May 20, 2019

Washington Wizards down early, but used its wizardry to tie it up and wrap it up with 125-116 victory; D’Angelo Russell scored 23 points in the first half

This was a game where the final score really doesn’t tell the whole story. From the last third of the first quarter, it was tough sledding, but the Nets managed to close the gap in its 125-116 loss to the Washington Wizards.

At the outset, it took the Wizards more than three minutes to get points on the board. At 8:56 in the first, the Nets were leading 10-0, but with some wizardry, Washington scored its first two points. At the 4:08 mark in the first quarter, the score was tied 18-18. By the end of the quarter, the Washington Wizards finished on top 34-28. The remaining three quarters were more of the same. In the second stanza the Nets stayed close, tying twice, but ultimately, ending the quarter on the losing end 68-60. The third quarter was when things really went south, the Nets were down by as much as 28 points at 2:14, ultimately ending the third, 101-79, a deficit of 22 points. In a word, UGLY. Now, to their credit, towards the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, you could physically see the Nets hustling. But prior to the fourth period, everything that could go wrong went terribly wrong, it was as if they were under a spell. But, ultimately, the Nets managed to dig themselves out of the double-digit hole, ending the game down by nine, 125-116.

“I was concerned before the game about this team (Wizards),” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said responding to a question about the Nets lack of defense. “They’re a very good, talented offensive team. We didn’t stop them. Credit to them, I thought they played really well. Obviously, we didn’t have that it. Whatever it is, we didn’t have it across the board – players, coaches. It just wasn’t there. Just not nearly good enough to beat them tonight.”

Atkinson went on to say that he addressed the Wizards’ numerous fast-breaks during the team’s meeting at halftime.

“Yeah, we told them,” Atkinson continued. “Even without John Wall, they played faster than they did before. That was key, number one. We had poor transition defense. It doesn’t help when you’re missing shots – 5-for-23 for three in the first half, missing lay-ups and etcetera, etcetera. I think we can throw it in one bucket, it was across the board. I just thought we just weren’t very good, and they were very good. Really, it was nine points, but it’s really a 20, 25-point loss, the way it feels.”

THE THIRD QUARTER BREAKDOWN

“We were locked in, we defended,” Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said about the third quarter. “We did a great job of defending the basketball. Brooklyn is a hard team to guard. They have a lot of players that play fast. They can make a lot of threes. We did a good job of guarding the 3-point line. That was a point of emphasis that we wanted to accomplish tonight, and we did. It’s just one game, we played solid on the defensive end. We made too many mistakes down the stretch with the eight turnovers in that fourth quarter. Other than that, I thought we played solid throughout the game.”

“I think it just all happened after the 10-point lead,” Nets center Jarrett Allen said responding to a question about the Nets’ third-quarter breakdown. “We just came out unprepared, just mentally unfocused. You could tell that our energy wasn’t there, and our minds weren’t there either.”

In addition to beating the Nets 33-19 on points in the third quarter, the Wizards also took over on the boards. On the defensive end, Washington outrebounded Brooklyn 10-7 and offensively 4-1.

“I think we got a little dejected,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about his team’s performance in the third. “The energy felt down when they started to make a run in the third quarter. It seemed the harder that we tried, the worse that it got. We made a little run at it and then they started making some plays, they took advantage of our low energy. Tough to dig yourself out of it. But I thought the guys that went in at the end of the game did a good job of competing all the way through. Seeing Tahjere (McCall) go out there and compete, get a few buckets was awesome. Shabazz (Napier) played well. But, collectively, it was not a good enough effort on everybody’s part tonight.”

SCORING LEADERS

D’Angelo Russell led all Brooklyn Nets scorer with 28 points (9-of-16 FG), seven assists and three rebounds; Shabazz Napier came off the bench and scored 22 points, and Jarrett Allen accumulated 12 points and six rebounds.

Tahjere McCall, who the Brooklyn Nets signed to his first 10-day contract, made his NBA debut and registered four points and one rebound in under eight minutes after stepping on the court for the first time in the fourth quarter at the 7:58 mark. McCall scored his first two points on a driving layup at 5:16.

For the Washington Wizards, five players scored in double digits. Bradley Beal led all scorers with 31 points and four assists; Trevor Ariza registered 23 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists; Thomas Bryant accumulated 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists off the bench; Jeff Green scored 15 points and five rebounds, and; Bobby Portis chipped in 10 points and 12 rebounds.

