May 30, 2020

Spencer Dinwiddie leads the Nets with 24 points and hits a milestone, as does Garrett Temple and Jarrett Allen

No Magic, Just Defense.

If there was ever a game presenting a tale of two halves, last night’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Orlando Magic is its representation. The Nets led the Magic by 19 points (67-48) at 8:58 in the third quarter. How do you have that much of a cushion and allow the opposing team to creep, creep, creep, take over and you lose by two points? That’s exactly what happened at the Barclays Center last night, the Nets went from a 19-point lead to lose to the Orlando Magic by two points 115-113. The Nets, still holding on to the seventh seed in the NBA playoffs standing, fell to 26-30 with the loss to the Magic. Meanwhile, the Magic in the eighth spot in the playoff standing, inched ever so close to taking over the seventh spot, improved to 25-32 with the victory.

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on the second half and the Magic’s adjustments:

“We gave up 74 points,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media. “I think that’s the story there. (The) defense was fantastic in the first half, second half we let down defensively. I think it obviously got loose there, that kind of got them going. (Aaron) Gordon made some big shots too. At the end of the day, good credit to that. They deserved to win. They kind of overran us in the second half. We could never really get stops against 74 points. That’s astronomical, it’s tough to win a game like that.”

You can always count on Coach Atkinson to give the other team credit when credit is due.

BY THE NUMBERS:

On the positive side, Brooklyn outrebounded Orlando 49-41 (+8), including a 13-7 (+6) edge on the offensive glass.

The Nets also outscored the Magic 16-8 in second-chance points and 11-5 in fast breakpoints.

The Orlando Magic field goal percentage was 49.4 percent (44-of-89), while the Brooklyn Nets shot 47.9 percent (46-of-96). The Nets took seven more shots, but not enough cigars.

The Nets did outscore the Magic from behind the arc. The Nets hit 43.2 percent (16-of-37) of its shots from three-point land versus the Magic’s 38.2 percent (13-of-34).

But when it came to points at the stripe, the Nets barely made it to the free-throw line, hitting 62.5 percent (5-of-8) versus the Magic’s 82.4 percent (14 of 17).

The Nets led the Magic 27-22 at the end of the first quarter last night and had the lead over Orlando 54-41 at halftime. But the tale of the second half, tells the story. The Orlando Magic outscored the Brooklyn Nets 74-59 in the second half.

Why do the Brooklyn Nets at times have difficulty holding leads?

“It’s the NBA,” responded Coach Atkinson. “Lead’s never safe. You’re up 20, you don’t feel comfortable. So, like I said, that’s why I was so happy about the Charlotte game. Tonight, we didn’t do it. They got back in it and then they got their rhythm and then we could not get stops. We tried some different things; we tried some zone. But again, you’ve got to give them credit. They just simply overran us in that second half.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets against the Orlando Magic last night with 24 points and eight assists in 34 minutes. Caris LeVert recorded 19 points, five rebounds, and a season-high-tying eight assists in 34 minutes; Garrett Temple scored 18 points and five assists off the bench in 28 minutes; Jarrett Allen registered his 25th double-double of the season with 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, along with three assists and two blocks in 26 minutes; Joe Harris posted 12 points and six boards in 30 minutes, and; Taurean Prince chipped in 10 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes.

For the Orlando Magic, Aaron Gordon, who got barely any rest, led all scorers with 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and two blocked shots in 41 minutes; Evan Fournier recorded 21 points and four assists in 31 minutes; Terrence Ross came off the bench and matched Fournier’s point total with 21 points, but Ross added eight rebounds to his total in 28 minutes; Nikola Vucevic posted 16 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in 34 minutes, and; James Ennis III chipped in 13 points and four rebounds in 27 minutes.

Coach Speak: Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford on what turned the game around for the Magic in the third quarter:

In two words said Coach Clifford, “Terrence Ross”. “He just got going. I think he was 8-for-9 in the second half, and you guys have seen him. He’s done it so many times. He gets on a streak like that. And then Aaron Gordon also played huge minutes and made a ton of big plays at both ends of the floor. We struggled to guard them. We were better in the second half, but obviously we made a bunch of shots.”

And, Spencer Dinwiddie co-signed on Coach Clifford’s analysis of what opened the door for the Magic to get back in the game.

“Defense,” said Dinwiddie. “They had 74 points in the second half. (Terrence) Ross made a ton of plays during their run and obviously (Aaron) Gordon had a big three. If we do our job defensively then we’re not in that situation.”

What’s Next for the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets?

