September 19, 2019

With the NBA blockbuster signings during this NBA off-season, Caris LeVert, a young star will continue to shine in Brooklyn this season

From the moment the Brooklyn Nets acquired guard Caris LeVert in an NBA Draft night trade with the Indiana Pacers in 2016, you knew there must be something special about this young man. Why else would Nets general manager Sean Marks, who was only an NBA general manager for four months, risk his career giving up Thaddeus Young, a serviceable player, for an unknown rookie? Even though Nets ownership gave Marks wiggle room, he couldn’t totally strikeout. To many NBA observers at the time, this move was a head-scratcher.

Today, the Brooklyn Nets announced the signing of guard Caris LeVert to a three-year contract extension, one day after his 25th birthday.

So, how has LeVert performed over the years?

LeVert has appeared in 168 career games (61 starts) across three seasons with the Nets, recording averages of 11.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.0 steals in 24.8 minutes per contest.

This past season, LeVert set single-season career highs in points per game (13.7) and rebounds per game (3.8), which marked his third straight season of improvement in both categories, to go along with 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 26.6 minutes per game through 40 contests (25 starts). The 25-year-old averaged 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 29.7 minutes per game in his first 13 games prior to suffering a foot injury, and he capped off the 2018-19 campaign by registering averages of 21.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 28.9 minutes per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3-point range in Brooklyn’s five postseason games against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Caris personifies what it means to be a Brooklyn Net, and we firmly believe his best basketball is in front of him,” said Marks. “The growth he has displayed in his first three seasons is a testament to his tireless work ethic, along with an unrelenting will to maximize his talents and achieve team success. Our entire organization is excited to continue to have Caris as one of the leaders of our program moving forward.”

Although the Nets did not disclose LeVert’s deal in financial terms, Adrian Wojnarowski reported the deal to be about $52 million dollars for three years.

 

Best Playoff Atmosphere ever for Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center; Nets played with urgency, but lack of experience got in the Way of Nets Advancement

Just like the Philadelphia 76ers last season was a young and inexperienced team and couldn’t advance as far as they would have liked in the NBA Playoffs, the Brooklyn Nets are finding themselves in a similar predicament. The Nets took Game 1 of this first-round NBA Playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers and lost Games 2, 3, and 4. This is not uncharacteristic for a young NBA team. They made a ton of mistakes like other young teams primarily because of lack of experience. Yesterday, the lack of experience was glaring. The Nets played 3.5 quarters in stellar fashion and looked like they were on the brink of tying the series by winning Game 4. We should be going to Philadelphia with a 2-2 series. However, between 4:11 and 2:09 of the fourth quarter, the Nets turned the ball over four times and the Sixers took advantage of those mistakes, just like the Boston Celtics took advantage of the Philadelphia 76er’s mistakes last season.

Similarly, if the Nets can’t win Game 5 in Philadelphia, it will be a wrap for them this season, but not a lost season. In the last two seasons, the Nets only managed to win 20 and 27 games. This season, the Nets won 42 games and made it to the playoffs and for all tense and purposes did not get swept. The Brooklyn Nets were able to accomplish this feat because the new management under Sean Marks is focused on player development and culture, and to a man, the team is all in. And, Sean Marks has been able to do this with no top draft picks and a first-time coach in Kenny Atkinson. The Nets have taken in guys who many considered to be castaways and because of the culture surrounding the Nets, they have managed to shine quickly.

Last season, Spencer Dinwiddie was selected to participate in the NBA All-Star Skills Challenge. This season, Joe Harris beat out Stephen Curry and won the NBA All-Star 3-Point Shooting Contest, and D’Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft was cast out of the Los Angeles Lakers by Magic Johnson in 2017. This season, Russell participated in the NBA All-Star Game 2019 and lately is the talk of the “NBA Town” and looked upon by some as the leader of the Nets team. As the regular NBA season was winding down and Russell was tearing up the scoreboard, the “Brooklyn Brigade/Block” consistently chanted, “Thank You, Magic.”

At the end of the day, the Nets should not feel ashamed about this season. It’s their lack of experience, not heart, that is putting them behind the eight ball.

