February 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nets defeat weary Suns 111-103 and get back on the winning trail with eight wins in nine games

The Brooklyn Nets came out of the gate last night a bit sluggish but managed to snatch a 111-103 win from the Phoenix Suns who had just lost a 149-146 triple-overtime game against the Washington Wizards the night before.

With the win, the Nets get their eighth win in nine games and improved to 16-19 overall and 8-11 at Barclays Center, while the Suns fell to 8-26 overall and 3-15 on the road with the loss.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead Brooklyn with 24 points (7-of-14 FG), seven assists, and two rebounds in 26 minutes. Ed Davis, also part of the Nets second unit, totaled 15 points (7-of-8 FG), nine rebounds and a career-high-tying three steals (done 14 times previously) in 24 minutes.

Although last night’s victory marked Brooklyn’s eighth win in the team’s last nine games. It was not a walk in the park.

“We had to grind it,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said regarding what it took to pull away in the second half. “First of all, I want to give them (Phoenix Suns) a ton of credit. They came off a triple-overtime game and they fought us tooth and nail. That was not an easy victory at all, excellent job by them. I think they’re playing much better. They gave us a tussle; it was a tough game for us.”

D’Angelo Russell, who led Brooklyn Nets starters with 18 points (6-of-18 FG), a team-high eight assists, six rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes, underscored Coach Atkinson’s assessment of the work needed to get some separation from the Phoenix Suns.

“We just had to make winning plays in order to get a little separation,” Russell explained. “We had to get stops and it took a lot.”

“Just locking in,” Russell added on what changed defensively in the third quarter. “Definitely the game plan with what we’re supposed to do with each individual guy, but just locking in.”

Rodions Kurucs recorded his first-career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 10 rebounds in 33 minutes. He also recorded two assists and a steal in the win. Kurucs, an NBA rookie, has scored in double figures in five of his last seven games, averaging 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per contest during that stretch. Joe Harris tallied 13 points, three rebounds, and two assists in 32 minutes. Jarrett Allen posted 11 points with nine rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 24 minutes.

Leading scorers for the Phoenix Suns were Deandre Ayton with 26 points, 18 rebounds, three blocked shots, and two steals. Devin Booker registered 25 points and nine assists, and; Josh Jackson chipped in 11 points and three rebounds.

Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov summed up his team’s loss: “We knew it was going to be a tough game. (A) tough game when it came to finding fresh legs and energy. Overall, I think the energy was there. We tried and competed to the end of the game. We were looking for our chance. Brooklyn was ready. They came prepared and fresh with the understanding that we played last night and you could feel they were putting pressure on us with the hope we’re going to collapse at some point.”

One person who is not losing any sleep over the Suns’ loss is the Nets elder statesman and forward, Jared Dudley, who was unceremoniously traded to the Nets. Dudley had a lot to say about the Nets win over the Suns.

“I would say for me personally, every time you get to play the Suns…a team that traded me basically for nothing, a player they didn’t even want,” Dudley told the media. “So, for that franchise – to be able to come out there and get two dubs (wins) on those guys and keep it moving, it feels good.”

Next up for the Phoenix Suns is a road game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, December 26, 2018. The Nets will remain home to play the Charlotte Hornets also on Wednesday, December 26th at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

In the Nets’ game loss, a phenom in the making emerges, Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs leads all Nets players with a career-high 24 points

Seven.

Seven was the number of consecutive wins the Brooklyn Nets had heading into their game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Unfortunately, the Nets could not keep pace with the Pacers (pun intended) starting in the first quarter and lost 114-106.

In addition to snapping their season-high seven-game winning streak, the Nets fell to 15-19 overall and 7-11 at home, while the Pacers improved to 21-12 overall and 10-7 on the road with the victory.

With the Nets experiencing so many losses, sometimes it’s easy to forget that the team has had win streaks in the past. This current win streak matched the team’s longest winning streak since relocating to Brooklyn for the start of the 2012-13 season. The Nets winning back-to-back games in this fashion and at this time had many sports reporters talking about the Nets who wouldn’t have otherwise because the Nets win streak marked the longest active winning streak in the NBA.

