January 24, 2020

Nets slow to react to the Hornets zone defense in second-half, allow Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham to score 27 points in the second stanza, and 40 overall

The Brooklyn Nets fell to 13-11 with their loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night, while the Hornets improved to 11-16 on the season with their victory.

How the Brooklyn Nets Lost by the Numbers

The Nets outrebounded the Hornets 52-47 on Wednesday night, including a 17-15 edge on the offensive glass. Brooklyn’s 17 offensive rebounds marked their third-most offensive boards in a game this season. Brooklyn also edged Charlotte 52-36 (+16) in points in the paint.

At 7:44 in the second quarter, Brooklyn led by 20 points, with a score of 52-32.

But, Charlotte Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham said, not so fast. Graham, who just started his second year in the NBA, torched the Nets with his 27-point burst of scoring in the second half, and 40 points overall along with five rebounds and five assists.

So, what was the difference for Graham on Wednesday night?

“Just knocking down shots,” Devonte’ Graham responded. “Getting to the free-throw line. I think as a team, collectively, we were locked in knowing that we were under-manned and a couple (of) guys were out and everybody just had to step up and bring energy. In the second half, I felt we played a lot tougher and a lot more physical.”

Coach Speak: James Borrego on DeVonte' Graham and his Team

Can the Hornets resiliency be attributed to Devonte’ Graham?

“I think resiliency manifests itself in different ways, and I think you could be led by your top guy or one of your top guys for sure,” replied Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego. “I think in general this group has been resilient one through 15. They keep battling. We’ve been down throughout the season and we just keep fighting, keep clawing. We find a rhythm and a rotation out there that works, and we did tonight (Wednesday night). But you gotta give Devonte’ (Graham) a big piece of that. What he’s doing right now is special, and he deserves a lot of credit.”

Coach Speak: Kenny Atkinson on Why the Brooklyn Nets Just Didn’t Have it?

“For some reason, we just weren’t in sync tonight (Wednesday),” explained Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “We were just talking about it. It’s hard to figure out. We had two days in between, it wasn’t that we had been playing every other day, we had two days in between. I thought we were going to be a little fresher—physically a little better. But like I said, we got lulled into thinking it was going to be an easy game, psychologically, and it’s just not that way in the NBA. They have too many shooters, too many scorers. But they completely deserved the game. I thought they outplayed us. It’s hard to argue anything else.”

So, did the Nets’ players think it was going to be an easy night, which affected the team’s energy?

“I think so,” said Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen. “In the NBA, if you get a team twice like we did, you think it’s gonna be an easy night. At the end of the day, it’s the NBA and every team comes out to play to win.”

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie sees it a bit differently. He thinks the team may not have been ready for the Hornets switch to a zone defense in the second half.

“We definitely got stagnant after they went to (a) zone which is pretty surprising with the caliber of shooters that we have on the team,” explained Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. “We just have to make quicker decisions as a unit to get those guys shots. When you have guys like Joe (Harris), (Garrett Temple), and Taurean Prince on the floor, we’ve got to get those guys shots. They’re phenomenal shooters. Nobody should be able to zone us, especially in our own house. We should be able to shoot them out of the thing. We just have to do a better job collectively.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Spencer Dinwiddie scored a team-high 24 points (including 17 second-half points) with five rebounds and six assists in 33 minutes. Jarrett Allen posted 21 points and 10 rebounds, extending his career-best streak of games with at least 10 rebounds to nine consecutive games last night against Charlotte; Theo Pinson tallied a season-high 12 points (5-of-9 FG, 2-of-4 3FG) with three rebounds, and his first-career block in 15 minutes off the bench, and; Garrett Temple chipped in 11 points and four assists in 32 minutes.

DeAndre Jordan wasn’t a point-scoring leader, but he pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds with nine points in 22 minutes off the bench. Jordan has posted 11 games of double-digit rebounds for Brooklyn this season.

Charlotte Hornets Scoring Leaders

In addition to Devonte Graham’s 40-point night, Miles Bridges added 14 points and four rebounds; P.J. Washington and Terry Rozier each contributed 13 points, Washington funded six rebounds, while Rozier added seven rebounds and four assists to his point score; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist supplied 11 points and seven rebounds, off the bench, and; Cody Zeller chipped in 10 points and six rebounds, also off the bench.