At the end of yesterday’s playoff game against Philadelphia, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson summed up the outcome: “I think a little bit of our experience, (a) little bit of their length and activity. I think it’s one of their strengths and I thought we got a little out of sorts, had a few turnovers that we didn’t need. We also had a bunch of good looks. I thought we had a bunch of good looks, and they didn’t go down.”

So, what did yesterday’s box score tell us about the Brooklyn Nets top scorers?

Caris LeVert, who was among the Nets starting five in Game 4, scored a team-high 25 points with five rebounds, a team-high-tying six assists and a steal in 42 minutes. D’Angelo Russell posted 21 points, seven rebounds, a team-high-tying six assists, two steals and a block in 37 minutes. Jarrett Allen also recorded 21 points and added a team-high eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 32 minutes to his point total. A good game for Allen by the numbers; he recorded his fifth-career game of 20+ points and his first in the postseason. He also turns 21 today. Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 18 points (7-of-12 FG) with four rebounds and a steal in 27 minutes off the bench. Joe Harris, who is usually the Nets best 3-point shooter was 0-for-6 from the 3-point line but chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, and two steals.

How are Nets players feeling about last night’s game, going back to Philadelphia for Game 5, and down 3-1?

“There’s a disappointment losing any game – whether it be home or on the road – especially, when you’re up, five minutes left to go in the game,” Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert responded. “That’s disappointing in itself. But obviously, with the great crowd, we had tonight, we like to protect our home court. So, it was frustrating. But we’ve got another game.”

D’Angelo Russell sounding a bit more optimistic is looking forward to Game 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“You see two teams out there hungry, trying to compete,’ Russell said. “They sure as hell don’t want to lose to the Brooklyn Nets, and I think we’ve got a chance to beat the Sixers, so it’s just a high-intensity game and that’s what it’s going to look like. It’s going to be hard for all. Bodies are going to be flying. Give each other what we want.”

And, Russell has a game plan, particularly adjusting to Joel Embiid down low clogging the lane.

“I think that’s part of the game plan,” Russell continued. “When these big guys are clogging the lane like that, we’re able to throw over the top and get in and kick it out. When there’s three guys in there, it works in our favor. Like I said, we’ll look at the film, see where the help’s coming from, see where their scouting help is coming from and we capitalize on that. Simple as that.”

Nets players D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert each scored a team-high-tying 26 points for Brooklyn

If you are a Brooklyn Nets fan and you don’t know that the Brooklyn Nets are in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, you must be hiding under a rock. Last night, Nets fans came out in force to support their team at the Barclays Center for Game #3 against the Philadelphia 76ers. The cheering was so loud at times, the collective fans drowned out the Brooklyn Brigade.

The Nets came into the Barclays Center last night “even Stevens” at 1-1, as the Brooklyn Nets snatched Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia 111-102, but lost Game 2 in Philadelphia 143-125. Unfortunately, last night, the Nets lost Game 3 to the Sixers 131-115, falling to 1-2 in the First Round of the NBA Playoffs series while the Sixers improved to 2-1.

In assessing last night’s game against Philadelphia, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said: “I think they (Philadelphia) did an outstanding job defensively. Taking away Joe (Harris) is huge. It’s like taking JJ (Redick) away. I think they are doing a great job there. Joe gives us a lot of our movement. Like I said, a lot of it is them, but I do think we can move it better. We obviously have to shoot it better. We didn’t shoot it well, and we also struggled at the rim. Not a good offensive performance on our part and I thought JJ’s run really got us off kilter defensively. When someone gets hot like that, the defense starts cheating and helping, and then other guys get off too. I thought that was a big part of the game.”

Atkinson continued his comment with heaping praise on Caris LeVert.

“He (LeVert) is playing really well right now,” Atkinson said about LeVert. “I think he is in a good groove. Obviously, he has come back from injury in great form. He was our lone offensive force out there tonight.”

LeVert was in a good groove, but, perhaps, Atkinson had not seen the score sheet. Or, perhaps, he was overwhelmed with LeVert’s performance since it has only been a short while since LeVert returned to the lineup after a horrific foot injury.

