January 28, 2020

Spencer Dinwiddie leads all Nets players with 23 points in the loss; Caris LeVert returns to action for the first time since November 10 thumb injury

Squander is the word.

Squander is what the Brooklyn Nets did last night against the Toronto Raptors. Up by 16 points (52-36) at 3:38 in the second quarter, the Nets quickly allowed that cushion to disappear ending the second quarter up by four, 52-48. Brooklyn ended the third stanza underwater by three, 83-80, still within an opportunity to regain its footing to win, but the Nets had no answer for the Raptors’ sudden surge and never came above water ending the game down by 19 points, 121-102. With the loss, the Nets are now below .500 with a win-loss record of 16-18, meanwhile, the Raptors improved to 24-12.

The lone seemingly bright spot for the Brooklyn Nets was that the team blocked a season-high 11 shots and edged the Raptors 11-4 in blocks. It would have been a more meaningful metric if those blocks could have converted into points. The Nets’ .478 field goal percentage (32-of-67 FG) was higher than the Raptors’ .454 (44 of 97), but the Raptors shot more and completed more.

Coach Speak: Kenny Atkinson on if he notices a reoccurring theme in the second half of the last few games

“Fourth quarter, last four out of five games, we were right there, or led, or (were) close,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson responded. “That’s a theme. That’s a big theme right now. We have to figure out why. Fourth quarters have really been a thorn in our sides. It was again tonight. We competed for three-quarters of the game, a little bit more than three quarters. I think when we subbed the starters back in the game, it was a six- or seven-point game and then they kind of went on a run and I’ve kind of seen that film before recently, so we have to figure it out. We have to figure out why we’re running out of gas. Is it physical? Is it execution? It’s probably a combination of all of those things.”

Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris agrees.

“I think just looking at it, defensively, we’ve given up a lot of points in these fourth-quarter stretches – where it may be a lack of execution on one end or the other,” stated Joe Harris. “Tonight, was sort of cumulative; it kind of built up there in the third, where we gave up 35 points. In the fourth, we gave up 38, which is way too many. You’re not going to win a lot of games, especially finishing out games like that.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 23 points (6-of-12 FG, 9-of-12 FT), seven assists, three rebounds, and a block in 31 minutes. And, in case you haven’t been following Dinwiddie this season, his performance last night was not an anomaly. Dinwiddie has shown demonstrable improvement since last season. Dinwiddie has scored 20+ points in 19 of his last 23 games and has scored 20+ points a single-season career-high 23 times (in 34 games). He scored 20+ points 18 times all last season (68 games). Joe Harris scored 18 points with three rebounds, and five assists in 31 minutes, Harris has now scored in double figures 27 times this season; Caris LeVert returned to action from a thumb injury last night and recorded 13 points (5-of-7 FG, 2-of-2 3FG) in 16 minutes off the bench; Garrett Temple totaled 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists in 30 minutes, and; Taurean Prince chipped in 10 points and six boards in 28 minutes.

LeVert, who is on a minutes restriction, is clearly someone Nets’ fans can’t wait to see get more playing time, but patience is necessary, as even LeVert doesn’t know when his minutes' restriction will end.

“I’m not sure – I’m just out here to play – that’s for coach and the performance staff,” LeVert said in response to a question regarding the next step in overcoming his minute restrictions. “Whatever minutes I’m given, I’m just going to try to go out there and do what I can.”

Toronto Raptors Scoring Leaders

For Toronto, Fred VanVleet, who went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft and was later signed by Toronto, led all scorers with 29 points, 11 assists, and four rebounds. Kyle Lowry, the oldest player on the floor and 13 years full years in the NBA, scored 26 points, five assists, and four rebounds; Serge Ibaka recorded 21 points and 12 rebounds, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a former member of the Brooklyn Nets, chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, and four steals.

Coach Speak: Nick Nurse on Toronto Raptors’ defense after the first quarter

“I think from the four-minute mark of the second quarter onward we really got down to a plan,” said Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “We were into the ball. We were making catches tough. Everything was pretty tough. When Brooklyn did take it to the rim, which they can do very well, we were better. We were better protecting. We were better cracking in on the “bigs” so there wasn’t that little dump off there as much. Just much more energy and toughness.”

What’s Next for the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets?

The Toronto Raptors will return home to Toronto to host the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at 7 p.m. ET.

The Brooklyn Nets will travel to Orlando to play the Orlando Magic on Monday, January 6, 2020, at 7 p.m. ET, and then will hurry home to host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

 

Nets still figuring out their system during their last preseason game, and; group protesting NBA yielding to China caps Nets game

Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets played their last game of the NBA preseason and, in many ways, the Nets cohesiveness was similar to their first opponent of the preseason, the SESI/Franca Brazil Basketball Club. Granted, the Nets were going up against the reigning NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors, but with the addition of Kyrie Irving, fans are expecting more.

Some are attributing the Nets’ lackluster appearance to “jet lag” from their China trip, and there is some truth in that reasoning. Anyone who has taken a trip where your destination is more than six hours ahead or behind knows that it takes some time to get your groove back. But Nets center Jarrett Allen threw cold water on blaming jet lag for the team’s defeat.

