March 25, 2019

With the win, the Nets move back into the No. 6 spot in the NBA Eastern Conference; Spencer Dinwiddie leads all scorers with 19 points

For the first time in a good long while, the atmosphere in the Barclays Center was like the NBA playoffs; it was over-the-top electric, as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Detroit Pistons 103-75. Wowza! With the win, the Nets have won four straight games and got back to the sixth position in the NBA Eastern Conference right behind the Boston Celtics. The Nets improved to 36-33 overall and 21-16 at Barclays Center, while the Pistons fell to 34-32 overall and 13-19 on the road with the loss.

By the Numbers

The Nets held the Pistons to .278 shooting (27-of-97) from the field, which marked a season-low for a Nets' opponent field goal percentage and the third-lowest opponent field goal percentage in franchise history. You would have to go all the way back to November 9, 2004, to a Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers game when the Nets held the Trail Blazers to a .244 field goal percentage, yikes! And, on March 7, 2006, against the Phoenix Suns when the Nets held the Suns to a field goal percentage of .268.

Not only did the Detroit Pistons lose, right now they are a team that holds the dubious distinction of a Nets’ opponent with a season-low 75 points, that has to sting. But that is better than ending the game with 62 points, which is what the Pistons had after three quarters – Nets 88 Pistons 62.

But don’t despair, Detroit, you’re not the only team that the Brooklyn Nets led by 26 after three quarters. Just last week on March 4, the Nets led the Dallas Mavericks by 26 points at the end of the third quarter with a score of 99-73. But wait, there’s more. The Nets held the San Antonio Spurs to the fewest points at the end of the third this season, which was 81-59.

Brooklyn also edged Detroit 54-24 (+30) in points in the paint and 18-5 (+13) in fast break points.

What stuck out most about the Nets for Detroit Pistons head coach Dwyane Casey, was “just the physicality of the game – they came in and whipped us every which way there was. We didn’t fight through screens, we didn’t set screens, any phase of basketball you want to talk about. If we’re serious about making the playoffs, we have to come out and not believe all the hype and all the stuff. We didn’t come out and play. I didn’t coach physical enough or whatever. We didn’t play physical enough. We took a full step back tonight.”

“Everything kind of aligned tonight,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought the game plan was good and the guys executed well, especially defensively. Detroit was coming off a game the night before, and it is late in the season, so we had more juice tonight. I don’t say that to take anything away from our guys.”

“It was another step from all our other games,” Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen explained. “We knew that we had to bring a certain physicality against Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, so we had to turn it up a little bit.”

So how did Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin fare when it was all said and done?

Andre Drummond scored 13 points, 20 rebounds, and three assists for Detroit, while Blake Griffin added 10 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

While the Pistons only had two players to score 10 points or more, the Nets had seven.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead all scorers with 19 points (5-of-11 FG, 7-of-7 FT), Allen Crabbe scored a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and he added four assists; Rodions Kurucs posted 13 points; both Joe Harris and Caris LeVert tallied 12 points, Harris accumulated four rebounds and three assists to his totals, while LeVert who came off the bench and added five rebounds to his points. Both Jarrett Allen and D’Angelo Russell each scored 11 points, Allen added eight rebounds and two blocked shots to his totals, while Russell added seven assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

What's Next

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the Brooklyn Nets kick off their seven-game road trip with their first stop in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder and their last game on this road trip is against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 28, 2019, before returning home to play the Boston Celtics on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons will travel to Miami to play the Miami Heat, another team struggling to make the playoffs. This match-up will be on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 7 p.m. ET.

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.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers with 22 points in the loss; Spencer Dinwiddie back in the lineup after missing 14 games following surgery on right thumb

This was a tough game to watch. For the second time this week, the Brooklyn Nets got pushed into the L column by an opponent that was either banging on the door for a playoff spot or seeking to move up in the standings. On Wednesday, it was the Washington Wizards, last night, the Nets lost to the Charlotte Hornets 123-112. The Nets are now 32-32 overall and 18-16 at the Barclays Center and the Hornets improved to 29-33 overall and 9-21 on the road with the win.

“We have given up 68 points in the first half two games in a row,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about his team’s recent streak. “It starts on the defensive end. It’s not about the lineups or working guys back in from injury. It’s about defense and we have to do a better job on that end. Right now, we just aren’t getting it done.”

