February 21, 2019

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets scorers with 22 points; Nets Sitting Right Outside 8th Seed in NBA Eastern Conference

It's January 2nd and it's supposed to be cold, but it's not. Today, the Brooklyn Nets fought off the New Orleans Pelicans, with one of the best players in the league in the name of Anthony Davis and sent them home in defeat to the Nets 126-121.

The Nets playing with poise and skill improved to 18-21 overall and 10-11 at the Barclays Center, while the Pelicans fell to 17-22 overall and 4-16 on the road with the loss.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers and starters with a team-high 22 points, a career-high-tying (and Nets season-high-tying) 13 assists, five rebounds, and two steals. Other Nets starting players scoring in double-digits were Joe Harris who scored 21 points (9-of-16 FG, 3-of-4 3FG) with two rebounds, one assist and one steal in 29 minutes; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen each scored 10 points, while Allen added 11 rebounds.

DeMarre Carroll led the Nets bench with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 points, and four assists, and; Shabbazz Napier chipped in 12 points and four assists.

Ed Davis, not a prolific scorer, led all Nets rebounders with 12 rebounds.

When asked about the effort from the Nets’ bench, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson responded: “It’s a heck of a win against a very good team, so great job all around. I thought everybody contributed – big play from all the guys. I thought we were very balanced, and the bench was great.”

Brooklyn’s bench is legendary; it outscored New Orleans’ reserves 55-5, yep 55-5. Entering tonight’s game, the Nets bench ranked second in the NBA with 46.3 points per game.

As good as the Nets scoring leaders were, Pelicans’ Anthony Davis led all scorers with 34 points and 26 rebounds. In fact, all of the New Orleans Pelicans scored in double digits. Elfrid Payton had 25 points and seven assists; Julius Randle registered 21 points, four rebounds, and two blocked shots; Jrue Holiday posted 20 points and four assists, and; E'Twaun Moore chipped in 16 points and two steals.

Even with the firepower from the Pelicans starters, it just wasn’t enough.

“Brooklyn started out shooting the ball extremely well,” New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry told the media postgame. “We got behind and you’re playing uphill. We know the story. We’ve seen the story before. We’re playing uphill – it’s extremely hard against a team with that talent level that has the ability to score. Once again, you’re talking about a perfect storm to get back and we almost got there but we just didn’t. You can’t start the game and get that type of separation and think that against a team with that kind of firepower that you’re going to be able to get all the way back.”

“We weren’t playing good defense,” Pelicans forward Anthony Davis echoed. “The whole first half they did what they wanted. They didn’t feel us on the defensive end. We weren’t physical. We weren’t talking. They had a lot of layups, a lot of open threes. They shot the ball well in the first half.”

Each team will have another opportunity to gain a win this weekend. The Nets will travel to Memphis to play the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, January 4, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET. The Pelicans will be in Cleveland to face off against the Cavaliers on Saturday, January 5, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

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.

Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs playing in his first NBA game showed true grit scoring 13 points in 12 minutes, all in the fourth quarter

Granted it's a preseason game, in a new season, but the Brooklyn Nets still look like the team of last season. The first competitive game for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018-19 NBA season was held at the Barclays Center tonight against its East River rival, the New York Knicks. The one thing that was different from the very start was that a Brooklyn Brigade fan group showed up in full force and cheered the Nets from start to finish shutting down any Knicks’ fans in the audience. Believe me, this is a first. At one Knicks game last season, when I checked in on Facebook, the app thought I was at Madison Square Garden and would not allow me to put in the Barclays Center.

Tonight the Nets got off to a good start, which isn’t unusual, leading by as much as 15 points with 1:04 left in the first quarter. But in the closing minute of the first quarter, New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina put up a three-pointer at the 50-second mark. Nets guard Joe Harris missed a 3-point jumper with 35 seconds left, and Knicks guard Allonzo Trier added another three points at the buzzer, ending the first quarter with a score of Nets 26 and the Knicks 17.

During the second stanza, with just under eight minutes left to play in the half, the Nets had a 15-point lead (38-23). However, the New York Knicks found cracks in the armor and little by little chipped away to end the first-half 50-46. The reverse of fortunes continued into the third, when the Knicks went up 10, ending the third quarter with a score of 81-71. The Nets tried to claw their way back in the fourth quarter and came within one point (99-98) at the 2:26 mark, however, turnovers and defensive pressure on the part of the Knicks at the end of the day is what contributed to the Nets demise in Preseason Game 1, ending with a hurtful 107-102.

