August 22, 2019

Dwyane Wade scores a triple-double for the Miami Heat in the last NBA game of his career, which was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY 

Wow, what an NBA season it has been for the Brooklyn Nets. During the 2018-19 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets have seen their share of adversities, but managed to push through and earned an NBA playoff spot. This will be the Brooklyn Nets first appearance in the NBA playoffs since 2015. Few observers at the beginning of the season predicted this team would be in the playoffs, as this season alone has been a rough ride getting here. Nevertheless, on Sunday, after defeating the Indiana Pacers, 108-96, the Nets improved its overall record to 41-40 and clinched a playoff spot.

With the Detroit Pistons’ losses and Orlando Magic’s wins against their respective opponents between Sunday and Wednesday night, the Nets earned a sixth-seeded playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference last night after defeating the Miami Heat 113-94.

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 20 minutes. Shabazz Napier posted 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 30 minutes off the bench; Rodions Kurucs totaled 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes; Treveon Graham added 11 points, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert each chipped in 10 points respectively. Hollis-Jefferson, who came off the bench, added 12 rebounds, three assists, and three steals to his points total, while LeVert added three rebounds and four assists.

Miami Heat’s guard Dwyane Wade, who played his last NBA game last night, scored a triple-double: a game-high 25 points, a team-high-tying 11 rebounds, and a game-high 10 assists in 36 minutes. Also, for Miami, Duncan Robinson accumulated 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists; Derrick Jones Jr. registered 13 points and four rebounds; Udonis Haslem scored 12 points and 11 rebounds, and; Bam Adebayo chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

It was fitting that Dwyane Wade, who was playing the last game of his NBA career, scored a triple-double on his way out the door, but it almost didn’t happen.

“Yeah, probably literally an hour before the game he and I were talking,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told the assembled media postgame. “He had been on the table. The entire time he was here he did a bunch of treatment – at the hotel this morning. This morning he texted me saying he didn’t know if he would be able to go. He asked me what I thought, how he could make it worthwhile for everybody. He felt such a responsibility. We just said okay, we’ll see how you feel after treatment and get a little more rest until we get to the arena. I talked to him an hour before tip and he still didn’t feel great. His knee, his leg, wasn’t moving great. Just in typical Dwyane fashion he just figured he had to be there.”

“Since so many Dwyane Wade and Miami fans showed up, he felt such a responsibility,” Spoelstra continued. “That’s so awesome. I said this before – his next book has got to be called Moments. He knows how to capture moments as well as anybody that’s ever played this game. To play this game when he didn’t feel great and get a triple-double and get his last assist to Udonis Haslem the definition of capturing these moments and really giving everybody what they wanted.”

Asked whether he could have scripted it any better with a triple-double in his last game, Dwyane Wade responded: “No, I couldn’t have. Coming into a game like tonight, a bit out of the playoffs, for myself, these are tough games to play when you’re not playing for anything. I’m not the kind of player that will come out and just shoot the ball every time. Coming into the game, I wanted to see what I could do. To be able to help my teammates, definitely helped me out a lot to hear everyone cheering for me, to be able to go out that way was pretty cool. I don’t think about the Kansas game, but it was the same way in college. I got a triple-double towards the end then so that was pretty cool.”

With all the love heaped on Dwyane Wade last night, it was a challenge for the Brooklyn Nets to stay focus on the goal of getting a win despite having clinched a playoff spot, but with some work, they managed.

“You have to stay locked in,” Nets guard D’Angelo Russell said. “But all the love and support that he has brought to this game and the love and support that he is getting on his way out is well deserved. You have to figure out a way to stay locked in but participate in the festivities as well. That dude is a legend. Just to see him on his way out like that, for me, it’s special. I got to be a part of Kobe’s (Bryant) and his, so I take that in a lot. It’s great to be on the floor.”

