October 22, 2020

Spencer Dinwiddie leads the Nets with 24 points and hits a milestone, as does Garrett Temple and Jarrett Allen

No Magic, Just Defense.

If there was ever a game presenting a tale of two halves, last night’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Orlando Magic is its representation. The Nets led the Magic by 19 points (67-48) at 8:58 in the third quarter. How do you have that much of a cushion and allow the opposing team to creep, creep, creep, take over and you lose by two points? That’s exactly what happened at the Barclays Center last night, the Nets went from a 19-point lead to lose to the Orlando Magic by two points 115-113. The Nets, still holding on to the seventh seed in the NBA playoffs standing, fell to 26-30 with the loss to the Magic. Meanwhile, the Magic in the eighth spot in the playoff standing, inched ever so close to taking over the seventh spot, improved to 25-32 with the victory.

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on the second half and the Magic’s adjustments:

“We gave up 74 points,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media. “I think that’s the story there. (The) defense was fantastic in the first half, second half we let down defensively. I think it obviously got loose there, that kind of got them going. (Aaron) Gordon made some big shots too. At the end of the day, good credit to that. They deserved to win. They kind of overran us in the second half. We could never really get stops against 74 points. That’s astronomical, it’s tough to win a game like that.”

You can always count on Coach Atkinson to give the other team credit when credit is due.

BY THE NUMBERS:

On the positive side, Brooklyn outrebounded Orlando 49-41 (+8), including a 13-7 (+6) edge on the offensive glass.

The Nets also outscored the Magic 16-8 in second-chance points and 11-5 in fast breakpoints.

The Orlando Magic field goal percentage was 49.4 percent (44-of-89), while the Brooklyn Nets shot 47.9 percent (46-of-96). The Nets took seven more shots, but not enough cigars.

The Nets did outscore the Magic from behind the arc. The Nets hit 43.2 percent (16-of-37) of its shots from three-point land versus the Magic’s 38.2 percent (13-of-34).

But when it came to points at the stripe, the Nets barely made it to the free-throw line, hitting 62.5 percent (5-of-8) versus the Magic’s 82.4 percent (14 of 17).

The Nets led the Magic 27-22 at the end of the first quarter last night and had the lead over Orlando 54-41 at halftime. But the tale of the second half, tells the story. The Orlando Magic outscored the Brooklyn Nets 74-59 in the second half.

Why do the Brooklyn Nets at times have difficulty holding leads?

“It’s the NBA,” responded Coach Atkinson. “Lead’s never safe. You’re up 20, you don’t feel comfortable. So, like I said, that’s why I was so happy about the Charlotte game. Tonight, we didn’t do it. They got back in it and then they got their rhythm and then we could not get stops. We tried some different things; we tried some zone. But again, you’ve got to give them credit. They just simply overran us in that second half.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets against the Orlando Magic last night with 24 points and eight assists in 34 minutes. Caris LeVert recorded 19 points, five rebounds, and a season-high-tying eight assists in 34 minutes; Garrett Temple scored 18 points and five assists off the bench in 28 minutes; Jarrett Allen registered his 25th double-double of the season with 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, along with three assists and two blocks in 26 minutes; Joe Harris posted 12 points and six boards in 30 minutes, and; Taurean Prince chipped in 10 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes.

For the Orlando Magic, Aaron Gordon, who got barely any rest, led all scorers with 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and two blocked shots in 41 minutes; Evan Fournier recorded 21 points and four assists in 31 minutes; Terrence Ross came off the bench and matched Fournier’s point total with 21 points, but Ross added eight rebounds to his total in 28 minutes; Nikola Vucevic posted 16 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in 34 minutes, and; James Ennis III chipped in 13 points and four rebounds in 27 minutes.

Coach Speak: Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford on what turned the game around for the Magic in the third quarter:

In two words said Coach Clifford, “Terrence Ross”. “He just got going. I think he was 8-for-9 in the second half, and you guys have seen him. He’s done it so many times. He gets on a streak like that. And then Aaron Gordon also played huge minutes and made a ton of big plays at both ends of the floor. We struggled to guard them. We were better in the second half, but obviously we made a bunch of shots.”