“I thought that we missed a lot of open ones,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media during his postgame interview. “But still I thought that we took some contested ones, especially the contested ones off the dribble. You know the contested threes off the dribble – it’s a tough shot, I felt like too many of those. But, I do think our offense has a long way to go. We struggled to execute, give the Knicks credit. I thought they pressured our guards and did a good job of getting into the ball and we struggled executing.”

“There were a lot of positives,” an assessment that Nets guard D’Angelo Russell gave the media in his locker room postgame presser. “I think we came out and competed, played hard. We focused on what coach was expecting of us. Things we can work on as well. But it’s something that we can watch film, build on it.”

In adversity, there is generally a silver lining somewhere, and Net rookie Rodions Kurucs was it. During the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Kurucs got his first opportunity to play in an NBA game and he was pushing for a real comeback. Kurucs scored 13 points in 12 minutes.

Russell was not surprised by Kurucs’ deliverables.

Asked what he sees in practice from Kurucs that translated into tonight’s game, and Russell responded, “Same thing, same thing. He’s active, he’s athletic, he plays hard, he knows his role. He knows what he’s capable of. He never steps outside the box. He’s the guy that plays hard and brings that energy.”

“It was really emotional for me because I didn’t play last year,” Kurucs said about getting his chance to play for the first time ever in the NBA. “It was a really good moment for me. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed every minute.”

Kurucs was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 NBA Draft in the second round (40th overall).

“I think I bring energy on defense,” Kurucs continued. “I’m just working on all the stuff, what coach told me. I’ll help my team out. I’ll do all my best. I’ll give my all.”

And, from tonight’s performance, he’s definitely one to watch this season.

The Nets had six players to score in double digits. Caris LeVert led the Nets with 15 points and four steals. Both Spencer Dinwiddie and Kurucs scored 13 points. Dinwiddie added six assists, while Kurucs added four rebounds and four steals. Russell and Treveon Graham each tallied 11 points. Russell added three rebounds and three assists, while, Graham secured eight rebounds and three assists. Joe Harris chipped in 10 points and three rebounds.

For the Knicks, Allonzo Trier led all scorers with 25 points and four rebounds; his teammate, Enes Kanter contributed 22 points and 20 rebounds.

Next up, for the Knicks, are the New Orleans Pelicans at home at Madison Square Garden on Friday, October 5, 2018.

The Nets travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons on Monday, October 8, 2018. The Nets first regular season game at home will be against the New York Knicks on Friday, October 19, 2018. 

In His Own Words: Rodions Kurucs:

VIDEO: Hornacek reflects on the state of the NY Knicks and the opportunity that a road trip could bring for the team before and after the NBA All-Star break

The New York Knicks came across the Bridge from Manhattan into Brooklyn on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, looking for a win after losing to Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans 123-118 just 24 hours ago. As a side note, the Brooklyn Nets also go into this game with a recent loss. The Nets lost to the Washington Wizards on Saturday also in overtime, 119-113.

Ahead of the New York Knicks matchup with the Brooklyn Nets, Knicks head coach, Jeff Hornacek, briefed the media on the current state of his team.

“No Tim Hardaway Jr., tonight,” Hornacek said straightaway.

Hardaway, who is just back from an injury, is on a minutes restriction. Last night’s game against the Pelicans went into overtime and Hardaway played more minutes than he should have.

“We’re going to make him inactive today,” Hornacek said responding to a reporter’s question. “No setback or anything like that, the plan was to gradually build him up. Unfortunately, the game went into overtime and we ended up playing him a few extra minutes, so we’re going to hold back today.”

Hornacek also commented on Kristaps Porzingis’ remark to a reporter after the team’s loss to the Pelicans last night. Porzingis is coming to the revelation that he might want to concentrate more on defense and shoot less.

“Well, we still want to use him and I like that attitude,” Hornacek said. “I think that’s all of our guys. When you get the ball and we call a play for you, it’s not necessarily for you to shoot the ball; it’s for you to make a play. So if you have the shot, great, if not, you’ll make a play to kick it out to somebody; that’s what we have to do to do a better job of coming out of these plays and that could help KP more if he could pass it out. He did it a couple of times last night; he made a pass to Enes (Kanter) late in the game for a dunk. That keeps teams a little more honest, so that’s throughout our team, we need a little more of that.”