You can watch the first game featuring the Brooklyn Nets against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs on Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Philadelphia at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The second game is scheduled for Monday, April 15, 2019, at 8:00 p.m., and can be seen on TNT. Next, the Nets return home to the Barclays Center to play Game 3 on Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 8:00 p.m., and Game 4 on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., also on TNT.

 

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.”

In the Nets’ game loss, a phenom in the making emerges, Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs leads all Nets players with a career-high 24 points

Seven.

Seven was the number of consecutive wins the Brooklyn Nets had heading into their game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Unfortunately, the Nets could not keep pace with the Pacers (pun intended) starting in the first quarter and lost 114-106.

In addition to snapping their season-high seven-game winning streak, the Nets fell to 15-19 overall and 7-11 at home, while the Pacers improved to 21-12 overall and 10-7 on the road with the victory.

With the Nets experiencing so many losses, sometimes it’s easy to forget that the team has had win streaks in the past. This current win streak matched the team’s longest winning streak since relocating to Brooklyn for the start of the 2012-13 season. The Nets winning back-to-back games in this fashion and at this time had many sports reporters talking about the Nets who wouldn’t have otherwise because the Nets win streak marked the longest active winning streak in the NBA.

Yesterday's breakdown for the Brooklyn Nets came in the first quarter when they ended the quarter with a 10-point deficit 37-27 and didn’t gain much in the second, ending that stanza 59-49. Brooklyn closed in on Indiana in the third, but still fell short by four points, finishing the third 84-80, and similarly, in the fourth, the Nets just couldn’t make up enough ground. The Pacers outscored the Nets in the final quarter by four points 30-26 and ultimately winning the game 114-106.

“We could really never stop them,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters after the game. “We didn’t stop them all night. I think we got in a big hole – 37-point first quarter and then (in the) fourth quarter we couldn’t stop them either. We tried some different things. We tried mucking up the game a little, some different defenses, and never found that key to stopping them.”

Despite the outcome of tonight’s game, there were several bright spots for the Brooklyn: a season-high .516 (16-of-31) from 3-point range including .647 (11-of-17) from 3-point range in the second half, which also marked a season-high for 3-point shooting percentage by the Nets in a half this season, which also included 7-of-8 from 3-point range in the third quarter, matching the team's highest 3FGM total in any quarter this season.

Additionally, the Nets edged the Pacers 28-24 in assists and also outrebounded Indiana 41-29, including an 11-6 edge on the offensive glass. Actually, when it comes to rebounding, the Nets have been on a roll, they have outrebounded their opponents 353-292 (+61) in their last eight games. The Nets’ bench also outscored the Pacers’ reserves last night 43-29. Entering the game against the Pacers, the Nets’ bench ranked fifth in the NBA with 45.4 points per game.

It was a special night for Nets rookie forward Rodions Kurucs, he led all Nets scorers with a career-high 24 points; he also registered three rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal in 34 minutes.

Last night’s game also marked Kurucs’ first-career 20-point game and the first time Kurucs has led the Nets in scoring; all the while proving each game with attitude and performance that he belongs in the NBA and perhaps in the Nets starting line-up. His four made 3-pointers marked a career high, while his six made field goals matched his career high. Kurucs has scored in double figures in four of his last six games and has averaged 12.3 points per game in those six outings.

When asked about his role and continued growth, Kurucs responded, “I mean, it’s been good. I’m enjoying it every day. I don’t really have much to say. Like before I said, I’m enjoying it every day. I enjoy the team, the guys, the staff, everyone. I just love to be here. I just love to help the team.”

Other Nets starters in double digits were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris who scored 13 points each, along with five and four rebounds respectively, and; Jarrett Allen tallied 10 points and five rebounds. D’Angelo Russell who had a rough scoring night with only three points contributed nine assists.

DeMarre Carroll led the Nets’ second unit with 16 points and four rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie contributed 15 points and nine assists, and; Jared Dudley chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one blocked shot.

