October 19, 2019

Nets win 2019 NBA Free Agency with the acquisition of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan; lose D'Angelo Russell, Ed Davis, and other players

The Brooklyn Nets have been struggling to obtain top-tier NBA players in what seems like forever, and shortly after 6:00 p.m. on June 30, 2019, as soon as the NBA Free Agency period opened, it was as if the Brooklyn Nets hit the lotto. For months, not only did New York City sports talk radio hype Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant going to the New York Knicks during free agency, but their national brethren also chimed in. So, when the news broke that the Brooklyn Nets signed Irving and Durant, radio personalities became punching bags and psychologists depending on the caller. Nets fans came out of the woodwork to express their joy and apprehension. Most were concerned about Durant’s Achilles injury. Some felt a little bit of trepidation about the age Durant will be when he can finally play again, losing D’Angelo Russell, and whether Irving is capable of leading. All are legitimate concerns. But when one looks at the landscape of top-tier NBA players who were free agents, it would have been malpractice for the Nets not to try to sign them. There are also reports that DeAndre Jordan will sign a four-year, $40M deal with the Nets and that Durant and Irving will both take less than the max so DeAndre Jordan can receive $40M. Jordan can also be a help to Nets center, Jarrett Allen, who is going into his third season with the team.

In the last decade, Nets fans have been on a roller coaster ride. They have watched the Nets move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. They were there when Nets management tried to reel in LeBron James, and then later, Dwight Howard in his last year with the Orlando Magic. And, no one can forget the Nets trade with the Boston Celtics for the Big 3: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. It was at that introductory press conference presenting the Big 3 that Brooklyn Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov talked about being a championship contender.

 

At the time, most reporters expressed publicly and privately that Billy King did one heck of a great sales job. And, some even laughed, particularly as the Nets’ fortunes started sinking. Truthfully, it was no laughing matter. No business-minded person wants to see red ink on a balance sheet. And to a large extent, during that time, Brooklyn’s economy was tied to the Barclays Center’s profitability. Fortunately, Prokhorov moved quickly and changed the management of the Brooklyn Nets and replaced King with Sean Marks, who brought in Kenny Atkinson, who has a reputation for bringing out the best in players, particularly point guards, as the head coach to replace Lionel Hollins. Prokhorov also did one other thing to help Marks and Atkinson, he gave them the breathing room to right the sinking ship.

Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson 750x422Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks (l) and Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson

Nets fans already see big things in store for their team. Some are talking rings and others, see this team to be the next Eastern Conference Champions, particularly if Kawhi Leonard leaves the Toronto Raptors. If the Nets with this new composition of players get to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, this season, it will be considered a smashing success considering the Nets’ history. If it should win the East, and that is a big if, well let’s just say the City of New York will have to close down Flatbush Avenue because there will be dancing in the streets. And, some New Yorkers, because we are a bold bunch, may hold a simultaneous street party in front of Madison Square Garden.

The real NBA Basketball rivalry in New York City starts now.

Leaving Boston Brings Mixed Emotions for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce

The Brooklyn Nets today introduced its newest team members: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry.

The players expressed honest emotions about moving to the New York region.

Pierce and Garnett spoke about the difficulty of leaving Boston but understand the Nets provide them with a better opportunity to compete. Pierce, clearly experiencing separation anxiety, revealed a full spectrum of emotions, as he leaves the Boston Celtics, the only NBA franchise he's ever known.

"You know, it's tough," he said, "when you've been in a situation like me for 15 years, and you come to an organization, the Brooklyn Nets. But when you look at what they're trying to do here, win a championship, bring in the pieces necessary – a new arena, new owners, new excitement – it really brings a little bit of excitement.

"Obviously I would have loved to end my career in Boston, but that day and age is probably over with, a lot of players ending their careers in one city. I just, when the trade happened you felt excited, especially with Kevin and Jason coming along (to make) the situation, not only for me but for each other, a little more comfortable. And the ultimate drive is winning a championship. Obviously, Boston is going in a different direction and at this point in our careers, we're championship-driven. We've made a lot of money in our careers, won a number of awards, and I think at this point right now we're all about winning a championship. Brooklyn, we feel, gives us the best opportunity."

Starting with a "What's up, Brooklyn!," Garnett co-signed on Pierce's sentiments about moving from Boston.

