’ll never forget. The video – yes, it could be premature or not –they’re thinking about me and I’m very thankful.”

And, what’s up for the Atlanta Hawks’ immediate future, the Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, the Hawks will travel to Philadelphia to play the 76ers tomorrow, Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will have their own test as they travel to another country to face the Toronto Raptors, the team with the most wins in the NBA at 31, also on Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Nets then play the Boston Celtics at home at the Barclays Center on Monday, January 14, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Nets capture the Hawks and score its 5th consecutive win; Jeremy Lin fans did not get the show they expected

When the Brooklyn Nets met up with the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon, this was a game that one went in thinking that the Nets would definitely get a “W.” The Nets were coming to the table with a four-game winning streak. The Hawks win-loss record was only 6-22 while the Nets were sitting at 12-18. The prevailing thought was for the Nets to lose to the Atlanta Hawks under these conditions would have been an absolute travesty. But this is the NBA, and anything can happen. Fortunately, the Nets turned up and kept it going to send the Hawks out of the Barclays Center with a 144-127 loss.

Although the Hawks are not sitting at the upper echelon of the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the attendance at the Barclays Center for this Sunday afternoon game was 13,955 slightly higher than the attendance of 13,232 for the Washington Wizards game on Friday night and the Wizards have a similar overall record as Brooklyn. The prevailing thought was that the attendance draw was Jeremy Lin. After all, it was Lin’s first return to Brooklyn since being traded to Atlanta, a trade which took a number of people by surprise including Lin. Unfortunately for Lin’s fans, he played just under 14 minutes scoring a dismal six points and one assist. Certainly not the performance Lin’s fans wanted to see and most of all, not one that Lin wanted to happen for himself. Many reporters thought this would be Lin’s revenge game, but apparently, Lin is still trying to find his rhythm following his catastrophic injury from last season, he scored two points in the first quarter and four in the third, two free-throws and a driving layup. Lin did not play at all in the second quarter.

Despite Lin’s troubles, the Hawks did try to make a run for it in the second quarter and came within two points, 66-64 at 1:34, which possibly sent shivers through Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“I was worried at halftime,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media postgame. “I said this game is too loose; it’s too up and down. They play fast and we knew we had to start that third quarter with an edge and I felt we did. We got stops. Our defense wasn’t great overall, obviously, but I thought we got stops and I thought D’Angelo (Russell) did a great job on both sides of the ball. Defensively he did a great job in pick-and-roll and then, obviously, offensively he was making shots.”

In thinking about D’Angelo Russell’s aggressiveness at the start of quarters, Atkinson said, “he was just spry. Spry; he was aggressive, he was energetic. Offensively he was aggressive. But I thought defensively he was locked in. When D’Angelo is like that we take it to another level. He was excellent tonight.”

Meanwhile, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce reflected on how his team responded to him challenging them at the end of first quarter.

“The response has always been good for our guys,” Pierce stated. “I give them credit there. On the season we’ve been a plus in the second quarter. It’s the first six minutes and the third quarter. That’s the issue. It’s the urgency to come out and take a little pride in what we’re doing to start games. We put ourselves in a hole and come back to within six points at halftime. Our defense all night was suspect.”

The Hawks leading scorers were John Collins with 29 points and eight rebounds; Dewayne Dedmon registered 24 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists; Kent Bazemore tallied 20 points, seven assists, and three rebounds, and Trae Young contributed 13 points and 10 assists.

On the contrary, Brooklyn had eight players in double digits including all starters. D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 32 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals. Other starters in double-digits were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 18 points, four rebounds, and three assists; Joe Harris tallied 16 points and six assists; both Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen scored 11 points. Kurucs added six rebounds and four assists, while Allen put up four rebounds and two blocked shots.

The Nets’ double-digit scorers in the second unit were Jared Dudley with 16 points and three steals; both Spencer Dinwiddie and DeMarre Carroll scored 15 points each, and Dinwiddie added five assists and three rebounds to his scoring total.

Looking ahead, the Hawks play the Washington Wizards in Atlanta on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

Meanwhile, the Nets are scheduled to play the Los Angeles Lakers at home also on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Nets may not have any NBA All-Stars this season, but that did not stop their confidence, as they beat the Atlanta Hawks tonight at the Barclays Center, 94-89.

After a 14-point loss to the Hawks Wednesday night, Deron Williams led his team with 24 points; Brook Lopez finished with 20 points.