The Orlando Magic will head to Atlanta to face the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

As for the Brooklyn Nets, they will board a plane for a four-game road trip. The Nets will travel to Washington to play the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, February 26, at 7:00 p.m. ET. Then, on Friday, February 28, 2020, the Nets will be in Atlanta to play the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets will travel further south to Miami to take on the Miami Heat in a back-to-back on Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. The Brooklyn Nets will get three days rest before taking on the Boston Celtics in Boston on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. And on the very next day, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, the Nets will finally return home to Brooklyn to play the Memphis Grizzlies at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

TIP-INS:

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s first basket in last night’s game against the Orlando Magic gave him 1,145 points for the season, marking a new single-season career-high. Dinwiddie tallied his previous career-high of 1,143 points last season.

Dinwiddie has now recorded a team-leading 34 games with 20-plus points this season after notching 18 games with 20-plus points all of last season.

Brooklyn Nets guard Garrett Temple posted 18 points last night just one game after recording 15 points and 11 boards (his first-career double-double) on Saturday at Charlotte. This is the first time this season that Temple has tallied 15-plus points in consecutive games, and he's reached double digits in four of his last five contests.

Jarrett Allen’s 25 double-doubles this season surpasses his previous single-season career-high of 24 (done last season). The only player in the league 21 years-old or younger with more double-doubles this season is Luka Doncic (30 entering tonight’s games).

Brooklyn Nets defeated the Toronto Raptors 101-91, Caris LeVert recorded a team-high 20 points

Last night at the Barclays Center was a momentous occasion. The Brooklyn Nets ended the Toronto Raptors 15-game win streak for this season by defeating the Raptors 101-91. With the win, the Nets are inching their way back to surpass the .500 mark. Currently, the Nets are now 25-28 on the season with their victory last night, while the Raptors fell to 40-15 for the season following this loss against the Nets.

How the Brooklyn Nets Won By The Numbers

Brooklyn outrebounded Toronto 55-42 (+13), including a 12-6 edge on the offensive glass

The Nets clipped the Raptors 27-21 in assists.

The Nets outscored the Raptors 50-38 in points in the paint.

Overall, both teams shooting percentages weren’t anything to write home about. The Nets field goal percentage was 40.9 percent (36-of-88), while the Raptors field goal percentage was 37.8 (34-of-90). The Nets also shot 25.7 percent (9-of-35) from three-point land versus the Raptors’ 30.2 percent (13-of-43), and; in the land of free, Brooklyn made 80 percent (20-of-25) of its free-throws, while Toronto hit 76.9 percent (10-of-13) of its buckets from the stripe.

At the end of the first quarter, Brooklyn had a four-point lead over Toronto, 23-19, which marked the fourth time this season that Brooklyn held its opponent under 20 points in an opening quarter. The Nets led the Raptors 52-40 at halftime. Toronto’s 40 points marked the second-fewest Brooklyn has allowed in a first half this season. The team that Brooklyn held to the lowest points at halftime, which was 35 points, was the New Orleans Pelicans with no Zion Williamson, which was on December 17, 2019, at New Orleans.

Going into the fourth quarter, Brooklyn led Toronto 75-65. In previous meetings against Toronto this season, the Nets trailed through three quarters in each of their three previous meetings by a total of 22 points. This is another testament that on any given night, even the elite NBA teams can be beaten by teams who have not reached elite status.

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on the intangibles that helped his team defeat the Toronto Raptors

“I think I said it before the game, our compete level, our intensity level has to be three levels higher than them to have an opportunity to win the game, said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought our physicality, the things we were missing in the last two games against them, I thought we just raised that. We wanted it bad. The execution wasn’t perfect, but our will to win was at a super-high level. That’s why we came out with the W.”

“I think the process has been right,” Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris said to the media about the team’s defensive effort against the Toronto Raptors. “Sometimes you get a little fortunate, teams are off. I thought tonight and especially against Indiana we just did a better job contesting every shot. We did a good job scrambling around. A lot of times defense gets broken down, but it’s about the second effort, closing out still getting contests. You know, we just talked about trying to be the more aggressive and assertive team on both ends. Especially when you play against quality teams. That’s usually what dictates the game, who is able to establish as the aggressor early on.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert recorded a team-high 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and a season-high four steals in 36 minutes against the Toronto Raptors last night. Joe Harris scored 19 points (7-of-12 FG), six rebounds, and two assists in 35 minutes against the Raptors last night; Spencer Dinwiddie posted 17 points, six boards, and a team-high nine assists in 34 minutes; Jarrett Allen hit a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while adding three assists to his points and rebounds total in 20 minutes, and; Garrett Temple also scored in double figures for Brooklyn last night against the Toronto Raptors with 10 points in 25 minutes off the bench.

Toronto Raptors Scoring Leaders

For the Toronto Raptors, Serge Ibaka led all scorers with 28 points, nine rebounds, and two blocked shots in 35 minutes; Fred VanVleet posted 22 points in 39 minutes; Pascal Siakam registered 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in 37 minutes, and; Kyle Lowery contributed 12 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes.