Yesterday's breakdown for the Brooklyn Nets came in the first quarter when they ended the quarter with a 10-point deficit 37-27 and didn’t gain much in the second, ending that stanza 59-49. Brooklyn closed in on Indiana in the third, but still fell short by four points, finishing the third 84-80, and similarly, in the fourth, the Nets just couldn’t make up enough ground. The Pacers outscored the Nets in the final quarter by four points 30-26 and ultimately winning the game 114-106.

“We could really never stop them,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters after the game. “We didn’t stop them all night. I think we got in a big hole – 37-point first quarter and then (in the) fourth quarter we couldn’t stop them either. We tried some different things. We tried mucking up the game a little, some different defenses, and never found that key to stopping them.”

Despite the outcome of tonight’s game, there were several bright spots for the Brooklyn: a season-high .516 (16-of-31) from 3-point range including .647 (11-of-17) from 3-point range in the second half, which also marked a season-high for 3-point shooting percentage by the Nets in a half this season, which also included 7-of-8 from 3-point range in the third quarter, matching the team's highest 3FGM total in any quarter this season.

Additionally, the Nets edged the Pacers 28-24 in assists and also outrebounded Indiana 41-29, including an 11-6 edge on the offensive glass. Actually, when it comes to rebounding, the Nets have been on a roll, they have outrebounded their opponents 353-292 (+61) in their last eight games. The Nets’ bench also outscored the Pacers’ reserves last night 43-29. Entering the game against the Pacers, the Nets’ bench ranked fifth in the NBA with 45.4 points per game.

It was a special night for Nets rookie forward Rodions Kurucs, he led all Nets scorers with a career-high 24 points; he also registered three rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal in 34 minutes.

Last night’s game also marked Kurucs’ first-career 20-point game and the first time Kurucs has led the Nets in scoring; all the while proving each game with attitude and performance that he belongs in the NBA and perhaps in the Nets starting line-up. His four made 3-pointers marked a career high, while his six made field goals matched his career high. Kurucs has scored in double figures in four of his last six games and has averaged 12.3 points per game in those six outings.

When asked about his role and continued growth, Kurucs responded, “I mean, it’s been good. I’m enjoying it every day. I don’t really have much to say. Like before I said, I’m enjoying it every day. I enjoy the team, the guys, the staff, everyone. I just love to be here. I just love to help the team.”

Other Nets starters in double digits were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris who scored 13 points each, along with five and four rebounds respectively, and; Jarrett Allen tallied 10 points and five rebounds. D’Angelo Russell who had a rough scoring night with only three points contributed nine assists.

DeMarre Carroll led the Nets’ second unit with 16 points and four rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie contributed 15 points and nine assists, and; Jared Dudley chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one blocked shot.

For Indiana, Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Former Nets players, Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 and 17 points respectively; Myles Turner registered 15 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and five blocked shots, and; Domantas Sabonis came off the bench and chipped in 17 points and three steals.

Next up, the Indiana Pacers will return home to host the Washington Wizards on Sunday, December 23rd at 5:00 p.m. ET. The Brooklyn Nets will host the Phoenix Suns at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn also on Sunday, December 23, 2018, at 6 p.m. ET.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Nets season-high win streak now stands at four; Wizards-Suns postgame trade announcement creates confusion

Last night, the Brooklyn Nets picked up their fourth straight win with its 125-118 victory over the Washington Wizards. With the win, the Nets improved to 12-18 overall and 5-10 at home, while the Wizards fell to 11-18 overall and 4-12 on the road with the loss.

Looking at how the Nets defeated the Wizards by the numbers, starting with teamwork, Brooklyn recorded a season-high 34 assists, edging the Wizards 34-30. The Nets recorded 19 of those assists in the first half, which marked Brooklyn’s most assists in a half this season. The Nets also shot .524 (44-of-84) from the field tonight, which marked their second-best field goal percentage in a game this season (behind a season-high .568 vs. Philadelphia on 11/25). The Nets also out-rebounded the Wizards 46-25 (+21). Washington’s 25 boards marked the fewest rebounds recorded by a Nets opponent this season, and the Nets’ +21 rebounding differential marked their best differential on the glass in a game this season. The previous high: 19 on two separate occasions.

