November 17, 2019

A new Big 3 arrives in Brooklyn to add firepower to the Brooklyn Nets which already feature standouts Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Joe Harris

When the news broke during the first moments of the 2019 NBA Free Agency that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant would be signing with the Brooklyn Nets, it was clear that this was the start of a new era in Brooklyn. Today, that notion was underscored and co-signed by the number of media that showed up to see and hear from these two NBA superstars at the Brooklyn Nets Media Day held at the Nets practice facility.

The event kicked off with Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson answering a myriad of questions from the media including: how the Irving – Durant deal came together, will Kevin Durant travel with the team to China (preseason), players Atkinson expects to see take the next step upwards, what it’s like working with elite basketball players, and more.

In his own words: Kenny Atkinson

Kyrie Irving Hits The Stage

Then the moment that everyone was waiting for, Kyrie Irving takes the stage. Before anyone could ask questions, Irving leaned in and laid it all out. Irving started off as though he was in a confessional, all that was missing was, forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

“I’m incredibly grateful to be here,” Irving said. “It’s been a journey that I’ve taken numerous steps in different directions, and I’ve failed and succeeded…”

Uhhh, so where is this going?!

Irving went on to say that he was the mastermind behind bringing Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan to the Brooklyn Nets.

Meanwhile, in the weeks leading up to the announcement, the drumbeat that Irving and Durant would be signing with the New York Knicks grew louder with each passing day. So, how did Irving and company land in Brooklyn?

From Irving’s detailing of the sequence of events, it seemed like the Brooklyn Nets were in the lead for a good while. He went into detail about his decision-making and listed the factors that swayed his decision. Irving watched a good deal of Brooklyn Nets tape, he noticed that the players played hard, the Brooklyn Nets were a well-managed and coached team, New York City is close to home, and he grew up watching and rooting for the Nets, which was his hometown team when they played in New Jersey.

So, how did those so-called basketball insiders get this so wrong? Easy, they were probably not talking with Kyrie Irving and probably didn’t know that he used to root for the Nets in the Julius Erving days. Additionally, when people hear New York, they forget that Brooklyn is part of New York City.

But, getting back to the deal, at 4:16 a.m. before NBA free agency started in earnest, Irving, Durant, and Jordan were on the phone, FaceTime, specifically, when Irving asked if they were ready to do this. Indeed, they were, and Irving reached out to Nets general manager Sean Marks to get the ball rolling. He also let Marks know that it wasn’t just him, saying, “I had some other pieces I wanted to bring with me as well…”

Marks, talking about the signing of Irving and Durant at his press conference on Tuesday played it cool as if it was just another day at the office. But, listening to Kyrie Irving, one could only imagine the “happy dance” that Marks and his team were probably doing when he learned that Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan were ready to sign with Brooklyn.

For the most part, Brooklyn Nets fans were exuberant at the news that Irving and Durant would be coming to Brooklyn and not the New York Knicks. However, some fans and reporters were wondering will Irving come and then leave Brooklyn high and dry like he did Boston. In answering the Boston issue without being asked, Irving stated, “nine months ago I was sitting in front of the Boston crowd saying that I wanted to re-sign. And after that, a lot of things happened in my personal life that really changed the landscape of how I felt about the game of basketball and actually playing it in a team environment, and that really affected me as a human being.”

“‘Hey…they loved me in Boston, I loved the Boston fans” Irving continued. “And then two weeks later things just got really, really rocky for me in terms of — when I left for, I believe you know, after the Phoenix game, I went to my grandfather’s memorial, and he passed on October 23rd and after he passed, basketball was the last thing on my mind. So, a lot of basketball and the joy I had from it was sucked away from me and there was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year, didn’t allow anyone to get close to me in that instance and it really bothered me. I didn’t take the necessary steps to get counseling or get therapy or anything to deal with someone that close to me dying. I’ve never dealt with anything like that.”

At that moment, there was a momentum shift in the room, yes, Kyrie Irving is a basketball god, a basketball hero, but he is also a human being that grieves like the rest of us.

We also learned that Irving and Durant have a real bond and Irving is very protective of Durant which he made very clear when he recounted Durant’s injury to his Achilles.

“We all know K was not ready to play in that environment…we put him on a national stage to end up selling a product (that) came before the person,” Irving said as though they were fighting words.

So, if Irving has anything to do with it, don’t expect to see Kevin Durant on the court before he’s physically ready.

Kevin Durant Speaks, sort of

Speaking of Durant, when it was his turn to speak, it was more question and answer and a noticeable shift in the relationship with the media. While Kyrie was open and laying it all bare, Durant, was closely guarded and with good reason. Since his move to the Golden State Warriors from the Oklahoma City Thunder, some media people seem to be out to get him.