Technically, today’s game against the Nets is the start of a seven-game road trip for the Knicks. However, coming across the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn isn’t a typical NBA road trip. Nevertheless, Coach Hornacek is looking forward to playing the Nets today because it’s a chance for the Knicks to start its seven-game road trip on good footing.

“I think we look at these seven games as an opportunity for us to play better on the road. The last five games, we’ve only won two of them, but we were right there. We’re going to play some tough teams, but if we play well, we’ll have a chance to win that’s what I think. It’s an opportunity for these guys to get out on a little roll,” Hornacek said.

Hornacek went on to talk about Knicks center and team leader, Porzingis, as a big guy will need more time for his body to catch up to his role; there may not be too much change to the second-half strategy with Tim Hardaway being out today; understanding that Jahlil Okafor brings an inside game for the Nets, so that will be something that the Knicks will have to keep an eye on, and; the fans do get a little extra amped when the Knicks and Nets play each other.

VIDEO: Sean Marks explains to media the reasoning behind trading Tyler Zeller, picking up Dante Cunningham and Jeremy Lin update

Prior to the Nets’ home game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Sean Marks, the Brooklyn Nets general manager spoke to the media about recent player moves specifically: 1) moving Tyler Zeller to the Milwaukee Bucks, 2) acquiring Dante Cunningham from the New Orleans Pelicans, and 3) Jeremy Lin exercising his player option. Marks also provided insight into the Brooklyn Nets' process for acquiring players.

Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller came to the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent in September 2017 after playing with the Boston Celtics (2014-17) and has played in 42 games with averages of 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per contest. On February 5, 2018, the Brooklyn Nets traded Tyler Zeller to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for guard Rashad Vaughn and a 2018 second round pick from Milwaukee provided that the pick falls between No. 31-47. If the pick is not conveyed in 2018, it will become an unprotected 2020 second round pick.

"It's always difficult to see a guy move, especially a guy like Tyler who did everything we asked him to do," said Marks. "Worked hard, developed himself. All the old clichés of first guy in the gym, last guy to leave sort of thing, he was that. But this is a great opportunity for him. He gets to go to a playoff team. Milwaukee wanted him, wanted him badly, and that sort of reflected in what they had to give up to get him."

Dante Cunningham

On the heels of picking up Rashad Vaughn for Tyler Zeller, the Nets acquired forward Dante Cunningham from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Rashad Vaughn.

Cunningham (6’8”, 230), currently in his ninth NBA season, has played in 51 games (24 starts) for the Pelicans this season, posting averages of 5.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per game. Selected out of Villanova University by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 33rd overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Cunningham holds career NBA averages of 6.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in 21.5 minutes per contest in 629 games with Portland, Charlotte, Memphis, Minnesota and New Orleans.

Vaughn appeared in one game for Brooklyn after being acquired on February 5th from Milwaukee.

“Dante Cunningham is somebody I'm familiar with and I think our whole group is familiar with," said Marks. "With Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson) being out right now and losing Tyler as well, Dante gives us a positional need, fills that little bit of a void there. But he also brings us toughness, grit. He's a veteran. He's been on multiple teams. He's been on playoff teams. He's been in big moments. And I think what he'll add to our group will be important."

Jeremy Lin

And then there was a question about Jeremy Lin, who has been sidelined since October 18, 2017. Lin underwent surgery after injuring his patellar tendon in his right knee during a game against the Indiana Pacers, which was the Nets’ first game of the 2017-18 NBA season. As expected and his righto assert, Lin declared this week that he was opting into the final year of his three-year contract with its $12.5 million salary.

Marks said, "It's certainly something we expected. We talked about it for quite some time now with his representatives. That was definitely no surprise."

Down by as much as 28 points, the Nets tie the game to send it into OT on an Allen Crabbe 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds remaining in regulation

Saturday’s Brooklyn Nets game against the New Orleans Pelicans was schizophrenia on display. In the first half, it was the timid, sluggish-looking, run over me Nets, as they ended the first-half with a 20-point deficit, New Orleans 72 and Brooklyn 52. A really ugly way to start a professional basketball game, and it didn’t end there. The Nets carried their slow-start style into the third quarter and dug even a deeper hole, as midway through the third quarter the Nets were down by 28 points (89-61). And, it was at that point, it was as if the team had a light bulb moment that there was a way to dig out of the hole they had gotten themselves into. The Nets went on to cut their deficit nearly in half and ended the third quarter only down by 15 points, 100-85. In the fourth quarter, powering through and chipping away, Brooklyn closed the gap and on an Allen Crabbe 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds remaining in regulation, tied the score at 116-116 and forced overtime. Oddly enough, it was an Allen Crabbe bobble-head doll night.

