May 22, 2019

In the loss, Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis, lead the Brooklyn Nets in scoring against their old team, the Portland Trail Blazers

Last night, fresh from the excitement of the NBA All-Star extravaganza, which saw four Brooklyn Nets players participating in different activities and Nets forward Joe Harris beating out Stephen Curry to win the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest, the Brooklyn Nets sputtered in its first game after the NBA All-Star break losing to the Portland Trail Blazers 113-99. With the loss, the Nets have a 30-30 overall win-loss record and 17-14 at the Barclays Center. They are also still in the sixth position in the NBA Eastern Conference playoff berth standings right behind the Boston Celtics. On the contrary, the Portland Trail Blazers improved to 35-23 overall and 11-15 on the road with the win.

Like the Nets’ game against the Chicago Bulls, Portland’s starting five out-sized the Nets starters with the Trail Blazers’ center and forward being 7’0” and both forwards 6’9” while the Nets players in those positions are 6’11” (center) and 6’7” and 6’5” for the forwards. Also, Portland’s players in those positions have more experienced with 6, 8, and 4-years’ NBA experience versus no more than two years of experience (2, 2, and 1) for Nets players in similar positions. This not to excuse the Nets loss, but to put into context things that can contribute to the ups and downs in the NBA and sports in general.

When Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was asked about the biggest difference between the two teams, he responded, “I think rebounding, I think physicality. I think they were the more physical team. I see 19 offensive rebounds. We couldn’t corral. I think we did a decent job on (Damian) Lillard and (CJ) McCollum, just a tough time rebounding tonight. I said pregame that’s one of the things we’re focused on, so I’m disappointed there was no carryover from the emphasis at the All-Star break. So, credit to Portland – I thought overall, they were the more energetic, more physical team, and deserved to win.”

Atkinson also added what he would like to clean up regarding the Nets’ rhythm and flow: “We didn’t have great rhythm tonight, didn’t play well. I think that’s across the board – didn’t coach well, didn’t play well. It’s just one of those games where Portland was simply the better team. There’s just no way around it. I thought in all facets they played really well.”

All of the Portland Trail Blazers starting five scored in double digits. Jusuf Nurkic, the team’s center achieved 27 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocked shots; CJ McCollum recorded 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two blocked shots; both Maurice Harkless and Damian Lillard each scored 13 points and eight rebounds, while Lillard added 8 assists to his total and Harkless added four assists; Al-Farouq Aminu contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds, and; Enes Kanter, who recently landed in Portland via a transaction with the New York Knicks, came off the bench and registered 18points and nine rebounds to help his team get the “W”.

“Good to get a road win, good to get that first win after the break,” Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said about his team’s victory against the Brooklyn Nets. “Brooklyn played a lot of zone. We didn’t have a lot of offense in with Enes Kanter, so it was just kind of playing free basketball. I thought we did a good job with pick-and-rolls when we had it. Obviously, our two big guys dominated inside. That was an important part of our offense.”

“Yeah, that’s my game,” Kanter said not shying away from his style of basketball. “Just go out there, I play hard and bring energy, rebounds – the inside game. I think it’s just the important thing to go out there and get a win.”

Allen Crabbe, a former member of the Portland Trail Blazers and in his second season with the Nets, summed up his thoughts on where the Trail Blazers hurt the Nets most: “Offensive rebounds. They got a lot of second-chance points, they got a lot of offensive rebounds. It’s hard to beat a team when you give up that many offensive rebounds and they get that many looks, second chance aside, so you’ve just got to give them credit. They outworked us tonight. We’ve just got to get back to the drawing board and figure it out.”

Crabbe understands there is no time to dwell on this loss and what to do next is not rocket science. Everyone understands what needs to be done to be ready for the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

“I think just practice really, just keep going back, watching film, looking at things we can correct, things we can sharpen up a little bit,” Crabbe added. “Like you said, finally getting back to a full, healthy roster, so just that rhythm of playing with the regular lineups we had at the beginning of the season. I think in due time it will come, so we’re not worried about it. We know we have a lot of guys capable of doing good stuff for us each and every night, so I think it will click for us eventually.”

Oddly enough, the players that led the Nets in scoring last night were former players from the Portland Trail Blazers, Crabbe and Ed Davis and they both came off the bench. Crabbe scored 17 points and four rebounds, while Davis scored a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets first unit with 14 points, eight assists, and four rebounds; Joe Harris scored 13 points and four rebounds, both Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen each scored 12 points, while Allen added 11 rebounds to his total.

Some have called this loss to Portland a wake-up call for the Brooklyn Nets.

Davis begs to differ: “It’s not really a wake-up call, I mean we’re woke. They’re a good team – they were the third seed (in the NBA Western Conference) coming in here. They played well, they(are) coached well and they just beat us. That’s the NBA. Like you said, you gotta move on and get ready for the next game.”

After playing the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, February 23rd, the Nets return home to take on the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, February 25, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Nets start off strong against Trail Blazers, but could not close the circle down the stretch, as Lillard and Nurkic lift Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter

High hopes.

