February 21, 2019

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.

Caris LeVert scores a career-high 29 points for the Nets, and don’t sleep on Carmelo Anthony, Rockets forward scored 28 points off the bench against the Nets

What started off as a winnable game for the Brooklyn Nets turned into a nightmare. 

The Nets were up by as much as 10 points in the first quarter at the 2:15 mark and up by as much as 14 points in the second at 3:11 before ending the first half with a five-point spread 61-56. As per the case with the Nets, the third quarter brought a reversal of fortunes, as the Rockets came on with a burst of energy leading the Nets by as much as eight points before ending the third with just five points over the Nets at 91-86. Early in the fourth quarter, the Rockets led by as much as eight points; the Nets tried to make it interesting by getting within one point twice with two three-pointers from guard Caris LeVert at 7:12 (Rockets 100 – Nets 99) and then again at 6:45 (Rockets 106 – Nets 102). But with missed shots and fouling, the Nets allowed the Rockets to close out the fourth 119-111.

With this loss, the Nets fell to 3-6 this season and 2-2 at Barclays. The Nets loss also allowed the Rockets to improve their overall record to 2-5 and 2-1 on the road.

“Third quarter was where they got their break,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media after the game. “We’ve had some issues there (in the third quarter) before and felt like they came out more aggressive and thought we missed some shots. They picked up their defense. I felt that. I definitely felt that. Listen, I think you’ve got to give them credit they were the better team tonight. Obviously, the third quarter was where they got their break.”

“Their defense, they locked down,” Atkinson continued. “They had their defensive unit out there. We had a tough time getting shots off. I thought we got a good few opens ones that didn’t go down, something we have to look at. But again, I give a lot of credit to their defense.”

So, now, let’s give some credit to LeVert for keeping the Nets in the game with his offense.

LeVert had another fiery night. Yep, LeVert was on FIYAH! He led the Nets with a career-high 29 points (10-of-17 FG, 4-of-6 3FG, 5-of-7 FT) with four rebounds, two assists, a season-high three steals and one block in 30 minutes. Let me repeat that, Nah, I won’t; you can read it again if you want. Caris LeVert is moving into NBA All-Star territory. LeVert has already matched or set a new career-high three times through nine games this season, scoring 20-plus points five times this season. By comparison, LeVert didn’t record his fifth 20-point game last season until March 8 at Charlotte. Yes, this season is a different story, through nine games, LeVert is averaging a team-high 20.0 points per game with .489 FG%.

As good as his performance was, LeVert knows that it is a team effort and somewhere the Nets defense was not what it could have been.

“We have to watch the tape,” LeVert said regarding what allowed the third quarter comeback by the Rockets. But it looked like Chris Paul hit a lot of tough shots and then they turned up the defensive pressure. They started getting a lot more loose balls and we just have to be better in those situations.”

So, what can the Nets do to prevent the lapses when the momentum shifts dramatically?

“I think just focusing more on defense instead of offense,” LeVert added. “Sometimes you can’t control the offense. If you make shots and things like that. You can always control your defense and your effort. So I think that in those situations, we just have to focus on getting shots.”

AUDIO: IN HIS OWN WORDS: BROOKLYN NETS GUARD, CARIS LEVERT

Nets other high scorers were Joe Harris with 18 points and four assists; D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie (off the bench) each scored 12 points and three assists, and Russell added three rebounds. Shabazz Napier came off the bench and scored 11 points in 16 minutes, while center Jarrett Allen chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Houston Rockets only had four players scoring in double digits, but that’s all they needed, as they all scored more than 20 points each. Chris Paul led all scorers with 32 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds. Former New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony came off the bench scoring 28 points and four rebounds for his new team; Clint Capela registered 22 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists, while; Eric Gordon added 21 points and three assists.

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni liked what he saw in his guys.

“That was a good Chris Paul right there,” D’Antoni said. “That was as good as it gets. And again, that’s who Chris is. His will, his heart will not let you lose, especially when times are tough. He knew times were tough and he had to find even more within himself and he did it. That’s why he is one of the best. He has such an unbelievable spirit that won’t let you lose.”

VIDEO: IN HIS OWN WORDS: CHRIS PAUL, HOUSTON ROCKETS GUARD

D’Antoni also praised Carmelo Anthony’s production coming off the bench with hopes that there is more to come.

“That’s what we envisioned. Obviously, he can’t shoot that well every night – maybe he can, hope he can. That’s kind of the role we envision, shooting threes and doing what Carmelo does. He’s super good that way.”