The Nets led the Wizards 101-85 through three quarters, which marked the second time the Nets broke 100 points through three quarters this season. The Nets also led the Wizards 70-59 at halftime tonight, with their 70 points marking Brooklyn’s most points in a first half this season. Brooklyn also recorded 43 points in the second quarter tonight, marking the team’s highest-scoring quarter of the season.

“Good job closing it out,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said as he began to explained to the media the keys to the Nets win against the Washington Wizards. “I thought our execution at the end of the game was good on both ends. Not giving up threes, up nine up 10, and being disciplined. Not fouling. And then our offense, I thought we executed at the end. We had a couple of beautiful, we call them play with the pass highlights, where guys had a good shot and they threw it one more and had great shots.”

Spencer Dinwiddie scored a team-high 27 points (8-of-15 FG, 9-of-11 FT) with four rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes off the bench. In his last three games, he’s averaged 30.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 30.5 minutes per contest. Dinwiddie entered tonight's game as the league's leading scorer off the bench (17.3 ppg). Joe Harris tallied 19 points with a season-high six assists, two rebounds, one steal and one block in 31 minutes. Rodions Kurucs posted a career-high 15 points with a career-high-tying six rebounds in 30 minutes in his first career start tonight. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also recorded 15 points tonight, along with nine rebounds, a season-high-tying six assists and one steal in 32 minutes. Both DeMarre Carroll and Jarrett Allen scored 12 points.

The Nets are beginning to show their ability to close out games and Coach Atkinson explained how his team began to make the shift.

“I think going through those struggles, number one, helps you,” Atkinson explained. “When we went through those struggles, we had the player film session, and then after coaches just really focusing on the fourth quarter execution and the game execution, so I think that helps. I think not turning the ball over is huge, taking care of the ball. And quite honestly, we made some shots. We made the extra pass and made some shots. But our defensive execution, the silly mistakes we were making, the fouling the shooter, not running the guy off the three-point line, there are so many examples it’s hard to give. I’m giving you 10 instead of one, but that’s really the story of our failures in the fourth quarter. It was a multitude of things. We just collectively, across the board, did a better job in those situations.”

“Players only, baby – players-only film session,” is how Dinwiddie explained the Nets win streak. “JD (Jared Dudley) did a wonderful job in our film session of just helping us. It also spurred some communication. Now we’re kind of rolling a little bit. Let’s keep it going. Let’s never get too high or too low.”

Although the Wizards lost, it too, also had six players scoring in double digits. Bradley Beal led all scorers with 31 points and nine assists.

“He’s an All-Star player,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said in praise of Bradley Beal. “He brings it. He spreads his offense all the way around. He’s not a selfish player. He looks for his team. That’s one of his biggest improvements, of making his teammates get easy buckets. He had nine assists. Brad is good. We just have to get stops. The team seems to give up 40-point quarters. It’s hard to generate enough points if you don’t make shots at a high level. You have to somehow get stops.”

Wizard starters John Wall registered 17 points and 13 assists, and; Jeff Green tallied 12 points. The Wizards’ second unit scoring leaders were Markieff Morris with 15 points and three rebounds; Austin Rivers contributed 14 points, three rebounds and three assists, and; Kelly Oubre Jr., chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

The Wizards and the Nets appear to be evenly matched, so what prevented the Wizards from winning according to Coach Brooks?

“We could not get any stops, especially in that second quarter when Brooklyn busted out and scored 43 points,” said Coach Brooks. “In that second half, we couldn’t keep them off of that free-throw line. We couldn’t stay in front of the basketball. When you have those issues, you’re going to have trouble winning a game, whether it’s on the road or at home. You have to man up and get in front of the basketball and stay in front of it and not always have help. We put them on the free-throw line when we couldn’t stay in front of them.”