What’s Next for the Charlotte Hornets and the Brooklyn Nets?

Up next for the Charlotte Hornets are the Chicago Bulls in Chicago on Friday, December 13, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The Brooklyn Nets will travel to Toronto to play the Raptors on Saturday, December 14, at 7:30 p.m. ET, and then turnaround and head home to play the Philadelphia 76ers at the Barclays Center the very next day on Sunday, December 15, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.

After the Nets’ loss to the Charlotte Hornets, will the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers have the Nets’ full attention?

“Yes, it’s a wakeup call,” responded Jarrett Allen. “After we lose a game like this, credit to them still, but once we lose a game like this, we’re going to have to prepare extra hard for the next game. We’ll look at our mistakes and improve on them.”

 

TIP-IN:

Joe Harris hit his 485th 3-pointer as a Net tonight, moving him into a tie with Deron Williams for fifth place in franchise history. Harris also recorded nine points, six rebounds, and two assists in 29 minutes against the Charlotte Hornets.

 

Spencer Dinwiddie hits the go-ahead layup and Taurean Prince hits two closing-seconds free throws to seal a 105-102 win over the Nuggets

It came down to the wire, but the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets 105-102. The Nets improved to 13-10 with the victory over Denver. Still, with no Kyrie Irving, the Nets have won three straight, eight of 10 and nine of its last 12 games.

Coach Speak: Kenny Atkinson on Brooklyn Nets Defense

“Big stops at the end,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about his team’s defense. “Big stops. I thought our rebounding – they really hurt us the first game (in November) with their offensive rebounding. So not only the stops, but getting those rebounds, especially at the end of the game. I thought Taurean (Prince) was a big part of that. When he gets 11 or 12 rebounds, whatever he got tonight, that really helps us. But we are improving defensively. Offense wasn’t great. When you win a game where we make seven 3’s, that’s good news. I will defend our offense a little. We got to the rim a ton. We really attacked the rim well tonight.”

How the Brooklyn Nets won by the Numbers

The Nets recorded a commanding 66-22 (+44) advantage in points in the paint. The 22 points in the paint were the fewest in a game for a Nets opponent this season.

The Nets registered a 48-36 (+12) edge on the glass, including a 10-6 edge on the offensive boards.

The Nets shot 7-of-28 from distance. The seven 3-pointers marked the second-fewest for the Nets in a victory since Kenny Atkinson became the team’s head coach (2016-17).

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Scoring 20+ points in 10 of his last 12 games (all starts), Brooklyn Nets guard, Spencer Dinwiddie, notched team-highs for points (24) and assists (eight) in a team-high 34 minutes. Joe Harris tallied 13 points, four boards, and three assists in 31 minutes;
Jarrett Allen recorded his team-high 12th double-double of the season with 19 points and a team-high-tying 11 rebounds in 30 minutes while extending his career-best streak of games with at least 10 rebounds to eight, and; Garrett Temple contributed 15 points (10 in the first quarter), six boards, and three assists in 34 minutes. Temple has scored in double figures in eight of his last 12 games after doing so three times in his first 11 games this season.

Taurean Prince didn’t score in double digits scoring only nine points, but he sank two clutch free throws to extend Brooklyn’s lead from 103-102 to 105-102. Prince also registered a team-high-tying 11 rebounds along with Jarrett Allen. This is Prince’s fifth double-digit rebound game of the season.

Is this a statement win for the Brooklyn Nets, defeating a top-four team in the Western Conference? At least one player would agree that it was.

“I think it is, they are a great offensive team, even on defense,” responded Nets center Jarrett Allen. “We still have to come out and play hard, so I think this is a good step in the right direction.”

Postgame, Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone was trying to process what occurred for Brooklyn to get 66 points in the paint compared to the Nuggets 22 points.