Nets interim coach, PJ Carlesimo said before the game, "It's easier when you play the same team, just makes your preparation better."

Former Hawks' guard Joe Johnson added 18 points and helped Brooklyn maintain its lead for the entire fourth quarter.

Prior to tonight's game, Hawks' head coach Larry Drew praised Johnson as a great addition to his new team.

"Brooklyn is a talented team. Joe is starting to find his rhythm."

A (Joe) rhythm that Drew still lacks on his team.

"When Joe left, it was tough. We had 9-10 new faces and we had to make them look familiar."

Familiarity was not in Atlanta's favor tonight, hitting only 5 of 22 from the field in the final quarter. Jeff Teague finished with a double-double, 21 points, and 10 assists.

Brooklyn is now 16-7 at home, with an overall record of 24-16. Under Carlesimo, the team has won 10 games.

The Nets play the Knicks on Monday, their third matchup this season.

Miami Heat ends Lin-sanity and shows the New York Knicks who's "bigger, stronger, meaner and faster"

About 400 miles from where the NBA is setting up for the second biggest league event (the NBA Finals is the first), the New York Knicks were in Miami facing the Heat who were on a 7 game winning streak. The New York Knicks felt good about themselves coming into the game after demolishing the Atlanta Hawks the night before at Madison Square Garden. They were hoping that momentum would carry over and the combination of Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony in the offense would improve. The Heat had other thoughts as they came out in the immortal words of rapper Kanye West, "bigger, stronger, meaner and faster. In their 102-88 win over the Knicks, the Miami Heat 4 players score in double figures led by Chris Bosh with 25 points. It's what they did on the defensive end that suffocated the Knicks and in particular phenom Lin who was warned before the game that Miami would throw every defensive scheme his way every time he touched the ball.

Miami came out like a "pack of wild dogs" the term used by legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants when he wanted to get his team fired up. The Knicks did not wilt from the first wave of the Heat's pressure. In fact, the Knicks only trailed by 4 points (24-20) after the first period despite Lin's 3 turnovers. Things would only get worse for Lin as he finished the night missing 10 of 11 shots and turning the ball over 8 times.

The third period is when it all began to unravel for New York. They began the period down by 4 points again (51-47) when the Heat took total control. After Lin and Anthony converted 4 straight free throws to get within 2 (53-51) Miami responded by scoring the next 6 points. Before you could say Lin-Sanity, the Heat then outscored New York 27-15 the rest of the way to take a 14 point (80-66) lead. The Heat defense only allowed the Knicks 19 points. Miami then put the game on cruise control as the Knicks could only get within 9 points (82-73) with a little over 9 minutes left in the game.

The bench play that was supposed be a big part of the Knicks since they got Baron Davis back from injury, and the signing of J.R. Smith, was a non-factor in the game. Although Smith did contribute 14 points Davis struggled mightily. He missed all 7 shot attempts finishing the game with zero points. Steve Novak continued his hot shooting nailing 4 of 5 three-pointers for 12 points. Anthony led all Knicks scorers with 19 points.

It wasn't the way the Knicks wanted to end the first half of the year, losing to a team that is expected to not only get to the NBA Finals but to win it all. For one night Lin was brought back to earth by a team who was hell-bent on not letting the Lin-Sanity continue. Said Heat's head coach Erik Spoelstra, "we wanted to treat him (Lin) with the adequate respect he deserves."

NBA All-Star weekend takes center stage tonight as the Celebrity All-Star game and Rising Stars Challenge takes place at the Amway Center. Jeremy Lin has been chosen to be on the team that will be coached by Shaquille O' Neal.

For the New York Knicks at 3-4, defeating the Atlanta Hawks tonight 95-91, seven games in and 75 more games left to complete their 82-game campaign, their world is already crumbling before they can experience enough time to be wholesome. Those to blame for their less than impressive start to their season include the cheerleaders, the president, and general manager, the hot dog vendors, as well as, the vending machines.

The blame game has already begun as well as the finger-pointing. One would assume that there would be a level of confidence attached to the New York Knicks label based on the season they enjoyed not too long ago capturing the Atlantic Division Crown, and winning 54 games in the process. To the naked eye, this team hardly resembles the team that accomplished those achievements last year due to the numerous roster changes in personnel but what’s most alarming about their start is their current mindset. Last year's Knicks team, although it struggled to play defense throughout the year, a re-occurring theme for the past decade, played with a certain level of intensity, focusing on competing against all challengers no matter the match-up and the strain. Last year’s Knicks team entered the season with expectations that they placed upon themselves of what they envisioned for themselves, revolving around the prime objective of winning an NBA championship, and with wins against the Spurs (which made me feel for the first time in a decade that the Knicks had arrived), three victories against the Miami Heat, as well as, winning a game on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder, fans, the public as well as myself believed that a championship was actually within reach. Sadly, thus far, I have not seen that same aura that surrounded the Knicks last year.