As it turns out, both D’Angelo Russell and LeVert, who came off the bench, were offensive forces for the Nets. Combining for 52 points, they both scored a team-high-tying 26 points. LeVert added seven rebounds and two steals to his total, while Russell added four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Other scoring leaders for the Nets included Jarrett Allen, who posted 15 points, six rebounds, and two assists; Spencer Dinwiddie also added 15 points and four rebounds off the bench, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who likewise came off the bench, chipped in 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists.

For the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons led all scorers with 31 points, nine assists, and four rebounds. Tobias Harris accumulated 29 points, 16 rebounds, and three assists; JJ Redick registered 26 points; Jimmy Butler added 16 points, seven assists, and two steals, and; Boban Marjanovic chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds.

“I thought it was one of Ben’s (Simmons) more dominant games,” Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown stated. “As a team, I think we went into a two-minute meltdown. At the end of the third period, Brooklyn went on that run. They sort of sat in the zone and we didn’t handle it that well. Short of that particular phase in the game, I thought Ben was exceptional.”

In closing out his postgame comments to the media, Nets coach Atkinson was forward-thinking about what happens next for the Nets.

“I think we have to look at everything,” Coach Atkinson said. “It starts defensively in terms of what we have to do. I think we look at lineups. It’s only 1-2. We come back here Saturday and if we win, it’s a different series. I think we have to look at some different things. Obviously, what we have been doing the last two games is not working.”

On Saturday, April 20, 2019, the Nets have an opportunity to even this first-round NBA playoff series against the Sixers and make it 2-2. Game 4 of this series starts at 3:00 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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.”

With the win, the Nets move back into the No. 6 spot in the NBA Eastern Conference; Spencer Dinwiddie leads all scorers with 19 points

For the first time in a good long while, the atmosphere in the Barclays Center was like the NBA playoffs; it was over-the-top electric, as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Detroit Pistons 103-75. Wowza! With the win, the Nets have won four straight games and got back to the sixth position in the NBA Eastern Conference right behind the Boston Celtics. The Nets improved to 36-33 overall and 21-16 at Barclays Center, while the Pistons fell to 34-32 overall and 13-19 on the road with the loss.

By the Numbers

The Nets held the Pistons to .278 shooting (27-of-97) from the field, which marked a season-low for a Nets' opponent field goal percentage and the third-lowest opponent field goal percentage in franchise history. You would have to go all the way back to November 9, 2004, to a Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers game when the Nets held the Trail Blazers to a .244 field goal percentage, yikes! And, on March 7, 2006, against the Phoenix Suns when the Nets held the Suns to a field goal percentage of .268.

Not only did the Detroit Pistons lose, right now they are a team that holds the dubious distinction of a Nets’ opponent with a season-low 75 points, that has to sting. But that is better than ending the game with 62 points, which is what the Pistons had after three quarters – Nets 88 Pistons 62.

But don’t despair, Detroit, you’re not the only team that the Brooklyn Nets led by 26 after three quarters. Just last week on March 4, the Nets led the Dallas Mavericks by 26 points at the end of the third quarter with a score of 99-73. But wait, there’s more. The Nets held the San Antonio Spurs to the fewest points at the end of the third this season, which was 81-59.

Brooklyn also edged Detroit 54-24 (+30) in points in the paint and 18-5 (+13) in fast break points.

What stuck out most about the Nets for Detroit Pistons head coach Dwyane Casey, was “just the physicality of the game – they came in and whipped us every which way there was. We didn’t fight through screens, we didn’t set screens, any phase of basketball you want to talk about. If we’re serious about making the playoffs, we have to come out and not believe all the hype and all the stuff. We didn’t come out and play. I didn’t coach physical enough or whatever. We didn’t play physical enough. We took a full step back tonight.”

“Everything kind of aligned tonight,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought the game plan was good and the guys executed well, especially defensively. Detroit was coming off a game the night before, and it is late in the season, so we had more juice tonight. I don’t say that to take anything away from our guys.”

“It was another step from all our other games,” Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen explained. “We knew that we had to bring a certain physicality against Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, so we had to turn it up a little bit.”

So how did Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin fare when it was all said and done?

