November 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

And, he’s right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 
 
 
 

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets win with 29 points against the NBA leader, the Toronto Raptors

For the Brooklyn Nets, the end to the long drought of wins came yesterday against the No. 1 team in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors. It took an overtime session to clinch the win, a third overtime game this season for the Nets by the way, but the Nets beat the Raptors 106-105.

This win, took down a number of demons, the first of which, the Nets ended a 12-game losing streak against the Raptors and the team’s season-worst eight-game losing streak. The win improved Brooklyn’s overall win-loss record so far this season to 9-18, and 4-10 at the Barclays Center.

The last time the Brooklyn Nets won a game this season was way back on November 20, 2018, against the Miami Heat on the road in Miami. The journey to get here was a bit tumultuous, as Brooklyn led so many games in the closing minutes only to drop the ball and allow the other team to win. Watching them give up double-digit leads and lose games in the closing minutes this season, gave many the feeling that perhaps, the team felt they were not worthy of winning. However, Friday night, Brooklyn pushed that monkey off its back and was justly rewarded by the basketball gods. Beating the Raptors should be a sign that this is a win they can build upon. And, don’t cry for the Raptors, they still hold the best record in the NBA.

“Obviously, it’s a great win for us just to get off of the losing streak, the skid that we were on,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about finally getting a game in the win column after a long drought. “We’ve been playing great basketball, and we just haven’t been able to execute and finish down the stretch. Tonight it was with our defense. Big plays. Big possessions. Winning plays all the way around. Obviously, Rondae did a hell of a job individually, defensively, but it was a collective effort for sure.”

Harris also felt this Nets win against the Toronto Raptors is better than other wins this season because the Raptors are number one in the league.

“Yeah, I think it just kind of validates what we were already feeling,” Harris continued. “We’ve obviously been able to compete night in night out with everybody that we’ve played against. Toronto up to this point, even now, has been record-wise the best team in the NBA, and they really have been playing the best basketball. For us to come in and get some validation that our process, we’ve been sticking with it, staying consistent, and we were finally able to execute and finish one off.”

To say that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was elated with this win would be an understatement.

“I think that stop at the end of the game was indicative of who we were all night,” Atkinson said about his guys. “We fought, we clawed and the basketball gods shined on guys that have been playing good basketball and guys of high character and guys that are together and spirited. So it’s just nice to see those guys in that locker room rewarded for their efforts.”

Leading the way in points for the Brooklyn Nets were D’Angelo Russell with a team-high 29 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and registered 17 points and eight assists; Jarrett Allen scored a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and added two steals and two blocked shots; both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Allen Crabbe tallied 11 points and four rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

Nets forward Ed Davis led the way in rebounding with 15 rebounds, of which 13 were defensive rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 32 points for the Raptors; teammates Jonas Valanciunas added 24 points and eight rebounds, while Pascal Siakam contributed 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Toronto returns home to host the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow, Sunday, December 9, 2018, at 6 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Nets will travel across the East River to Manhattan to play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden tonight, Saturday, December 8, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Can the Nets make it a two-game winning streak?

Only time will tell.

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