Coach Speak: Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse on what’s ahead for the Raptors going into the NBA All-Star Break

“I think when you look at it in totality, sitting where we are right now, I think we’re extremely pleased to get to this point,” Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said about his team’s status. “The good news is I think we’ll (have) Marc Gasol back after the break. Norman Powell is pretty close as well. Obviously, that’s what is most important, is to get our team back as a whole. I think our team really battled well with a couple of key guys missing. I think we’ve had a healthy team for two games this season, so we’ve done a nice job of plugging in and picking up. In the big scheme of things, you look at the overall of where you’re sitting, and we have to be pleased with that.”

Kawhi Leonard, who last season, helped lead the Toronto Raptors to win its first-ever NBA Championship, is now with the Los Angeles Clippers. Although a follow-up question was asked of Coach Nurse about the makeup of his team this year without Kawhi Leonard, reading between the lines, the real question continues to be, can the Raptors represent the Eastern Conference and win a consecutive NBA championship?

“Well, I think that we’re hoping that some of these guys have taken some steps forward,” responded Coach Nurse. Obviously Kawhi (Leonard) is a late-game closer on both ends of the floor. Pascal Siakam has to assume that role. Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol have kind of stepped forward to assume the secondary role to Pascal Siakam. Fred VanVleet continues to get better. Norman Powell, before he got hurt, was getting better. So probably it’ll be a little more by committee on both ends and trying to figure out matchups. Again, our team has played pretty well. We’ve got some growth to do and we need to do for sure if we want to make a run at it again.”

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

Last night was the last game for both teams before the 2020 NBA All-Star break. The NBA All-Star activities end with the 2020 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, February 16, 2020. The Toronto Raptors will host the Phoenix Suns on Friday, February 21, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. ET, their first game following the NBA All-Star festivities.

Following the NBA All-Star break, the Brooklyn Nets will play two games on the road before they play at home. The Nets will travel to Philadelphia to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, February 20, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET, and then on to Charlotte to play the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 7:00 ET. Next, the Brooklyn Nets will travel home to Brooklyn to take on the Orlando Magic on Monday, February 24, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., at the Barclays Center.

TIP-INS:

Joe Harris, the 2019 NBA All-Star 3-Point Contest champion, and Spencer Dinwiddie, the 2018 NBA All-Star Skills Contest champion, will represent the Brooklyn Nets during State Farm’s All-Star Saturday night this year. The event will be held on February 15, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET at United Center in Chicago, Illinois and will be broadcast on TNT and ESPN Radio.

 

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.

 

Spencer Dinwiddie scores a game-high 28 points in loss; no Kyrie Irving and no Caris LeVert

Last night, the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Indiana Pacers 115-86, ouch! And, with this loss, a few things were exposed. The Nets need its scoring machine, Kyrie Irving, who at this point in the season is averaging 28.5 PPG. Unfortunately, Irving is out with a right shoulder impingement. They also needed Caris LeVert, who averages 16.8 PPG. LeVert is out after having surgery to repair ligaments in his right thumb. The Nets also could have used a more focused second unit, between them, they only netted 24 points. Perhaps, the second unit needs more practice time with the regular starters or more minutes in real games, whatever the scenario, they need to be ready to produce. Yesterday, they looked lost.

“We totally weren’t there tonight,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson responding to a question regarding what he saw from both teams during Indiana’s 32-6 run. “For whatever reason – defensively, offensively, rebounding, physicality – I just think it was total domination by Indiana. I always do this, in a game like this in the NBA you have to give them a lot of credit because they had a lot of guys out too. So, (a) fantastic job by Indiana, a lot of credit. Nets, we weren’t very good tonight. When that happens, much like Phoenix, it’s a 30-point difference.”

Thank God for Spencer Dinwiddie. If for some reason, Dinwiddie was not in the lineup, the referees would have had to call this game. Dinwiddie was one of only three Nets players to score in double digits. The other two players were Jarrett Allen and Garrett Temple. Dinwiddie posted a game-high 28 points (9-of-21 FG, 4-of-8 3FG, 6-of-7 FT) with a season-high-tying eight assists, five rebounds, a steal and a block in 33 minutes; Allen posted a double-double with 10 points and a team-high 12 rebounds in 24 minutes, while Temple recorded 10 points, six rebounds, three assists, and a team-high two blocks in 32 minutes. The only other player that came closest to scoring 10 points was Theo Pinson, who came off the bench and scored eight points; even Joe Harris aka “Joey Buckets,” who beat out Stephen Curry to win the 3-Point shooting contest at last season’s NBA All-Star weekend, only scored seven points.

So, what gives? The question of the Nets lacking physicality was a concern that came up during the postgame press conference to which Coach Atkinson addressed, “I think it’s a mindset, first of all. I think you have to come with a mindset and of course you have to come with your wears – your physicality and your toughness. Listen, it’s not like we don’t have those things. We’ve shown we have them, we’ve done it, but right now, below-average teams are inconsistent and that’s what we are right now. We’re kind of like this and until we get the group together and find some more consistency – what’s disappointing, I thought that we took two good efforts at Denver and Utah and then an excellent road win and then obviously to come here, in front of our fans, it just doesn’t feel good at all.”