Andre Drummond scored 13 points, 20 rebounds, and three assists for Detroit, while Blake Griffin added 10 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

While the Pistons only had two players to score 10 points or more, the Nets had seven.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead all scorers with 19 points (5-of-11 FG, 7-of-7 FT), Allen Crabbe scored a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and he added four assists; Rodions Kurucs posted 13 points; both Joe Harris and Caris LeVert tallied 12 points, Harris accumulated four rebounds and three assists to his totals, while LeVert who came off the bench and added five rebounds to his points. Both Jarrett Allen and D’Angelo Russell each scored 11 points, Allen added eight rebounds and two blocked shots to his totals, while Russell added seven assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

What's Next

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the Brooklyn Nets kick off their seven-game road trip with their first stop in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder and their last game on this road trip is against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 28, 2019, before returning home to play the Boston Celtics on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons will travel to Miami to play the Miami Heat, another team struggling to make the playoffs. This match-up will be on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 7 p.m. ET.

Nets forward DeMarre Carroll leads all scorers with 22 points; Dirk Nowitzki on “retirement tour”, receives a warm welcome from NBA fans at Barclays Center

Oh, what a night! The Brooklyn Nets took advantage of the Dallas Mavericks vulnerabilities at the Barclays Center on Monday night and came up with a 127-88 win for the home crowd. The Nets improved to 33-33 overall and 19-16 at Barclays Center with tonight’s win, while the Mavericks fell to 27-36 overall and 6-25 on the road with the loss.

So, what did it take to get the Brooklyn Nets back on track?

“It was really about the two things we emphasized before the game, defense and rebounding,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson responded. “I thought we defended much better tonight and we secured rebounds. We held them to one possession, and on the other side, we made shots. We were struggling to make shots before tonight, and it was nice to see the ball go through the basket. This helped our spirit. Good team win.”

“We drove the ball more tonight than in previous games, but I still think we can take it to another level,” Coach Atkinson continued. “We are still a little timid getting to the rim. I would love to see more rim attacks and free throw attempts. It was better tonight.”

The Nets snatched a win from the Mavericks right on time to stop a three-game losing streak in preparation for one more home game tomorrow against the Cleveland Cavaliers before hitting the road to play the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. Hopefully, Brooklyn can get two more wins under its belt before the team plays the Detroit Pistons on Monday at the Barclays Center and before hits the road to play six Western Conference teams and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Nets need these wins against the Cavaliers and the Hawks because they need the wins and a win against these two non-playoff bound teams will help with the Nets standing in the Eastern Conference as things get tight in the coming weeks. They also need to have a recent memory of what it feels like to win and because the upcoming stretch starting with the Detroit Pistons on Monday is going to be a dogfight. After Detroit, the Brooklyn Nets face OKC Thunder, Jazz, Clippers, Kings, Lakers, Trail Blazers, and the 76ers.

Right now, the Nets are neck and neck in the Eastern Conference standings with the Pistons. The win against the Mavericks was good because a win is a win. But let’s face it, the game looked like a pro team playing against amateurs save a few players. And, Dirk Nowitzki really looked old. He was struggling to keep up and his numbers prove it, four points, four rebounds, and two assists. The conversation all season has been this may be Nowitzki's last season and no disrespect to Dirk, but by his performance last night, it should be. Dirk really looked old and the Nets took advantage, as they should.

“It was ugly from start to finish,” Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle bemoaned. “When you lose every quarter of an NBA game, you certainly haven’t done what you needed to do. It’s a very disappointing night.”

“I thought Brooklyn’s effort was phenomenally great and I know ours wasn’t up to it,” Carlisle continued. “The effort can’t be good if you lose by this number of points. We just simply have to do better.”

Doing better might start with limiting Nowitzki’s minutes. And, this is not to beat up on Nowitzki, as he has nobly put in 20 years in the NBA. He was a force to reckon with. However, this season, Nowitzki is averaging 5.5 points per game, while over the course of his career, Nowitzki averaged 20 PPG.

“…I was just fighting out there,” Nowitzki said. “I was just trying to get one down and get one in. In the first half, I had some great looks there – the trailing three and another one, a wide-open three from the corner. Frustrating night for me, but I kept on playing.”