For Durant, the opportunity to play for the Brooklyn Nets with his friends at this moment in time was not to be taken lightly, “it’s very rare we could meet up at this point… to control our destinies.”

Durant also did his homework researching the Nets. He already knew Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert from working out with him last summer. But he researched Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.

“I was doing a lot of YouTube research on Kenny Atkinson and watching interviews to see how he talked after games and stuff,” Durant admitted. “I really liked his approach to his craft as a coach and that’s what drew me in pretty quickly.”

DeAndre Jordan

In every group, there seems to be someone who brings the comic relief and DeAndre Jordan was just what the doctor ordered. Jordan made it clear that as a veteran player at the center position, he will mentor Jarrett Allen, who is going into his third year, but the position will be competitive.

Jarrett, you have been put on notice.

What’s Next?

The Brooklyn Nets will play two games at home at the Barclays Center during the NBA preseason, on Friday, October 4, 2019, against the SESI/Franca Basketball Club (Brazil) and on Friday, October 18, 2019, against the Toronto Raptors. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

The first regular-season home game is on Wednesday, October 23rd at 7:30 p.m., against the Minnesota Timberwolves, followed by the New York Knicks on Friday, October 25, 2019, also at 7:30 p.m.

 
 

With the Brooklyn Nets new player composition, the Nets are on the map, and the competition is expected to be fierce

The NBA released its 2019-20 schedule of NBA games today, and the Brooklyn Nets followed showcasing their highly anticipated schedule. As one who has been regularly covering the Brooklyn Nets since its inaugural 2012-13 season in Brooklyn, I can tell you the first home game of the season at the Barclays Center is always thrilling. There’s electricity in the air, as excited diehard Nets fans are back to root for their team. However, if you follow NBA news, you know this season is going to be different. You will want to be at the Barclays Center when the Nets first game of the season tips off against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, October 23rd, at Barclays Center.

And, if you’re asking why, go have a seat. Seriously, this will be the night that the Brooklyn Nets unveils its new roster to the public, which includes the long-awaited introduction of new players Kevin Durant (although Durant won’t be playing), Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan, as well as, returning fan favorites: Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs, Caris LeVert, Dzanan Musa, and Theo Pinson.

The Timberwolves will feature its standouts Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and former Nets players Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier should be in the house, as they now play for the Timberwolves.

Over the course of the season, fans are going to be paying attention to see if Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson will be able to work his player development magic on 2019 NBA draftees Nicolas Claxton and Jaylen Hands, in addition to weaving into the Nets system new players Deng Adel, Wilson Chandler, Henry Ellenson, David Nwaba, Taurean Prince, and Garrett Temple.

Want to see Zion Williamson, the NBA’s 2019 No.1 Draft Pick, in Brooklyn? The Nets play his team, the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, November 4, 2019. It will be Williamson’s first NBA game in New York City during the regular NBA season.

If going out during the week isn’t your thing, you’re in luck because 18 of Brooklyn’s 41 home games will be played on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. And, if you’re good with arithmetic, you know that’s just under half of the home game schedule.

The Nets will also host five-afternoon matches, including a 3 p.m. game versus the Philadelphia 76ers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 20, 2020.

Want to see the Nets’ first home game against 2019 NBA playoff foe, the Philadelphia 76ers featuring Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? You can check them out on Sunday, December 5, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. Former Boston Celtics player, Al Horford, is now with the Sixers, so this offers a matchup between him and ex-Boston teammate and new Nets signee, Kyrie Irving.

A couch potato, or a Nets fan living in another city, you’re in luck. The Nets did so well last season, they will be featured on national television 20 times this season, six games on ESPN, six contests on TNT, and eight games on NBA TV.

If you prefer radio, Brooklyn Nets games will broadcast regionally on the YES Network for the 18th consecutive season and on WFAN radio for the 16th consecutive season.

The Nets will play two season-long four-game homestands this season, with the first beginning Tuesday, January 7, versus Oklahoma City and ending Tuesday, January 14, versus Utah, and the second spanning from Wednesday, March 18, versus Washington through Wednesday, March 25, versus the L.A. Clippers. The month of January will feature a season-high 10 home contests.

Brooklyn’s longest stint away from the Barclays Center will come in November, when they embark on a nine-day, five-game road trip, beginning on Friday, November 8, at Portland and concluding in Chicago on Saturday, November 16.

The team’s schedule also includes 11 back-to-back sets. And, you know how players hate back-to-back games.

You can see the full Nets schedule here.