Coach Speak: Mike Malone on Denver Nuggets

“They drove the ball and they got by our guys,” lamented Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone. “Same thing that happened in the Boston game. One-on-one containment. Some of it was pick-and-roll. We adjusted our coverage because of their 3-point shooting. That allowed their guards to get downhill and we had little presence at the rim. Like I said, it just seemed like all night long it was easy layup after easy layup. That makes it really hard. We had a chance even in light of that. Tough loss.”

Denver Nuggets Scoring Leaders

Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Jamal Murray scored 21 points, five assists, and three rebounds, and; Jerami Grant chipped in 15 points.

What's Next for the Denver Nuggets and the Brooklyn Nets?

The Nuggets will play the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth and final game of their road trip at Philadelphia, tomorrow, Tuesday, December 10, 2019, at 8:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will be at home at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, to host the Charlotte Hornets at 7:30 p.m.

 

TIP-INS:

Brooklyn Nets forward, Joe Harris, has now knocked down 484 threes as a Net, just one 3-pointer shy of moving into a tie with Deron Williams (485 3-pointers) for fifth on the Nets’ all-time 3-pointers made list.

Jarrett Allen has posted nine double-doubles in his last 11 games, including seven in his last eight contests.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

On The Way To NBA Playoffs, Nets Take Advantage of 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers were clearly the surprise team in the eastern conference in a strike-shortened season last year under third-year head coach Doug Collins. They stunned the heavily favored Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs after Derrick Rose tore up his knee in Game 1. Then they pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games before succumbing in a very physical series. So there was plenty of optimism coming into this year especially after they traded for center Andrew Bynum. Unfortunately for Bynum and the team, he never played a minute because of knee surgery. Philadelphia is basically playing out the string 14 games under .500 (31-45) when they came to Brooklyn to face the playoff-bound Nets.

The Nets took advantage of an undersized Philly team as Brook Lopez (19) and Reggie Evans (14) first-half points helped establish a 19-point (56-37) first half lead. As a team, the Nets also dominated the boards outrebounding the 76ers by 20 (36-16). Defensively, Brooklyn limited Philadelphia to a meager 34% on 14 of 41 shooting. The Nets shot 49% themselves turning the ball over only 4 times. Shooting guard Joe Johnson playing in his second consecutive game after missing the previous 5, connected on 4 of 7 shots (8 points) still a little confused as to why he was passed over as an offensive option in the last two possessions in the loss to Chicago last Thursday. His backcourt mate Deron Williams was held scoreless for the first time this season attempting only 2 shots.

Philadelphia was down 1 point (16-15) after a Jrue Holiday 3-pointer when Brooklyn outscored them 15-3 the rest of the quarter for a 13 point lead (31-18). Lopez and Evans combining for 25 of the 31 points. The 76ers managed to get back in the game trimming the lead to 5 (38-33) after a Nick Young short jumper. Again, the Nets went on a scoring tear finishing the half on an 18 to 5 run extending the lead to 18 (56-38).

Things would only get worse for the 76ers in the second half as the Nets continued to dominate on both ends of the floor. The rebounding number was an astounding 67 to 34 (24-8 offensive) in favor of Brooklyn with Evans corralling in 24 all by himself.

Said Evans afterward on what the team wanted to do to Philly, "We wanted to hit (the 76ers) upside the head."

It was blunt force trauma in the 104-83 win.

Five Nets finished with double-figure points as Lopez finished with 29. Nick Young came off the bench for Philly to score 18 points in a season that can't end fast enough for them.

Even with the win, Brooklyn lost a chance at winning the division when the Knicks routed Washington. The Nets, however, will be looking to lock up the 4th seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Their next 2 games on the road against Boston and Indiana will be tough before ending the year against lesser teams Toronto, Washington, and Detroit.

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.

Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams helped to propel the Nets over the Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors helped the Brooklyn Nets christen the Barclays Center when they faced each other to open up the 2012-2013 season. The Nets came away with the 107-100 victory, which started the Nets on an 11-4 record (franchise best for wins in a month) and yielded a coach of the month award for Nets former head coach Avery Johnson.