“We can’t fully blame it on the hangover from China because they (Toronto Raptors) were in Japan,” Jarrett explained. “So, you could say they would have a hangover too. At the same time, we’re still learning our defensive scheme, we’re still learning playing with each other and that’s exactly what preseason is for.”

And, he’s right.

Early on the Nets were very competitive ending the first quarter even at 28 points, but in the second quarter, the Raptors pulled away ending the half with a 21-point lead 74-53. During the third quarter, the Brooklyn Nets, still down, closed the gap slightly 101-84, but ultimately lost 123-107.

“I think the first part of it is that they’re (Toronto Raptors) really good,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson regarding whether the Nets loss was due to jet lag.

“I think they’re one of the top teams in the East and they’re going to compete for the top spots. So that’s the respect I have for them. Second of all, yes, I think that was a part of it. I think that’s the first time Kyrie (Irving) was with that group in a live game. First one, so I think there will be some adjustments there. You could say that the China – kind of hangover or whatever – but I think they were in Japan if I’m correct about that, so I’m not sure what the time difference is, that’s not my area of expertise, but I’m not sure how much that plays into it. I told the guys in the locker room I was a little disappointed. This happens in this league against good teams, but I felt like we lost sight of our principles, our habits, all the things we have been working on. They kind of – poof – they kind of disappeared. So that concerned me. That was everybody, starters, guys that came in off the bench, end of the bench guys. It was kind of a breakdown of all the good things I’ve been saying all camp.”

“Camp has been great,” Atkinson continued. “The two games against the Lakers were really intact with what we’re doing, so I think when we get back to practice, we’ll get back to our core principles. You have to rewind a little bit.”

Kyrie Irving co-signed on Atkinson’s sentiment to some degree.

“They did a great job, Toronto, just stretching us on the 3-point line and I think they hit over 20 threes,” Irving said about the Raptors’ prowess. “Any NBA team that’s hitting over 20 threes is going to be successful out there on the offensive end. We’ve just got to get back to maintaining our principles, our system. Still new on the fly for us, not expected to get it right, right away, and we’ve got time to build. Just take it as a preseason game. For me, personally, I was just happy to be out there. I enjoy the game so much and entertaining, so it was just good to be out there.”

However, Coach Atkinson took it a step further when he responded to a question about whether the Nets' lack of defense was a breakdown of Nets’ principles.

“Yes,” Atkinson responded. “Defense, transition defense, guarding the ball, individual defense. I think it was just a cakewalk to the rim for them. They were in our paint all night. Then we started sucking in and they started kicking out for threes. The offense wasn’t great either, but I think we gave up 47 threes tonight. That’s not how we play. It will be good feedback and information, good film to watch with the guys and kind of restructure what we’re doing.”

On the other hand, Toronto Raptors' head coach Nick Nurse seemed to like what he saw from his team end-to-end.

“It was good,” said Coach Nurse. “I thought I played the seven that I know we are going to play and tried to keep turning it around and that was easy enough to get them in a lot of different rotations and different positions and all that stuff. They were fine. They flowed, it looked like it didn’t bother them much and we’re just giving them some experience. So, on both ends they were good.”

Coach Nurse even liked what he saw at the bottom of his rotation.

Terence (Davis) played good, right,” Coach Nurse asked? “He looked great, looked like he should’ve been in that rotation in the first half and then I thought he, like a young player does, he comes in there and gets a little comfortable and throws it all over the place for two or three possessions. That’s a growing process for him. Right now, he’s a combo guard, probably combo’ing more towards the two. But we would like him to play someone and be our third point guard, maybe, but if not we will just keep him at the two and you’ve heard me talk about it, I think it’s easier to play at the two, not as much responsibility.”

Toronto had seven players scoring in double digits including three off the bench: Serge Ibaka (15 points, 11 rebounds); Norman Powell (11 points, 3 assists), and; Terence Davis (10 points). The Raptors’ starters who were scoring leaders were: OG Anunoby (18 points, six rebounds); Fred VanVleet (16 points, eight assists, and three rebounds); Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol each scored 11 points, and Gasol added nine rebounds and three assists to his total, while Siakam complemented his total points with six rebounds and four assists.

For the Nets, Irving led all scorers with 19 points, four assists, and three rebounds. Both Taurean Prince and Spencer Dinwiddie produced 13 points, with Dinwiddie adding his points off the bench along with four assists. Jarrett Allen added 12 points and seven rebounds; David Nwaba recorded 11 points and six rebounds off the bench, and; Caris LeVert chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds.

The Brooklyn Nets start the NBA regular season at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.

TIP-IN: Although there was a group protesting the NBA’s yielding to China, the protestors didn’t catch this reporter’s attention until the game ended when people were filing out of the arena.

Protestors seeking help from Nets and NBA for freedom in China 20191018 214423 600x450

People protesting the NBA’s lack of involvement in helping Chinese and Tibetans gain more freedom from the Chinese government. Photo Credit: What's The 411 Networks, Inc.

 

 
 
 
 
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