UP NEXT

The Washington Wizards will travel to Boston to play the Boston Celtics tomorrow, Friday, March 1, 2019. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets remain at home to play the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, March 1, 2019, at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

The Nets season-high win streak now stands at four; Wizards-Suns postgame trade announcement creates confusion

Last night, the Brooklyn Nets picked up their fourth straight win with its 125-118 victory over the Washington Wizards. With the win, the Nets improved to 12-18 overall and 5-10 at home, while the Wizards fell to 11-18 overall and 4-12 on the road with the loss.

Looking at how the Nets defeated the Wizards by the numbers, starting with teamwork, Brooklyn recorded a season-high 34 assists, edging the Wizards 34-30. The Nets recorded 19 of those assists in the first half, which marked Brooklyn’s most assists in a half this season. The Nets also shot .524 (44-of-84) from the field tonight, which marked their second-best field goal percentage in a game this season (behind a season-high .568 vs. Philadelphia on 11/25). The Nets also out-rebounded the Wizards 46-25 (+21). Washington’s 25 boards marked the fewest rebounds recorded by a Nets opponent this season, and the Nets’ +21 rebounding differential marked their best differential on the glass in a game this season. The previous high: 19 on two separate occasions.

The Nets led the Wizards 101-85 through three quarters, which marked the second time the Nets broke 100 points through three quarters this season. The Nets also led the Wizards 70-59 at halftime tonight, with their 70 points marking Brooklyn’s most points in a first half this season. Brooklyn also recorded 43 points in the second quarter tonight, marking the team’s highest-scoring quarter of the season.

“Good job closing it out,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said as he began to explained to the media the keys to the Nets win against the Washington Wizards. “I thought our execution at the end of the game was good on both ends. Not giving up threes, up nine up 10, and being disciplined. Not fouling. And then our offense, I thought we executed at the end. We had a couple of beautiful, we call them play with the pass highlights, where guys had a good shot and they threw it one more and had great shots.”

Spencer Dinwiddie scored a team-high 27 points (8-of-15 FG, 9-of-11 FT) with four rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes off the bench. In his last three games, he’s averaged 30.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 30.5 minutes per contest. Dinwiddie entered tonight's game as the league's leading scorer off the bench (17.3 ppg). Joe Harris tallied 19 points with a season-high six assists, two rebounds, one steal and one block in 31 minutes. Rodions Kurucs posted a career-high 15 points with a career-high-tying six rebounds in 30 minutes in his first career start tonight. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also recorded 15 points tonight, along with nine rebounds, a season-high-tying six assists and one steal in 32 minutes. Both DeMarre Carroll and Jarrett Allen scored 12 points.

The Nets are beginning to show their ability to close out games and Coach Atkinson explained how his team began to make the shift.

“I think going through those struggles, number one, helps you,” Atkinson explained. “When we went through those struggles, we had the player film session, and then after coaches just really focusing on the fourth quarter execution and the game execution, so I think that helps. I think not turning the ball over is huge, taking care of the ball. And quite honestly, we made some shots. We made the extra pass and made some shots. But our defensive execution, the silly mistakes we were making, the fouling the shooter, not running the guy off the three-point line, there are so many examples it’s hard to give. I’m giving you 10 instead of one, but that’s really the story of our failures in the fourth quarter. It was a multitude of things. We just collectively, across the board, did a better job in those situations.”

“Players only, baby – players-only film session,” is how Dinwiddie explained the Nets win streak. “JD (Jared Dudley) did a wonderful job in our film session of just helping us. It also spurred some communication. Now we’re kind of rolling a little bit. Let’s keep it going. Let’s never get too high or too low.”

Although the Wizards lost, it too, also had six players scoring in double digits. Bradley Beal led all scorers with 31 points and nine assists.

“He’s an All-Star player,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said in praise of Bradley Beal. “He brings it. He spreads his offense all the way around. He’s not a selfish player. He looks for his team. That’s one of his biggest improvements, of making his teammates get easy buckets. He had nine assists. Brad is good. We just have to get stops. The team seems to give up 40-point quarters. It’s hard to generate enough points if you don’t make shots at a high level. You have to somehow get stops.”

Wizard starters John Wall registered 17 points and 13 assists, and; Jeff Green tallied 12 points. The Wizards’ second unit scoring leaders were Markieff Morris with 15 points and three rebounds; Austin Rivers contributed 14 points, three rebounds and three assists, and; Kelly Oubre Jr., chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

The Wizards and the Nets appear to be evenly matched, so what prevented the Wizards from winning according to Coach Brooks?