For Indiana, Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Former Nets players, Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 and 17 points respectively; Myles Turner registered 15 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and five blocked shots, and; Domantas Sabonis came off the bench and chipped in 17 points and three steals.

Next up, the Indiana Pacers will return home to host the Washington Wizards on Sunday, December 23rd at 5:00 p.m. ET. The Brooklyn Nets will host the Phoenix Suns at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn also on Sunday, December 23, 2018, at 6 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.

Brooklyn Nets defeat Philadelphia 76ers 122-97 and contained Joel Embiid to just 16 points

It was Marathon Sunday in New York City and the Philadelphia 76ers probably felt like their game against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday was a marathon they couldn’t wait to see come to an end. The Nets took the Sixers off their game and cruised to a comfortable 122-97 victory at the Barclays Center. With the win, the Nets improved to 4-6 this season (3-2 at Barclays Center), while the Sixers fell to 6-5 (0-5 on the road).

A notable metric from Sunday is that the Nets forced a season-high (and NBA season-high) 28 turnovers on the Sixers, which marked their most turnovers forced in a game since March 7, 2014, vs. Boston (also 28 turnovers). Another remarkable stat is that Brooklyn also committed a season-low nine turnovers, good for a +19 turnover margin, which marked the Nets’ largest positive turnover differential in a game since the 2002-03 season on January 17, 2003, against the Toronto Raptors, which was also +19.

Individual Nets players have been having a great start to this young season, lifting above their own records. Caris LeVert, who has been having a break-out season scored 20 points tonight, his sixth 20-point game of the season (in his 10th game), matching his total from all of last season. LeVert didn’t register his sixth and final 20-point game of the 2017-18 Season until March 19, 2018, against Memphis. And, tonight, he scored 18 points in the first half, which marked the highest-scoring half of LeVert’s career. Keep an eye on LeVert, as he is an NBA All-Star in the making.

In addition to LeVert, other Brooklyn Nets scoring leaders are part of the team’s young core. Starting PG D’Angelo Russell, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, each scored 21 points. Hollis-Jefferson, who is coming back from injury, was part of the second-unit and added six rebounds and three assists to his total, while Russell added six assists and just one turnover in his 25 minutes on the floor. Starting center, Jarrett Allen, in his second year with Nets and the NBA, registered a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. This is Allen’s third double-double of the season, an improvement over his total four double-doubles in his rookie season. Spencer Dinwiddie, also part of the second unit tonight, tallied 12 points and eight assists; while Joe Harris, as a starter, chipped in 11 points and three assists.

For years, the Nets’ Achilles heel has been the third quarter. But not tonight, as Brooklyn scored 41 points in the third quarter alone, which wasn’t lost on Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“That’s where you’re like, decent first half,” Atkinson stated. “The third quarter is going to decide where the game goes. So, again, we made shots too. That helps a ton. I think we scored 41 points in the third quarter and kept our defense sharp. And like we talked about before the game, closing a really good team out, that’s the tough part. So I thought we handled that. I thought we were really good to finish it out.”

“We wanted to close them out in that third,” LeVert added regarding the Nets scoring 41 points in the third quarter. “We knew it could go either way, they could make a run or we could make a run, and we wanted to throw the first punch there.”

VIDEO: IN HIS OWN WORDS: CARIS LEVERT

The Nets had only nine turnovers versus the 76ers’ 27, an indicator that Brooklyn handled the ball well while putting defensive pressure on Philadelphia.

“I don’t know the numbers…,” Russell responded. “But as far as getting in the passing lane, anticipating passes and anticipating their plays, we did a good job of that.”

“Defensively, Brooklyn was good and we were not,” stated Brett Brown, head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. “I give Brooklyn credit.”