Brooklyn took its first lead of the game with 3:45 remaining the game’s first overtime period and led by as many as four points before being outscored 14-4 in the game’s second overtime period to seal a Pelicans’ win.

So what changed?

“…We obviously started the game small,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media post-game. “We started with DeMarre (Carroll) at the four and then we put DeMarre back at the three and we brought Quincy (Acy) in, so we were just bigger. Being bigger helped us rebound and really helped us immensely.”

“I think in the second half we got ourselves in a big hole again, and we owe it to our fans not to get blown out like that,” Crabbe said. “Obviously, we didn’t play like us, as an organization wants to play in the first half, so Coach didn’t even come in and yell at us. He said y’all figure it out and get it together. I feel like we had a good effort in the second half but you can’t keep playing catch up all the time. It was a big hole, 27, 28, I guess we were down. Like I said, in the NBA, you can’t do that. We gave ourselves a chance, but didn’t make the plays we needed to make down the stretch.”

Crabbe scored a team-high 28 points (10-of-24 FG, 8-of-18 3FG) with six rebounds, one assist and, one steal in a career-high 44 minutes on Saturday for the Nets. Spencer Dinwiddie recorded 24 points, 10 assists, four rebounds and three steals in a career-high 43 minutes tonight vs. New Orleans. Dinwiddie posted his sixth-career double-double (and fifth this season). He also became the first Net to record a points/assists double-double in consecutive games since Deron Williams in the 2014-15 campaign (4/6 – 4/8/15). D’Angelo Russell posted 21 points (7-of-18 FG, 5-of-13 3FG, 2-of-2 FT) with a season-high nine rebounds, five assists and one steal in 32 minutes off the bench. Both DeMarre Carroll and Joe Harris tallied 12 points, while Harris 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a career-high-tying two blocks in 34 minutes in his ninth start of the season for Brooklyn. Additionally, Harris recorded his second-career double-double tonight (previously done for the first time on 1/6/18 vs. Boston). Carroll added nine rebounds and five assists to his 12-point total. Newly acquired Dante Cunningham made his Nets debut tonight and recorded two points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 20 minutes off the bench. For New Orleans, Anthony Davis led all scorers with 44 points and 17 rebounds. Rajon Rondo scored a triple-double with 25 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. Jrue Holiday added 22 points, seven rebounds, and five assists; Nikola Mirotic had 21 points and 16 rebounds, and E’Twaun Moore chipped in 12 points. All was not lost for Brooklyn as its bench outscored New Orleans’ bench 44-14, during Saturday’s duel. With 21 points off the bench, D’Angelo Russell single-handedly outscored New Orleans’ reserves.

Next up for Brooklyn, it plays the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, February 12, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at home at the Barclays Center.

DeMarre Carroll leads Nets players with 21 points in the loss; Caris LeVert leaves game with concussion

In a game where the lead changed six times, the teams tied three times, and during the fourth quarter, the Houston Rockets led the Brooklyn Nets by as much as 16 points, at 1:22 left in regulation the Nets managed to close in on a six-point differential on an Isaiah Whitehead nine-foot floating shot. Unfortunately, Brooklyn couldn’t sustain the momentum to stop the Rockets and bowed to Houston 123-113 on Tuesday night.

“I think we competed better than we did against Milwaukee,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters in his postgame presser. “We never found a solution to stop them, obviously. They made a lot of tough shots. For them, we limited their 3-point attempts. Instead of shooting 50 – what’d they have, 33? – so that was good. We did a decent job keeping them off the free-throw line, but, it’s pick your poison with them so we never really found a solution to stop them.”

In addition to the game loss, Nets guard Caris LeVert suffered a concussion after running into a hard screen set by Houston center Nene Hilario at the end of the third quarter.

“I think it moved all of us,” Atkinson told the media. “I think we’re all affected, but we’re professionals and guys moved on, it’s just we obviously missed Caris the player. He was playing really well, so that was a big blow.”

