May 22, 2019

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.”

In the loss, Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis, lead the Brooklyn Nets in scoring against their old team, the Portland Trail Blazers

Last night, fresh from the excitement of the NBA All-Star extravaganza, which saw four Brooklyn Nets players participating in different activities and Nets forward Joe Harris beating out Stephen Curry to win the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest, the Brooklyn Nets sputtered in its first game after the NBA All-Star break losing to the Portland Trail Blazers 113-99. With the loss, the Nets have a 30-30 overall win-loss record and 17-14 at the Barclays Center. They are also still in the sixth position in the NBA Eastern Conference playoff berth standings right behind the Boston Celtics. On the contrary, the Portland Trail Blazers improved to 35-23 overall and 11-15 on the road with the win.

Like the Nets’ game against the Chicago Bulls, Portland’s starting five out-sized the Nets starters with the Trail Blazers’ center and forward being 7’0” and both forwards 6’9” while the Nets players in those positions are 6’11” (center) and 6’7” and 6’5” for the forwards. Also, Portland’s players in those positions have more experienced with 6, 8, and 4-years’ NBA experience versus no more than two years of experience (2, 2, and 1) for Nets players in similar positions. This not to excuse the Nets loss, but to put into context things that can contribute to the ups and downs in the NBA and sports in general.

When Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was asked about the biggest difference between the two teams, he responded, “I think rebounding, I think physicality. I think they were the more physical team. I see 19 offensive rebounds. We couldn’t corral. I think we did a decent job on (Damian) Lillard and (CJ) McCollum, just a tough time rebounding tonight. I said pregame that’s one of the things we’re focused on, so I’m disappointed there was no carryover from the emphasis at the All-Star break. So, credit to Portland – I thought overall, they were the more energetic, more physical team, and deserved to win.”

Atkinson also added what he would like to clean up regarding the Nets’ rhythm and flow: “We didn’t have great rhythm tonight, didn’t play well. I think that’s across the board – didn’t coach well, didn’t play well. It’s just one of those games where Portland was simply the better team. There’s just no way around it. I thought in all facets they played really well.”

All of the Portland Trail Blazers starting five scored in double digits. Jusuf Nurkic, the team’s center achieved 27 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocked shots; CJ McCollum recorded 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two blocked shots; both Maurice Harkless and Damian Lillard each scored 13 points and eight rebounds, while Lillard added 8 assists to his total and Harkless added four assists; Al-Farouq Aminu contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds, and; Enes Kanter, who recently landed in Portland via a transaction with the New York Knicks, came off the bench and registered 18points and nine rebounds to help his team get the “W”.

“Good to get a road win, good to get that first win after the break,” Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said about his team’s victory against the Brooklyn Nets. “Brooklyn played a lot of zone. We didn’t have a lot of offense in with Enes Kanter, so it was just kind of playing free basketball. I thought we did a good job with pick-and-rolls when we had it. Obviously, our two big guys dominated inside. That was an important part of our offense.”

“Yeah, that’s my game,” Kanter said not shying away from his style of basketball. “Just go out there, I play hard and bring energy, rebounds – the inside game. I think it’s just the important thing to go out there and get a win.”

Allen Crabbe, a former member of the Portland Trail Blazers and in his second season with the Nets, summed up his thoughts on where the Trail Blazers hurt the Nets most: “Offensive rebounds. They got a lot of second-chance points, they got a lot of offensive rebounds. It’s hard to beat a team when you give up that many offensive rebounds and they get that many looks, second chance aside, so you’ve just got to give them credit. They outworked us tonight. We’ve just got to get back to the drawing board and figure it out.”

Crabbe understands there is no time to dwell on this loss and what to do next is not rocket science. Everyone understands what needs to be done to be ready for the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

“I think just practice really, just keep going back, watching film, looking at things we can correct, things we can sharpen up a little bit,” Crabbe added. “Like you said, finally getting back to a full, healthy roster, so just that rhythm of playing with the regular lineups we had at the beginning of the season. I think in due time it will come, so we’re not worried about it. We know we have a lot of guys capable of doing good stuff for us each and every night, so I think it will click for us eventually.”