Philadelphia did take the first quarter, leading the Nets 21-18. Even at the end of the first half, no one could see a slaughter-fest in the making, with the Nets having a four-point lead of 51- 47. Additionally, the Nets have a history of collapsing in the third quarter. But, not tonight, the second half just didn’t go right for the Philadelphia 76ers, which left Coach Brown befuddled, the Nets ended the third stanza 92-75, and the final quarter 122-97.

“I think it was a combination of some frustration on offense and with our inability, at times, to guard them one-on-one,” Brown said about what didn’t go right in the second half. “Brooklyn did a good job of making shots. I thought they did a really good job of hitting rollers and finishing or throwing lobs for dunks. In general, it was a poor performance that was unexpected and nobody is going to overreact to it, but that’s the lay of the land. That’s what happened. That’s the way I see it.”

Philadelphia scoring leaders were Ben Simmons with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four steals, and three assists. Joel Embiid registered 16 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists. JJ Redick scored 15 points in 27 minutes off the bench. Dario Saric added 14 points and three rebounds, and; Landry Shamet came off the bench to chip in 12 points.

The Sixers will travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Nets will embark on a four-game road trip (their second-longest road trip of the season), beginning on Tuesday night in Phoenix to play the Phoenix Suns.

The next time the Nets will play at home at the Barclays Center will be on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., against the Miami Heat.

 

TIP INS - The Nets Moving in the Right Direction:

• The Nets scored 39 points off Philadelphia’s 28 turnovers, which marked their most points scored off an opponent’s turnovers since the 2002-03 season (47 points on 11/22/02 vs. Cleveland).

• Brooklyn’s nine turnovers were good for a +19 turnover margin, which marked the Nets’ largest positive turnover differential in a game since the 2002-03 season (+19 on 1/17/03 vs. Toronto).

• The Nets registered a season-high 70 points in the paint, which marked their most points in the paint in a game since the 2016-17 Season (72 points in the paint on 4/1/17 vs. Orlando).

• The Nets have recorded 60+ points in the paint three times through 10 games after doing so twice all of last season.

• Brooklyn tallied 41 points in the third quarter, which marked the Nets’ highest-scoring quarter of the season and their third-highest-scoring third quarter in Barclays Center history (since the start of the 2012-13 season).

• The Nets improved to 9-4 all-time against the Sixers at Barclays Center, matching their most wins against any opponent at Barclays Center (also: nine wins over the Orlando Magic).

Brooklyn Nets host more than basketball, the game featured Russian Culture Night and a welcome back to Brooklyn for Lance Stephenson 

On a game night when the Brooklyn Nets hosted an Evening of Russian Culture, the team needed a fourth-quarter rush to prevail for its sixth straight victory over the scorching Indiana Pacers, who came in on this late Sunday night riding its own four-game winning streak. These two streaking teams could possibly see each other in the playoffs. Way too early to say, but right now if the playoffs started today the Nets would be the fourth seed and the Pacers would be the third seed. Also, the Nets and Pacers present great match-ups of all-star caliber players Joe Johnson vs. Paul George and Brook Lopez vs. Roy Hibbert.

This was no ordinary night at the Barclays Center, there was a great team matchup inter-weaved with two big stories: Russian Culture Night and the homecoming of Lance Stephenson.

Russian Culture Night envisioned by Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the Barclay's Center was packed with thousands of Russian-Americans waving the Russian flag. Among the Russians highlighted this night were Oleg Kolomyets who brought a lot of energy introducing the players on both teams and Alexander Markov, a violinist, who did a stunning job with the American National Anthem and at the halftime show with a glow-in-the-dark violin and bow performance.

The other half of the biggest story of the night was the homecoming of one of the most successful New York City high school basketball players in PSAL history. Pacers starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson of Abraham Lincoln High School was coming into Barclays with a season-high 39 minutes, 17 points, and four steals in a win against the Bobcats. Stephenson's improved play definitely caught the attention of Brooklyn Nets Interim Head Coach PJ Carlesimo who clearly knows a lot about New York City players. After all, Carlesimo played college ball at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY and he coached men's college basketball at Wagner College on Staten Island. At the pregame press conference, P.J. Carlesimo illustrated his knowledge about Lance and the history of New York City basketball.