And, it shouldn’t feel good. It shouldn’t feel good to the coaching staff and it shouldn’t feel good to the players and quite frankly, they all should feel downright disappointed. Even the fans were disappointed, as many headed for the exits when it was clear the Nets weren’t just losing this game, they were going down in flames.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen told the media postgame. “We dug ourselves in a hole. We started out strong and then the second quarter they started playing hard and got the lead.”

Allen is right. The Indiana Pacers didn’t just take over right out the gate. The first quarter ended with a tie, Nets 18, Pacers 18. But, the second quarter is where the Pacers outpaced the Nets 41-17 and ended the half with the score, 59-35. In the third stanza, the Nets went on a run and scored more points than the Pacers (33-25), but not enough to close the gap significantly, as the third quarter ended with a nod to the Pacers 84-68. The fourth was no better, as the Indiana Pacers bested the Brooklyn Nets 31-18 and ended the game with an overall score of 115-86.

“I thought our bench came in and gave us a lift,” Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said explaining how his team found a way to win after a slow start. “I thought Naz Mitrou-Long came in and did a good job of making some baskets. We couldn’t make anything in that first quarter and the bench came in and got us going. They got us a rhythm and the lead, and we went from there. Another team effort tonight. I thought both young guards, Aaron Holiday and Naz Mitrou-Long, did a good job tonight.”

Scoring leaders for the Indiana Pacers were Aaron Holiday who scored 24 points, 13 assists, and six rebounds; Justin Holiday contributed 20 points and four rebounds; TJ Warren contributed 19 points and six rebounds; Domantas Sabonis registered 16 points, a game-high 18 rebounds, and three assists, and; Naz Mitrou-Long came off the bench and chipped in 12 points, three rebounds, and three assists.

Indiana will now return home to get ready to host the Orlando Magic on Saturday, November 23, 2019, at 7 p.m. ET.

The Brooklyn Nets will get to redeem themselves on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, when they play host to the Charlotte Hornets at home at the Barclays Center on at 7:30 p.m. ET.

 
 
 

The Brooklyn Nets have acquired forward Kevin Durant, along with a protected 2020 first round draft pick, from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for guards D’Angelo Russell and Shabazz Napier and forward Treveon Graham.

“Kevin is a champion, perennial All-Star and one of the great players of this, or any, generation,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks. “Adding a player of Kevin’s caliber to our organization elevates our ability to compete with the elite teams in this league. His tremendous abilities and dedication to his craft have made him as talented an offensive player our game has ever seen and we, as well as all of Brooklyn, are thrilled to welcome Kevin and his family to the Nets.

“We would also like to thank D’Angelo for all he has done for the Nets over the past two seasons. He was an integral part of the team’s growth and served as a tremendous representative of the Nets and Brooklyn. We wish him, Shabazz, and Treveon nothing but the best in the years ahead.”

“Along with the rest of the league, our coaching staff has long admired Kevin’s incredible skill, resilience, and tenacity,” said Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson. “He has already established himself as a champion and one of the best players of all-time, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome him into our program in Brooklyn.”

A nine-time All-NBA selection (six First Team, three Second Team), Durant (6’9, 240) joins the Nets after spending the previous three seasons with the Golden State Warriors. During that time, Durant won two NBA championships (2017, 2018) and was named NBA Finals MVP twice, becoming just the sixth player in NBA history to win the award in consecutive years. As a Warrior, he helped lead Golden State to a regular season record of 182-64 (.740). Durant has been named an All-Star in each of the last 10 seasons (2010-19) and earned the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2014 with Oklahoma City after averaging a single-season career-high 32.0 points (50.3 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from 3-point range, 87.3 percent from the free-throw line), 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 38.5 minutes per game. In 849 career games (all starts), Durant has registered averages of 27.0 points (49.3 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from 3-point range, 88.3 percent from the free-throw line), 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks in 36.9 minutes per contest. He has also appeared in 139 career playoff games (all starts) over nine postseason appearances with Oklahoma City (six) and Golden State (three), posting playoff averages of 29.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.2 blocks in 40.3 minutes per game. In addition to two titles and three NBA Finals appearances in Durant’s three seasons in Golden State, the 30-year-old forward has led his team to at least the Western Conference Finals in seven of his last nine seasons.

Durant ranks third among active players in points (22,940) and has averaged at least 25.0 points per game in each of the last 11 seasons, garnering four NBA scoring titles (2009-12, 2013-14). He also ranks 10th all-time on the NBA’s career playoff points list (4,043) and is second in the category among active players. The Washington, D.C., native has represented the United States twice at the Olympics, earning gold medals in 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Durant has also been honored for his off-the-court endeavors and received the 2017-18 Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his outstanding efforts in the community and his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work. Originally selected with the second overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics, Durant earned Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and, 1.0 steals in 34.6 minutes per game in 80 games during the 2007-08 campaign. Prior to beginning his NBA career, he spent one year at the University of Texas, averaging 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game en route to the unanimous national player of the year honors.