Unfortunately, the Nets struggle wasn’t just defense, the Hornets had 50 field goals to the Nets 44 and 10 offensive rebounds to the Nets seven.

“We have to find some solution because we are out of sync right now,” Atkinson continued acknowledging his team’s offensive struggles. “We will figure it out because right now we aren’t sharp. Shot selection is not great, ball movement is not great. We will look at some things. Obviously, this late in the season, we won’t be changing our offense, but we will find some ways to help the guys.”

Coach Atkinson may want to look at his team’s offense because other teams certainly are looking at their offense to take them off their game, case in point, Hornets head coach James Borrego.

“…I think when we were here last time, Kemba was rolling there in that fourth quarter and they switched to a zone and they tried to take the ball out of his hands. This is a zone team, they’re number one in the NBA playing zone. We‘re going to see zone tonight, we understand that we play better against the zone of late…,” Coach Borrego told the media just before the game started.

For the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker led all scorers with 27 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and four steals; Jeremy Lamb registered 22 points off the bench; Nicolas Batum accumulated 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists; Frank Kaminsky recorded 15 points and seven rebounds; both Cody Zeller and Tony Parker scored 12 points, with Parker scoring his 12 points and five assists off the bench and Zeller adding nine rebounds and three assists, and; not to be outdone, Marvin Williams chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds.

D’Angelo Russell led Brooklyn with 22 points and nine assists in 28 minutes. DeMarre Carroll scored 20 points (5-of-10 FG, 3-of-5 3FG, 7-of-8 FT) with five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench; Spencer Dinwiddie returned to action last night for the first time since January 23, 2019, vs. Orlando and posted 15 points and four assists in 23 minutes off the bench. Dinwiddie missed 14 games following surgery that repaired ligaments in his right thumb. Caris LeVert totaled 14 points (6-of-11 FG) with seven rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes, and Jarrett Allen chipped in 10 points in 23 minutes.

Regarding the Nets struggles lately, could it be an abundance of riches now that everyone is healthy and back in the lineup and they need to adjust?

Or, is it just as simple as what D’Angelo Russell said: “We can’t dig ourselves in holes and teams shoot well and expect to get out of it by us scoring; we’ve got to get stops.”

Or, perhaps, it’s both.

The Brooklyn Nets travel to Miami to play the Miami Heat tonight at 7:30 p.m.

TIP-INS:

Dinwiddie has now scored 808 points off the bench this season, becoming the second player in franchise history to tally 800+ points in a season off the bench (Armen Gilliam scored 878 points off the bench in the 1993-94 season).

With his fourth rebound tonight, Ed Davis moved past Detlef Schrempf (3,640) and is now third in NBA history in rebounds off the bench (since the NBA first tracked starters in 1970-71). He now has 3,641 career rebounds off the bench and trails only Kevin McHale (3,526) and Paul Silas (5,337).

Allen Crabbe’s “match made in heaven” could become the roadblock in the Brooklyn Nets' rebuilding plan, if he doesn't find his Brooklyn Grit

Last night was a sad night at the Barclays Center. The Brooklyn Nets rising star, guard Caris LeVert, was not in the lineup as he is recuperating from a subtalar dislocation of his right foot, an injury he sustained on Monday while playing the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The good news is that at this point, he does not need surgery and hopefully, he will return before the season ends. Another Nets rising star, Jarrett Allen, was also out because of an illness. So with two of the Nets best players out, the Nets lost to the 5-8 Miami Heat, 120-107 and dropped to 6-9 overall and 3-3 at the Barclays Center, while Heat’s record improves to 6-8.

Not sure why Brooklyn Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson, gave guard Allen Crabbe his first start of the season in LeVert’s place instead of guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Comparing the two players prior to the game, Dinwiddie was averaging 13.9 points per game compared to Crabbe’s 6.5 ppg. There’s not much difference between Dinwiddie and Crabbe’s rebounds per game 2.4 vs. 3.3, but Dinwiddie leads Crabbe in the assist column, 4.1 vs. 1.2, as well as in the grit column.

At game’s end, Dinwiddie, who came off the bench, led all Nets scorers with 18 points (6-of-12 FG), three rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes. Looking at Dinwiddie’s numbers for the season, he has scored in double figures in 14 games, which marks the most games scored in double figures for a Nets reserve in the team's first 15 games of a season in franchise history (previously: 12 games for Armen Gilliam in the 1993-94 season). Dinwiddie also leads the NBA in double-digit scoring games off the bench this season (ahead of JJ Redick, Lou Williams, and Jordan Clarkson, who have all come off the bench in 13 games in the 2018-19 campaign).

