February 21, 2019

D’Angelo Russell leads all scorers with 31 points and is the NBA’s reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week

The Brooklyn Nets’ comeback is making noise!

Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, the Brooklyn Nets smoothly defeated the Sacramento Kings 123-94. Okay, so what’s all the hubbub about you ask? The Nets are now 17-5 since December 7th, which matches their best 22-game stretch in the Brooklyn era. The last time the Nets had a 22-game stretch this good was way back in the 2013-14 season. Still not convinced, the Nets are 8-2 this month, tied with Toronto for the second-best record in the East in January, trailing only Milwaukee (9-2). Oh, yeah, and if that isn’t enough, the Nets have now won six straight games against Western Conference opponents, including James Harden and his crew, the Houston Rockets, marking their longest winning streak against West teams within a season since the 2005-06 campaign when they won eight straight.

Now, last night’s game wasn’t a total walk in the park, the Kings had a 60-55 lead at the end of the first half, but the Nets turned up the heat in the third quarter outscoring the Kings 38-25, ending the third 93-85. In the fourth stanza, the Kings should have called the fire department to help because the Nets smoked them 30-9, which brings us back to the final score of 123-94.

The way the Brooklyn Nets turned up the heat on the Sacramento Kings in the second-half made Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson extremely proud and he pinpointed the x-factor that made all the difference.

“I think more our defense,” Atkinson told reporters. “We obviously made some shots, but I thought our defense was excellent. I thought TG’s (Treveon Graham) job on Buddy Hield was fantastic. I don’t think he scored in the second half. He was a real concern for us but great job on him and great defensive performance.”

Atkinson was right, Hield was held to zero points on 7:04 minutes of play in the third and zero in 4:39 minutes of play in the fourth. At the game’s conclusion, Hield only scored 11 points and 7 rebounds.

But defense is a general term and Atkinson has been preaching defense since day one, and he elaborated to be more specific.

“It was transition defense,” Atkinson added. “I thought they annihilated us in the first half with their transition buckets. We couldn’t get matched up. They were coming at you so fast, even off dead balls, makes. This is one of the most impressive transition offense teams I’ve seen. They’re fast and we had real trouble with it. We showed some clips, we talked about it. We said run back, it doesn’t matter your matchup, just pick up anybody. It’s a little bit like a pick-up game. You have to find somebody, you have to play them, and the guys did a much better job in the second of at least limiting their transitions.”

The only other Sacramento starter to score in double-digits was Willie Cauley-Stein with 12 points and six rebounds, which was not much more than Hield. If you’re wondering about De’Aaron Fox, he had an off-day, as he only scored nine points, six assists, and three rebounds. Consequently, Brooklyn’s starting backcourt of Russell and Joe Harris outscored Sacramento’s starting backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, 50-20. But more on Russell and Harris later.

The Kings’ bench did help. Bogdan Bogdanovic, who only has one year under his belt in the NBA, led the Kings in scoring with 22 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and two steals. Justin Jackson, who also has just one year with the NBA, added 14 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one blocked shot.

Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger made a calculated decision to put Jackson in as a starter in the second-half.

“Yea, I thought (Rodions) Kurucs really hurt us and it was our first time seeing him,” Joerger explained. “But it was layup, layup, layup first half and then we switched the matchup in the second half and Justin (Jackson) – we did some other things and he’s a nice player. That was a very good pick up.”

And, Jackson saw his start for the Kings in the second half as a vote of confidence by Coach Joerger.

“Yeah, any basketball player would tell you it feels good whenever guys around you have confidence in you,” Jackson told the assembled media. “For him to feel confident enough to put me out there on the floor for one helps a lot, and for him to put me in different types of situations is definitely big because then I know I can just go out there and play because he has the confidence in me for me to go out there and do what I can do.”

D'Angelo Russell, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, led all scorers with 31 points, eight assists, four rebounds, 1 steal and one blocked shot.

When the Los Angeles Lakers dealt Russell to the Brooklyn Nets along with Timofey Mozgov in 2017, there were some media skeptics. However, Nets general manager Sean Marks and coach Atkinson saw Russell as an asset.

“Those pull-up threes are something,” Atkinson said about Russell’s performance last night and as of late. “Those are (James) Harden-esque. They switch and he gets in a couple moves, couple dribbles, and punishes the switch with the pull-up three. And then I thought, later, he mixed in the drive against the switches. So, to me, that was a growth area for him, handling switches better. But if he keeps making that pull-up three, it’s going to be tough to keep him in front. Impressive, impressive shots he hit tonight.”

Joe Harris, a Nets starting forward, tallied 19 points and seven boards, shooting 3-of-4 from distance and 8-of-14 overall. Rodions Kurucs, an NBA rookie, also started for the Nets and registered 16 points.

Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets second-unit with 11 points, six assists, and three rebounds, and; Shabazz Napier chipped in 10 points off the bench. Ed Davis led the Nets rebounding charge with 16 rebounds, and; starting center, Jarrett Allen, another player with just one-year NBA experience, posted 12 rebounds.

Up next, the Sacramento Kings will travel to Toronto to play the Toronto Raptors tonight, and the Nets will play the Orlando Magic tomorrow, Wednesday, January 23, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m.