"Very similar to what Paul said, I think he summed it up," said Garnett. "It's unfortunate that we have to obviously move from Boston, but I feel like both sides are going in different directions. For me, one of the major reasons I decided to come here was because the bones of this. I feel like adding what you see up here, with the bones of what they have already, with Brook (Lopez), Deron (Williams), Joe (Johnson) and the other pieces they have here, I feel this gives us the best option to win again, to win it all. I'm embracing this opportunity, my family's embracing this opportunity, we're looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to it."

Terry is looking forward to playing in Brooklyn, but his experience is much different from Pierce. His is similar to career military personnel.

"To be able to take another journey with these two outstanding gentlemen right next to me (Pierce and Garnett) is just an honor," said Terry. "I've been in Atlanta, Dallas, Boston. And now to be able to call Brooklyn my home, I'm just very blessed and honored. And ready."

Although Garnett, Pierce, and Terry are ready to roll, it's clear that the trade hit Pierce the hardest.

"It hasn't really sunk in. I think it's really starting to sink in as we speak, just being in this arena," he said. "I saw my jersey up in the locker room, and it's like you saw the trade and it was like, okay there's a trade, but for me to actually be here now looking for a place to live, being in this arena, trying to get to know my way around the city, it's really starting to sink in now that this has become real."

"I'm no longer a Boston Celtic. I'm a Brooklyn Net. That's what it is right now. It's business, at some point we all have to move on. I'm here to try to create some kind of legacy here in Brooklyn."

This probably explains Pierce's recent Twitter frenzy with pictures of him in a Celtics uniform.

Watch VIDEO: Scenes from the Press Conference Introducing Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry

Andrew Rosario, Chief Correspondent, What's The 411SPORTS' takes us inside a press conference held at the Barclays Center introducing the newest members of the Brooklyn Nets team.

Gary Sussman, Vice President, Public Relations, opened the press conference with the introduction of Nets General Manager Billy King who lauded Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. These new members of the Brooklyn Nets make the team a formidable force in the NBA's Eastern Conference and a championship contender.

Prokhorov Wants A Ring

Brooklyn Nets Principal Owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, flew in from Moscow specifically for this occasion. Prokhorov didn't mince any words, he expects the Brooklyn Nets to be a championship contender. He noted that Garnett, Pierce, and Terry each have at least one ring, while at the present moment, he has none.

Also in attendance were Brooklyn Nets Head Coach, Jason Kidd; Bruce Ratner, Chairman, Forest City Ratner Companies and Developer of the Barclays Center; Brett Yormark, CEO, Brooklyn Nets; and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.

 

Photo Credits: Alexis Williams/What's The 411 Networks

The end-of-season stench of disappointment that occupied the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, the newly minted home of the NBA Brooklyn Nets, is gone, for now.

What has replenished the stench is a new smell, more appealing to the ever-growing fan base that the Nets continue to grow. That new smell, similar to a new car smell is hope, opportunity, and expectations. Those are the words that can be and will be attached to the Nets as they begin their 2013 NBA campaign on the road against a promising Cleveland Cavaliers basketball club. What's different about this year's assembled Nets team, despite its new home, is billionaire boys' club owner Mikhail Prokhorov's recently retired and just hired NBA coach Jason Kidd and the new additions that they have acquired to help bolster their roster with the expectations of positive results.

Welcome, Paul Pierce, the 36-year-old veteran, or as we like to refer to him as "The Truth", who has produced a resume that boasts an NBA championship, an NBA Finals MVP and 10 All-Star selections most notably. Meet Kevin Garnett, who aided Pierce in achieving their first NBA championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics. Garnett is also the proud owner of an impeccable resume, which includes 15 All-Star selections, an MVP award, and the Defensive Player of the Year award, utilizing his anger to induce pain on everyone, not on his team. These Hall of Fame-bound players have to be properly introduced and separated from the rest of the players that complete the Nets offseason moves, and those players include journeyman Jason Terry, wingman Alan Anderson, a rehabilitated and resurrected Shaun Livingston, forward Andrei Kirilenko, and 1st Round Draft Pick center, Mason Plumlee. When you review the Nets 2012-2013 NBA season, analyzing their wins, playoff success or lack thereof, and compare it to the offseason roster changes to modify their chances within the eastern conference there's only one question that needs a response. How good can the Nets be this season? I think they can be very good, but at what expense?