Against the Miami Heat last night, Crabbe scored a measly six points and one rebound in 26 minutes of play. He also had six fouls, so you know what that means.

So, why did Coach Atkinson shuffle the deck to insert Crabbe in the starting lineup, which may have affected the team’s rhythm particularly when Crabbe doesn’t have the best track record?

“It’s just part of the NBA, it’s part of the deal,” Atkinson told the media postgame. “You are going to have injuries. We have to have guys that step up. I think that a lot of those units that we threw out there tonight hadn’t played a lot together, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. We know each other, we’ve been to training camp, but again I thought Miami was simply the better team. Sure it was the first quarter, but throughout the game, they were the better team.”

The fact that the Nets players and the coaching staff know each other and have watched players over the last 14 games of the season is enough reason to know that Crabbe should not have started to disrupt the team’s rhythm.

Nets forward Joe Harris in responding to reporters’ questions about whether there’s an issue finding a rhythm with the different lineups being thrown out there, particularly with LeVert unable to play, in effect makes the point.

“Yeah, I think it is definitely an issue, but that’s not an excuse for not playing good defense or making the effort plays, the hustle plays,” Harris responded. “A lot of that first quarter was just mental mistakes, lack of effort, and you can’t have that. We should still be able to have some continuity on the defensive end. Everyone’s familiar with what the philosophy is, what Kenny (Atkinson) expects out of us, what the coaching staff expects out of us. Obviously, we missed Caris (LeVert) a lot, and I think that’s reflective in the way that we played offensively tonight. But the defense has got to stay constant and that’s kind of where we lost our way.”

Missing Caris LeVert is natural, but in these situations, it needs to be not just the next man up, but the best next man up.

And, Jared Dudley, a veteran player the Nets acquired over the summer for a veteran voice in the locker room, makes my point on who needs to step up to the starting position after the loss of LeVert.

“I think Spencer (Dinwiddie) has to step up in a bigger role,” Dudley said. “I think you got to be more mentally locked in when it comes to attacking the basket when it comes to not settling, to getting guys involved. I think that’s where we need to take it from here. I think Allen Crabbe is someone who’s very more capable of coming in and boosting up his point scoring, so I think it’s by committee. Definitely, Spencer (Dinwiddie) should take up that role and that challenge of someone who is easily capable of upping his scoring five to six points and getting more shot attempts.

Nets scorers in double digits behind Dinwiddie were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who posted 14 points, nine rebounds, and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench. Hollis-Jefferson’s nine rebounds marked a season high for him. Shabazz Napier totaled 13 points (his third-most points in a game this season) with two rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 26 minutes off the bench. Starters D’Angelo Russell added 12 points; Harris registered 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists in 25 minutes, and; Dudley chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one blocked shot.

The Miami Heat’s leading scorers were Tyler Johnson, who came off the bench to score 24 points and five rebounds. Goran Dragic put up 21 points, four assists, and three rebounds; Josh Richardson registered 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists; Hassan Whiteside tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals; Bam Adebayo, part of Miami’s second unit, accumulated 12 points and three rebounds, and; Rodney McGruder chipped in 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists.

Next up for the Miami Heat are the Indiana Pacers on Friday, November 16, 2018.

The Brooklyn Nets will play the first of a back-to-back against the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital also on Friday, November 16, 2018. They will return home to play the Los Angeles Clippers at the Barclays Center on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.

Hopefully, Allen Crabbe will find his heart in Washington, DC.

Brooklyn Nets defeat Philadelphia 76ers 122-97 and contained Joel Embiid to just 16 points

It was Marathon Sunday in New York City and the Philadelphia 76ers probably felt like their game against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday was a marathon they couldn’t wait to see come to an end. The Nets took the Sixers off their game and cruised to a comfortable 122-97 victory at the Barclays Center. With the win, the Nets improved to 4-6 this season (3-2 at Barclays Center), while the Sixers fell to 6-5 (0-5 on the road).