 

Stephen Curry wins the NBA MVP Award for the second consecutive year; is Sam Bradford delusional; Frank Vogel still looking for an opportunity to coach

In this episode of What's The 411Sports, Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking about:

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry wins the NBA MVP Award for the second consecutive year and the first player to win with a unanimous vote
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr wins NBA Coach of the Year award
The Indiana Pacers decided not to renew head coach Frank Vogel's contract
The Memphis Grizzlies fire Dave Joerger and the Sacramento Kings hires Joerger and pays him more money
The Houston Rockets are still searching for a head coach
The NFL issues a warning about eating meat in foreign countries
Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton gets the Los Angeles Lakers head coach position
Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott says he was blindsided by the Lakers’ firing
Miami Heat center Chris Bosh won’t be with the Miami Heat during its playoff run, as Bosh is out for the season because of continuing issues with blood clots
Caitlin Jenner will pose nude for the cover of Sports Illustrated

Additional in-depth conversations focus on: Cardale Jones, Eli Apple, Sam Bradford, Laremy Tunsil, the Penn State scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, and Joe Paterno.

The NY Sports Report focuses on the Brooklyn Nets introduction of its new head coach Kenny Atkinson, which should be imminent since the Atlanta Hawks’ playoff run has come to an end and ending Atkinson's assistant coaching duties.

The New York Knicks is still leaving fans and the media in the dark regarding its head coach for next season. It’s been rumored that former Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel or his agent may have spoken with Steve Mills, executive vice president and general manager of the New York Knicks, and not Knicks president, Phil Jackson. This rumor has left many Knicks fans to worry that Jackson is going to keep Kurt Rambis as the Knicks head coach.

 

 

Joe Johnson Snaps his personal streak of 937 games with at least one field goal

Last night the Memphis Grizzlies came to Brooklyn to play the Brooklyn Nets and it was the Grizzlies’ first game without Marc Gasol, who broke his right foot earlier in the day.

In a pre-game interview, Brooklyn Nets interim head coach Tony Brown spoke about the Nets’ chances against the Grizzlies with Marc Gasol being out of the Grizzlies’ lineup.

“Not having him around obviously helps us a little bit, but then it’s not the end all,” Coach Brown stated.

VIDEO: Watch Brooklyn Nets interim head coach Tony Brown talk about the Brooklyn Nets chances against the Memphis Grizzlies

On the other side of the ledger, Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger was a little concerned about not having Gasol, but wanted to focus on the game with the Nets and would wait until the NBA All-Star break to emerge with a plan to go forward without Gasol.

Regarding the Brooklyn Nets’ chances for a win, Joerger said, “It’s going to be a close game.”

VIDEO: Watch Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger explain the Memphis Grizzlies outlook without Marc Gasol

Coach Joerger’s pre-game interview was followed up by Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley.

Conley said regarding Gasol’s absence, “This team is resilient, we’ve been through a lot of diversity over the years, this is another hurdle, another obstacle to play without our leader, one of the best players on our team, we’re still confident.”

VIDEO: Watch Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley express the team's predicament without Marc Gasol

Okay so, no Marc Gasol. One would think the Nets would have been emboldened by their buzzer-beating win against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night. One would also think that the Nets would have used the opportunity to extend their home-court winning streak to three games. If you are an optimistic soul and said yes, you would be wrong.

The first half looked like it might be a game; the Nets led by five at the end of the first quarter, and only trailed by five at the half. But, in the second half, the Grizzlies sharpened their teeth and mauled the Nets like no tomorrow, ending the third quarter 89-63, and of course, the game at 109-90.

Nets double-digit leaders were: Brook Lopez who finished with 20 points, Wayne Ellington added 18, Bojan Bogdanovic dropped in 11 and Thaddeus Young chipped in 10, as did Markel Brown.

For the Grizzlies, they had seven players score in double digits. Conley finished with 20 points. Interestingly, the next highest scorer for the Grizzlies, Jeff Green contributed 18 points off the bench.

Now, the Nets have lost other games by 20 points or more this season, but this one was different. The Nets’ win against Sacramento and Denver were boosters, and even though Memphis is bound for the NBA playoffs, the Nets had a built-in advantage, no Gasol.

But real the real question on everybody’s mind was how could Joe Johnson end the game with a big fat zero points scored? Prior to last night’s game, Johnson played 937 games with at least one field goal. This was the longest active streak in the NBA. So how did he end up with zero?

“He’s a great pro, man; obviously, it wasn’t his best night,” Coach Brown said about Joe Johnson’s missed field goals. “We were trying to do some things to start the third quarter…..He had some opportunities, but he came up short.”

VIDEO Watch Brooklyn Nets interim head coach Tony Brown explain how Joe Johnson missed scoring a field goal for the first time in 937 games

Thank God for the NBA All-Star break! Also, thank God that the Nets practice facility will now be in Brooklyn starting on Wednesday, February 17, perhaps being closer to the Barclays Center will be helpful to the guys in black and white.

The day after, February 18 at 3:00 p.m., is the NBA trade deadline. Given the team’s performance this season, will the Brooklyn Nets join the shuffle? Only time will tell.

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