When teams agree to swap players, contracts or draft picks, the overall and general goal is to rid themselves of their unwanted parts to gain something in return that they value more than what they have decided to give up. In this case, the Nets gave up relatively young starters and role players in forwards Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and guards, Marshon Brooks and Keith Bogans. The combination of Pierce and Garnett representing the upgrades in the starting lineup over Humphries and Wallace at both forward spots is a no-brainer every day of the week, but the difference is which tandem is actually capable of remaining on the court for the duration of an entire 82-game NBA regular season. The Boston Celtics realized that their condensed version of a dynasty, which produced an NBA Championship, had come to a close. On the other hand, the Nets felt that the addition of two soon-to-be Hall-of-Famers may be exactly what they need to make their dreams of contending for the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy a reality.

Basically, the Nets want to win now, but can they really? The Eastern Conference for all intended purposes has regained its honor back in being a respectable conference. The infusion of young talent and well organized and assembled teams spell trouble for the Nets in its climb to reach the mountaintop. Derrick Rose is healthy this year, returning to the same Bulls team that eliminated the Nets in the 1st round of the 2012-2013 postseason. Rose accomplishes the feat of the missing bulk to the Bulls' starting lineup. The Indiana Pacers added backup point guard CJ Watson, and forwards Chris Copeland and Luis Scola to replenish its bench. The Pacers also have All-Star forward Danny Granger back from injury to pair alongside budding star forward Paul George, who enjoyed the finest NBA season of his career averaging 17.4 points and being selected to his first All-Star team. The other NBA team sharing the same state with the Nets in neighboring Manhattan is the New York Knicks. It, too, has altered its roster adding famed NBA bad boy Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) to further improve its team defense. The Knicks also acquired forward Andrea Bargnani from the Toronto Raptors to help take the pressure off star forward Carmelo Anthony on the offensive end of the court. Meanwhile, the defending Champs in the Miami Heat are prepped for another title run. The Heat boasts the "Super Friends" in forwards Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and guard Dwyane Wade. The Heat also added much-needed size to its frontcourt in signing former 2007 number 1 overall draft pick in center Greg Oden, as well as, scoring punch off the bench by forward Michael Beasley, the Heat's former Number 2 overall draft pick in 2008.

On paper, the Nets can contend, but the court is where it matters. The questions that the Nets will be forced to answer beginning October 30th, on the road in a meet and greet with the Cleveland Cavaliers will be: Can Jason Kidd inspire starting point guard Deron Williams to play at a level that we have not seen yet? Can Jason Kidd in his initial year as a Head Coach manage the variety of personalities at his disposal? Will Pierce and Garnett survive the 82-game schedule to play in meaningful games in May and June? Will the defense be able to control the game that best fits their strengths, as they will have a difficult time defending the fast-break as well as completing them? And finally, will the bench be able to pick up the time that Pierce and Garnett will inevitably miss this year to keep the team afloat in their absence? If the Nets can answer all of these questions, Brooklyn will have a summer for the ages, but this is their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test and not everyone can obtain their Masters.

No two teams in the Eastern Conference went through more of a positive roster change on paper than the Brooklyn Nets and the Detroit Pistons. As it is well documented across the basketball globe, the Nets added Jason Kidd as head coach, along with two soon-to-be Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and five key bench players. The team also added 6th man of the year Jason Terry; Mister all world, Andrei Kirilenko aka AK-47; scoring and defending wing Alan Anderson; former McDonald’s- All American Shaun Livingston; and reserve rookie big man Mason Plumlee out of Duke University. These moves put the Nets atop the NBA elite if everyone can stay healthy and gel quickly since they have an older team.

As for the Pistons, they also added several key pieces that can put them atop the Eastern Conference, starting with the Coach Maurice Cheeks a great mentor to point guards and a former all-star point guard himself. Detroit made a big free agent splash with one of the most dynamic versatile players in the world, Josh Smith. The sign and trade for Brandon Jennings is pivotal in the new NBA where point guards rule the league. Similarly, drafting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the lottery fills a major hole in the Piston’s roster. Caldwell-Pope has all the tools of being a top shooting guard in the league. Additionally, an old face from its championship team, Mr. Chauncey “Big Shot” Billups adds playoff experience to a young roster.

For fans that came to the game looking for a point guard showdown, no such luck. Since it is pre-season, some of the key players on both teams were out. Absent were Deron Williams with an ailing right ankle, while Brandon Jennings was marked DNP due to dental issues. More to the point, there are a lot of unanswered questions coming into this season reflected in this game. How will Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce complement each other since they have similar games? Is the Nets’ bench deep enough to overcome its aging roster? Can a young athletic team like Detroit be the Nets Achilles heel?

Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson seem to fit better together more so than Kevin and Brook. I guess the chemistry playing with each other earlier in their careers in Boston helped. They were able to make seamless switches on defense and knew when to clear out on the offensive end making sure spacing was adequate. I don’t foresee any problems here.

The combination of Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett is under construction, but there are positive signs. They both have a high b-ball IQ, so they were able to find each other a lot in the post and in the mid-range, giving each other easy buckets. During the first quarter, they played six minutes. Kevin was 3-3 and Brook was 2-3 from the field, super efficient. On the negative side, Brook and Kevin are both high post players, which can leave the big men too high up and away from boards. They combined for two rebounds in the first quarter. The Nets won’t be able to live up to its lofty preseason expectations with its center and power forward having two rebounds in a quarter and a total of four for the game. Also, the defensive transition was a problem for the two big men. They were late getting back a couple of times leading to easy baskets by Detroit.

That Achilles Heel was present a lot of times tonight. The Pistons looked way too young and athletic tonight for one of the oldest teams in the league. So many easy baskets were scored by Andre Drummond by simply out-running or out-jumping the Nets. This really led to the 99-88 loss to the Pistons. The Nets seem to want to play an up-tempo style. However, I would take notes from the Spurs know when to run because you may get run over.

As I watched the game, I was thinking this could be a tough year for the Nets. I was concerned because I wasn’t sure where the team was going to get its scoring from off the bench. Then I realized former 6th Man of the Year, Jason Terry, was not playing. So I felt less concerned. AK-47, a great pick up, helped on both ends of the floor, offense and defense. His basketball IQ is through the roof. He made some great passes and steals with his great basketball instinct and hustle. I can tell he will be a crowd favorite. I also saw Brooklynite Gary Forbes on the Nets roster. He was a star for Benjamin Banneker High school right downtown Brooklyn. He stepped right in, didn’t look nervous during his 17minutes and looked like he could be a spark plug off the Nets bench. However, Coach Kidd reminded us during the postgame press conference that the Nets’ roster is already set at the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts. So it looks like Mr. Forbes is trying out for other teams.

 

10/17/2013

Editor's note: The Brooklyn Nets have requested waivers on forward Gary Forbes, Nets General Manager Billy King announced tonight. Forbes, who was signed to the training camp roster on September 30, appeared in four preseason games, averaging 6.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

The Nets roster now stands at 17 players.

BROOKLYN NETS POST-GAME COVERAGE AFTER LOSS TO PORTLAND [VIDEO]

The Brooklyn Nets took a hard loss at home in the Barclays Center against the Portland Trailblazers tonight. Team Black and White lost 108-98, leaving them with a 3-7 record at this point in the season.

“I take the blame for this. The guys played hard, we got a little stagnant on the offensive end so this falls on my shoulders. We got off to a good start and in that third quarter we came out a little flat and that falls on me,” Said Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd.

Regarding adjustments Portland may have made in the second half of the game that may have caused the drastic difference in the numbers, Coach Kidd responded, “I don’t know if it’s what Portland did, we had some great looks on offense, we didn’t score, and again, if we don’t score, we got to play the other side and tonight that again that falls on me.”

“Well, he feels it’s his fault, we look in the mirror as players, we feel it’s our fault," responded Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Jason Terry about the outcome of the game. “Everybody’s in this together that what it boils down to, we’ll watch some more film tomorrow. We head back out on the road again and we have to get it done, figure this thing out.”

“I take responsibility, it’s on all of us, me as well,” added Brooklyn Nets point guard Shaun Livingston. “I take the majority of that as well because as a point guard, you got to initiate the offense, make the right play calls to get guys involved and maybe that’s the time where I should look to be more aggressive to get into the paint, drawing fouls, maybe getting some free throws to pick our momentum back up."

“Just me personally, my job is to make shots, I only made two tonight. If I’m looking at myself individually it’s to make shots, however many shots you get, you got to make them” continued Terry.

REGARDING DEFENSE

“We got good looks offensively,” said Coach Kidd. “Again, the one thing I’ve always told the guys some nights the ball is going to go in and some nights, it’s not; but we got to be consistent on the defensive end and to start that third quarter, we weren’t.”

“At the same time defensively, we let them get comfortable. They had about five or six threes there that got them going,” added Jason Terry.

ABOUT HOW TO MOVE FORWARD

“We’re in it, we’re in a struggle right now, but it’s a grind, and we all have to be in it together, that’s the main thing,” said Shaun Livingston.