Oddly enough, the players that led the Nets in scoring last night were former players from the Portland Trail Blazers, Crabbe and Ed Davis and they both came off the bench. Crabbe scored 17 points and four rebounds, while Davis scored a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets first unit with 14 points, eight assists, and four rebounds; Joe Harris scored 13 points and four rebounds, both Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen each scored 12 points, while Allen added 11 rebounds to his total.

Some have called this loss to Portland a wake-up call for the Brooklyn Nets.

Davis begs to differ: “It’s not really a wake-up call, I mean we’re woke. They’re a good team – they were the third seed (in the NBA Western Conference) coming in here. They played well, they(are) coached well and they just beat us. That’s the NBA. Like you said, you gotta move on and get ready for the next game.”

After playing the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, February 23rd, the Nets return home to take on the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, February 25, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Nets came within two points of the Golden State Warriors with less than two minutes on the clock, but could not pull through

Oh, the complicated Nets we weave! The Brooklyn Nets that is. It’s Sunday and the Nets faced off against the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors in their first and only meeting at the Barclays Center this season. The Nets started off strong in the first quarter with x lead changes and ended the first quarter on the heels of the Warriors at 32-29. And, then losing their grip on the Warriors in the second quarter, ending the first-half 63-49. Then came the proverbial third quarter when the Nets dug themselves into a 93-78 hole. Trying to dig themselves out in the fourth stanza, the Nets edged the Warriors 37-27 in tonight’s fourth quarter and came within 2 points, at the 1:55 mark on a driving layup by D’Angelo Russell. But the talent of the Golden State Warriors came shining through and when the horn sounded to signal the end of the game, the Warriors walked off as victors 120-114. Meanwhile, the Nets fell to 2-4 this season and 1-1 at Barclays Center with tonight’s loss, while the Warriors improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 on the road with the win.

“I felt like we did get stronger as the game went on,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said regarding the Nets’ fourth-quarter rally. “I thought that the guys really made a second push. I thought it was a good effort in the second half. Listen, I don’t think the crowd was pleased with our first half, the coach wasn’t pleased, the players weren’t pleased, so we were – at halftime, it wasn’t pleasant in there because I don’t think we played up to our capabilities. So, just to see us play Nets basketball in the second half that gives us some encouragement going into tomorrow night’s game.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Brooklyn Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson

“I felt like the effort – the defensive effort – especially on the boards,” Atkinson explained about what changed in the second half. “This team you can’t give multiple shots. I know they didn’t have a ton of offensive rebounds but I thought they had three or four that they just outhustled us and you’re just not going to have a chance – you’re going to be down 20 – against a talented team like that. I thought we did a much better job on the 50-50 balls. Our rebounding – it was just a much better effort and that’s why we’re in the game and had a chance.”

“The Nets battled the whole way,” Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “We had them on the ropes several times. We were up 19 late in the third quarter, Brooklyn hit a big 3-pointer to end the third and two to start the fourth quarter got them right back into the game. That was really the story. We were able to hold them off but they made 20 3-pointers.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr

“…In this league you compete and bring it to give yourself a chance at the end of the game,” D’Angelo Russell said responding to a reporter in the locker room after the game about the effort the Nets showed late in the game. “That’s all we can really ask for. Our competitive nature wasn’t there in the first half, so in the second half we turned it up.”

Russell led the Nets with a season-high 25 points (9-of-14 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, 2-of-3 FT), six rebounds, six assists and one block in 30 minutes tonight vs. the Warriors. Caris LeVert scored 23 points, seven assists, and three rebounds for the Nets. Allen Crabbe contributed 14 points, five rebounds, and two assists 28 minutes off the bench tonight. Spencer Dinwiddie added 12 points (4-of-9 FG, 4-of-7 3FG) in 24 minutes off the bench, while Jarrett Allen chipped in 11 points, four assists, and three rebounds.

Ed Davis led the Nets in rebounding with a total of seven, of which six were defensive rebounds.

For the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry led all scorers with 35 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Kevin Durant tallied 34 points, eight rebounds, and six assists; while Klay Thompson recorded 18 points and five rebounds.