“We could not get any stops, especially in that second quarter when Brooklyn busted out and scored 43 points,” said Coach Brooks. “In that second half, we couldn’t keep them off of that free-throw line. We couldn’t stay in front of the basketball. When you have those issues, you’re going to have trouble winning a game, whether it’s on the road or at home. You have to man up and get in front of the basketball and stay in front of it and not always have help. We put them on the free-throw line when we couldn’t stay in front of them.”

NEXT UP

The Washington Wizards will face the Los Angeles Lakers at home in Washington, DC on December 16, 2018. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will face the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, December 16, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 

TIP-INS:

During the postgame press session, a news report stated that a deal was in place to send Trevor Ariza to the Wizards, Kelly Oubre to the Grizzlies, and Austin Rivers, Wayne Selden, and a person with the last name Brooks to the Suns. Which "Brooks" was a mystery. There was confusion whether it was to be Dillon or MarShon Brooks included in the deal. The Wizards players named in the deal were in shock and obviously not too happy.

 

Miami Heat defeats Oklahoma City Thunder 86-85; Kevin Durant misses a last-minute shot that could have tied the game

Like the unpredictability of the stock market on a daily basis, trying to pick the winner of this year's NBA Championship on a game-by-game basis has been just as difficult. Game 1 saw the Miami Heat jump out to an early lead, only to have the Oklahoma City Thunder storm back (no pun intended) and steal the victory.

The Heat got off to an even bigger lead in Game 2 but the Thunder, after a furious comeback saw their star Kevin Durant miss a last-second shot that would have tied the game. With the series tied at one game apiece, the scene shifted to Miami for the next 3 games.
Oklahoma, playing in one of the loudest arenas in all of basketball, did not allow Miami to get off to a fast start as they did in the first two games although the Heat never trailed in the first period. LeBron James scored 10 points and Chris Bosh, starting his second straight game, chipped in six. Prior to the game, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks was asked if Bosh is all the way back from the injury that kept him out for all but one game in the Indiana series and all of the games against the Celtics.

"I think he's fine," Brooks opined. "I think anytime you step on the court, you are 100 percent."

Miami extended their lead to eight points in the second (30-22) after a Mike Miller block of a Kevin Durant shot led to a James lay-up. The Thunder responded by outscoring the Heat 24-17 the rest of the way to trail by 1 at the half. Durant and Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma with 13 each while James added six more. OKC's defense stifled Miami as they just shot 41% from the floor missing 7 of 9 three-point attempts. The Thunder took that momentum and carried it over to start the third.

Trailing by three (49-46), the Thunder takes the biggest lead of the game 64-54 after crafty veteran Derek Fisher nails a 3-pointer, getting fouled by James Harden. He calmly sinks the free-throw making him only the 12th player to accomplish such a feat. It must have awakened the Heat, as they went on to outscore Oklahoma 15-3 the rest of the way to take a 2 point lead (69-67) entering the final period. Dwyane Wade scored 6 of those points with James hitting a 3-pointer to give them the lead. It set up yet again a final period to what has been a stomach-turning series for both teams and their fans.

For more than 8 minutes, neither team could extend the lead to more than 4 points. Then James follows a dunk with a free-throw putting the Heat up by 7 (84-77) with 3:47 to go. Trailing by seven again, the Thunder clawed back to within one (86-85) with 6 straight points. That's as close as they would get as Miami hit five of their last six free-throw attempts. The Thunder did not help its own cause melting down by turning the ball over as Westbrook inexplicably threw the ball in the wrong direction after missing a three-point attempt.
Miami escaped with the win and a two-game to one lead in the series despite shooting only 37.8% from the floor and a skinny 30.8% from 3-point land. When your team converts 31 of 35 free throws, while the other team misses 9 (15 of 24) it makes a big difference in the outcome.

"I think what we focus on is every game is a different challenge," Heat's head coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward. "You have to find ways to put yourself in the position to win."

Brooks didn't come across as deflated noting that as in the other two games, this game was just as intense.

"I thought we did some good things, he said. Give them credit. They're a very physical team. I thought both teams played as hard as they can play."

Nets Still Underachieving; Cavaliers Poised to take Round 1

The NBA playoffs are on and poppin'!!! In this segment, Glenn Gilliam and Gregory Alaca are discussing the status of primarily the Eastern Conference in Round 1: Atlanta Hawk vs. Brooklyn Nets; Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics; and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. Lastly, the two talked about Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks' job security.

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