“We got to get healthy, we got to find a consistency to what we’re doing on both ends of the floor, so until that happens we’re going to continue to struggle. We figured it out that we have to play hard, we know that Jason Terry offered.

We can’t be one foot in and one foot out…., there is still the majority of the season left, it’s the first, what, two or three weeks,” Shaun Livingston added.

“Is this an evolutionary process,” asked Michael Bellamy?

“Oh, yeah, for sure, for sure and you don’t know when that’s going to happen, but when it does, it is going to be special and I believe that,” Jason Terry said emphatically.

“Again, as the coach, we got, we got some work to do,” Coach Kidd reiterated.

 

Reporter on the scene: Michael Bellamy

Videography: Lynndone Payne

Nets general manager sees tremendous upside in drafting young European players to play with Brooklyn Nets

It’s NBA Draft night and the excitement among NBA fans in the arena at the Barclays Center, as well as reporters in the Brooklyn Nets press room is quite apparent. For the last several years, Brooklyn Nets’ fans have been sidelined during the early rounds of the draft because of a trade with the Boston Celtics in 2013 that brought Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn. If it were not for some fancy maneuvering every year on the part of Nets’ management, Brooklyn wouldn’t have a pick at all until 2019, as its picks were part of the deal with Boston.

Brooklyn Nets 2018 NBA Draft Picks

With the Nets first pick of the night at No. 29, general manager Sean Marks selected Dzanan Musa from Bosnia, who plays for Cedevita of the Croatian League. We don’t generally get news about European players, but Musa happens to be ranked No. 18 in ESPN’s Top 100. Musa, who is 19-years-old, has lived on his own since he was 11-years-old and moved to Croatia to join KK Cedevita at age 15. It's not that many people in the world with that type of initiative.

VIDEO: Sean Marks speaks highly of Dzanan Musa

 

Next up at No. 40, the Nets selected 20-year-old Rodions Kurucs from Latvia. Marks personally scouted Kurucs while he played with his Spanish league team.

At No. 45, the Nets selected Hamidou Diallo and promptly traded his rights to the Charlotte Hornets.

VIDEO: Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks on Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs

Paul Pierce happy for the win, but not happy with the way the Nets closed the game

Following the most notable sporting event of the season in the Super Bowl, which took place in a land not too far away in the state of New Jersey; the Brooklyn Nets returned home to host the Philadelphia 76ers orchestrating a 108-102 victory on a snowy evening providing a cozy and fun-filled environment for the Brooklyn faithful.

This win progresses the Nets to 21-25 on the overall season, as they continue to work their way back to mediocrity, .500.

The Nets snapped their 3-game losing streak against a lowly opponent, all in all validating the honor that their first-year Head Coach in Jason Kidd received today in Coach of the Month, for compiling a record of 10-3 in January.

The Nets accomplished what the Broncos failed to, despite the difference in sports, circumstances, and setting, a win, plain and simple.

Missing tonight's action was guard Joe Johnson suffering from tendinitis in his right patella; also C Andray Blatche and Forward Andrei Kirilenko recorded DNP's, coach's decision. Given this scenario, the Nets needed a significant offensive contribution as thin as they appeared to be.

They received that contribution from a variety of places tonight.

From the opening tip, the Nets led throughout the majority of the first half until the 76ers reclaimed the lead for the first time this evening with 6:25 left in the second quarter, via two free-throws from 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams. This gave the Sixers a lead of 35-33 with more than 6 minutes left until halftime.

Philadelphia flashed its youth, enabling a run in which it eliminated the Nets lead early in the second quarter. However, the Nets capitalized on a back-and-forth pace later down the stretch.

An alley-oop conversion courtesy of G Shaun Livingston, assisted by F Paul Pierce and a theft by Livingston rewarding Pierce on back-to-back fast breaks pushed the Nets advantage over the Sixers, 54-49 heading into the intermission period.

The synergy established by the Nets towards the end of the first half carried over to the start of the second half as the Nets held the Sixers to within 4 points through the first four minutes.

With the increase in defensive pressure, the Nets manufactured a 13-3 run extending their lead, 67-54 with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter. The run, energized collectively and individually, by G Deron Williams who caught fire in the 3rd. Williams scored 12 points in the third quarter alone, as he returned back to the starting lineup.

The Nets gained their largest lead of the game by far, up by as many as 17 points, when Journeyman G Jason Terry connected for three, on the right wing with 2:37 remaining until the start of the fourth. This put the home team in front 81-64.