“I don't think we’re ever satisfied,” Kevin Durant said about the Warriors’ performance tonight. “I think we had some good spurts. Obviously, we wanted to play a great game, but we know that we are still learning and getting better. I like how we kind of controlled the game up until the fourth, then they made threes. I think the 3-pointer kept them in the game, kept the crowd in the game as well. Some of them were contested; a couple of them were open. I think the 3-pointer got them back in the game and then we had to play a little bit and execute down the stretch. It was a solid outing for us.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Kevin Durant

Stephen Curry commented on why the team is more focused this year than last year, “Because we went through what we went through last year, and it’s kind of fresh in your memory in terms of how terrible a feeling it was night in night out, nothing clicking, not having any energy, or juice or just making things harder than they should be. We’ve talked about it. We’ve been open about it as a team. We kind of set mini goals to start off the season better. Obviously, you’re not going to blow people out every night. It’s going to be tough. It’s the NBA. There’s talent everywhere. I think looking at the eye test, just how we feel walking up the court, we’re playing with a lot more focus and more discipline and better than we did last year starting off the year. That’s a good kinda vibe to have as you go through the 82.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Stephen Curry

Tomorrow, the Golden State Warriors travel to Chicago to take on the Chicago Bulls.

The next time the Nets will have an opportunity to redeem themselves against the Golden State Warriors will be in Oakland on November 11, 2018. In the meantime, next up for the Brooklyn Nets are the New York Knicks tomorrow at Madison Square Garden and then the Detroit Pistons at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Despite Williams and Lopez Absence Nets Ekes Out a Win

With the face of the franchise, Deron Williams undergoing yet another procedure to help cure his ailing ankles and without leading scorer Brook Lopez out for the rest of the year, the Brooklyn Nets and their modest 3-game winning streak took on the hottest team in the NBA. The Golden State Warriors, coached by ex-NY Knick Mark Jackson came into the Barclays Center on a 10 game winning streak, the last 6 on the road. They were looking to make history by becoming the first team to win 7 consecutive games on the road.

The Nets biggest task would come on the defensive end trying to figure out how to contain 3-point sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. It didn't take long for both of them to start showing their shooting prowess. Tied at 6, Curry and Thompson hit 2 three-pointers each.

Said Nets starting guard Shaun Livingston, "they came out guns blazing."

Warriors Andre Iguodala added a 3 of his own and before the fans popcorn was cold, Golden State took a 16 (32-16) point lead. Brooklyn joined the 3-point party to close out the first period with baskets by Mirza Teletovic and Joe Johnson closing the gap to 10 (32-22).

Brooklyn took advantage to begin the second with both Curry and Thompson on the bench outscoring Golden State 11-4 (35-33) to get back in the game. Lee, who scored 11 first-half points, hits 3 straight baskets putting them up by 5 (34-38) before the Nets closed out the half with a flurry.

Kevin Garnett's first attempt and basket gave the Nets their first lead of the second half (47-46) and when Teletovic banked a 3-pointer at the buzzer, Brooklyn took 59-52 lead into the half. The Nets hoping that the Warriors second game in a row would catch up to them in the second half.

The hot shooting for both teams (52% for both) that paced them in the first half, cooled off considerably to begin the third period. At one point, Brooklyn missed 6 straight shots allowing Golden State to stay within 3 at 69-66. Curry then showed why he is an all-around player. Driving to the basket, he puts up a left-handed, floating shot as he gets banged by Teletovic the ball falling through the net getting them within 1 (74-73). Warriors Harrison Barnes 3-pointer gave them a 1-point lead (76-75) going into the final period.

Kevin Garnett Saves the Day

Neither team led by more than 4 (Nets 93-89) as the score was tied on six different occasions with the horrid shooting continuing. At one stretch, the Warriors would go almost 5 minutes without a field goal. The last tie at 93 came after an Andre Blatche (17 points off the bench) fade-away. With the game seemingly in hand, Livingston commits an unforgivable foul sending Curry to the free-throw line after fouling him behind the arc. Curry calmly sinks all three getting them within two points (98-96) and then old man Kevin Garnett saved the day and the streak for Brooklyn.

 

Kevin Garnett MVI 6107 750x422.MOVKevin Garnett speaking with the media. Photo Credit: What's The 411 Networks

 

Aside from hitting on 3 of 4 baskets in the period, he steals a Curry pass attempt then hits 2 free throws to ice the game. Said Nets head coach Jason Kidd of Garnett's performance, "he looks like he's 25. Tonight defensively, he looked like he was 21."