In last night’s game, the Mavericks only had three scoring leaders. Dwight Powell led the Mavericks with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and six assists; Luka Doncic scored 16 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots, and; Jalen Brown chipped in 10 points and three rebounds.

For the Nets, DeMarre Carroll came off the bench to lead all scorers with 22 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Rodions Kurucs registered 19 points and six rebounds; Caris LeVert accumulated 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists off the bench; Spencer Dinwiddie, also came off the bench and scored 16 points and five assists; D’Angelo Russell posted 13 points and 11 assists; Joe Harris chipped in 11 points, and; Ed Davis, who is not a prolific scorer, brought the heat around the rim with 10 rebounds.

And, with this win, D’Angelo Russell agrees that the Nets may have stumbled upon a winning formula.

“…With that second unit, you’ve got five starters coming off the bench. That team could start and be their own team and compete in this league, so I think that’s where we can get advantages. A lot of teams don’t have the personnel to do that so, it was a great move by coach,” Russell opined.

Nets hit 19 3-pointers; D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 27 points and Shabazz Napier gets his first career double-double against the Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets may be No. 2 in the NBA Western Conference, but there is something about the Brooklyn Nets that the Nuggets just can’t shake. The Nets became the second team this season to sweep the Nuggets (2-0), the other being the Milwaukee Bucks. And, because teams only play teams outside their conference twice in a season, there won’t be an opportunity for the Nuggets to even the score, so see you next season.

Perhaps, the Nuggets got too comfortable with their 14-point lead in the first quarter. Or, perhaps it was Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson’s decision to pull starting forward Rodions Kurucs, who wasn’t as productive as he could have been, and slide in DeMarre Carroll in his place, but whatever the reason, in short order the momentum changed. The Nets ended the first quarter down five points, Nuggets 35 – Nets 30. Brooklyn turned up the heat in the second leading by as much as 14 points at 5.6 seconds before ending the half up by 12 with a score of 72-60. The Nets saw more gold in the third quarter ending it up by 21 with a score of 108-87. Now, the Denver Nuggets are No. 2 in the Western Conference for a reason, and in the fourth stanza, the Nuggets dug deep into their inner being and gave the Nets a run for the money. Fortunately for the Nets, the Nuggets couldn’t seal the deal and the Nets won 135-130.

With the win, the Nets improved to 29-27 overall and 17-12 at Barclays Center and besting last season’s win total of 28-54, a huge accomplishment.

“I think it’s a sign of real progress,” Coach Atkinson said about the Nets’ current standing in the NBA. “It’s a sign that we’re a little ahead of schedule – I don’t want to get too excited because I look at the schedule for the rest of the year, but this was one of those games I looked at the schedule and said this is gonna be a tough one to get. But, I’m proud of the guys, proud of the organization. We’ve reached this victory mark this early – it’s a sign of real progress.”

At the end of a game, there are some coaches that take a loss and don’t show their disgust or disappointment in their team’s performance. However, last night, Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone gave kudos to the Brooklyn Nets, and overall, he was not happy with his some of his starters.

“The 3-point line was a byproduct of the real difference in the game which was how hard Brooklyn played,” Coach Malone told the media. “I think it’s a shame I have to take five starters out in the third quarter because you’re not playing at the level you’re supposed to play. This is a game of mistakes, you’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to miss shots. Things are going to happen but when you’re out there and you’re going through the motion, that’s one thing I can’t stand to watch and will not stand to watch. I was really happy and proud of the guys who went into the game in that third quarter. They got us back in the game and gave us a little bit of life. Nineteen threes is an awful number, but alarming for me is back-to-back games when we have guys out there in our starting lineup and not playing as hard as they need to play.”

Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell explained how the Nets were able to take advantage of the Nuggets.

“I think it’s just us figuring out how to win,” Russell said. “Last year we were in this position a lot of the times and it came down to that – figuring out how to win situation. I think we were really putting our foot on that.”

And, on how good it felt as a group for the Nets to get their offensive groove going after Monday night’s shellacking by the Milwaukee Bucks, Russell said: “It’s special. To be honest, we got our guys coming back. We’ve been doing this without our guys so just to get our guys back in one at a time and keep that groove going, I think it’s really special.”