With the player moves that Nets general manager Sean Marks made over the summer, this Nets season is highly anticipated. Expect games to be sold out, so don’t wait until the last minute, get your tickets as soon as possible. This Brooklyn Nets season is going to be lit!

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.

The Nets came within two points of the Golden State Warriors with less than two minutes on the clock, but could not pull through

Oh, the complicated Nets we weave! The Brooklyn Nets that is. It’s Sunday and the Nets faced off against the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors in their first and only meeting at the Barclays Center this season. The Nets started off strong in the first quarter with x lead changes and ended the first quarter on the heels of the Warriors at 32-29. And, then losing their grip on the Warriors in the second quarter, ending the first-half 63-49. Then came the proverbial third quarter when the Nets dug themselves into a 93-78 hole. Trying to dig themselves out in the fourth stanza, the Nets edged the Warriors 37-27 in tonight’s fourth quarter and came within 2 points, at the 1:55 mark on a driving layup by D’Angelo Russell. But the talent of the Golden State Warriors came shining through and when the horn sounded to signal the end of the game, the Warriors walked off as victors 120-114. Meanwhile, the Nets fell to 2-4 this season and 1-1 at Barclays Center with tonight’s loss, while the Warriors improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 on the road with the win.

“I felt like we did get stronger as the game went on,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said regarding the Nets’ fourth-quarter rally. “I thought that the guys really made a second push. I thought it was a good effort in the second half. Listen, I don’t think the crowd was pleased with our first half, the coach wasn’t pleased, the players weren’t pleased, so we were – at halftime, it wasn’t pleasant in there because I don’t think we played up to our capabilities. So, just to see us play Nets basketball in the second half that gives us some encouragement going into tomorrow night’s game.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Brooklyn Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson

“I felt like the effort – the defensive effort – especially on the boards,” Atkinson explained about what changed in the second half. “This team you can’t give multiple shots. I know they didn’t have a ton of offensive rebounds but I thought they had three or four that they just outhustled us and you’re just not going to have a chance – you’re going to be down 20 – against a talented team like that. I thought we did a much better job on the 50-50 balls. Our rebounding – it was just a much better effort and that’s why we’re in the game and had a chance.”

“The Nets battled the whole way,” Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “We had them on the ropes several times. We were up 19 late in the third quarter, Brooklyn hit a big 3-pointer to end the third and two to start the fourth quarter got them right back into the game. That was really the story. We were able to hold them off but they made 20 3-pointers.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr

“…In this league you compete and bring it to give yourself a chance at the end of the game,” D’Angelo Russell said responding to a reporter in the locker room after the game about the effort the Nets showed late in the game. “That’s all we can really ask for. Our competitive nature wasn’t there in the first half, so in the second half we turned it up.”

Russell led the Nets with a season-high 25 points (9-of-14 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, 2-of-3 FT), six rebounds, six assists and one block in 30 minutes tonight vs. the Warriors. Caris LeVert scored 23 points, seven assists, and three rebounds for the Nets. Allen Crabbe contributed 14 points, five rebounds, and two assists 28 minutes off the bench tonight. Spencer Dinwiddie added 12 points (4-of-9 FG, 4-of-7 3FG) in 24 minutes off the bench, while Jarrett Allen chipped in 11 points, four assists, and three rebounds.

Ed Davis led the Nets in rebounding with a total of seven, of which six were defensive rebounds.

For the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry led all scorers with 35 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Kevin Durant tallied 34 points, eight rebounds, and six assists; while Klay Thompson recorded 18 points and five rebounds.

“I don't think we’re ever satisfied,” Kevin Durant said about the Warriors’ performance tonight. “I think we had some good spurts. Obviously, we wanted to play a great game, but we know that we are still learning and getting better. I like how we kind of controlled the game up until the fourth, then they made threes. I think the 3-pointer kept them in the game, kept the crowd in the game as well. Some of them were contested; a couple of them were open. I think the 3-pointer got them back in the game and then we had to play a little bit and execute down the stretch. It was a solid outing for us.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Kevin Durant

Stephen Curry commented on why the team is more focused this year than last year, “Because we went through what we went through last year, and it’s kind of fresh in your memory in terms of how terrible a feeling it was night in night out, nothing clicking, not having any energy, or juice or just making things harder than they should be. We’ve talked about it. We’ve been open about it as a team. We kind of set mini goals to start off the season better. Obviously, you’re not going to blow people out every night. It’s going to be tough. It’s the NBA. There’s talent everywhere. I think looking at the eye test, just how we feel walking up the court, we’re playing with a lot more focus and more discipline and better than we did last year starting off the year. That’s a good kinda vibe to have as you go through the 82.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Stephen Curry

Tomorrow, the Golden State Warriors travel to Chicago to take on the Chicago Bulls.