The 4th quarter decides the outcome of each and every organized basketball game, and like any team would, the Sixers made their run.

A strong surge by rookie of the year candidate Williams and fellow youngster G Tony Wroten combined for a series of layups and perimeter shots reducing the Nets lead to 6, 97-91 with 6:15 left until the end of regulation.

A Lavoy Allen jumper assisted by Williams from the top of the key with 3:41 remaining in the 4th, brought the Sixers within 2, 97-95, to which the Nets responded by scoring 7 straight points, capped off by F Mirza Teletovic connecting for three 97-89.

The Sixers continued to fight, and exhibited their best effort in the closing moments, only to come up short and the ball bouncing the Brooklyn way.

With 40.8 seconds remaining a loose ball that the Nets failed to claim gave the Sixers life and enough time to draw up a play that left Anderson alone in the corner for which he connected for three giving the Sixers another chance down by 2 with 22.8 seconds remaining nets 104-102.

But without leverage, the Sixers were forced to foul sending Pierce to the line, which resulted in two made free-throws and 6 seconds later a steal by Livingston and foul generated the same result in two additional free throws further advancing the Nets to a final 108-102 win over the Sixers.

Even in victory, Pierce was unsatisfied like a true champion, desiring more from his fellow teammates in the future games to come.

"You can't be happy with the way we closed the game," Pierce articulated to post game media correspondents in the Nets Locker-room.

"We gave up layups, threes," Pierce continues.

"We were up 20, up 19 and let them back in the game. If we play like that come Thursday then we can't expect to walk away with a win."

Pierce is alluding to Thursday night's contest where the Nets will continue their home-stand in welcoming the franchise spearheading the Southwest division in the San Antonio Spurs. If the Nets want a "W" against the Spurs, a complete 48 minutes of play from the Nets is essential and required to defend their home-court.

Pierce also dished in on the inspirational play of backcourt teammate Livingston who contributed 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists, as well as, getting after it defensively, a pest in the passing lanes with 7 steals. Livingston has recorded back-to-back games of six or more steals a feat not accomplished by a Net since Kendall Gill in 1999.

"He's a guy who's gaining confidence week by week," Pierce expresses to the media postgame.

"He believes in his ability; whatever we ask of him he's given it to us," Pierce added.

With Johnson's questionable medical status Livingston will definitely receive every opportunity to fill the void offensively and defensively in the starting unit, something he is very capable of doing acknowledged by Kidd.

"He's playing at a high level and we need him to do that," said Kidd in his post-game press conference.

"He's involved and he is in tune and we need him to do that," Kidd continued.

"Right now he's on that consistent role that we need."

Williams wasn't too shabby at all with his overall performance, pouring in the second most scoring output behind Pierce's 25 with 21 points and 6 timely assists working his way back to the starting lineup where he belongs and should remain as he is the $90 million man.

For the time being, the Nets warmed up the Barclays Center despite the wrath of the winter season. But in the end, for the Nets to sustain positive production they must get healthy with any hope of locking up the Atlantic Division.

The New York Knicks did its part beating Toronto to help itself get an NBA playoff spot, but the Nets kept them out by losing to the Hawks 93-88

We are at the point in the NBA season where teams have solidified their playoff position. Some teams are trying to improve their spot, while others are hanging on to faint hopes. Such is the story of the four teams that took to the floor Friday night. The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Atlanta Hawks at Barclays Center while the New York Knicks were on the road against the division leading Toronto Raptors.

The Nets know they will face the Chicago Bulls (who took them out in 7 games last year) when the playoffs start in two weeks. There will be no urgency to play their starters extended minutes to keep them as fresh as possible. For Toronto, it's the same story, the team is looking to win its division for the first time in franchise history. Atlanta holds a 1.5 game lead over New York for the 8th and final spot. It's more like 2.5 games as if both teams end up with identical records, the Hawks would get in due to having a better conference record. Comments were made recently by the Hawks general manager Danny Ferry that they would not mind missing the playoffs (they would face Miami or Indiana in the first round) so they could be a team in the lottery. It had folks from the NBA shaking their heads.

When the Nets introduced their new big 3 (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry) last year the biggest question was how many minutes they would play during the course of the regular season as new first year Head Coach Jason Kidd knew that keeping them healthy and fresh would be the key to their postseason success or failure. Terry is no longer with the team, Pierce has been relatively healthy under those controlled minutes but Garnett's (his replacement Mason Plumlee has played very well in his place as evidenced by his game-winning block against LeBron James and Miami this past Tuesday) back has been a reason for concern. Before playing against Detroit last week on the road, Garnett missed the previous 15 games.