The Houston Rockets are on to another road game, as they will play the Chicago Bulls tonight at 7:00 p.m. CT.

On tomorrow, Sunday, November 4, 2018, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center at 6:00 p.m. ET.

DeMarre Carroll leads Nets players with 21 points in the loss; Caris LeVert leaves game with concussion

In a game where the lead changed six times, the teams tied three times, and during the fourth quarter, the Houston Rockets led the Brooklyn Nets by as much as 16 points, at 1:22 left in regulation the Nets managed to close in on a six-point differential on an Isaiah Whitehead nine-foot floating shot. Unfortunately, Brooklyn couldn’t sustain the momentum to stop the Rockets and bowed to Houston 123-113 on Tuesday night.

“I think we competed better than we did against Milwaukee,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters in his postgame presser. “We never found a solution to stop them, obviously. They made a lot of tough shots. For them, we limited their 3-point attempts. Instead of shooting 50 – what’d they have, 33? – so that was good. We did a decent job keeping them off the free-throw line, but, it’s pick your poison with them so we never really found a solution to stop them.”

In addition to the game loss, Nets guard Caris LeVert suffered a concussion after running into a hard screen set by Houston center Nene Hilario at the end of the third quarter.

“I think it moved all of us,” Atkinson told the media. “I think we’re all affected, but we’re professionals and guys moved on, it’s just we obviously missed Caris the player. He was playing really well, so that was a big blow.”

LeVert, who was only on the court for 12 minutes, left the game with nine points, three assists, and three rebounds.

Although the outcome of this game against the Rockets didn’t go the Nets way, the team’s competitive spirit was on full display.

“…I think we did a great job as a team and making them work,” Nets guard D’Angelo Russell stated. “They’ve got some All-Star caliber guys over there, so making it as tough as we can is the objective.”

At the end of the night, the Nets shot .457 (16-of-35) from 3-point range and recorded their 10th game with 15-plus made threes this season. The Nets’ assist record bested Houston 24-16, and so did Brooklyn’s free-throw record, which was 88.2 percent versus the Rockets 81 percent.

“Oh, we definitely competed,” Nets center Jahlil Okafor expressed. “I think everybody across the roster played extremely hard. The Rockets are an extremely tough team to beat. Their dynamic was a challenge for us but I do think everybody did compete...”

DeMarre Carroll scored a team-high 21 points (7-of-12 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, 2-of-2 FT) with two boards and two steals in 30 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie tallied 18 points (5-of-7 3FG, 3-of-3 FT) with three rebounds, nine assists, and a career-high-tying three steals in 25 minutes. Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen, recorded 16 points (6-of-11 FG, 4-of-4 FT) with two rebounds and one assist in 23 minutes. With his 16 points on Tuesday night, Allen extended his career-best streak of games scoring in double figures to eight games. Okafor had a good night, he posted 15 points (7-of-9 FG, 1-of-3 FT) and six rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. (D’Angelo) Russell also scored in double figures for Brooklyn, recording 10 points in 19 minutes off the bench.

When asked about Houston putting up so many points against the Nets, “Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni laughed and said, “It’s all coaching out there – you saw that, right?” But in all seriousness, D’Antoni gave credit where credit was due, “Chris Paul and James Harden, when you have those two guys, it’s either one or the other. It’s unbelievable.”

D’Antoni also tipped his hat to Brooklyn’s effort.

“You have to give it to Brooklyn, they wouldn’t let us put it away,” D’Antoni added. “They kept coming back. They kept hitting hard shots. We would go up seven and Brooklyn would hit a hard three. They played well; they played with a lot of energy. Like I told them, Brooklyn isn’t going to beat themselves, we’ll have to beat them. I think at the end we did. They’re well-coached and they do a good job.”

Harden led all scorers with 36 points and five assists with his effort for Houston. (Chris) Paul scored 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists; and Clint Capela added 18 points and 11 rebounds. Coming off the bench for the Rockets, Gerald Green added 16 points, and Eric Gordon chipped in 13 points.

Hopefully, both teams will have enough energy to go up against their next opponents. Houston plays the Miami Heat on Wednesday in Miami, and Brooklyn goes up against the Detroit Pistons with the newly-acquired Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers also on Wednesday.

The Brooklyn Nets next home game at the Barclays Center is on Saturday, February 10, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jeremy Lin reflects on his growth since being traded from the New York Knicks to the Houston Rockets

"That's the sign of our growth as a team," Jeremy Lin said responding to a reporter's question after the Houston Rockets beat the Brooklyn Nets 106-96. "We probably wouldn't have done that earlier in the season. We probably would have folded and fell and given away the game. We regrouped, took their hit, then counter-punched, and we were able to get the win."