A notable metric from Sunday is that the Nets forced a season-high (and NBA season-high) 28 turnovers on the Sixers, which marked their most turnovers forced in a game since March 7, 2014, vs. Boston (also 28 turnovers). Another remarkable stat is that Brooklyn also committed a season-low nine turnovers, good for a +19 turnover margin, which marked the Nets’ largest positive turnover differential in a game since the 2002-03 season on January 17, 2003, against the Toronto Raptors, which was also +19.

Individual Nets players have been having a great start to this young season, lifting above their own records. Caris LeVert, who has been having a break-out season scored 20 points tonight, his sixth 20-point game of the season (in his 10th game), matching his total from all of last season. LeVert didn’t register his sixth and final 20-point game of the 2017-18 Season until March 19, 2018, against Memphis. And, tonight, he scored 18 points in the first half, which marked the highest-scoring half of LeVert’s career. Keep an eye on LeVert, as he is an NBA All-Star in the making.

In addition to LeVert, other Brooklyn Nets scoring leaders are part of the team’s young core. Starting PG D’Angelo Russell, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, each scored 21 points. Hollis-Jefferson, who is coming back from injury, was part of the second-unit and added six rebounds and three assists to his total, while Russell added six assists and just one turnover in his 25 minutes on the floor. Starting center, Jarrett Allen, in his second year with Nets and the NBA, registered a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. This is Allen’s third double-double of the season, an improvement over his total four double-doubles in his rookie season. Spencer Dinwiddie, also part of the second unit tonight, tallied 12 points and eight assists; while Joe Harris, as a starter, chipped in 11 points and three assists.

For years, the Nets’ Achilles heel has been the third quarter. But not tonight, as Brooklyn scored 41 points in the third quarter alone, which wasn’t lost on Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“That’s where you’re like, decent first half,” Atkinson stated. “The third quarter is going to decide where the game goes. So, again, we made shots too. That helps a ton. I think we scored 41 points in the third quarter and kept our defense sharp. And like we talked about before the game, closing a really good team out, that’s the tough part. So I thought we handled that. I thought we were really good to finish it out.”

“We wanted to close them out in that third,” LeVert added regarding the Nets scoring 41 points in the third quarter. “We knew it could go either way, they could make a run or we could make a run, and we wanted to throw the first punch there.”

VIDEO: IN HIS OWN WORDS: CARIS LEVERT

The Nets had only nine turnovers versus the 76ers’ 27, an indicator that Brooklyn handled the ball well while putting defensive pressure on Philadelphia.

“I don’t know the numbers…,” Russell responded. “But as far as getting in the passing lane, anticipating passes and anticipating their plays, we did a good job of that.”

“Defensively, Brooklyn was good and we were not,” stated Brett Brown, head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. “I give Brooklyn credit.”

Philadelphia did take the first quarter, leading the Nets 21-18. Even at the end of the first half, no one could see a slaughter-fest in the making, with the Nets having a four-point lead of 51- 47. Additionally, the Nets have a history of collapsing in the third quarter. But, not tonight, the second half just didn’t go right for the Philadelphia 76ers, which left Coach Brown befuddled, the Nets ended the third stanza 92-75, and the final quarter 122-97.

“I think it was a combination of some frustration on offense and with our inability, at times, to guard them one-on-one,” Brown said about what didn’t go right in the second half. “Brooklyn did a good job of making shots. I thought they did a really good job of hitting rollers and finishing or throwing lobs for dunks. In general, it was a poor performance that was unexpected and nobody is going to overreact to it, but that’s the lay of the land. That’s what happened. That’s the way I see it.”

Philadelphia scoring leaders were Ben Simmons with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, and three assists. Joel Embiid registered 16 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists. JJ Redick scored 15 points in 27 minutes off the bench. Dario Saric added 14 points and three rebounds, and; Landry Shamet came off the bench to chip in 12 points.

The Sixers will travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Nets will embark on a four-game road trip (their second-longest road trip of the season), beginning on Tuesday night in Phoenix to play the Phoenix Suns.

The next time the Nets will play at home at the Barclays Center will be on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., against the Miami Heat.

 

TIP INS - The Nets Moving in the Right Direction:

• The Nets scored 39 points off Philadelphia’s 28 turnovers, which marked their most points scored off an opponent’s turnovers since the 2002-03 season (47 points on 11/22/02 vs. Cleveland).

• Brooklyn’s nine turnovers were good for a +19 turnover margin, which marked the Nets’ largest positive turnover differential in a game since the 2002-03 season (+19 on 1/17/03 vs. Toronto).