When you hear starting point guard Raymond Felton state that "I've got to play harder," team owner James Dolan requesting must-wins against the likes of the Atlanta Hawks, and star forward Carmelo Anthony having to validate the coaching of head coach Mike Woodson to the media, there is obviously a problem.

Tonight's win should grant the Knicks some breathing room until they face the Houston Rockets tomorrow night at home in an early season test against a Western conference contender. The result should indicate the direction of where this season’s destination will be.

The loss of center Tyson Chandler, out 4-6 weeks suffering a non-displaced fracture of his right fibula courtesy of a penetration dribble by Charlotte Bobcats guard Kemba Walker last week, will definitely impact the Knicks defense around the basket. The black cat has not left MSG as yet. This latest loss to their frontline makes their inside presence as soft as gummy bears relying on center Andrea Bargnani to be the last line, the enforcer. This loss to their front-court has prompted management to inquire about the services of Forward Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets a rebounding demon for G Iman Shumpert, in my opinion, an absolute mistake not because of what Faried can provide but because of what Shumpert can become, and that's one of the best two-way shooting guards in the league.

All in all, I believe it is too early to panic regarding the Knicks current state due to the infant stages of this 2013-2014 NBA season. Mike Woodson is still trying to find the correct ingredients in assembling the first and second unit. J.R. Smith has just returned furthermore planning to remind us all who the reigning 2012-2013 Sixth Man of The Year is. Bargnani is not comfortable yet, although recording a double-double in tonight's affair with 20 points and 11 rebounds seem as though he’s getting his feet wet, enjoying his new role and responsibilities and at the end of the day Melo is still on the roster right? Let them play.

As for Thursday's nationally televised wine and dine between the Knicks and the Rockets, I expect a shootout, if the Knicks are willing to respond because I know the Rockets will. James Harden is only scratching the surface of becoming the best shooting guard in the league behind Lakers G Kobe Bryant and Heat G Dwyane Wade. Every player in the NBA salivates at the opportunity to lace them up against their former employers and look for G Jeremy Lin to expose the Knicks as well as Felton. I do not know who on this roster is capable of defending Rockets C Dwight Howard but it will be fun to observe the Knicks and the schemes they will entertain and execute against arguably the best big man in the NBA. The only way the Knicks will be successful this season is if they replicate the production they relished last season and that is scoring more than the other team, a feat that Anthony has to spearhead being the Numero Uno. We'll see how much the Rockets fare under the Broadway lights as well as the North Pole conditions that we love so much as natives.

Nets Win Despite Injured Deron Williams

The Brooklyn Nets are still undefeated for 2014, after beating the Atlanta Hawks, 91-86 at the Barclays Center Monday night.

The Nets were without injured Deron Williams, but he wasn't missed as newbie Alan Anderson started in his place and finished with 23 points.

"We're undefeated this year," Anderson said after the game. "So as long as we just keep that rolling, man, we know we've got a couple of tough games ahead of us, but like I said, take it one game at a time, one practice at a time, and keep building."

Mirza Teletovic also had a big game, clutching four-three pointers which helped the Nets extend the lead over the Hawks at a point. He finished with 12 points.

The win for the Nets, who hold a 13-21 record, are now one game behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, but they have to look to the hills with tough upcoming games against the Golden State Warriors and the Miami Heat. They beat Miami at home back on November 1, which was the season opener.

"I've never been on a team or seen a team that has gone through what we've gone through with injuries — from the summer to today's date," Nets head coach Jason Kidd said, who decided not to wear a tie for Monday's matchup. "We're going to have our hands full, but we've got to come with the same effort that we've had since the New Year started."

Meanwhile, Williams' ankle injury is never a good sign for the Nets. Williams has struggled since the start of the season after he sprained his right ankle and suffered a bone bruise during the offseason. His ankle swelled up Sunday night after practice and underwent an MRI in the morning. Because of Williams' injury, the Nets were forced to recall Tyshawn Taylor from the D-League. He left Springfield early Monday afternoon and arrived shortly before the game. However, Taylor did not play.

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