Jeremy sees that maturity was a factor in the team's ability to get the win over the Brooklyn Nets tonight.

"We got some stops when we needed to, but we made it tough, we made it tough for them."

Jeremy sees that he is blending in and believes that the team is really blending.

"The past couple of weeks, we've shown flashes of in my mind, of being a really, really good team whether it's a game against OKC or Golden State or games like that," he said. "Today was an uglier one. We turned the ball over; we didn't play as well as we normally did, but we were able to get the win so we're thankful for that."

And, it's always good when you can get a win on the road.

"Any win on the road is a great win for us," he responded. "We want to keep pushing and try to build a winning streak; we have a favorable schedule coming up."

What has been Jeremy Lin's biggest adjustment coming from the New York Knicks to the Houston Rockets?

"I think it's just different, because it's a different system and I'm in a different role; being able play alongside a huge and elite playmaker in James Harden and learning to mesh with him and we're getting there and I'm really happy with where we're at right now and I'm happy with where our team is in terms of how we're playing."

So what does Jeremy Lin miss about New York City?

"I miss the fans, just like how crazy the Garden (Madison Square Garden) would get last year, how loud and awesome the experience was, yeah, that's what I miss most."

Has Jeremy Lin experienced the level of excitement in other NBA arenas like the Linsanity at Madison Square Garden in New York City?

"Here and there, here and there," he said. "Sometimes it will get crazy and stuff. I think our last home game against OKC back home that was insane; we had the Toyota Center rocking, so, it was cool."

So is it less pressure on him being in a smaller market.

"Less pressure, less spotlight, so it usually means less pressure," Jeremy said.

What will be the point of success for this team in making the playoff and going forward?

"I think consistency and I think it's attention to detail on the defensive end," he responded. "I think offensively we're okay. Offensively we'll struggle here and there but, I think we've shown we're an explosive offensive team and I think our biggest improvements can come on the defensive end.

Has Jeremy got over the trades?

"I just hate to see anybody leave, but in terms of the trade in and of itself, it's not for me to really, really comment, it kind of management's job," he responded. "It was tough for me to see my teammates leave, but we have new guys coming in, I just met a few of them, it's definitely time to turn the page and move on."

Trevor Booker high scorer for the Nets; Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin were both inactive; Atkinson left no stone left unturned, but still could not contain the Rockets

Last night, the Brooklyn Nets celebrated Taiwanese Heritage and its most celebrated player, Jeremy Lin, who is Taiwanese, still, could not play because of a left hamstring injury. Also on the Nets inactive list was Brook Lopez, not because he was injured, but to allow Lopez to rest.

Despite the lopsided final score, the Nets were competitive up until the fourth quarter. At the end of the first stanza, the Rockets led by one 37-36. The end of the half, saw the Nets trailing by eight (74-66), and at the close of the third, 104-90. The fourth quarter, the Rocket kicked it into high gear to close out the game 137-112.

“We just could never stop them,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I don’t think we stopped them the whole night. I think we tried a lot of different things, tried changing coverages and couldn’t find a solution. Potent, powerful, offensive team that we couldn’t find the defensive switch.”

With every active Nets player seeing action at some point during the night, Atkinson tried every combination he thought made sense to get a stop, but to no avail.

“We started Justin (Hamilton) at the five, and I think they scored pretty good against that group,” Atkinson stated.

Justin Hamilton, in for Lopez, scored 11 points, three rebounds, and two assists.

“Then we went small to match their (lineup) and switch, do a lot of switching and try to keep them in front of us,” Atkinson continued. “But when you switch they have good one-on-one players, and I felt like when we switch we weren’t containing them off the dribble and they hit some threes. Eric Gordon again came off the bench and really good, he was excellent. Again, they dominated us and there is just no way around it. We can talk all night.”

In the win, Gordon came off the bench for the Rockets and led all scorers with 24 points, three rebounds, and three assists. Trevor Ariza had 23 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. James Harden contributed 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in 31:31 minutes.

Nets forward Trevor Booker led the Nets in scoring with 18 points and five rebounds in 26:28 minutes. The next two high scorers came off the bench: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 14 points and seven rebounds; and guard Randy Foye contributed 13 points. The entire Nets bench contributed 63 points.

Up next for the Brooklyn Nets is another tough team, the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

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