NEXT UP

The Washington Wizards will face the Los Angeles Lakers at home in Washington, DC on December 16, 2018. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will face the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, December 16, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 

TIP-INS:

During the postgame press session, a news report stated that a deal was in place to send Trevor Ariza to the Wizards, Kelly Oubre to the Grizzlies, and Austin Rivers, Wayne Selden, and a person with the last name Brooks to the Suns. Which "Brooks" was a mystery. There was confusion whether it was to be Dillon or MarShon Brooks included in the deal. The Wizards players named in the deal were in shock and obviously not too happy.

 

Nets center Jarrett Allen now in the NBA history books simply by blocking a LeBron James Dunk

Oh, how sweet it is, to coin a phrase from Jackie Gleason, an early 20th Century comedian from Brooklyn. Right now the Brooklyn Nets and their fans are savoring the sweet because the Nets won their sixth straight game last night against the Los Angeles Lakers 115-110.

This wasn’t just any ole Los Angeles Lakers. This Lakers team features LeBron James, the best all-around player in the NBA and one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball. The Lakers also have rising stars Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and an NBA standout Lance Stephenson from Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School. Even with this firepower and James leading all scorers with 36 points, the Lakers were no match for the Brooklyn Nets.

Within two minutes, the Nets put their stake in the ground when Nets center Jarrett Allen blocked a dunk by LeBron James, leading to shockwaves around the NBA. Allen, only in his second year in the NBA, is now the eighth player to block James, a four-time NBA MVP. James has 1,850 dunk attempts and has only nine denials. Let that sink in for a minute.

So what was going through Jarrett Allen’s mind when he attempted to block LeBron James’ dunk?

“He came down the lane and it was just going up to contest the shot,” Allen said matter-of-factly. “It’s LeBron (James), so I had to go up with some extra emphasis, and then I ended up getting it.”

So, let’s get inside the head of a 20-year-old going up to contest LeBron James.

“I’m going to say my quote growing up: ‘Either way, you’re going to be on the highlight.’ If you go up and you block it, you’re going to be on the highlight. You get dunked on, you’re going to be on the highlight. So just go up and protect the rim,” Allen added.

Talk about fearless! This kid is greatness in the making. Allen recorded eight rebounds along with two steals and two blocked shots.

D’Angelo Russell is another young man coming into his own. This was the first opportunity that Russell was available to play against the Lakers since they traded him to Brooklyn. And, of course, the general consensus is that a player in this situation is always ready to turn up.

When asked the question, Russell responded: “No. Honestly, the crowd was electric in there. You could feel it. The Lakers were in town, so we wanted to give them a run.”

“He hurt us,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton, said about D’Angelo Russell. “He’s a talented player, and we know that. When we forced him right and we were up shocking the ball I thought we did a pretty good job on him. When we let him dance and get to his left, he hurt us. Give him credit. He had a big-time game tonight. That’s why this team (Brooklyn) has won six games in a row. They have a lot of different guys that can hurt you.”

Russell led all Nets players with 22 points, 13 assists, and four rebounds. If you still think Russell wanted to prove something to the Lakers, then you might as well spread that thought over the entire Nets team, as six of the nine players in the rotation scored in double digits. Starters Joe Harris, aka “Joey Buckets,” tallied 19 points and four rebounds; and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson registered 17 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Spencer Dinwiddie, who led the Nets’ second unit, recorded 18 points and six assists; Jared Dudley and DeMarre Carroll each chipped in 13 points with five and three rebounds respectively.

When Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson looks at this win against the Lakers he sees a “Team victory”.

“Everybody that came in contributed. I thought Jared Dudley was huge making smart plays at the end of the game. DeMarre (Carroll) was good. I thought everybody that came in – that’s the only way you have a chance to beat this team, is if everybody plays well, and I thought they did.”

Looking at the two other Lakers’ scoring leaders, Lonzo Ball, who was sort of a laughing stock in his rookie season mainly because of his father LaVar Ball, and the way he shot the ball, contributed 23 points, six rebounds and, three assists. Kyle Kuzma tallied 22 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists.

Next stop for the Lakers is New Orleans, as they will go against the Pelicans on Friday, December 21, 2018.

For the Nets, they have a back-to-back; they face the Chicago Bulls tonight in Chicago at 8:00 p.m. The Nets are also at home on Friday, December 21, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. to play the Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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.

