November 22, 2019

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.

 

 
 
 
 

Lowry and Valanciunas drop one-two punch on the Nets; Lopez gets 29th game of 20-plus points this season, and Kilpatrick drops 20 points off the bench

It is Super Bowl Sunday and the Brooklyn Nets had a noon-time meeting with the Toronto Raptors. From a distance, it looked ominous because the Raptors were coming into the Barclays Center with a 3-0 record against the Nets this season. However, there was a glimmer of hope because Toronto was without Demar DeRozen, the team’s leading scorer and Kyle Lowry was playing with the flu. The hope continued through the first quarter with the Nets only down by two points 26-24. At the half, the hope was a little more guarded with the Nets down by eight 55-43, because we know this season’s history of third quarter breakdowns and the fact that the Nets shot less than 40 percent from the floor in the first half.

Alas, the Nets took us on a roller coaster ride during the third quarter, down by as much as 17 points. Trying to make a comeback, Brooklyn came within nine but ultimately closed the third with a 12-point deficit, 75-63; and then finishing the game 103-95.

The Raptors’ defensive push forced the Nets to turn over the ball, which stunted Nets’ ability to close the deal; and it wasn’t lost on Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“I think the number one reason is they’re really good at it,” said Atkinson explaining Toronto’s ability to force turnovers. “They strip you, they’re physical, they’ve got really good hands.”

“But I also think a fair amount of our turnovers were on the transition – advantage situations where we’re still not making the simple pass, you know, simple play,” Atkinson stated as he expanded on what he attributes to the Nets’ turnovers. “I thought in the second half we improved and that’s why we gave ourselves a chance because our defense was not great but decent enough to have a chance to win the game. So I’m glad we improved the turnover thing. We talked about it at halftime and so I’ll add to the turnover situation in the first half, I’ll add bad shot selection. It’s just that simple. I thought we took a lot of bad shots, a lot of quick shots and we were driving into a crowd a lot. The ball wasn’t moving side to side and then a drive when there’s an open hole. I think a lot of these turnovers are decisions, and our decision making wasn’t up to par in the first half. And again, the second half I thought that we improved.”

Although Jonas Valanciunas led all scorers with 22 points for the Raptors, Lowry, battling the flu, was a real spark for Toronto finishing with a triple-double scoring 15 points and 11 rebounds and assists. Terrence Ross added 17 points, DeMarre Carroll had 15 points and five rebounds, and Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet each scored 10 points, and Powell also added six rebounds.

For the Nets, Brook Lopez totaled a team-high 20 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. This is Lopez’s 29th game of 20-plus points this season. Sean Kilpatrick added 18 points and five rebounds off the bench, Trevor Booker earned a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 13 points.

Although the Nets fell to 9-42 overall and 7-20 at home with today’s loss, Lopez sees the team’s growth that may not be obvious to the casual observer.

“We obviously can look at personal growth, personal improvement, and team growth, and I think we obviously incrementally improved,” Lopez told the press in the locker room after the game.” It’s just a matter of, again, I’ve said it, but just being better for longer and being more consistent. It’s tough. We have a lot of young guys, a lot of guys who haven’t had a lot of experience in the league, and that’s why the things that really separate the great players, great teams, in this league is just coming out every night and performing at the same level. And again, I’ve got to do better at that, I’ve been guilty of that and I think we agree that we can be better when it comes to that.”

The Nets are on the road to play Charlotte on Tuesday and then come home to the Barclays Center to face the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

In final game of the season, Nets general manager gives strong signal that Tony Brown won’t be back

Today was the last game of the season for the Brooklyn Nets. They hosted the Toronto Raptors at the Barclays Center, a team the Nets bounced out of the playoffs in the first round in 2014.

I thought there was an outside chance that the Nets could close out the season with a win, particularly since Toronto head coach Dwane Casey told the media in a pregame press conference that the Raptors would be without DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Luis Scola and Jonas Valanciunas. And, adding to the missing key Toronto players, the Nets started the game with a 21-4 run, which made me hopeful.

However, the 17-point lead seemed to vanish in an instant. By the end of the half, Toronto led Brooklyn 49-47; at the end of the third stanza, Toronto had a 12-point lead 78-66. When the music stopped, the Nets had lost to the Raptors 103-96, and in so doing, finished the season with a 21-61 record, the 3rd-worst in the league.

In the loss, Bojan Bogdanovic came up big for the Nets, scoring 29 points on seven 3-pointers. Sean Kilpatrick, a fan favorite, as they are still calling his name when he steps on the hardwood, added 12 points and tied his three career assist record. Donald Sloan scored 11 points, and Henry Sims chipped in 10 points and tied his career-high three blocked shots.

Like the Nets, the Raptors also only had four players in double digits; but they scored more points. Norman Powell led all scorers with 30 points and nine rebounds; Terrence Ross scored 24 points and 10 boards off the bench; Delon Wright added 18 points and seven assists; and Jason Thompson chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds.

Anyone following the Nets this season knows that this season is the team’s worst season in Brooklyn. The downward spiral caused the reassignment of general manager Billy King and the firing of head coach Lionel Hollins on January 10, 2016. Anthony (Tony) Brown, an assistant coach under Hollins was named interim head coach and played caretaker to a team that seemed to be in disarray. As one who followed the team, I don’t think the 21-61 record really reflects the potential of the Brooklyn Nets’ team as it is presently constituted. The team needs a stronger point guard, a defender around the rim, and a coach that has experience developing young players, and particularly millennials. The salary cap is expected to go up to approximately $89 million and with Nets current salary obligations it could have between $42.1 and $48.2 million for free agents. Attracting good free agents to the Nets will depend in part on who becomes the next head coach.

Sean Marks, the Nets new general manager has been in evaluation mode of both players and interim coach Tony Brown. There is no doubt some of the players will not be back next season and certainly Tony Brown won’t be back.

Brown told the media that the Nets’ young players are still being evaluated and was asked if he still believed he was being evaluated by Marks.

“I can’t answer that. I really can’t,” Brown said before Monday’s game against the Wizards. “We’ve got two games left. I feel like the situation has been tough from the beginning, I’ve tried to make the best of it and I’m going to continue to do that the last two games and whatever happens, happens. I’m not worried about my fate with this organization.”

As I watched Brown hustle out the door after the Nets final game against Toronto and there were no final remarks by Nets General Manager Marks, I guess we all have our answer soon enough.

© 1993 - 2018 What's The 411 Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.