The next time the Nets will have an opportunity to redeem themselves against the Golden State Warriors will be in Oakland on November 11, 2018. In the meantime, next up for the Brooklyn Nets are the New York Knicks tomorrow at Madison Square Garden and then the Detroit Pistons at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

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."

Will Kevin Durant find peace if he leaves the Golden State Warriors?

In some corners, Kevin Durant is becoming a laughing stock, and others are just downright concerned about the NBA star.

Durant is the second best player in the league and he doesn’t seem to be comfortable in his own skin or with his personal decisions, as in the decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The NBA MVP has been caught with fake social media accounts to go after people who may mock him. Or, in the case of Clint Capela, Durant felt a need to go after him using a burner account.  All Capela was doing was expressing confidence that his team, the Houston Rockets, could beat the Golden State Warriors, telling ESPN’s Tim McMahon:

"We're confident because we know if we're doing what we're supposed to do, we're going to beat them.

But today, we were ready. I think that if we're doing what we're supposed to do on defense -- all the switches, the weak side -- and keep playing our offense by keeping that mentality all game long, we have the weapons to beat them.

We are better than them."

Yes, Durant, the nine-time NBA All-Star, felt a need to hide behind a fake account to respond to Capela.

Seriously!?

Even Dirk Nowitzki has expressed concern about Durant's sensitivity.

Kevin Durant, if you're not the put your name to it kind of guy, then let it go. You really don't have to respond, after all, you are the one with the ring.

Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, the last two Seattle SuperSonics players are playing in the NBA Finals; An NBA game coming to Seattle!

• As predicted, Julio Jones has not shown up to Atlanta Falcon’s voluntary OTAs. However, he’s still around football. While Atlanta mulls over an “update” to his contract, Jones was hanging with Cam Newton at his charity kickball event.

• Ousted Milwaukee Bucks coach, Jason Kidd, went after the Detroit Pistons coaching vacancy; and reports state that former head coach of the Toronto Raptors, Dwane Casey, also interviewed with the Pistons for the position.

Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, the last two Seattle SuperSonics players are playing in the NBA Finals. And, according to the Seattle Times, the Warriors will play a preseason game in Seattle in the fall, and so NBA fans in the Seattle area will get to see Durant in person again.

• An NBCSports program in Boston had a segment talking about the “most useless Cavaliers

Quick Question: Who do you think is the most useless member of the Cleveland Cavaliers?

 

 

Will Sixers release Bryan Colangelo; Lakers Possible Off-Season Moves; JJ Watt our Athlete of the week; Tristan Thompson among most useless Cavaliers, and more

In this episode of What's The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald, are talking about the NBA FINALS featuring the three-time NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers; Bryan Colangelo's current employment woes with the Philadelphia 76ers; how the eyes of NBA world are on the Los Angeles Lakers’ upcoming offseason moves; JJ Watt, our Athlete of the Week; Brooklyn Nets player, Jeremy Lin, initiates a clap-back at ESPN’s Jalen Rose; the Most Useless Cavaliers, is Tristan Thompson on the list? and more. 

 

With a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, Isaiah Thomas is ecstatic; St. John’s Red Storm has people talking, and; Le’Veon Bell wants SZA to be his Valentine

In this episode of What's The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking about the moves the Cleveland Cavaliers made at the NBA trade deadline; Damian Lillard hitting 50 points in 29 minutes, and should he sit or continue to play until the end of the game; the Top 5 prospects for NBA MVP consideration; Isaiah Thomas says he got his powers back; Paul Pierce celebrated in Boston; the state of the Brooklyn Nets and NY Knicks; Tim Tebow is back with the NY Mets; the New York Yankees acquire Russell Wilson; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell wants R&B singer, SZA, to be his Valentine; and will the XFL get off the ground?

What’s The 411Sports’ Photo of the Week

The What’s The 411Sports Photo of the Week is a photo of Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie shaking hands with his former teammate Trevor Booker who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Spencer Dinwiddie shaking hands with former teammate Trevor Booker 750x469

Nets overcome 28–point deficit to move within four points of Warriors, but couldn’t get the lead

Many a professional athlete or team has heard the term “fear no team” or “make them play your game” or “bring the game to them.” Unfortunately, during the first half of the Nets’ game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn played as though they didn’t get this directive.

The Nets ended the first-half down 22 points with the score 64-42; and slipped to a 28-point deficit (78-50) with 8:34 left in the third stanza.