Dinwiddie hits game-winning 3-pointer, and Nets crush Pistons’ hopes of getting a win on the road

Let’s set the scene. The Brooklyn Nets are at home at the Barclays Center. Spencer Dinwiddie knocks down a three-pointer to pull the Nets ahead by one point with 7.1 seconds left in overtime. And then after a timeout, Blake Griffin misses a 19-foot turnaround fadeaway shot at the 1.3-second mark that could have pulled the Detroit Pistons ahead. Nets guard Caris LeVert grabs the rebound, and the horn sounds to seal a Brooklyn Nets 120-119 win over the Pistons and pandemonium sets in. Well, pandemonium may be hyperbole, but it was close, as the last Nets win at home was on October 19, 2018, against the New York Knicks. Now, the Nets home record at the Barclays Center for the season is 2-1, and their record overall for this young season is 3-5, while the Pistons fell to 4-3 overall and 1-2 on the road with the loss.

The player of the game, Dinwiddie, scored a season-high 25 points (8-of-15 FG, 5-of-9 3FG, 4-of-4 FT) with four rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes off the bench. With 21 seconds left in the fourth stanza, Dinwiddie also tied the game (110-110) to send the game into overtime, scoring 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime period combined. Dinwiddie has now tallied 20-plus points twice this season. Ironically, his previous season-high 23-point performance came against the Pistons in the season opener at Detroit on October 17th, but the Nets lost 103-100.

But last night, a three-pointer nearly at the buzzer from Dinwiddie, a missed shot from Griffin and a rebound from LeVert sealed the win. 

The irony here is that the Detroit Pistons selected Dinwiddie with the 38th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Dinwiddie spent two years with the Pistons going back and forth between the Pistons and its G-League Team the Grand Rapids Drive and in October 2016, the Pistons traded Dinwiddie to the Windy City Bulls, the Chicago Bulls developmental team. After all that development, the Brooklyn Nets acquired Dinwiddie on December 8, 2016. 

So, did Dinwiddie want to prove a point?

“At this point, no,” Dinwiddie said. “Players have changed. Coaching staff has changed. I was just able to hit a couple shots and help my team win. That’s about it.”

What was really important to Dinwiddie was ending the Nets losing streak.

“That was the thing that made this win really big for us – because of the losing streak,” Dinwiddie added. “Because of what we’re fighting for. We’re trying to be a good team and trying to change the tide of Nets teams of the past. You’ve got to learn how to get out of a rut quickly. They can string together and it can affect morale and all that other stuff.”

Now, before you start thinking that this article is all about the Spencer Dinwiddie Show, other Nets players made significant contributions as well.

Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris scored a season-high 23 points (8-of-14 FG, 4-of-7 3FG, 3-of-3 FT) with five rebounds in 41 minutes.

Harris commented on the magnitude of the Nets improving in clutch situations.

“Yeah, that’s huge for us in terms of the maturation of everyone,” Harris stated. “We’ve been in this experience a lot. A lot of close games last year, a lot of close games to start this season. For us to close one out – execute down the stretch – take care of the ball. Execute defensively. This is huge in terms of confidence for us and just a big morale boost whenever you get a win like this.”

LeVert, in addition to grabbing the rebound at the end of the game, also had a big night for the Nets, tallying 19 points with six rebounds, six assists, and two steals. LeVert gets the vote for “most-improved” Nets player this season, as he has averaged a team-leading 18.9 points per game through eight games this season. Ed Davis, a Nets pick-up this summer from the Portland Trail Blazers for his rebounding abilities, did not disappoint. Davis posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards (five offensive rebounds) in 18 minutes off the bench. Last night, Davis registered his second double-double off the bench this season through eight games.

Jarrett Allen, in his second season as an NBA player, contributed 14 points (6-of-8 FG) and nine rebounds in 22 minutes, while Jared Dudley, who is in his 11th year with the NBA and his first playing for the Nets, chipped in 11 points, six rebounds and three assists in 38 minutes.

A big win for Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, as he can see the words and actions of the coaching staff are not falling on deaf ears.