The Brooklyn Nets were led by Joe Johnson and his 27 points while Curry finished with a game-high 34.

Unaware that his team was on the brink of making history, Jackson although disappointed in the loss focused on the bigger picture.

"None of us knew who actually held the record prior to us. The history we're chasing after is bigger than a 7-game road trip."

The Nets, as a team, made a conscious effort to put 2013 in their rearview and focus on 2014. Not a bad start after losing their most important player for the year and hoping their other important player could rebound from ankle problems.

 

LeBron James carries his team; Game 1: JR Smith in a fog, possible pivotal point in 2018 NBA Finals for Cavs

 

Will Sixers release Bryan Colangelo; Lakers Possible Off-Season Moves; JJ Watt our Athlete of the week; Tristan Thompson among most useless Cavaliers, and more

In this episode of What's The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald, are talking about the NBA FINALS featuring the three-time NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers; Bryan Colangelo's current employment woes with the Philadelphia 76ers; how the eyes of NBA world are on the Los Angeles Lakers’ upcoming offseason moves; JJ Watt, our Athlete of the Week; Brooklyn Nets player, Jeremy Lin, initiates a clap-back at ESPN’s Jalen Rose; the Most Useless Cavaliers, is Tristan Thompson on the list? and more. 

 

What's The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are also talking about a controversy at OKC Thunder; Kaepernick Update; Derek Jeter stays home, and more!

WHAT’S POPPIN’ PART 1:

The NBA PLAYOFFS are finally here

Q. Let’s talk about what we’ve seen so far and any predictions?

Cowboys cut Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys released Dez Bryant and Bryant took to social media to express his frustrations and love for the Cowboys’ fans. Bryant also expressed his desire to stay in the NFC East.

Q. What are your thoughts on this Dez Bryant situation and do you think he could land in NFC East?

Will Colin Kaepernick get a meeting with the Seattle Seahawks?

The Seattle Seahawks invited NFL free agent quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, in for a workout and upon learning that Kaepernick may not have given up on kneeling for the National Anthem, reportedly Kaepernick’s workout has been postponed.

Q. Let’s dissect this.

QUICK BITES:

Russell Westbrook clinched a triple-double average for the second consecutive season.
• If his team gets past the San Antonio Spurs, Stephen Curry is reportedly targeting a return for the second round of the NBA playoffs.
• Free agent Mark Sanchez has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2018 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
• Washington Wizards' veteran guard Jodie Meeks suspended for playoffs for a reported drug policy violation
Sister Jean’s 15 minutes of fame is going into overtime. The Chicago Bulls looked into having Sister Jean rep the Bulls at the NBA Draft!

Quick Question: Adidas wants to sign Colin Kaepernick to an endorsement deal but has held off because the former 49ers quarterback isn’t on an NFL roster.

Q. Do you think this is just talk or could Adidas be sincere?

Poppin’ Part 2

Welcome back to What’s The 411Sports. The Oklahoma City Thunder suspended play-by-play announcer Brian Davis for one game for his offensive on-air comment about Russell Westbrook. During the second quarter of OKC’s last game of the season, Davis blurted out about Westbrook, Is he out of his cotton-picking mind?

Q. Did the Thunder do the right thing in suspending Davis for one game?

Andre Ingram's NBA Dream Comes True

After toiling 10 years in the NBA G-League, Andre Ingram’s number was called to play for the Los Angeles Lakers’ against the Houston Rockets. It was the second to last game of the season and Ingram scored 19 points and three blocks. Postgame, Lakers head coach Luke Walton, presented Ingram with the game ball.

Q. Should the Los Angeles Lakers keep Ingram on its roster? If not, do you think he might get picked up by another team?

NY SPORTS REPORT

New York Yankees

Welcome back to What’s The 411Sports. Former New York Yankees shortstop, and now an owner of the Florida Marlins, Derek Jeter, decided to skip the trip to New York City when the Marlins played the Yankees.

Q. Did Derek Jeter make the right decision?

Jeff Hornacek Gets Fired from New York Knicks

As predicted, the New York Knicks fired head coach Jeff Hornacek and assistant coach, Kurt Rambis.