Russell was originally acquired by the Nets in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers on June 22, 2017. He became a first-time All-Star in 2018-19, averaging 21.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and, 1.2 steals in 30.2 minutes per contest through 81 games (all starts). In 129 games (116 starts) over two seasons (2017-19) in Brooklyn, Russell recorded averages of 19.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and,1.1 steals in 28.5 minutes per game. Through four NBA seasons split between the Nets and Lakers (2015-17), Russell has averaged 16.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.2 steals in 28.5 minutes per game in 272 games (224 starts).

Napier originally signed as a free agent with the Nets on July 17, 2018. He appeared in 56 games during the 2018-19 season, registering averages of 9.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 17.6 minutes per contest. In 289 career games with Miami (2014-15), Orlando (2015-16), Portland (2016-18) and Brooklyn, Napier has posted averages of 6.4 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 16.1 minutes per game.

Graham originally signed as a free agent with the Nets on July 30, 2018. He appeared in 35 games (21 starts) during the 2018-19 campaign, recording averages of 5.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and, 1.0 assists in 20.4 minutes per game. In 125 career games with Charlotte (2016-18) and Brooklyn (2018-19), Graham has posted averages of 4.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per contest.

In the loss, Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell leads Nets in scoring with 27 points, seven rebounds, and six assists

It wasn’t a blowout last night at the Barclays Center when the Brooklyn Nets lost 115-105 to the Toronto Raptors, the second-best team in the NBA Eastern Conference. Some say a loss is a loss no matter what the point spread is. But, in this case, when you’re fighting to clinch a spot in the playoffs, a loss can be more than a loss.

With the loss, the Nets fell to 39-40 overall and 22-18 at the Barclays Center, while the Raptors improved to 56-23 overall and 25-14 on the road with the win. But, moreover, the musical chairs of who’s in the NBA playoff seeding and who isn’t shifted last night and is likely to be a game of musical chairs over the remaining week. The Nets are still in the seventh spot, but the Miami Heat's loss to the Boston Celtics put the Orlando Magic in the eighth spot, while Miami fell to the ninth position.

So, what happened to the Nets last night.

“They were the better team,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I don’t know how else to tell you that. I think they were the better team tonight – from start to finish, gotta give credit. Excellent team. A team that’s going to compete for a championship. We were not up to that. Like I said before the game, those standards, you’ve got to be almost perfect. We weren’t. I would say we were average, and that’s not getting it done against a team like that.”

Toronto is the better team, hence the reason they are in the second position in the Eastern Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks are a better team, hence the reason, it is first in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Nets have no experience of turning it up in the final stretch of the regular season. And, they are traveling to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and then will travel to play the Indiana Pacers the very next day on Sunday. So, should we expect an upset in Milwaukee or in Indiana or both or two losses for the Nets? The best scenario for the Nets to make the playoffs is that since Miami is in the ninth position that Miami loses to Toronto on Sunday and Philadelphia on Tuesday and when Miami comes to Brooklyn on Wednesday, it would be too tired on the second game of a back-to-back to be victorious over Brooklyn. Of the three games on the Orlando Magic’s schedule, only the Boston Celtics are worrisome because the Magic could overtake Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets. But, of course, anything could happen.

The Nets really do have to turn it up because last night, the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Toronto Raptors despite shooting .477 (41-of-86) from the field and limiting Toronto to .419 (44-of-105) from the field. The Nets also edged the Raptors 60-48 in points in the paint.

With the Toronto Raptors in the rearview mirror and as the Net face the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, a question was posed to Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell: What can the Nets do against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo on Saturday?

“Just you know, make him feel us,” Russell responded. “He’s dominated the league this whole season. It’s a tough matchup. But we know what we gotta do. It’s going to take five of us to stop him, it’s not just (one) individual.”

Nets fans hear you, D’Angelo Russell, and they hope that you and the rest of the team can muster up a strategy and the energy to follow the strategy to prevail.

The Brooklyn Nets will play its final game of the regular season on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. Hopefully, it won’t be the last game of the season and this team that has faced so many adversities this season gets a taste of what the NBA postseason is all about.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers with 28 points, Caris LeVert put up 24 points off the bench, but the loss is a cloud hanging over Nets’ head

Last night at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets met up with the Milwaukee Bucks, the best team in the NBA, by its 58-20 record; yes, the Bucks’ record is better than the Golden State Warriors’ record, which is 52-24.