“We were just resilient,” Atkinson told the media postgame. “We’re the resilient team. We fought through a lot of missed opportunities. I thought that we had a bunch of opportunities to close it out and we just kept fighting. The last defensive stop was kind of indicative of our toughness tonight. Caris (LeVert) comes up with the huge rebound at the end, Spencer (Dinwiddie) gets caught in the switch against one of the best players in the league and does a heck of a job. So that was kind of the picture I leave from this game. But they’re (Pistons) a heck of a team. I think that they’re an excellent team. It’s a really good win for us, especially in front of our home crowd. ”

Of course, Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey was disappointed that his team did not get the W.

“You live by the sword and you die by the sword,” Casey said. “…the first few games were close and we were winning them and now we’re losing them. It’s on ourselves, myself, everybody in this locker room. It’s mental things, leave the strong side corner and they knock down a three, miscommunicate on switches and they knock down a three. This team, made us pay for every mental mistake we made. They’re a good 3-point shooting team, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t execute our switches properly.”

Blake Griffin led the Detroit Pistons with the most points at 25 along with nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

Griffin told the assembled media that he, too, believes his team’s performance came down to mental mistakes and a collection of little things.

“Yeah, I think so,” Griffin said. “Little mistakes down the stretch, mostly defensively. Like I said earlier on those little things, they come back to bite you, and each game was decided by such a small margin that we got to be better.”

Griffin could have blamed the Pistons’ lack of focus on playing back-to-back games, as they had just played the Boston Celtics the night before in Boston. But, he didn’t.

And, yes, even though Griffin’s last shot to go-ahead for the win didn’t go in, he still relishes the opportunity to have the ball with the game on the line.

“I’ll gladly take that (shot) every single time – try to make the right play,” Griffin said after the game. “I don’t think forcing a shot is very good, but our play kind of got a little mangled. I just tried to get the ball up on the rim, early enough, and unfortunately, it didn’t go in.”

Although, a good deal of the focus was on Griffin because he had the most points of all Pistons’ players. However, truth be told, the real Pistons scoring-player of the game honors should go to Andre Drummond, who tallied 24 points, 23 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Reggie Jackson added 21 points and four rebounds.

Next up, the Pistons play the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, November 3, 2018, in Philadelphia.

The Nets play the Houston Rockets at home at the Barclays Center on Friday, November 2, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Tip-ins:

Ed Davis’ ninth rebound of the game was his 3,000th career rebound off the bench. He's one of just seven players since 1983-84 to grab 3,000+ boards off the bench, joining Detlef Schrempf, Thurl Bailey, Nick Collison, Chris Andersen, Chris Gatling, and Dennis Rodman.

Dez Bryant is still feuding with the Dallas Cowboys; Tom Brady walks out of press conference, and; Brooklyn Nets add Jared Dudley

In this episode of What's The 411Sports, Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking with former Congressman Edolphus "Ed" Towns about his upcoming charity golf classic, and about:

Dez Bryant's Twitter feud with Stephen Jones and Sean Lee;
Tom Brady walking out of a press conference because of a question insinuating that his trainer, Alex Guerrero, may have had something to do with Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy;
• the trade of Jared Dudley from the Phoenix Suns to the Brooklyn Nets, and;
• the question of whether Odell Beckham Jr. is capable of leading the New York Giants.

 

Jared Dudley infers that a team of professionals with the right focus and drive could potentially overcome odds

The Brooklyn Nets acquired Jared Dudley and a 2021 second-round draft pick from the Phoenix Suns for Darrell Arthur on July 20, 2018.

Signed for a veteran’s presence in the locker room and elsewhere, Dudley, wasted no time sounding like an elder statesman when he spoke to the media on Wednesday.

Dudley recounted a story when he first landed in Milwaukee. It was Jason Kidd’s first year as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Kidd walked into the locker room, looked at a room filled with young players and told them, “If you don’t think we’re making the playoffs in this conference, let me know.” The Bucks made it into the NBA playoffs that season, going from a 15-win team to a .500 club.

The Nets won 28 games last season, another 13 games would make them a .500 NBA team. Let’s hope that with the players that Nets GM Sean Marks is assembling, this upcoming season Brooklyn could go beyond just 41 games in the win column.

 

video added August 4, 2018

 

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