So it was no surprise when Brooklyn took the floor Friday night, the starting line-up had the look of an exhibition game. The Nets were without the services of Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson with little used Jorge Gutierrez starting in place of Williams. Garnett started his second straight game at center.

Plumlee continued his stellar play coming off the bench after Garnett's 3 minutes of play. Although he missed 2 of 3 free-throws, he connected on all 3 field goals scoring 7 points as the Nets took a 7 point (23-16) first quarter lead. The Hawks didn't play the second quarter like they were giving up on their playoff hopes. Led by Jeff Teague (all 14 points in the quarter) Atlanta outscored Brooklyn 39-24 to take an 8 point lead (55-47).

Atlanta extended the lead to 10 (66-56) after a Teague layup but the Nets closed out the 3rd quarter on a 17-8 run getting them within 1 (74-73) setting up the game that could define the Hawks post-season plans.

Neither team led by more than 5 (86-81 Hawks) after 2 Paul Millsap free throws. His 27th point of the game gave them a 1 point lead (89-88) with 1:46 left. Teague adds to the lead with 2 free throws and then Kyle Korver blocks Marcus Thorton's lay-up attempt. Joe Johnson misses a floater followed by another Teague basket. Game over.

The New York Knicks did their part beating Toronto on the road but had to be hanging their collective heads when they learned about the 93-88 Atlanta win. The loss broke Brooklyn's 15-game home winning streak. Maybe Ferry was playing reverse psychology with his players when he made his no playoff comment. Looks like it's working.

Brooklyn's Bit: Prior to the game, New York High School, College and Pro legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar introduced his SkyHook Challenge to bring awareness to the Chronic Myeloid Leukemia he was diagnosed with in 2008. Skyhook Challenge is a timed trivia game fans participate in to see how many questions they can answer about Abdul Jabbar's basketball history. 

Noel Nerlens Falls to #6 & Gets Traded to Philly

The calm before the storm settled in at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY Thursday night as the NBA draft prospects sat with their families and mingled with reporters, teammates and agents. The draft picks groomed to a "T" and dressed in their Sunday's best, awaited David Stern to mark the podium for the first announcement. The "Green Room," designated for the draft prospects and their guests only looked like a first-grade class-- all attendees with their chins up, heads forward, hands on the table and all eyes on the teacher (Stern.) Nerlens Noel and Alex Len, two of the top prospects thought to be most likely to go 1 and 2, looked attentively, listening to Stern's announcement.

Boos belted out from the crowd, as Stern took the stage.

"With the 1st pick of the NBA 2013 draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select (PAUSE) Anthony Bennett of Toronto Canada."

The crowd shocked, exploding with semi-excitement for the guy who sports analysts projected to go 4th or 5th.

Bennett, the 6-foot-8 forward and his family jumped to their feet.

The 20-year-old, who started playing basketball seven years ago told reporters that he was "just surprised as everybody else" for being picked No. 1.

"I didn't really have any idea who's going No. 1 or who was going No. 2. I heard everything was up for grabs. But I'm just real happy, glad that I have this opportunity, and I just got to thank God for the opportunity," he said.

After only one year at UNLV, Bennett becomes the second player at the university to be selected the top overall pick, joining Larry Johnson, who was drafted in 1991.

Bennett also becomes the first Canadian to get drafted as a No. 1 pick.

Too much surprise, Noel wasn't called No. 2, but Victor Oladipo is a guy Orlando fans are sure to fall in love with. Besides feeling delighted for being the second pick of the draft, the former Indiana guard said he's not sure if his family still knows "what's going on."

The Nigerian player also has a great singing voice, maybe he'll sing the National Anthem at one of the games.

After five picks in Thursday night's NBA draft, Nerlens finally heard his name called when the New Orleans Pelicans selected him with the sixth pick. He barely showed excitement, likely disappointed that five other picks were selected before him.

"I'm excited getting started with Anthony," Noel said after hearing his name called.

His stint with the Pelicans only lasted for about 30 minutes, after reports swirled that he'd been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday and the NBA's 42nd pick.

Other fan favorites like Trey Burke, Otto Porter Jr, Cody Zeller and Michael-Carter Williams also nabbed NBA picks.