The bad news is that the Nets lost to the Bucks 131-121. The good news for the moment is that the Nets are still holding on to the seventh playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference (EC). The three other teams that are also jockeying for position for the NBA’s sixth through eighth playoff spots in the EC, the Detroit Pistons (#6), Miami Heat (#8), and the Orlando Magic (#9), also lost last night.

The Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, and the Orlando Magic all have at least two formidable teams to play between now and April 10, 2019, the last day of the NBA regular season. And, by formidable, these teams have already clinched the 1 through 5 NBA Eastern Conference playoff spots. NBA Eastern Conference spots 6 through 8 are up for grabs between four teams or five, depending on how you feel about the Charlotte Hornets because technically, right now, sitting at 35-42, mathematically, the Hornets are not out of contention. Teams that the Hornets have on their schedule right now are the New Orleans Pelicans (32-46) a Western Conference team, and then EC teams, the Toronto Raptors (55-23), Detroit Pistons (39-38), Cleveland Cavaliers (21-57) and the Orlando Magic (38-40).

But, looking at the upcoming schedule for the teams that most people believe are in the race, Detroit has two strong teams to play, the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. On Miami’s schedule are the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Orlando Magic being in the ninth spot is currently on the outside looking in and seemingly has the easiest schedule. The Magic’s last three games are against the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and the Boston Celtics. Of this lot, only the Boston Celtics is a playoff team. However, that doesn’t mean that the Magic would only lose to the Boston Celtics. Not in the least, the Nets just beat the Celtics, who were without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, on Saturday. These are all NBA teams and on any given night, there could be key players out, there could be an upset or the outcome could be predictable, which will make the next few days very exciting for some and not so exciting for others.

Focusing on the Nets, they have four more games on their schedule. The Nets play the Toronto Raptors tomorrow at the Barclays Center, a back-to-back on the road on Saturday and Sunday, against the Milwaukee Bucks again, and the Indiana Pacers and then they come back home to play the Miami Heat on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the last day of the regular season.

Wednesday, April 10, could be the determining day between the Nets and the Miami Heat, as well as other teams. Or, it could be over before the Nets get home depending upon what they do from this point forward and what the other teams do. Clearly, this is not a good position to be in.

And, as Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert, who scored 24 points, four rebounds and six assists, assessed last night’s game against the Bucks, the Nets have to be focused and dialed in from start to finish if they truly want to secure a playoff spot.

“I think we put ourselves in a big hole in that first quarter and it was tough fighting back, especially against a good team like that,” said LeVert. “They’re number one in the East for a reason. But we just have to learn from it. We played great basketball for like three-and-a-half quarters, so we have to learn from it and keep going.”

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers with 22 points in the loss; Spencer Dinwiddie back in the lineup after missing 14 games following surgery on right thumb

This was a tough game to watch. For the second time this week, the Brooklyn Nets got pushed into the L column by an opponent that was either banging on the door for a playoff spot or seeking to move up in the standings. On Wednesday, it was the Washington Wizards, last night, the Nets lost to the Charlotte Hornets 123-112. The Nets are now 32-32 overall and 18-16 at the Barclays Center and the Hornets improved to 29-33 overall and 9-21 on the road with the win.

“We have given up 68 points in the first half two games in a row,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about his team’s recent streak. “It starts on the defensive end. It’s not about the lineups or working guys back in from injury. It’s about defense and we have to do a better job on that end. Right now, we just aren’t getting it done.”

Unfortunately, the Nets struggle wasn’t just defense, the Hornets had 50 field goals to the Nets 44 and 10 offensive rebounds to the Nets seven.

“We have to find some solution because we are out of sync right now,” Atkinson continued acknowledging his team’s offensive struggles. “We will figure it out because right now we aren’t sharp. Shot selection is not great, ball movement is not great. We will look at some things. Obviously, this late in the season, we won’t be changing our offense, but we will find some ways to help the guys.”

Coach Atkinson may want to look at his team’s offense because other teams certainly are looking at their offense to take them off their game, case in point, Hornets head coach James Borrego.

“…I think when we were here last time, Kemba was rolling there in that fourth quarter and they switched to a zone and they tried to take the ball out of his hands. This is a zone team, they’re number one in the NBA playing zone. We‘re going to see zone tonight, we understand that we play better against the zone of late…,” Coach Borrego told the media just before the game started.

For the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker led all scorers with 27 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and four steals; Jeremy Lamb registered 22 points off the bench; Nicolas Batum accumulated 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists; Frank Kaminsky recorded 15 points and seven rebounds; both Cody Zeller and Tony Parker scored 12 points, with Parker scoring his 12 points and five assists off the bench and Zeller adding nine rebounds and three assists, and; not to be outdone, Marvin Williams chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds.