Q. Lots of names are being floated, who do you think has the best chance?

Brooklyn Nets Get the Sale

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has completed the sale of a 49% interest in the Brooklyn Nets to Joe Tsai. Mr. Tsai is executive vice chairman and co-founder of Alibaba Group, a global internet company with businesses in e-commerce, cloud computing, and digital entertainment.

OFF TOPIC:

Now, we’re going off-topic. Cleveland Cavaliers PF/center Tristan Thompson was caught cheating on Khloe Kardashian, who gave birth to their first child on April 11th. According to various reports, the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan was enraged — including Kanye West! In fact, Radar Online is reporting that Kanye was prepared to give Thompson a beat down.

With a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, Isaiah Thomas is ecstatic; St. John’s Red Storm has people talking, and; Le’Veon Bell wants SZA to be his Valentine

In this episode of What's The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking about the moves the Cleveland Cavaliers made at the NBA trade deadline; Damian Lillard hitting 50 points in 29 minutes, and should he sit or continue to play until the end of the game; the Top 5 prospects for NBA MVP consideration; Isaiah Thomas says he got his powers back; Paul Pierce celebrated in Boston; the state of the Brooklyn Nets and NY Knicks; Tim Tebow is back with the NY Mets; the New York Yankees acquire Russell Wilson; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell wants R&B singer, SZA, to be his Valentine; and will the XFL get off the ground?

What’s The 411Sports’ Photo of the Week

The What’s The 411Sports Photo of the Week is a photo of Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie shaking hands with his former teammate Trevor Booker who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Spencer Dinwiddie shaking hands with former teammate Trevor Booker 750x469

NBA designed a new format to allow captains of each team to choose their players

The NBA shook things up a little bit with a reconfiguration of the NBA All-Star 2018 teams. This year, instead of an East vs. West NBA All-Star game format with teams comprised of members from their respective conference, each of the two teams will be headed by the top two players who received the most votes. In this case, they are LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Each team captain will then select players regardless of conference.

Below is a list of teams and players: 

Team LeBron

NBA All Star 2018 Team LeBron James photo credit NBA

Starter: Kyrie Irving, G, Boston Celtics
Starter: Kevin Durant, F, Golden State Warriors
Starter: LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
Starter: Anthony Davis, F, New Orleans Pelicans
Starter: DeMarcus Cousins, C, New Orleans Pelicans
Reserve: Bradley Beal, G, Washington Wizards
Reserve: LaMarcus Aldridge, F, San Antonio Spurs
Reserve: Kevin Love, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
Reserve: Russell Westbrook, G, Oklahoma City Thunder
Reserve: Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana Pacers
Reserve: Kristaps Porzingis, F, New York Knicks
Reserve: John Wall, G, Washington Wizards

Team Stephen

NBA All Star 2018 Team Stephen Curry photo credit NBA

Starter: Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors
Starter: James Harden, G, Houston Rockets
Starter: DeMar DeRozan, G, Toronto Raptors
Starter: Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Milwaukee Bucks
Starter: Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Reserve: Damian Lillard, G, Portland Trail Blazers
Reserve: Jimmy Butler, G, Minnesota Timberwolves
Reserve: Draymond Green, F, Golden State Warriors
Reserve: Kyle Lowry, G, Toronto Raptors
Reserve: Klay Thompson, G, Golden State Warriors
Reserve: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves
Reserve: Al Horford, C, Boston Celtics


Nets overcome 28–point deficit to move within four points of Warriors, but couldn’t get the lead

Many a professional athlete or team has heard the term “fear no team” or “make them play your game” or “bring the game to them.” Unfortunately, during the first half of the Nets’ game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn played as though they didn’t get this directive.

The Nets ended the first-half down 22 points with the score 64-42; and slipped to a 28-point deficit (78-50) with 8:34 left in the third stanza.

No disrespect to the home team because despite serious injuries to its top players D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin, the Nets are showing flashes of brilliance, most recently with its win against the Utah Jazz and the second half of this game against the Warriors.

The cause of the first-half free-fall is bewildering, but Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson says it was, “energy”.

“I would say energy, not being locked in from the start, Hollis-Jefferson offered as an explanation. “We have to put some blame on ourselves. Couple turnovers, missed shots. Just my energy wasn't there like it should be from the start of the game.”