D’Angelo Russell was one of seven Nets players scoring in double-digits against the Denver Nuggets. Russell led the Nets with 27 points (6-of-9 3FG), six rebounds and 11 assists in 35 minutes and registered his single-season career-high sixth double-double in the process. And, he will now play in the NBA All-Star game replacing the Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo who is out with an injury. DeMarre Carroll, posting his third double-double of the season, recorded 18 points, 10 rebounds, a career-high-tying six assists and a season-high four steals (matching the most steals recorded in a game by any Net this season) in 28 minutes off the bench. Joe Harris scored 17 points (7-of-13 FG, 3-of-6 3FG) with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 32 minutes. Treveon Graham tallied 16 points (6-of-9 FG, 4-of-6 3FG) – marking his second-most points scored in a game in his career – with three rebounds, two steals and, an assist in 23 minutes. Both Jarrett Allen and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson logged 15 points and Allen added five rebounds to his total. Shabazz Napier, part of the Nets second unit last night, posted his first-career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 11 assists in 27 minutes.

For the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic registered 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists; former Nets player, Mason Plumlee, posted 24 points, six rebounds, and three blocked shots; Jamal Murray accumulated 19 points, 11 assists, and three rebounds; Monte Harris, came off the bench and scored 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists; Malik Beasley, a starting guard, tallied 17 points, and; Trey Lyles, a member of Denver’s second unit chipped in 15 points and five rebounds.

With Plumlee being a former Nets player, of course, someone had to ask Coach Malone about Plumlee’s performance last night.

“He was everywhere,” Malone responded. “The guy was blocking shots on defense, running the floor and finishing around the basket. He was screening, rolling. What didn’t Mason Plumlee do to start that game? Literally, Mason was everywhere. Mason played hard. Mason cared. Mason left everything he had on the floor until he fouled out. You have to give a guy who plays that hard respect.”

Yes, you should.

So, what’s Denver’s next move?

The Denver Nuggets will be in Philadelphia tomorrow, Friday, January 8, 2019, to play the Philadelphia 76ers.

Meanwhile, the Nets will still be at home and will host the Chicago Bulls, also tomorrow, Friday, January 8, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

 

 

D’Angelo Russell leads Brooklyn Nets with 23 points; Vince Carter gets a video tribute, and; Jeremy Lin says he feels good

Last night was evidence that the Brooklyn Nets are working hard to turn a corner and a page on losing seasons of the recent past. Early on in last night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn dug itself into an 18-point hole at the 38.3-second mark in the first quarter and minus 19 points with a score of Hawks 46 and Nets 27 at the 9:02 mark in the second quarter. But, by the end of the first half, the Nets whittled the Hawks lead to six at 57-51. The reversal of fortunes for the Hawks occurred in the third quarter as the Nets ended the third stanza up by six points with the score 86-80. In the fourth is where the Nets kicked things into high gear leading by 20 points at the 2:38 mark on a Shabazz Napier running layup, and then ultimately defeating the Atlanta Hawks 116-100.

With this win, the Nets improved to 21-22 overall and 11-11 at Barclays Center, while the Hawks fell to 12-29 overall and 5-19 on the road with the loss. The Nets are now 13-4 in their last 17 games, which marks their best 17-game stretch since the 2013-14 season when the Nets had a 13-4 stretch from March 9, 2014, through April 8, 2014. Wow, that seems like eons ago. But hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen because right now, the Brooklyn Nets are now the sixth seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference, which would make them playoff bound. If the NBA playoffs were held today, the Nets would be playing the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Not my favorite choice, I think they would have a better chance emerging from the first round if they were to play the Philadelphia 76ers. Just saying.

Die-hard Nets fans know that 2014 was the last time the Brooklyn Nets were in the NBA Playoffs. They also know during the Nets’ “Dark Ages” starting with the 2014-15 NBA season through 2017-18, that if the Nets got behind by more than 10 points, most likely, it would be a wrap because they lacked the strategic basketball acumen to climb back to the top. In many cases, the individual talent was there but collectively, they just didn’t know how to mix all of the strategic elements to survive as winners. And, last night, it was if someone hit a switch and pulled them out of a losing trance. Perhaps, it’s the influence of the respected new veteran players, or, hungrier new younger players, their own growth and maturity as a team, listening to the coaches, or, just tired of losing, or, any combination of the listed reasons and more.