LeVert, who was only on the court for 12 minutes, left the game with nine points, three assists, and three rebounds.

Although the outcome of this game against the Rockets didn’t go the Nets way, the team’s competitive spirit was on full display.

“…I think we did a great job as a team and making them work,” Nets guard D’Angelo Russell stated. “They’ve got some All-Star caliber guys over there, so making it as tough as we can is the objective.”

At the end of the night, the Nets shot .457 (16-of-35) from 3-point range and recorded their 10th game with 15-plus made threes this season. The Nets’ assist record bested Houston 24-16, and so did Brooklyn’s free-throw record, which was 88.2 percent versus the Rockets 81 percent.

“Oh, we definitely competed,” Nets center Jahlil Okafor expressed. “I think everybody across the roster played extremely hard. The Rockets are an extremely tough team to beat. Their dynamic was a challenge for us but I do think everybody did compete...”

DeMarre Carroll scored a team-high 21 points (7-of-12 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, 2-of-2 FT) with two boards and two steals in 30 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie tallied 18 points (5-of-7 3FG, 3-of-3 FT) with three rebounds, nine assists, and a career-high-tying three steals in 25 minutes. Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen, recorded 16 points (6-of-11 FG, 4-of-4 FT) with two rebounds and one assist in 23 minutes. With his 16 points on Tuesday night, Allen extended his career-best streak of games scoring in double figures to eight games. Okafor had a good night, he posted 15 points (7-of-9 FG, 1-of-3 FT) and six rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. (D’Angelo) Russell also scored in double figures for Brooklyn, recording 10 points in 19 minutes off the bench.

When asked about Houston putting up so many points against the Nets, “Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni laughed and said, “It’s all coaching out there – you saw that, right?” But in all seriousness, D’Antoni gave credit where credit was due, “Chris Paul and James Harden, when you have those two guys, it’s either one or the other. It’s unbelievable.”

D’Antoni also tipped his hat to Brooklyn’s effort.

“You have to give it to Brooklyn, they wouldn’t let us put it away,” D’Antoni added. “They kept coming back. They kept hitting hard shots. We would go up seven and Brooklyn would hit a hard three. They played well; they played with a lot of energy. Like I told them, Brooklyn isn’t going to beat themselves, we’ll have to beat them. I think at the end we did. They’re well-coached and they do a good job.”

Harden led all scorers with 36 points and five assists with his effort for Houston. (Chris) Paul scored 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists; and Clint Capela added 18 points and 11 rebounds. Coming off the bench for the Rockets, Gerald Green added 16 points, and Eric Gordon chipped in 13 points.

Hopefully, both teams will have enough energy to go up against their next opponents. Houston plays the Miami Heat on Wednesday in Miami, and Brooklyn goes up against the Detroit Pistons with the newly-acquired Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers also on Wednesday.

The Brooklyn Nets next home game at the Barclays Center is on Saturday, February 10, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Fresh off of claiming victory against the Phoenix Suns in their last home game 108-95, all while achieving wins in eight of their last 10 games, the Brooklyn Nets continued their three-game homestand against the Charlotte Bobcats, mirroring their results of the previous game obtaining a five-point victory on the Bobcats, 104-99.

This is the second straight win, improving their overall regular season record to (35-31) in a position to make their second straight playoff appearance since the inaugural grand opening of the Barclays Center in 2012.

The Bobcats are currently the 7th seed, one seed below the Nets, in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race one month away from the end of the regular season.

With aspirations of completing the season on a high note, each game for the Nets holds a certain level of significance and tonight is another game against an opponent the Nets are capable of defeating.

Each NBA team features its own difficulties for its opponents and the Bobcats provide a down-low offensive force in F Al Jefferson, averaging a double-double for the season recording 21.3 points per game along with 10.4 rebounds.

"We're not going to have Mason go up against him one on one," said Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd prior to the tip-off of tonight's match-up in his pre-game press conference to numerous media outlets.

"He's patient and knows how to put the ball in the basket," Kidd continues.

He did just that.

Jefferson displayed his talents early scoring 10 points while grabbing six rebounds in the first-half causing match-up problems for the Nets frontcourt, particularly C Mason Plumlee who defended Jefferson for the better part of the first half committing 3 fouls in the process.