December became a month to forget as Brooklyn would lose 11 of 16 games costing Coach Johnson his job. Since then, interim head coach PJ Carlesimo has taken advantage of a schedule that had the Nets playing only 2 teams (Oklahoma and Indiana) with winning records during their six-game winning streak. Brooklyn looked to stay perfect against the Raptors. Why not, the team has already beaten the Raptors twice this season; once at home and one on the road. Tonight Brooklyn played host for the last time against a Toronto team who were once again playing without its forward Andre Bargnani out with a right elbow/wrist injury.

After a slow start in which the teams were tied after the first quarter at 27, Toronto went up by as many as 10 points (40-30) before Brooklyn outscored the Raptors 16-10 aided by Mirza Teletovic coming off the bench and hitting 2 straight 3-pointers giving the Nets a 54-50 halftime lead.

Said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey of Teletovic, "he came in and opened up the game. We lost him in transition a couple of times and he's too great of a shooter to have miscommunication."

Brook Lopez led all scorers with 14 first-half points with Deron Williams chipping in 12.

Toronto continued to play Brooklyn tough through most of the third quarter (66-65) when Williams, Joe Johnson and Keith Bogans nailed trifectas sandwiched around two Lopez free throws extending the lead to 77-68.

Said Lopez, "that has kind of been the story for us the past few games; the second halves are really where we bring the energy."

The momentum carried over to the final quarter as the Nets came out on a 10-2 run opening up a 15-point lead (93-78) with a little more than eight minutes to go in the game.

Brooklyn kept a double-digit lead for the next 6 1/2 minutes paced by Williams, Lopez and Joe Johnson who all scored more than 20 points. It sealed their 7th straight win 113-106, as they get set to play back to back games against the Atlanta Hawks beginning Wednesday night on the road. The Hawks scored a pathetic 5 points in the second quarter in their loss to the Bulls Tuesday night.

Brooklyn can't help but think they can extend their winning streak to 9 games.

Nets Lose to the Bulls 92-90

With Derrick Rose still contemplating his return to the Chicago Bulls lineup and the Brooklyn Nets looking to solidify its playoff spot, both teams met for the last time in the regular season Thursday night at the Barclays Center. The Nets Joe Johnson returned to the starting lineup after missing the last five games (sore left heel) while the Bulls were without Rose, Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain), Taj Gibson (left knee), Richard Hamilton (lower back) and Joakim Noah (right foot) who were all listed day to day.

Riding the hot hand of Brooklyn's Brook Lopez (18 points on 8 of 9 shooting) and taking advantage of the absence of Noah, the Nets jumped all over Chicago right from the start getting out to a 13-point first period (26-13) lead. While Lopez sat for half of the second period, guard Deron Williams picked up the slack scoring 8 points as the defense stepped up limiting the Bulls to only 37% from the floor (0-5 from 3 point land) taking 9-point (47-36) halftime lead. Then Chicago's head coach Tom Thibodeau delivered a message to his team that was well received.

It began on the defensive end as Chicago allowed Brooklyn only 20 points clamping down on their perimeter shooting.

Said Thibodeau, "I thought our intensity picked up. and we had more energy on offense."

The Nets missed 11 out of 16 shots (31%) while the Bulls made 50% of their own (13-26) putting 29 points on the scoreboard. Brooklyn, who at one point enjoyed a 16 (36-20) point lead, entered the final quarter leading only by 2 (67-65) after 2 Williams free throws.

Neither team would lead by no more than 4 points (4 ties) as both squads intensified their defense. The last tie coming with 1:55 left (84-84) when Williams was fouled on a drive to the basket. After converting the free throw, he scored on a short jumper extending the lead to 3 (90-87) the last lead his team would see.

Chicago began its winning 5-0 run with Luol Deng hitting a long jump shot to get them within 1 point (90-89) before ex-Knicks and perennial pest Nate Robinson made his presence known. Robinson began by forcing a Lopez turnover and after a 20 second Bulls timeout, he dribbled right past the free throw line floating up a soft jump shot that gave Chicago the lead (91-90).

"Coach said get it and go if we got a turnover or rebound," said Robinson describing the play.

Brooklyn had plenty of time left (22.7) with a chance to at least send the game into overtime. It did not happen.