But somehow, last night, the Nets figured out a way to climb out of a 20-point deficit to win by 16 points.

“First of all, no easy games in the NBA, that’s for sure,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about how his team turned around a losing game to a winning one. “They blitzed us in the first quarter. I think a lot of that was them and some of it was us. And 38 points in the first quarter, it’s like you’re playing with fire when you dig a hole like that. Then I think 19 points in the second quarter we gave up and then 43 points in the second half, so we turned our defense around. I think the zone helped us, just got them out of rhythm a little bit, wasn’t our main kind of slice, but it was helpful. I thought it got them out of rhythm a little bit, helped us.”

Nets guard Joe Harris also chimed in on how this comeback showed the maturity and growth of the team.

“Yeah, obviously not the start that we wanted,” Harris said. “We talk about it a lot, trying to be consistent over four quarters, and if you’re not, you have a blimp. Say you have a quarter like today, 38-23, a little sluggish, especially on the defensive end – that’s where the veteran leadership comes in. Guys like J.D. (Jared Dudley) and DeMarre (Carroll) and Ed (Davis), they’re the ones who are vocalizing. They’re talking about aspirations that we have for this team. We can’t have these lapses if we want to get where we’re trying to go. I think considering where we’ve been, where we’re at now says a lot about the team. A lot of it rests with those veteran guys.”

What’s really amazing is that the Brooklyn Nets have found their way to win even without Caris LeVert, who was scoring 18 points per game and seemed destined to be the team’s rising star before his injury on November 12, 2018, when the Nets were playing the Minnesota Timberwolves. So, right now, we are witnessing “next man up” in action.

Obviously, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce was disappointed in the game’s outcome and he pinpoints where things went awry for his team.

“I think we came out with the momentum from last night’s game, Atlanta Hawks coach Pierce told reporters. “A lot of energy, a lot of ball movement, a lot of pace, attacking downhill, and we just ran out of gas in the second quarter is where it started. It looks like the second half, but it really started in the second quarter. I don’t think we had a turnover in the first quarter, I could be wrong, it may have been at the end. But to end up with 22 turnovers basically over three quarters and just being flat. Tough, tough.”

Nets starting point guard, D’Angelo Russell, scored a team-high 23 points (11-of-20 FG) with three rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 26 minutes. Joe Harris registered 16 points and eight rebounds, and; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen, also starters, each contributed 11 points, Allen added five rebounds, while Kurucs, a rookie, added four rebounds.

Brooklyn’s bench outscored the Hawks’ reserves 55-31, led by DeMarre Carroll’s 17 points and four rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie added 16 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals, and; Shabazz Napier chipped in 11 points, and three rebounds, assists, and steals respectively.

Veteran player, Ed Davis, who Nets center Jarrett Allen credits with helping him to up his game, crashed the boards with 16 rebounds to go along with his eight points.

John Collins led the Atlanta Hawks and all scorers in points last night against the Brooklyn Nets with 30 points and 14 rebounds; Trae Young registered 17 points and seven assists, and; Kevin Huerter rounded out the Hawks starters in double digits with 14points, 10 rebounds, and three assists.

The Hawks’ bench players in double digits were Jeremy Lin with 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals, and; Alex Len who contributed 10 points, and four assists.

This is Jeremy Lin’s second time at the Barclays Center since being traded from the Nets to the Atlanta Hawks. Lin was plagued with injuries the two seasons he was on the Nets roster. He spoke with reporters about how feels about his game right now.

“I feel good,” Lin told reporters. “I know tonight shots didn’t fall the way I wanted to. But for me, it’s not about makes or misses, it’s about the quality of the shot. I felt like I got really high-quality shots tonight and honestly, a ton of them felt great. That’s how it is sometimes. As many of those nights as I have, where they feel great and don’t fall, I’ll have many where they do. So I’m not too worried about it, I’m more just concerned with making sure I take great shots that I know I can hit and continuing to ride this momentum of trying to be aggressive, trying to make plays for my teammates as well, just trying to be disruptive on both ends of the floor.”