With the score tied 20 all with 2:17 left in the second quarter, back-to-back jump shots by reserves F Andray Blatche and G Marcus Thornton in addition to two made free throws by first unit PG Deron Williams, improved the Nets lead to six, 26-20, going into the second half ahead, 26-21 as one made free throw by Jefferson cut the overall deficit to 5 in the closing minutes.

In the second quarter, the Nets capitalized on their early slim lead extending it to a game-high advantage of 13 points, when SG Thornton connected from behind the arc, Nets leading 38-25 with 8:20 remaining in the second quarter.

The Nets struggled to maintain their lead throughout second-half as the Bobcats sustained a relentless effort which decided the result of the game towards final minutes of regulation.

With the game hanging in the balance, the Nets and Bobcats engaged in a back and forth rally where one team had to make enough plays to avenge the response of the opposing team and in that battle, the Nets made enough plays spearheaded by Williams who led the charge.

With the Nets leading by three, 90-87 with 4:16 to go a missed Jefferson jumper allowed the Nets to get out on the break.

Williams pushed the ball to the top of the key and dished it to G Joe Johnson the trailer for a three-point shot attempt which he missed only to be rewarded with another field goal attempt due to the offensive rebound by Williams who kicked it back to Johnson, this time draining it increasing the Nets lead to five 92-87.

The Bobcats answered with a dunk via G Gerald Henderson cutting the lead to three 92-89 with 3:27 remaining until the resolution.

The ball finds Johnson again on the right baseline guarded by Henderson which he posted up only to fade away off of Henderson's pressure netting yet another basket, edging the Bobcats now by five, 94-89 with 3 min remaining in the 4th.

On the following possession, Henderson drains a three-pointer assisted by G Gary Neal with 2:46 left in the 4th coming to within two points shy of a tie trailing the Nets 92-94.

In close games, teams rely on their stars to influence the final outcome of a game, and this moment belonged to Williams as his contract warrants that responsibility to put the Nets over the top as all else fails.

He did not have to go far as the ball found him and he delivered as he should.

With the Nets clinging to a three-point lead as the one minute mark passed, the crowd stood on its feet growing louder with each passing second as Williams stared down his defender, applied a crossover hesitation dribble and pulled up for a jump-shot locating the Net without and trouble from the rim as the Nets grabbed a 5-point lead, 100-95 grabbing control of the game for good.

Williams led all scorers accumulating 25 points and 8 assists as his back-court mate in Johnson complimented his cause adding 20 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.

High scorers for the Bobcats featured Jefferson who was neutralized in the second half finishing with 18 points and Neal who finished with 17.

Williams performance grants him the player of the game award and Kidd took notice.

"Deron took control of the game," Kidd expressed to media correspondents in his post-game press conference.

Regarding his team's efforts Kidd continued saying, "They didn't panic, they stayed the course and executed on both ends when it mattered."

This win propelled the Nets past the Washington Wizards in the eastern conference standings as the Nets are now positioned as the 5th seed behind the Chicago Bulls.

Due to the Eastern Conference experiencing a down year, the Nets have an opportunity to seize the Bulls' spot as the 4th seed as long as they continue to win and pray for the Bulls demise which is very unlikely.

Over the next five games, the Nets will face teams who contain a combined record of 150-192, which include the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Bobcats once more for the final time this season.

Based on talent alone, the Nets should be able to handle their business against the teams previously listed.

As for Brooklyn, a Nets win translates to a comfortable slumber.

Turnovers and missing crucial plays cause Nets to lose to Pelicans 104-95; Jeremy Lin still inactive with hamstring injury

January 12th was an unseasonably warm winter day in Brooklyn as the Nets welcomed the New Orleans Pelicans to the Barclays Center. After the final buzzer sounded, the Pelicans left the arena holding a 104-95 victory over the Nets, making it eight straight losses for Brooklyn.

Coming into the game both teams were without their marquee names, Pelicans big man Anthony Davis and Nets point guard Jeremy Lin were inactive. So, would the Nets take advantage of the absence of the dominating force in the paint that is Anthony Davis? The Nets got off to a hot start with Joe Harris scoring five of Brooklyn’s first 10 points but shooting over 60 percent from the field and beyond the arc propelled the Pelicans to a four-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Undeterred, the Nets offense outscored the Pelicans 26-16 in the second quarter, dominating the paint to the advantage of fourteen points. Brooklyn held a 57-51 lead at the close of the half.