D’Angelo Russell led Brooklyn with 22 points and nine assists in 28 minutes. DeMarre Carroll scored 20 points (5-of-10 FG, 3-of-5 3FG, 7-of-8 FT) with five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench; Spencer Dinwiddie returned to action last night for the first time since January 23, 2019, vs. Orlando and posted 15 points and four assists in 23 minutes off the bench. Dinwiddie missed 14 games following surgery that repaired ligaments in his right thumb. Caris LeVert totaled 14 points (6-of-11 FG) with seven rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes, and Jarrett Allen chipped in 10 points in 23 minutes.

Regarding the Nets struggles lately, could it be an abundance of riches now that everyone is healthy and back in the lineup and they need to adjust?

Or, is it just as simple as what D’Angelo Russell said: “We can’t dig ourselves in holes and teams shoot well and expect to get out of it by us scoring; we’ve got to get stops.”

Or, perhaps, it’s both.

The Brooklyn Nets travel to Miami to play the Miami Heat tonight at 7:30 p.m.

TIP-INS:

Dinwiddie has now scored 808 points off the bench this season, becoming the second player in franchise history to tally 800+ points in a season off the bench (Armen Gilliam scored 878 points off the bench in the 1993-94 season).

With his fourth rebound tonight, Ed Davis moved past Detlef Schrempf (3,640) and is now third in NBA history in rebounds off the bench (since the NBA first tracked starters in 1970-71). He now has 3,641 career rebounds off the bench and trails only Kevin McHale (3,526) and Paul Silas (5,337).

Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell were game scoring leaders for the Brooklyn Nets, perhaps, putting to rest that the two can’t be on the floor together

The Brooklyn Nets added another win to its list last night by beating the Orlando Magic 114-110. There was no scenario where it looked like it would be a blow-out on either side. The game was close all the way, just a back and forth, one team up, one team down, with the Nets pulling it out at the end.

“First of all, like I keep saying, I think they’re a really good team,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about the Orlando Magic postgame. “It’s a struggle to beat them. They have really good players. Nip and tuck, back and forth, we made mistakes and they made mistakes. I don’t think it was a perfectly played game by any means, especially on our part. I thought we were so-so overall. That’s a sign of a good team, to pull it out when you’re not at your top level.”

The Nets improved to 26-23 overall and 14-11 at Barclays Center with last night’s win against the Magic. Meanwhile, the Magic fell to 20-28 overall and 8-15 on the road with the loss. Additionally, the Nets have won five straight games, seven-straight at home, and 11 of their last 12 at Barclays Center with last night’s victory. And, if you’re wondering if the Nets are still in the NBA playoff hunt, yes, they are holding on to the sixth spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, if the NBA Playoffs were held today.

For the Brooklyn Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie led all players with a game-high 29 points (10-of-17 FG) with three rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 30 minutes off the bench. Meanwhile, D’Angelo Russell led all Nets starters with 25 points, a game-high 10 assists, seven rebounds, and two steals in 34 minutes.

Earlier in the season, there was some chatter that Dinwiddie and Russell couldn’t co-exist on the floor together, but with the passage of time, things are looking better for this duo.

“I see more as they are meshing,” Atkinson said about their progress. “More and more every time. I know advanced stuff says they don’t play well together, but they’re going to be in at the end of the game. They’re two of our top players. Having multiple ball handlers like that is huge. They really know how to play off of each other now. Especially the plays we run at the end of the game, they’re looking out for each other. D’Angelo called a play for Spencer with under two minutes there. It was a big play. That’s the kind of altruism we have right now. Guys are really playing for each other.”

D'Angelo Russell also commented on the chemistry between him and Spencer Dinwiddie, “I just think when we’re both aggressive it works out best for us. Like I said, as we’re getting games under our belts. I think we’re realizing how to play off each other and be aggressive and kind of playmaking and make things happen every time we get the ball.”

As for the other Nets players making it happen when they got the ball, DeMarre Carroll recorded 19 points (6-of-13 FG) and four rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench for the Nets. Rodions Kurucs, a starter for the Nets and an NBA rookie, posted 13 points, four rebounds, one steal and one block in 22 minutes. Joe Harris also scored 13 points and four rebounds, and; Jarrett Allen registered a team-high 11 rebounds with six points and two assists in 29 minutes.

Leading starting scorers for the Orlando Magic were, Nikola Vucevic, who scored 21 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and four blocked shots; D.J. Augustin registered 19 points, six assists, three rebounds, and two steals; Jonathan Isaac tallied 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, and three blocked shots, and; Aaron Gordon added 10 points and six rebounds.

Jonathon Simmons came off the bench for the Orlando Magic and chipped in 13 points and three assists.

Next up: the Orlando Magic head home to play the Washington Wizards on Friday, January 25, 2019. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will also be at home to host the New York Knicks at Barclays Center also on Friday, January 25, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

 

 

 

D’Angelo Russell scores 34 points to help the Nets defeat the Celtics; the victory also snaps the Nets’ 10-game losing streak against the Celtics

Is it too early to cue up the music, “Movin’ on Up,” the theme song from the 1970s – 1980s sitcom, The Jeffersons? Perhaps, but to Brooklyn Nets fans, it sure does feel good to be one game away from reaching the .500 mark and to still be in contention for an NBA playoff spot.