But then suddenly, a switch was turned on and Brooklyn miraculously outscored the Warriors 42-34 in the third quarter. Those 42 points marking the most points the Nets have ever scored in any quarter this season (previous high: 39 points in the first quarter in its last game vs. Utah on Friday). Overall, the Nets outscored the Warriors 69-54 in the second half.

Even Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson couldn’t put his finger on what happened to make this game a tale of two halves?

“Our spirit,” responded Atkinson. “I really can’t explain what happened in the first half – why we came out so spiritless and lack of energy. Granted, great team and respect, I thought we were kind of frozen by the moment. The second half, our spirit was better. We competed much better. I thought we handled their switches a lot better, so a lot of positive things there. I thought Jarrett Allen came in and gave us a guy that could roll to the rim and that opened up a little bit for us.”

Energy and spirit are a bit ethereal, but somehow it translated into physicality in the second half in order for the Nets to claw its way back to within four points with two-and-half minutes left in the game. But, on the real, Atkinson believes it was the Nets’ defensive effort in the second half that helped.

“I thought we did a better job defensively fighting through their screens,” Atkinson continued. “That’s the real (thing). They have their on-ball screens, their pick-and-roll defense and they hit you on those screens and we’ve got to avoid – I thought we did a better job. And their off-ball screens, I thought we did a better job fighting through. But really, our offense was historically poor in that first half and talking about the defense, we just weren’t very good. I thought in the second half we figured out their switches a little better. We didn’t figure it out totally, but that’s what makes them so good. They can switch on you and then they can guard you. They can sit down and guard one through five, and it makes it difficult but we did do a better job of attacking the switches in the second half.”

However, as Atkinson said, in the second half, the Nets started fighting through screens on defense and attacking switches on offense, which ultimately helped the Nets to chip away at their deficit. Seeing the Nets storm back to come within four points of the Warriors with two-and-a-half minutes left to play was a bit worrisome for Golden State’s head coach Steve Kerr, but in the end, he breathed a sigh of relief and gave a tip of the hat to the Nets.

“Winning on the road on a back-to-back is a hard thing to do so it’s a great accomplishment to win these last two,” Kerr stated. “It wasn’t a great second half for us, obviously, but Brooklyn brought it and I give them credit. They (Nets) set the tone. We had to withstand their run and luckily we did. It was good execution in the last few minutes when Steph Curry went out.”

“In the second half Brooklyn was putting their heads down and going to the rim,” Kerr added. The aggressors will always get the benefit of doubt. They earned their free throws in the second half. We committed some silly fouls. We committed some that were questionable. It didn’t matter, they were the aggressors. That’s how they got back in the game, at the line.”

Hollis-Jefferson agreed.

“I would just say it was our resiliency, our grit, toughness, you know getting into the ball,” Hollis-Jefferson proffered. “Playing our game and having fun doing it. I feel like that got us over the hump. Enjoying seeing one another succeed was something, we kind of, it felt good to be out there doing that. The outcome wasn't as we expected, but we gotta give ourselves credit for that second half.”

For the Nets, Allen Crabbe scored a season-high-tying 25 points (9-of-19 FG, 6-of-11 3FG, 1-of-2 FT) with seven rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes in the Nets’ loss. Crabbe’s six made 3-pointers marked a season-high and matched the Nets’ season-high set by Spencer Dinwiddie’s six made threes on Friday vs. Utah.

Other Brooklyn Nets scoring leaders were Dinwiddie who posted 21 points with eight assists in 31 minutes. DeMarre Carroll recorded his second double-double of the season with 15 points and a season-high-tying 11 rebounds in 34 minutes. Hollis-Jefferson posted his first double-double of the season. He totaled 16 points, a game-high and season-high 12 rebounds and a season-high five assists. Caris LeVert came off the bench and tallied 13 points with four rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 22 minutes.

For the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry was a little more aggressive because of Kevin Durant’s absence. He scored 39 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out of the game. Draymond Green had eight assists for the Warriors.

Up next, the Brooklyn Nets will play the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday. The Nets next home game will be against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, November 24, 2017, at 12 noon at the Barclays Center.

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