Williams broke down the Bulls defense and shuffled the ball off to Lopez who looked like he had a clear layup or dunk but did not have total control of the ball on the way up. It allowed the Bulls veteran Nzar Mohammed to fully extend, cleanly blocking the shot. He then had the composure to grab the rebound. A Chicago free throw pushed the lead to 2 (92-90) giving Brooklyn yet another shot at tying or outright winning the game.

Inbounding the ball with 5.5 seconds, Williams once again penetrated to below the foul line and shuffles the pass to Lopez again. His 17' fadeaway rolled around the rim before falling out as Chicago escaped with the 92-90 victory.

Brooklyn's interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo had no problem with the decisions Williams made down the stretch.

"Deron made a very good decision both times. He found Brook going to the basket the first time and he found him wide open the second time," he said.

Unfortunately, neither resulted in a basket.

The Chicago Bulls took 3 out of 4 games from the Brooklyn Nets which may be a factor in the playoff seedings if they end up with the same record at the end of the year.

"We're trying to get better each game," said Robinson. "It's something that the coach always harps on. Play your best basketball towards the end of the season."

Brooklyn Nets host more than basketball, the game featured Russian Culture Night and a welcome back to Brooklyn for Lance Stephenson 

On a game night when the Brooklyn Nets hosted an Evening of Russian Culture, the team needed a fourth-quarter rush to prevail for its sixth straight victory over the scorching Indiana Pacers, who came in on this late Sunday night riding its own four-game winning streak. These two streaking teams could possibly see each other in the playoffs. Way too early to say, but right now if the playoffs started today the Nets would be the fourth seed and the Pacers would be the third seed. Also, the Nets and Pacers present great match-ups of all-star caliber players Joe Johnson vs. Paul George and Brook Lopez vs. Roy Hibbert.

This was no ordinary night at the Barclays Center, there was a great team matchup inter-weaved with two big stories: Russian Culture Night and the homecoming of Lance Stephenson.

Russian Culture Night envisioned by Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the Barclay's Center was packed with thousands of Russian-Americans waving the Russian flag. Among the Russians highlighted this night were Oleg Kolomyets who brought a lot of energy introducing the players on both teams and Alexander Markov, a violinist, who did a stunning job with the American National Anthem and at the halftime show with a glow-in-the-dark violin and bow performance.

The other half of the biggest story of the night was the homecoming of one of the most successful New York City high school basketball players in PSAL history. Pacers starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson of Abraham Lincoln High School was coming into Barclays with a season-high 39 minutes, 17 points, and four steals in a win against the Bobcats. Stephenson's improved play definitely caught the attention of Brooklyn Nets Interim Head Coach PJ Carlesimo who clearly knows a lot about New York City players. After all, Carlesimo played college ball at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY and he coached men's college basketball at Wagner College on Staten Island. At the pregame press conference, P.J. Carlesimo illustrated his knowledge about Lance and the history of New York City basketball.

"I have followed Lance Stephenson a lot," said Coach Carlesimo. "He has really improved from last year. He has really matured doing the little things that are helping his team win games."

"I recall not only watching the PSAL, and CHSAA but also the CYO leagues. Brooklyn is a big city they also have talent that even pre-dates me, Billy Cunningham, and Connie Hawkins," Coach Carlesimo added.

Unfortunately, due to a re-aggravated toe injury in the first quarter, Lance Stephenson's storied homecoming was short-lived, as he only played six minutes. However, taking the spotlight was tri-state area star, Teaneck, NJ David West of the Pacers who was coming off his first career triple-double (14,12,10). West gave the Nets problems for the first three quarters. West had 23 points at the end of the third quarter keeping the Nets down by six.

Nevertheless, the fourth quarter was an entirely different story for Nets.

Защита is Russian for defense and it was chanted over the surround sound at the Barclays Center, which seemed to help the Nets defense. The defense then sparked the offense, which guided the Nets turnaround. P.J. Carlesimo sent a furious double team commanded by Kris Humphries to shut down West. Pacers could not adjust and ended up shooting three for twenty-two in the fourth quarter prompting a 17-0 run by the Nets. A strong fourth quarter performance by the Nets big three, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez really put Brooklyn over the top scoring 22, 20, and 15 (ten in the fourth quarter) respectively. All three players talked about how they are starting to gel which allows them to be more aggressive.