• The Nets registered a season-high 70 points in the paint, which marked their most points in the paint in a game since the 2016-17 Season (72 points in the paint on 4/1/17 vs. Orlando).

• The Nets have recorded 60+ points in the paint three times through 10 games after doing so twice all of last season.

• Brooklyn tallied 41 points in the third quarter, which marked the Nets’ highest-scoring quarter of the season and their third-highest-scoring third quarter in Barclays Center history (since the start of the 2012-13 season).

• The Nets improved to 9-4 all-time against the Sixers at Barclays Center, matching their most wins against any opponent at Barclays Center (also: nine wins over the Orlando Magic).

Miami Heat defeats Oklahoma City Thunder 86-85; Kevin Durant misses a last-minute shot that could have tied the game

Like the unpredictability of the stock market on a daily basis, trying to pick the winner of this year's NBA Championship on a game-by-game basis has been just as difficult. Game 1 saw the Miami Heat jump out to an early lead, only to have the Oklahoma City Thunder storm back (no pun intended) and steal the victory.

The Heat got off to an even bigger lead in Game 2 but the Thunder, after a furious comeback saw their star Kevin Durant miss a last-second shot that would have tied the game. With the series tied at one game apiece, the scene shifted to Miami for the next 3 games.
Oklahoma, playing in one of the loudest arenas in all of basketball, did not allow Miami to get off to a fast start as they did in the first two games although the Heat never trailed in the first period. LeBron James scored 10 points and Chris Bosh, starting his second straight game, chipped in six. Prior to the game, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks was asked if Bosh is all the way back from the injury that kept him out for all but one game in the Indiana series and all of the games against the Celtics.

"I think he's fine," Brooks opined. "I think anytime you step on the court, you are 100 percent."

Miami extended their lead to eight points in the second (30-22) after a Mike Miller block of a Kevin Durant shot led to a James lay-up. The Thunder responded by outscoring the Heat 24-17 the rest of the way to trail by 1 at the half. Durant and Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma with 13 each while James added six more. OKC's defense stifled Miami as they just shot 41% from the floor missing 7 of 9 three-point attempts. The Thunder took that momentum and carried it over to start the third.

Trailing by three (49-46), the Thunder takes the biggest lead of the game 64-54 after crafty veteran Derek Fisher nails a 3-pointer, getting fouled by James Harden. He calmly sinks the free-throw making him only the 12th player to accomplish such a feat. It must have awakened the Heat, as they went on to outscore Oklahoma 15-3 the rest of the way to take a 2 point lead (69-67) entering the final period. Dwyane Wade scored 6 of those points with James hitting a 3-pointer to give them the lead. It set up yet again a final period to what has been a stomach-turning series for both teams and their fans.

For more than 8 minutes, neither team could extend the lead to more than 4 points. Then James follows a dunk with a free-throw putting the Heat up by 7 (84-77) with 3:47 to go. Trailing by seven again, the Thunder clawed back to within one (86-85) with 6 straight points. That's as close as they would get as Miami hit five of their last six free-throw attempts. The Thunder did not help its own cause melting down by turning the ball over as Westbrook inexplicably threw the ball in the wrong direction after missing a three-point attempt.
Miami escaped with the win and a two-game to one lead in the series despite shooting only 37.8% from the floor and a skinny 30.8% from 3-point land. When your team converts 31 of 35 free throws, while the other team misses 9 (15 of 24) it makes a big difference in the outcome.

"I think what we focus on is every game is a different challenge," Heat's head coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward. "You have to find ways to put yourself in the position to win."

Brooks didn't come across as deflated noting that as in the other two games, this game was just as intense.

"I thought we did some good things, he said. Give them credit. They're a very physical team. I thought both teams played as hard as they can play."

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.

Will D'Angelo Russell be able to pick up where he left off in time to help his team to see a significant improvement over last season?

What's The 411Sports hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking about Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell’s return to the lineup in a game against the Miami Heat at the Barclays Center.

After several weeks of rehabbing a knee injury, Russell made his debut in a sensational game that saw the Nets beat the Heat 101-95. Although Russell only scored one point, his teammates praised his leadership on the floor.