Oftentimes, we see potential in an individual or a group and we do our best to be supportive to see them through. Today, the Friday after Thanksgiving at the Barclays Center, Nets fans filed into the arena to support the home team’s efforts against the Portland Trail Blazers. This was the second and final meeting of these two teams this season. Brooklyn defeated Portland 101-97 at their first meeting of the season exactly two weeks ago. So the stage was set, firstly both teams wanted a “W” just for the sake of winning because that’s the reason why you play the game in the first place. Next, layer that with the fact that for deeper statistical reasons, Brooklyn also wanted a win for a 2-0 series against Portland and the Trail Blazers also wanted a win to even the series.

The Nets started off strong, but in the closing minutes just couldn’t close the deal. Former Trail Blazers' guard Allen Crabbe hit a floater, which put the Nets up 121-115. But then the next eight points belonged to Portland, moving up to 123-121. Spencer Dinwiddie then evened the score at 123 points with a put-back layup after missing his own 15-foot pull-up shot, that was a sight to behold. Next, DeMarre Carroll blocked a Jusuf Nurkic shot, and Nurkic snatched the rebound away from Caris LeVert and finished with a foul for a three-point play that put the Blazers up 126-123. Dinwiddie got a bucket which brought the Nets within 126-125, but Portland got a free throw from CJ McCollum, and Dinwiddie’s 3-pointer rimmed out on the following possession and the game ended 127-125.

This was a tough loss for the Nets and Nets’ fans; the crowd left the arena near silence.

“Disappointing,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “You know, games come down to the end like that and go either way. I thought they made the big plays and we shot ourselves in the foot a few times. Turnovers, a couple turnovers there at the end, but good experience for our guys to go against a really good team like that. Good experience for our young guys Jarrett (Allen) and Caris (LeVert), getting their feet wet. We’ll learn from it. Tough loss, really tough loss.”

Dinwiddie had ideas about what could have been done differently down the stretch.

“I think we had a couple of turnovers, a couple of missed shots,” Dinwiddie explained. “Probably we should have gotten to the line and that probably would have helped us out. Free throws are what, the best shots in the game probably? So that probably would have helped us.”

“I think that’s the hardest thing to do in the NBA, you know, is to close games,” Atkinson added. “We saw it the other night in Cleveland, play really well for three quarters. There are great players on these other teams that are determined not to let you win and I think that was a little bit the case tonight. They really relied on their experience, but it’s also a positive experience for us. We can look at this, we can say “how can we close out games, what can we do better, how can we execute better, what can we do defensively differently to close out games?” So that’s on all of us, the coaching staff too, not just the players. So that’s a good point, closing games is a next step for us.”

All five of Brooklyn’s starters scored in double figures today, doing so in the same game for the first time this season. Dinwiddie led the Nets with 23 points and six assists, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 17 points, Crabbe had 12 points, Carroll and Tyler Zeller each had 10 points and Carroll had nine rebounds, and the Nets bench added 53 points.

For Portland, Damian Lillard scored 34 points and nine assists, Nurkic added 29 points and 15 rebounds, and McCollum chipped in 26 points and five assists.

The Brooklyn Nets will meet up with the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, the first of three games on the road and will be back home at the Barclays Center to play the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, December 2, 2017, at 3:00 p.m.

Portland’s McCollum, Lillard, and Turner lift team over Nets; Brook Lopez leads Nets in scoring despite loss

The Portland Trail Blazers came into the Barclays Center to play the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon. Both teams were hoping to turn around a three-game losing streak. The Nets lost their third straight game to the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 124-105 loss on the road on Friday. Unfortunately for the Nets, the Blazers came out ahead extending Brooklyn’s skid to four; the score: Portland 129; Brooklyn 109.

The Nets kept the game competitive for the first half; they were only down by three at the end of the first quarter (32-29) and down by just six at the end of the first half (70-64). However, the third quarter is becoming an abyss for the Nets.

"I think one of the things that is difficult for us is the third quarters," Nets center Brook Lopez said. "I think there are usually games where we've come out and teams have made a run and come out and hit first. It is tough to come back from that playing behind the rest of the night."

"I just think we come out flat,” Lopez added. “I think it's on us 100 percent. I mean, I don't think you can look at the other teams. We've had a variety of different guys, and they play differently. I think that one is on us for sure."

C.J. McCollum took over in the third quarter setting the Trail Blazers up for the win. McCollum scored 33 points, Evan Turner had 19 points, and Damian Lillard posted 18 points and five assists.

Brook Lopez led the Nets with 21 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Trevor Booker scored 16 points, Bojan Bogdanovic posted 15 points; and Isaiah Whitehead and Justin Hamilton chipped in 11 points each.

Hats off to Whitehead, he’s been filling in for Jeremy Lin and it’s been baptism by fire for the rookie player. Whitehead, who is looking to be a better player, didn’t hesitate to ask his idol Damian Lillard for a few pointers.

“While we were shooting free throws or they were shooting free throws, I was asking him questions,” Whitehead told reporters in the locker room after the game. “He’s either going to answer them or he’s not. He was great enough to answer them. I asked him how he got so quick and how do you read ball screens. I’m trying to learn as much as possible. I just went for it.”

Good for you, Isaiah Whitehead; and big ups to Lillard!

So when is Lin scheduled to return, inquiring minds want to know?

"Jeremy is progressing well," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I can't give you a timetable or an update in terms of a specific day he's back. I just think he's progressing on schedule."

 

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