"I have followed Lance Stephenson a lot," said Coach Carlesimo. "He has really improved from last year. He has really matured doing the little things that are helping his team win games."

"I recall not only watching the PSAL, and CHSAA but also the CYO leagues. Brooklyn is a big city they also have talent that even pre-dates me, Billy Cunningham, and Connie Hawkins," Coach Carlesimo added.

Unfortunately, due to a re-aggravated toe injury in the first quarter, Lance Stephenson's storied homecoming was short-lived, as he only played six minutes. However, taking the spotlight was tri-state area star, Teaneck, NJ David West of the Pacers who was coming off his first career triple-double (14,12,10). West gave the Nets problems for the first three quarters. West had 23 points at the end of the third quarter keeping the Nets down by six.

Nevertheless, the fourth quarter was an entirely different story for Nets.

Защита is Russian for defense and it was chanted over the surround sound at the Barclays Center, which seemed to help the Nets defense. The defense then sparked the offense, which guided the Nets turnaround. P.J. Carlesimo sent a furious double team commanded by Kris Humphries to shut down West. Pacers could not adjust and ended up shooting three for twenty-two in the fourth quarter prompting a 17-0 run by the Nets. A strong fourth quarter performance by the Nets big three, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez really put Brooklyn over the top scoring 22, 20, and 15 (ten in the fourth quarter) respectively. All three players talked about how they are starting to gel which allows them to be more aggressive.

With a final game score of Nets 97 – Pacers 86, the Nets have no time to rest. On Tuesday, January 15, it faces the team in which it grand opened the Barclays Center--- the Toronto Raptors. The Nets look to extend its winning streak to seven and improve to 9-1 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Lance Stephenson helps Indiana Pacers overwhelm New York Knicks for a shot at the NBA Eastern Conference Finals

For the umpteenth time, the New York Knicks have disappointed basketball fans all across the world when they were defeated by the Indiana Pacers, 106-99 in Indianapolis on Saturday. Despite New York’s once again failed attempt to make it to an NBA Conference finals game, the city continues to shine with one Brooklyn-native hero, Lance Stephenson.

Stephenson carried the Pacers on his back throughout Game 6 and scored a career-high 25 points. The 22-year-old third-year professional basketball player who was drafted in 2010 as a freshman at the University of Cincinnati seems to have never forgotten the city he came from. On his Twitter page, his background image is the backdrop of his neighborhood--Coney Island.

Three years ago Larry Bird, the former Pacers president saw something special in the then-19-year-old young man out of college and decided to draft the guard, giving him the perfect balance of tough love, structure, and discipline.

A year ago, Stephenson a protege of Lincoln High School in Brooklyn was considered a joke and an immature basketball player. During a semifinal conference game against Miami last year, television cameras caught Stephenson redhanded--mimicking a choke hold sign at Lebron James.

But even in the midst of his boyish tactics, Bird still believed in Stephenson and treated him like a son.

“I'm so blessed I want to thank GOD, my family, my kids, my team, LARRY BIRD, Pacers fans and everyone that believed in me. Thanks,” Stephenson tweeted on Saturday.

Bird’s faith in Stephenson has gone a long way as he will join his team in attempting to defeat the reigning national champions. Indiana will play Miami Wednesday evening.

Allen Crabbe led Nets’ scorers with 24 points; Nets defense broke down in the fourth quarter

The Nets had a 79-73 lead heading into the final period. Brooklyn also led 95-93 after Allen Crabbe's 3-pointer with 4:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Nets could not hold on, missing eight shots in the last four minutes. The Nets got within two points with 1:04 to go after Spencer Dinwiddie hit a pair of free throws, but Indiana answered with five straight points, with 26 seconds left. And, at the end of the night, the Nets were on the losing end for the seventh straight game with a final score, 108-103 and a 19-40 win-loss record on the season.