No disrespect to the home team because despite serious injuries to its top players D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin, the Nets are showing flashes of brilliance, most recently with its win against the Utah Jazz and the second half of this game against the Warriors.

The cause of the first-half free-fall is bewildering, but Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson says it was, “energy”.

“I would say energy, not being locked in from the start, Hollis-Jefferson offered as an explanation. “We have to put some blame on ourselves. Couple turnovers, missed shots. Just my energy wasn't there like it should be from the start of the game.”

But then suddenly, a switch was turned on and Brooklyn miraculously outscored the Warriors 42-34 in the third quarter. Those 42 points marking the most points the Nets have ever scored in any quarter this season (previous high: 39 points in the first quarter in its last game vs. Utah on Friday). Overall, the Nets outscored the Warriors 69-54 in the second half.

Even Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson couldn’t put his finger on what happened to make this game a tale of two halves?

“Our spirit,” responded Atkinson. “I really can’t explain what happened in the first half – why we came out so spiritless and lack of energy. Granted, great team and respect, I thought we were kind of frozen by the moment. The second half, our spirit was better. We competed much better. I thought we handled their switches a lot better, so a lot of positive things there. I thought Jarrett Allen came in and gave us a guy that could roll to the rim and that opened up a little bit for us.”

Energy and spirit are a bit ethereal, but somehow it translated into physicality in the second half in order for the Nets to claw its way back to within four points with two-and-half minutes left in the game. But, on the real, Atkinson believes it was the Nets’ defensive effort in the second half that helped.

“I thought we did a better job defensively fighting through their screens,” Atkinson continued. “That’s the real (thing). They have their on-ball screens, their pick-and-roll defense and they hit you on those screens and we’ve got to avoid – I thought we did a better job. And their off-ball screens, I thought we did a better job fighting through. But really, our offense was historically poor in that first half and talking about the defense, we just weren’t very good. I thought in the second half we figured out their switches a little better. We didn’t figure it out totally, but that’s what makes them so good. They can switch on you and then they can guard you. They can sit down and guard one through five, and it makes it difficult but we did do a better job of attacking the switches in the second half.”

However, as Atkinson said, in the second half, the Nets started fighting through screens on defense and attacking switches on offense, which ultimately helped the Nets to chip away at their deficit. Seeing the Nets storm back to come within four points of the Warriors with two-and-a-half minutes left to play was a bit worrisome for Golden State’s head coach Steve Kerr, but in the end, he breathed a sigh of relief and gave a tip of the hat to the Nets.

“Winning on the road on a back-to-back is a hard thing to do so it’s a great accomplishment to win these last two,” Kerr stated. “It wasn’t a great second half for us, obviously, but Brooklyn brought it and I give them credit. They (Nets) set the tone. We had to withstand their run and luckily we did. It was good execution in the last few minutes when Steph Curry went out.”

“In the second half Brooklyn was putting their heads down and going to the rim,” Kerr added. The aggressors will always get the benefit of doubt. They earned their free throws in the second half. We committed some silly fouls. We committed some that were questionable. It didn’t matter, they were the aggressors. That’s how they got back in the game, at the line.”

Hollis-Jefferson agreed.

“I would just say it was our resiliency, our grit, toughness, you know getting into the ball,” Hollis-Jefferson proffered. “Playing our game and having fun doing it. I feel like that got us over the hump. Enjoying seeing one another succeed was something, we kind of, it felt good to be out there doing that. The outcome wasn't as we expected, but we gotta give ourselves credit for that second half.”

For the Nets, Allen Crabbe scored a season-high-tying 25 points (9-of-19 FG, 6-of-11 3FG, 1-of-2 FT) with seven rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes in the Nets’ loss. Crabbe’s six made 3-pointers marked a season-high and matched the Nets’ season-high set by Spencer Dinwiddie’s six made threes on Friday vs. Utah.

Other Brooklyn Nets scoring leaders were Dinwiddie who posted 21 points with eight assists in 31 minutes. DeMarre Carroll recorded his second double-double of the season with 15 points and a season-high-tying 11 rebounds in 34 minutes. Hollis-Jefferson posted his first double-double of the season. He totaled 16 points, a game-high and season-high 12 rebounds and a season-high five assists. Caris LeVert came off the bench and tallied 13 points with four rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 22 minutes.

For the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry was a little more aggressive because of Kevin Durant’s absence. He scored 39 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out of the game. Draymond Green had eight assists for the Warriors.

Up next, the Brooklyn Nets will play the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday. The Nets next home game will be against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, November 24, 2017, at 12 noon at the Barclays Center.

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