NBA Playoff Watch: The Brooklyn Nets are now in the seventh spot in the NBA Eastern Conference (The Boston Celtics are currently in the fifth spot).

“We don’t really talk about it as a team,” Jarrett Allen said about the Nets currently in an NBA Playoff spot. “It’s obviously something on all of our minds that we want to make it, but it’s never that ‘oh, let’s make it.’ It’s never spoken out loud, but we all know what we have to do.”

We hear you, Jarrett Allen, but people who follow the Nets, are talking about it and not necessarily in hush tones because the upward trajectory of the Nets so far this season has taken many by surprise.

Last night, the Nets defeated the Boston Celtics 109-102 at home at the Barclays Center and in so doing, the Nets improved to 22-23 overall and 12-11 at Barclays Center, while the Celtics fell to 25-18 overall and 10-13 on the road with this loss. The Nets have also won five straight home games, which is a big deal for the Nets since it is the first time since the 2014-15 season (March 27 – April 6, 2015) that the Nets have won five consecutive games at home more evidence that the Nets are turning a corner.

This victory also snapped the Nets’ 10-game losing streak against the Celtics, which had marked the team’s longest active losing streak against any opponent. The last time Nets won a game against the Celtics it was three years ago on January 2, 2016, in Boston, for those of you who may be keeping score.

Last night’s win was not without some bumps in the road. The Nets ended the third quarter with a 24-point lead (90-66) and that wasn’t the largest lead of the night. The Nets had a 27-point advantage over the Celtics at 9:33 in the fourth quarter on a Spencer Dinwiddie 26' 3-point pull-up shot, but over the course of the last stanza, the Nets lead started slipping eventually getting to only seven points at 1:28 on a Jaylen Brown driving finger roll layup. Over the course of the closing seconds, the Nets were up by nine, up by seven, up by nine, and eventually ending the game at 109-102.

Of course, the media wanted to get Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson’s take on the Nets defensive breakdown in the fourth quarter.

“It speaks to how good they are,” coach Atkinson said regarding the Boston Celtics’ surge in the fourth. “We know it is coming. You’re not beating that team by 30 – you could but considering we haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here. I also think we played eight guys and that’s part of it. I think there was some fatigue. Sure, there’s things we can get better at. I’m going to talk to our 22-year-old point guard about being a little more secure with the ball. But overall, we hung on and closed it out.”

The Nets’ 22-year-old point guard, D’Angelo Russell, posted a game-high-tying 34 points (13-of-26 FG, 7-of-13 3FG, 1-of-2 FT) with five rebounds, a game-high seven assists, one steal and one block in 37 minutes. Russell scored 18 of his 34 points in the third quarter.

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had his eye on Russell.

“…The (Celtics) third-quarter defense was awful,” Stevens said. “Obviously, Brooklyn scored 44 in the quarter and D’Angelo Russell got going. We didn’t get a stop or a rebound for the first four minutes of the quarter. You’re not going to win games when you start the quarter like that in what was a back-and-forth, tougher, more physical game that we just couldn’t make a shot in the first half. But for whatever reason, our third quarter defense was not there. We (Celtics) went on a drought and Brooklyn just blew us out of the water…”

Still feeling good about his accomplishment in last night’s game against the Celtics, Russell told the media what it took for him to go on his scoring roll in the third quarter.

In a word, “Confidence,” Russell said. “I mean, I trust my craft. My teammates like I said they put me in the position to do that. They’re finding me when we have the hot hand, but once again I trust my craft and I know what I’m capable of.”

So, those of you who doubted D’Angelo Russell’s abilities and belief in himself, take note.

Looking at other Nets starters who were scoring leaders last night, Rodions Kurucs, a Nets rookie who has surprised everyone with his skills, totaled 19 points, four rebounds, and two steals in 33 minutes. Jarrett Allen also recorded 19 points with 12 rebounds and four blocks in 33 minutes. Joe Harris tallied 13 points, eight rebounds, and three assists in 35 minutes.

Coming off the bench for the Nets, DeMarre Carroll posted his second double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in 33 minutes.

For the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum had a game-high-tying 34 points, five rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots, and one steal. Jaylen Brown scored 22 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Brad Wanamaker, who came off the bench for Boston, chipped in 13 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

Both teams are really going to have to put on their big boy pants tomorrow as they both face formidable teams. The Celtics square off against the Toronto Raptors at home at the Boston Garden. The Brooklyn Nets travel to Houston to play the Rockets, also tomorrow, and then on to Orlando to play the Magic on Friday, January 18, 2019. The Nets will then return home to play the Sacramento Kings on Monday, January 21, 2019, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at 3:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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