So, what happened down the stretch?

“I think we got the shots we wanted and we missed some,” Crabbe explained to reporters following the loss. “For the most part, we had some costly turnovers too, I mean even me. We were down five so that kind of contributed to us not executing at the end there, coming up with another loss and it’s frustrating. It sucks that we keep putting ourselves in winning situations and we keep coming up short. Like I said, we were definitely looking forward to getting this big win going into the All-Star break. Now, we got like a week before our next game so hopefully, this break gives us some time to really get our minds right and attack this second half of the season.”

For the second consecutive game, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson blames the team’s lack of, or, stunted defensive capabilities as a major contributing factor for the loss against Indiana.

“We couldn’t stop them,” Atkinson stated. “Defense again I think was our Achilles heel. Thirty-five points is just too many. I just felt like they got too many easy baskets, too many easy looks. There were too many breakdowns. Until we fix up our defense it’s going to be tough to get a W. That’s the way it is. We’re going to look at it, we’re going to look at our coverages; we’re going to look at who’s in the game. That’s disappointing to give up that many points in the fourth quarter.”

Allen Crabbe led Nets players who scored in double-digits, with a team-high 24 points (9-of-16 FG, 5-of-11 3FG) and with a career-high-tying eight rebounds. DeMarre Carroll recorded 21 points (6-of-13 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, 4-of-6 FT), 10 rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes tonight. This is Carroll’s seventh game of 20-plus points this season; it matches his single-season career high seven 20-plus point games in the 2014-15 Season with Atlanta. And, there is still time left in this season for Carroll to break his record. D’Angelo Russell posted 18 points and a game-high nine assists in 29 minutes off the bench. Nets rookie Jarrett Allen totaled 10 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes in his ninth career start. Allen has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 12 games.

Although Spencer Dinwiddie did not score in double digits, he tallied seven points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block in 33 minutes.

Indiana is the second team this week where all five starters scored in double digits against the Nets. For the Pacers, Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 25 points. Corey Joseph scored 15 points and 11 rebounds; former Nets’ player Bojan Bogdanovic put up 14 points and five rebounds; Thaddeus Young, another former Nets’ player, tallied 13 points and seven rebounds; Al Jefferson came off the bench to score 13 points; and starter Myles Turner posted 11 points and 14 rebounds.

This was the last game for both teams before the NBA All-Star break. Nets point guard Dinwiddie will represent the Nets in the 2018 Taco Bell Skills Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles this Saturday, February 17, at Staples Center at 8 p.m. ET. The event will be televised nationally on TNT.

After the break, the Pacers will meet up with Atlanta on February 23rd, while the Nets will play the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte on Thursday, February 22nd at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Allen Crabbe finds his rhythm, but Nets lose its third consecutive loss against the Pacers

Prior to any game in any sport, there’s no way to know the outcome. So, you look at the recent history of the teams or athletes about to square off. The Indiana Pacers came into Brooklyn just finishing up a six-game homestand 4-2. Meanwhile, the Nets were coming off a loss to the Toronto Raptors two days prior and finished its last six games (3-3), with only one win at home. So the stats were on the side of the Pacers, and unfortunately for Nets’ fans, tonight’s outcome wasn’t a good one, they fell to the Pacers 109-97. And, it gets uglier, the Nets are now 11-18 for the season and 5-8 at the Barclays Center, while the Pacers improved to 17-13 overall and are 7-7 on the road with the win.

Brooklyn ended the first quarter with the slimmest of leads, one point, at 29-28. By the end of the first half, Indiana was up by 11 points, at 59-48. Suffice it to say the Nets struggled during the second-half allowing the Pacers to pull ahead and stay ahead.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson knows that there is something brewing with his team as evidenced by recent games.