With a final game score of Nets 97 – Pacers 86, the Nets have no time to rest. On Tuesday, January 15, it faces the team in which it grand opened the Barclays Center--- the Toronto Raptors. The Nets look to extend its winning streak to seven and improve to 9-1 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Deron Williams "hot like fish grease" scores 11 three-pointers propelling Nets over the Wizards

Fans expected a casual match-up between the Brooklyn Nets and the Washington Wizards Friday night. What they did not expect was the show Deron Williams put on which led his team to a 95-78 victory, and it may be all thanks to his new sneakers.

Williams looked healthy on the court in his new white high-top sneakers, even breaking them in by practicing jump shots before the game.

The sneakers, which made its debut, helped the point guard set a new NBA record with nine 3-pointers in the first half of the game.

"He should wear them [high-top sneakers] all the time," a fan shouted.

The Barclays center went crazy as the point guard started the game going 6 of 6 from 3-point range in the first 4:45. He had a franchise-record seven 3-pointers in the opening 12 minutes and hit his first eight 3s before missing with 5:50 left in the second quarter.

At times, fans were disappointed when he passed the ball or drove to the hoop.

In the first quarter, the Nets managed to outscore the Wizards with a score of 38-14, with Williams owning 23 points.

Williams tied the Wizards with 33 points in the half. The Nets led 59-33 at the break.

"Eight 3-pointers? What he been eating?" a fan shouted from the stands.

A number of players have hit eight 3-pointers in a half, including Kobe Bryant, who shares the record of 12 3s in a game with Donyell Marshall.

Another highlight of the night was Reggie Evans who finished with 11 points and 24 rebounds.

After missing back-to-back free-throws with the crowd chanting "Reggie, Reggie," in the fourth quarter, he regained composure and made his final free-throws of the night. In total, he landed 5 of 16 free-throws for the Nets, earning a standing ovation for his efforts when he exited the game.

When asked about William's performance, Evans said after the game, "He was hot like fish grease."

Williams who has said he's been feeling healthier thanks to the healing of his ankles, was one three-pointer short of the single-game NBA record, finishing the game with 11 3-pointers.

Williams scored a game-high 42 points. The Nets will travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Saturday.

Brooklyn Nets take the first Battle of the Boroughs defeating the New York Knicks 96-89; Brook Lopez scores 22 points and 11 rebounds

It took 13 games and one overtime before the official birth of the Brooklyn (still sounds kind of weird) Nets.

Both teams were supposed to face each other to start the NBA season but then Hurricane Sandy blew into town forcing the game to be canceled. When they finally stepped on the floor Monday night at the Barclays Center, both teams had gotten off to a good start. The first place Knicks had a 1 game lead over the second place Nets who were eager to see if their fan base would truly make this a "home game" for Brooklyn.

Said Nets head coach Avery Johnson before the game, "my first two years was an 80-20 split for their side. I'm hoping for an 80-20 split on our side this time." It was more like 50-50 at the beginning after both teams were introduced in front of the sold out (17,732) crowd.

The Knicks were without Jason Kidd who was out with a sore lower back so head coach Mike Woodson had to tinker with the line-up starting veteran Kurt Thomas and moving Ronnie Brewer to the shooting guard spot. Both teams relied heavily on their bench and in the end, it came down to gritty defense and stamina that allowed Brooklyn to come away with the 96-89 win.

Neither team would lead by more than seven points the entire game. The game, tied 12 times, also had 13 lead changes in regulation. The Nets took a 5-point lead (81-76) with 4:01 left in the 4th quarter after a Brook Lopez dunk. Knicks Carmelo Anthony quickly answered that with a 3-pointer of his own to get them within two points (81-79). It began an 8-0 Knicks run that put them up by 3 (84-81) with 1:38 left and victory in sight.