DeMarre Carroll scores 26 points to lift the Brooklyn Nets over the Miami Heat

In front of a sold-out crowd of 17,732 people, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Miami Heat 101-95 and improved to 11-1 when holding their opponents under 100 points this season. Friday night’s win snapped Brooklyn’s five-game losing streak at the Barclays Center and the team’s three-game losing streak overall.

In the win, DeMarre Carroll scored a career-high-tying 26 points with six rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block in 31 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie, who has scored 15 or more points five times in his last nine games, tallied 15 points, six rebounds and, three assists in 29 minutes tonight against the Heat. Joe Harris and Caris LeVert each scored 12 points with LeVert adding five assists and four rebounds to his score.

LeVert, and Quincy Acy’s energy, which is not displayed in totality in the stat sheet, were instrumental in knocking Miami off its rhythm during the second-half, enabling the Nets to erase a 16-point deficit, which ultimately led to a Nets victory.

“I thought Caris (LeVert) and Quincy (Acy) came in the game and changed the energy,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Caris had a big hand in it, obviously Quincy shooting opened up the floor for us. Lastly, our offense definitely wasn’t pretty by any means but a really good defensive performance.”

“I think defensively is what got us going,” LeVert said describing the spark that got the Nets going in the second half. “D’Angelo (Russell) was real vocal when he came in like in the third quarter, when he came in I think that is when the run started. He was just telling us stop by stop, just get a stop. Easy baskets. And that kind of sparked the run.”

D’Angelo Russell, who missed 32 games and has not played since November 11, 2017, played 14 minutes off the bench on Friday. Russell, although he only scored one point in his 14 minutes of play, was a critical catalyst for the Nets in the second half.

“I think the third quarter was really when that switched,” LeVert pointing out when the Nets defense clicked into high gear. “Like I said, when D’Angelo checked in he was real vocal and that was the main point. Just get stops on defense and that will spark the offense. We held them to 95 points and that was the game right there.”

Hassan Whiteside led the Miami Heat with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Other Miami scoring leaders were: Goran Dragic, who scored 17 points; Josh Richardson added 12 points and seven assists; Kelly Olynyk recorded 12 points and five rebounds, and; Wayne Ellington chipped in 10 points.

Next up, the Nets have five road games including an opportunity to avenge its 114-80 loss to Detroit when it plays the Pistons on Sunday. The next Brooklyn Nets home game is on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

Brooklyn Nets defeat the Miami Heat 107-88 and win two-consecutive games

The Brooklyn Nets are back and Thursday night was the Nets’ first preseason home game for the NBA’s 2017-18 season. Playing the Miami Heat in front of a decent size crowd at the Barclays Center, the Nets showed its hometown fans that they are attempting to live up to its marketing slogan, #WeGoHard, as it crushed the Miami Heat 107-88.

And, for the answer to the question many Nets observers have been waiting for…how well will Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell play on the court?

So far, it looks pretty well. There were no obvious displays of ball hogging and side-eye looks. Lin, who had three fouls in the first quarter, scored 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting; while Russell struggled a bit only putting up nine points on 4-of-12 shooting with four turnovers.

In addition to Lin, other double-digit scorers included Sean Kilpatrick with 14 points, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris chipped in 10 each.

Spencer Dinwiddie had a team-high six assists.

The Nets are still pushing the three-pointer, nailing 10-of-30 from behind the arc; even Timofey Mozgov hit a three-pointer and Quincy Acy, moving with the fast tempo offense, scored back-to-back threes in the first quarter.

Defensively, judging by tonight’s game, the Nets look like they are moving in a positive direction, scoring 27 points off turnovers and out-rebounding the Heat, 62-37. Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll, Mozgov and Trevor Booker each had eight rebounds or just over 51 percent of the Nets’ rebounds.

The referees thought Booker was taking the #WeGoHard a little bit too literally and so, Booker was called for a Flagrant 1 foul in the first quarter.

Jarrett Allen, a rookie from the University Texas that the Nets picked up at No. 22 in the first round of this year’s NBA Draft, made his NBA debut grabbing five rebounds and a block heard around the arena.

There were a lot of things to like about the Nets tonight, here’s to pushing the envelope for the rest of the season.

#BrooklynProud.

NOTES:

  • The next home preseason game for the Nets is on Sunday, October 8, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. against the New York Knicks.
  • Speaking of calls, it looks like the NBA is cracking down on traveling, as the referees made a number of traveling calls tonight.
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