“I just felt like the whole game – well, really the past two games – whatever the ‘it’ is in terms of energy and physicality, it hasn’t been there,” Atkinson told the media in his postgame presser. “Then tonight was another case. I thought they (Indiana) were the more physical team, the more energetic team, credit to them. I thought they took us out of our stuff, pressured us, ran us off our cuts, bumped us off screens, so really heck of a game by the Pacers.”

This eerie common thread breaking through with the Nets over the last few games does appear to be keeping Atkinson up at nights.

“On both sides of the ball, not the requisite sharpness, energy,” Atkinson added. “Somehow in these next two days, we have to find a way to get that back. It is a little disappointing because our guys are high-level competitors and we are just not getting over the hump. Like I said, that ‘it’ – whatever that ‘it’ is – we are missing that physicality, that energy. We got to find it and we have to help them get it back.”

So given the lack of energy on the part of Nets players, why didn’t Jahlil Okafor, a new acquisition from the Philadelphia 76ers, get any action against the Pacers? In Okafor’s first appearance for the Nets, which was a loss to the Raptors, Okafor went 5-of-11 from the field for 10 points.

“I talked to Jahlil,” Atkinson responded. “I had a great conversation with him. I think the plan going forward is a couple things. We need to help him get in better condition that is first off. We need to integrate him more into the system. I think it is going to take some time. I’m not going to give you a date, but it is a strategic plan, just like we have done with all our guys, integrating guys into the team. It is going to take some time.”

Philadelphia dealt Nik Stauskas with Okafor. Atkinson did take a chance on Stauskas tonight, perhaps, because Stauskas scored a team-best 22 points in his debut, making five 3-pointers against the Raptors. However, tonight he was 0-5 on field goals and 0-2 from behind the arc in 15 minutes of play.

Allen Crabbe, who had been struggling as of late, was out front tonight, leading Nets players with 17 points in 29 minutes. Quincy Acy, Joe Harris, and Caris LeVert each scored 14 points, and Tyler Zeller added 13 points. Spencer Dinwiddie, who had been leading the Nets in scoring in recent games, only scored five points but added nine assists with no turnovers.

Indiana shot 44.4 percent from behind the arc and defended the 3-point line holding the Nets 3-point percentage to 36.4. The Pacers also out-dueled the Nets on field goal shooting 56.6 vs. 42.0 percent.

Victor Oladipo helped to put Indiana over the line, leading all scorers with 26 points and seven rebounds. Other Indiana scoring leaders were Myles Turner with 16 points and six rebounds; Corey Joseph had 15 points and six rebounds, and Darren Collision added 14 points and seven assists.

Next up, the Pacers fly home to play the Boston Celtics tomorrow; while the Nets play the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

After surrendering two straight to the likes of Washington and a heartbreaker in the city of brotherly love, the Brooklyn Nets failed to enter the win column, dropping their third straight to an Eastern Conference powerhouse, the Indiana Pacers 103-86.

The Nets continue to regress and now sport an overall regular season record of 9-18.

Any time these two teams match-up, a grind it out possession by possession game is to be expected, due to the half-court offensive styles these two teams execute, and that's what occurred tonight...... until Indiana's perimeter swingman Paul George and shooting guard Lance Stephenson decided to end the competitive tango.

Nets and Pacers Keep It Close Early

George and Stephenson combined for 52 points, with George scoring 26 points, grabbing six boards and dishing five assists; while Stephenson enjoyed his Junior's cheesecake, as the Brooklyn native was cooking in his environment recording 26 points, cleaning the glass with seven rebounds and also promoting the fact that sharing is caring dropping 5 dimes, all while establishing that he is one of the best two-way shooting guards in this league.

A close game early, as both teams subjected each other to poor offensive execution ending the first quarter with the Pacers leading by a deuce to the Nets 17; the Pacers took control of this game in the second and put it out of reach in the 3rd, accumulating their highest advantage over the Nets up to 24 points.