Basketball junkies at Barclays consisted of mostly Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks fans, with Knicks guru Spike Lee in the audience. While the Nets selected Mason Plumlee of Duke, other fans seemed enthusiastic as the Knicks drafted Tim Hardaway Jr. (Not sure about how Tim Hardaway Sr. feels about the pick, knowing the former NBA player hates the Knicks, but I'm sure he's happy for his son nonetheless.)

On social media, the Nets seemed to have been the talk of the night, with rumors swirling that Kevin Garnett waived his no-trade clause, making room for the Boston Big Three trade that could send him, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets for the package of players and draft picks.

See a complete list of the NBA drafts picks below.

FIRST ROUND
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1. Cleveland Cavaliers: PF Anthony Bennett, UNLV
2. Orlando Magic: SG Victor Oladipo, Indiana
3. Washington Wizards: SF Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown
4. Charlotte Bobcats: C Cody Zeller, Indiana
5. Phoenix Suns: C Alex Len, Maryland
6. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans Pelicans): C Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
7. Sacramento Kings: SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
8. Detroit Pistons: SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
9. Utah Jazz (via Minnesota Timberwolves): PG Trey Burke, Michigan
10. Portland Trail Blazers: SG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
11. Philadelphia 76ers: PG Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: C Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
13. Boston Celtics (via Dallas Mavericks): C Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): SF Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
15. Milwaukee Bucks: SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece
16. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics): C Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
17. Atlanta Hawks: PG Dennis Schroeder, Germany
18. Dallas Mavericks (via Atlanta Hawks): PG Shane Larkin, Miami (Fla.)
19. Cleveland Cavaliers: SF Sergey Karasev, Russia
20. Chicago Bulls: SG Tony Snell, New Mexico
21. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz): C Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
22. Brooklyn Nets: C Mason Plumlee, Duke
23. Indiana Pacers: SF Solomon Hill, Arizona
24. New York Knicks: SG Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
25. Los Angeles Clippers: SF Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
26. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves): SF Andre Roberson, Colorado
27. Utah Jazz (via Denver Nuggets): C Rudy Gobert, France
28. San Antonio Spurs: SF Livio Jean-Charles, French Guiana
29. Phoenix Suns (via Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder): SG Archie Goodwin, Kentucky
30. Golden State Warriors (via Phoenix Suns): PG Nemanja Nedovic, Serbia
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SECOND ROUND
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31. Portland Trail Blazers (via Cleveland Cavaliers): SG Allen Crabbe, California
32. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG Alex Abrines, Spain
33. Cleveland Cavaliers: SG Carrick Felix, Arizona State
34. Houston Rockets: PG Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
35. Washington Wizards (via Philadelphia 76ers): SF Glen Rice Jr., NBA Development League
36. Sacramento Kings: PG Ray McCallum, Detroit Mercy
37. Detroit Pistons: F Tony Mitchell, North Texas
38. Philadelphia 76ers (via Washington Wizards): PG Nate Wolters, South Dakota State
39. Portland Trail Blazers: C Jeff Withey, Kansas
40. Portland Trail Blazers: PF Grant Jerrett, Arizona
41. Memphis Grizzlies: SG Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
42. New Orleans Pelicans (via Philadelphia 76ers): PG Pierre Jackson, Baylor
43. Milwaukee Bucks: SG Ricky Ledo, Providence
44. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks): C Mike Muscala, Bucknell
45. Portland Trail Blazers: PF Marko Todorovic, Montenegro
46. Denver Nuggets (via Utah Jazz): PG Erick Green, Virginia Tech
47. Atlanta Hawks: PG Raul Neto, Brazil
48. Los Angeles Lakers: PF Ryan Kelly, Duke
49. Chicago Bulls: PF Erik Murphy, Florida
50. Miami Heat (via Atlanta Hawks): SF James Ennis, Long Beach State
51. Orlando Magic: PF Romero Osby, Oklahoma
52. Minnesota Timberwolves: PG Lorenzo Brown, North Carolina State
53. Boston Celtics (via Indiana Pacers): C Colton Iverson, Colorado State
54. Philadelphia 76ers (via Washington Wizards): PF Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon
55. Denver Nuggets (via Memphis Grizzlies): PF Joffrey Lauvergne, France
56. Detroit Pistons: PG Peyton Siva, Louisville
57. Phoenix Suns: C Alex Oriakhi, Missouri
58. San Antonio Spurs: SF Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
59. Minnesota Timberwolves: PF Bojan Dubljevic, Montenegro
60. Memphis Grizzlies: SF Janis Timma, Latvia

 

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