Veteran NBA player Vince Carter who was a Net from 2004 -2009, when the team was in New Jersey, received a video tribute to commemorate his 21st year in the NBA, as he had the night before in Toronto. No one really knows if this is Carter’s last season in the NBA, however, Carter was grateful.

“It’s a great trip – stressful sometimes, a lot of people to see,” Carter said about the reception from both teams. “But the appreciation, I’m very thankful for and I’ll never forget. The video – yes, it could be premature or not –they’re thinking about me and I’m very thankful.”

And, what’s up for the Atlanta Hawks’ immediate future, the Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, the Hawks will travel to Philadelphia to play the 76ers tomorrow, Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will have their own test as they travel to another country to face the Toronto Raptors, the team with the most wins in the NBA at 31, also on Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Nets then play the Boston Celtics at home at the Barclays Center on Monday, January 14, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets with 26 points; but two thrilling overtimes, missed shots, unfavorable calls, and Nets get handed fifth consecutive loss

Wow, wow, wow, what a ride the Brooklyn Nets took its fans on when it played the Memphis Grizzlies last night at the Barclays Center. It took two thrilling overtimes to complete the game, but unfortunately, the Nets came out on the losing end with a score of 135-131. The Nets had their biggest lead of 10 points at 3:52 in the fourth quarter on a Spencer Dinwiddie three-point 25-foot jump shot and then the Grizzlies started to chip away during the waning minutes to end the fourth tied at 111-111.

Then there was the first overtime session, which ended with a score of 117-117 and the second and final session of the game, which led to the 135-131 final score.

“Tough; tough league, tough way to end,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson about how tough of a loss this was for the Nets. “I thought we played a good game and listen – up seven with 33 seconds, the kid makes a heck of a shot, two great shots. I regret we fouled him on that three. Can’t foul him, can’t suck in off the 3-point shooter. We had a guy suck in and then Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson) goes to make a contest. You just can’t foul him there and then, hell of a job, he makes a hell of a shot against Jarrett Allen, contested three. That’s on us, but you gotta give them a lot of credit. Give that kid a lot of credit.”

Dinwiddie gave a different perspective of the game as he sees common threads to the Nets’ losses.

“…in a lot of ways it kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Dinwiddie stated. “So, if in the minds for some of the people out there…You know what I mean, like, this one’s going a certain way or whatever, and they have the ability to control that, then it’s going to go that way. (Are) You feeling me? So, there you go.”

In the loss, D’Angelo Russell led Brooklyn with 26 points, eight assists, and three steals; DeMarre Carroll tallied a season-high 21 points and a season-high 12 rebounds in 39 minutes tonight. Ironically, Carroll’s 21 points off the benchmarked the most points he's scored off the bench in a game in his career. Carroll’s previous high was 19 points off the bench with Utah vs. Charlotte on March 1, 2013. Shabazz Napier scored a season-high 18 points, a season-high-tying six rebounds, and two assists in 24 minutes. Three Nets players scored 15 points. Jarrett Allen recorded his team-high ninth double-double of the season with 15 points (5-of-5 FG, 5-of-6 FT) and a team-high-tying 12 rebounds in a career-high 39 minutes. He also recorded a season-high-tying five assists. Additionally, Allen shot 100 percent from the field for the third time in his career. In his first start of the season, Dinwiddie also posted 15 points, five assists, and two rebounds in 43 minutes. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, in his seventh game since returning from injury, tallied 15 points with three rebounds in 38 minutes.

Scoring leaders for the Grizzlies were Mike Conley with 37 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds; Jaren Jackson, Jr., registered 36 points and eight rebounds; Marc Gasol scored 15 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and two steals; Garrett Temple tallied 13 points and three steals, and; JaMychal Green chipped in 11 points and four rebounds.

After the work of a two-overtime game, the Grizzlies do have a minute to breathe, as they meet their next opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

The Nets, on the other hand, only have a few hours to get ready for their next opponent. Next up for the Nets, are the Washington Wizards in DC tonight at 7:00 p.m. ET.

So, will the Nets bounce back?

“We’ve got to bounce back,” Coach Atkinson said. “We’ve got a resilient group. It’s the good thing about having a young group. They’ll bounce back.”

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