At the end of the half the Nets only trailed by six, 39 to the Pacers 45, but the increase in defensive pressure by the Pacers halted the Nets and their offensive success, as they exploded out of the intermission period on a 15-4 run solidifying their control on the game, as well as, hitting the 70 point mark on a 4-foot made jump-shot by Pacers forward Ian Mahinmi with 4:09 remaining in the 3rd period to the Nets 47 points.

If their frustrations weren't conspicuous regarding the overall game itself, Nets forward Paul Pierce's flagrant foul on starting Pacers point guard George Hill served as evidence with 4:22 remaining in the 3rd quarter when Hill stole a bad pass by Nets guard Joe Johnson and embarked on a one man fast-break only to be met by a close line by Pierce targeting Hills neck which ultimately led to his ejection.

To begin the fourth quarter, the Nets announcer addressed the sellout crowd of 17,732 in attendance, engaging and encouraging them to lift the Nets emotionally and "STAND UP," as he articulated through the loud speaker, which served no purpose as the fans stood and the Nets remained seated.

Every opportunity and threat the Nets posed was deflected by stellar defensive play by the Pacers, who accomplished this feat albeit missing their defensive anchor and last line of defense in starting Center Roy Hibbert due to foul trouble.

Nets guards Deron Williams had 9 points and 8 assists; Joe Johnson scored 17 points; and off the bench, guard and journeyman Jason Terry provided a spark totaling 11 points with 8 coming within the 4th quarter.

As Terry connected for two back-to-back three's with 5 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter reducing the Nets deficit to 18 points, 98-77, Stephenson answered with a three of his own pushing the lead back to 21, 98-77.

He was having one of those nights playing in front of his home crowd, an individual home game for Stephenson, as he posed with friends and family for pictures after the match had commenced.

In other words, Stephenson earned his Juniors Cheesecake, in a resounding and resonating fashion.

The return of Williams and Brook Lopez to the Nets lineup brought hope to the franchise which experienced tough times early in this season and the now loss of Lopez for the season creates even more of an uphill climb for the Nets to achieve respectability in a conference that has failed to live up to the hype which revolved around the celebrated pre-season player transactions.

The Nets will have to contribute down low on offense and defense by committee which means larger roles for Forward Kevin Garnett, rookie center Mason Plumlee, and Forward Andray Blatche.

The various injuries the Nets have been obligated to this year, I would think have served as a learning curve for first year head coach Jason Kidd forcing him to make intelligent in-game basketball decisions on a game-by-game basis.

Jason Terry Looking Forward

In the postgame festivities, Terry shared his thoughts on the overall state of the Nets.

"We're together," said Terry to media correspondents in the Nets locker-room.

"It's just a matter of us picking it up. If we have to get kicked in the butt whatever we have to do, we must pick it up," Terry added.

He even suggested their future Christmas day matinee with the Chicago Bulls.

"It's a great opportunity for a team to come up in here like Chicago, who's going to make you play hard each and every possession, all is not lost and we get another opportunity here at home on a special day and what better Christmas present to get than a win against the Bulls," Terry continued.

The Nets host the Bulls on Christmas Day and what follows is a pre-determined schedule that could influence the Nets franchise to make some drastic changes. After the Bulls, the Nets will host a winnable game against the Milwaukee Bucks, and then the plot thickens the day after the Bucks match, at Indiana, at the San Antonio Spurs and at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

So long to the team who posed a possible threat to the Miami Heat; now they must modify the dreams of the front office and its billionaire owner from Russia with love, Mikhail Prokhorov. With their injuries, stars failing to perform at the highest level, and a first year coach struggling to find his way on Flatbush and Atlantic Avenue, the Nets need more than hope they need luck, in the toughest place to find it especially in the city that never sleeps, as everyone else is up searching for their own.

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