The teams would trade baskets down the stretch, as a Lopez lay-up and free throw tied the game at 84 (he missed the second attempt that would have given them the lead) once again giving New York a chance at stealing the victory but Anthony's jump shot hit off the rim sending the game into overtime.

Brooklyn then took advantage of the extra five minutes outscoring the Knicks 12-5 to take the first Battle of the Boroughs. The win overshadowed New York's center Tyson Chandler and his career-high 28 points. Anthony, who played 50 minutes, finished with a game-high 35 points on 11-25 shooting. On more than one occasion when Melo went to the free throw line, he was serenaded with chants of M-V-P which were quickly drowned out by the Brooklyn fans.

Nets guard Deron Williams, who finished with a double-double (16 points, 14 assists) was very aware of the home crowd, "It was good to hear them cheering for us the entire game," Williams stated.

Joe Johnson noticed the support as well.

"Every time some sort of Knick contingency started to cheer, our fans got louder and this is what we have been dreaming about since I've been here," Johnson said.

A victory will do that.

Never knowing which Nets team is going to show up, Keith Bogans rises to the occasion and Joe Johnson hits the winning shot

When the Brooklyn Nets stepped on the floor at the Barclays Center to start the second half of their NBA season, everyone from the players, to the coaching staff, to the fans wondered which team they would see. Would it be the team that won 11 of its first 14 games to start the year resulting in then-head coach Avery Johnson being named Coach of the Month? Or would it be the team that lost 11 games the following month that cost Johnson his job? Or would it be the team that won 9 of its first 10 (7 wins in a row at one point) games under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo finishing the first half with a 17-8 record under him? Their overall record of 31-22 had them in second place in the Atlantic Division only 2 1/2 games behind the Knicks. Despite Deron Williams' health and inconsistent play between him and fellow guard Joe Johnson, center Brook Lopez responded from an early ankle injury to play his way onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team. They faced the Milwaukee Bucks at the Barclay Center last night a team they had not beaten in 13 straight games. By night's end, there were still many questions to be answered.

At the start, there were more positive answers, as Brooklyn jumped all over the Bucks taking a seven-point lead (31-24) at the end of the first period. The trio of Williams, Johnson, and Lopez combined for 20 points. It got better in the second period as the Nets extended the lead to as many as 15 (56-41) after a short Lopez jumper. Milwaukee dwindled the lead to 10 at the half, as Bucks guard Brandon Jennings started what would be a big night for him scoring five of his 11 first-half points.

Jennings, on the strength of scoring 16 third-period points, carried the Bucks to a one-point lead (81-80) nailing 6 of 9 shots (2 of 3 from 3-point land) going into the final period. The largest lead by any team was no more than 5 points (87-82) after Bucks Ekpe Udoh bank shot as both teams made big baskets down the stretch.

With the score tied at 94 and 5:26 left, each remaining possession was treated like a Game 7 playoff, with no team ever leading by more than three points. After a Williams jumper brings Brooklyn within 1 (101-100) Andray Blatche gives them a brief lead after making two free throws. After a Larry Sanders offensive tip regains the Milwaukee lead (102-101), Nets Williams got called for an offensive foul and sent Jennings to the free throw line (he made both) giving them what looked like an insurmountable lead 105-102. Brooklyn's Joe Johnson then broke the Bucks heart not once but twice.

The first came when he hit a three-pointer at the end of the regular period buzzer (105-105) sending the game into overtime. Nets Keith Bogans began the extra frame by contributing his own three giving Brooklyn a very brief 108-105 lead. The Bucks crashed the offensive boards their next two possessions outscoring the Nets 6-0 pushing ahead 111-108. But Brooklyn was not done. Bogans continued his hot streak draining another three-pointer, tying the game at 111. With 1.4 seconds left, Johnson curls left at the top of the key after getting a pass from Williams and hits nothing but the bottom of the net sending the Bucks home and putting an end to their 13-game losing streak at the hands of the Bucks. It was Johnson's third game-winning shot of the season.

Brooklyn had a lot of questions coming into the game against the Bucks. The win was a good answer to start the second half of their season. A win they can't celebrate for long, as they travel to Milwaukee Wednesday night where the Bucks will look to begin another winning streak.

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