The Nets continued to take advantage of Anthony Davis’ absence in the lane by scoring 50 points in the paint. Brooklyn’s defense clamped down in the quarter forcing the Pelicans to commit turnovers which converted into points for the Nets. As well as Brooklyn was scoring, they struggled from beyond the arc.

Even though the team possessed a six-point lead going into the last quarter, closing out games has been an issue for the Brooklyn Nets this season. New Orleans tied the score and a back and forth battle ensued. Sean Kilpatrick’s three-pointer around the 5:40 mark gave the Nets a three-point lead, one they kept for the next two minutes until the Pelicans began a 10-0 scoring run aided by missed shots and turnovers by Brooklyn.

On his team’s performance to end the game, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson asserted “we really struggled to score the ball. We had a few turnovers and just didn’t make the plays. We could do a better job executing down the end.”

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez was the high scorer on the Nets with 20 points and six boards. During the game, the Nets attempted 42 three-pointers but only made nine (21.4%). Some of those shots felt ill-advised considering the low completion rate but the Nets kept shooting.

When asked about the number of threes attempted, Lopez said, “we feel that if we move the ball and it is an open, good look, then we are confident in it.”

It was a tough loss for Brooklyn as they enter a tough stretch of basketball as they face the likes of the Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets, a fact acknowledged by Harris.

“I mean, this month of January is especially tough just because of the number of games we’re playing, a lot of back-to-backs,” said Harris. “... going to Toronto tomorrow and then coming back and playing against Houston, two of the best teams in the NBA right now.”

In the loss Nets’ backup guard Sean Kilpatrick led Nets players with 15 points

Today, the brunch-time crowd came into the Barclays Center to see the Brooklyn Nets take on the New Orleans Pelicans at 1:00 p.m. Since the Pelicans were without star forward Anthony Davis, it seemed like this would be a game that the Nets could add in the win column. Unfortunately, the Nets lost to the Pelicans 106-87.

Now, hold on Sparky, before you start yelling and screaming, the Nets were without Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, Nets head coach Tony Brown in his pre-game press conference told the assembled media that he was going to sit Lopez and Young for the rest of the season. The stated reason for pulling these players was to give them rest for next season and to prevent unnecessary injuries. Now, the conspiracy theorist in me says that yeah, I get your point, but rumors of trading Young before the February 2016 trade deadline makes me just a little skeptical. Now, the rational side says these are good players to build around and with a good head coach and the already A-Team general manager in Sean Marks, the Nets should be making some noise next season. So why take the risk, if you don’t have to do it? However, stranger things have happened, so I am in wait and see mode until the next season starts.  

As for the actual game against the Pelicans, Nets reserve guard Sean Kilpatrick, continues to wow the crowd. When his named was announced to substitute for Wayne Ellington with 4:36 left in the first quarter, the crowd at the BC applauded and chanted his name wildly. I think I was sitting next to Kilpatrick’s No.1 fans. Kilpatrick didn’t disappoint. Off the bench, Kilpatrick led all Nets scorers with 15 points; his off-the-bench teammate, Markel Brown added 12 points, as did starting center Henry Sims, a pickup from the Grand Rapids Drive of the NBA Development League on March 17. Sims whose last NBA team was the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2014-15 NBA season also had seven boards. Other Nets starters in double digits were Thomas Robinson with 11 points and 15 rebounds, and Ellington chipped in 10 points.

As for the Pelicans starting squad, Luke Babbitt led all scorers with 21 points; Dante Cunningham had 14 points, and Jordan Hamilton came up with a double-double, 13 points, and 11 rebounds. Pelicans’ reserves weren’t slouches. Tim Frazier came off the bench and added a stellar double-double performance of his own, 19 points and 13 assists. Alexis Ajinca put up 16 points and six rebounds, and James Ennis chipped in 14 points.

Without Lopez and Young, I don’t expect any wins for the Brooklyn Nets for the rest of the season. Next up on the docket for the Nets are:

4/6: DC Wizards in Washington, DC
4/8: Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte
4/10: Indiana Pacers in Indiana
4/11: DC Wizards at home in Brooklyn
4/13: Toronto Raptors at home in Brooklyn

 

Photo: Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick puts up a valiant effort in attempting to pass the ball past New Orleans Pelicans center Kendrick Perkins (5), but to no avail. Nets lose to Pelicans 106-87

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