And, Spencer Dinwiddie co-signed on Coach Clifford’s analysis of what opened the door for the Magic to get back in the game.

“Defense,” said Dinwiddie. “They had 74 points in the second half. (Terrence) Ross made a ton of plays during their run and obviously (Aaron) Gordon had a big three. If we do our job defensively then we’re not in that situation.”

What’s Next for the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets?

The Orlando Magic will head to Atlanta to face the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

As for the Brooklyn Nets, they will board a plane for a four-game road trip. The Nets will travel to Washington to play the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, February 26, at 7:00 p.m. ET. Then, on Friday, February 28, 2020, the Nets will be in Atlanta to play the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets will travel further south to Miami to take on the Miami Heat in a back-to-back on Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. The Brooklyn Nets will get three days rest before taking on the Boston Celtics in Boston on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. And on the very next day, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, the Nets will finally return home to Brooklyn to play the Memphis Grizzlies at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

TIP-INS:

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s first basket in last night’s game against the Orlando Magic gave him 1,145 points for the season, marking a new single-season career-high. Dinwiddie tallied his previous career-high of 1,143 points last season.

Dinwiddie has now recorded a team-leading 34 games with 20-plus points this season after notching 18 games with 20-plus points all of last season.

Brooklyn Nets guard Garrett Temple posted 18 points last night just one game after recording 15 points and 11 boards (his first-career double-double) on Saturday at Charlotte. This is the first time this season that Temple has tallied 15-plus points in consecutive games, and he's reached double digits in four of his last five contests.

Jarrett Allen’s 25 double-doubles this season surpasses his previous single-season career-high of 24 (done last season). The only player in the league 21 years-old or younger with more double-doubles this season is Luka Doncic (30 entering tonight’s games).

Lowry and Valanciunas drop one-two punch on the Nets; Lopez gets 29th game of 20-plus points this season, and Kilpatrick drops 20 points off the bench

It is Super Bowl Sunday and the Brooklyn Nets had a noon-time meeting with the Toronto Raptors. From a distance, it looked ominous because the Raptors were coming into the Barclays Center with a 3-0 record against the Nets this season. However, there was a glimmer of hope because Toronto was without Demar DeRozen, the team’s leading scorer and Kyle Lowry was playing with the flu. The hope continued through the first quarter with the Nets only down by two points 26-24. At the half, the hope was a little more guarded with the Nets down by eight 55-43, because we know this season’s history of third quarter breakdowns and the fact that the Nets shot less than 40 percent from the floor in the first half.

Alas, the Nets took us on a roller coaster ride during the third quarter, down by as much as 17 points. Trying to make a comeback, Brooklyn came within nine but ultimately closed the third with a 12-point deficit, 75-63; and then finishing the game 103-95.

The Raptors’ defensive push forced the Nets to turn over the ball, which stunted Nets’ ability to close the deal; and it wasn’t lost on Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“I think the number one reason is they’re really good at it,” said Atkinson explaining Toronto’s ability to force turnovers. “They strip you, they’re physical, they’ve got really good hands.”

“But I also think a fair amount of our turnovers were on the transition – advantage situations where we’re still not making the simple pass, you know, simple play,” Atkinson stated as he expanded on what he attributes to the Nets’ turnovers. “I thought in the second half we improved and that’s why we gave ourselves a chance because our defense was not great but decent enough to have a chance to win the game. So I’m glad we improved the turnover thing. We talked about it at halftime and so I’ll add to the turnover situation in the first half, I’ll add bad shot selection. It’s just that simple. I thought we took a lot of bad shots, a lot of quick shots and we were driving into a crowd a lot. The ball wasn’t moving side to side and then a drive when there’s an open hole. I think a lot of these turnovers are decisions, and our decision making wasn’t up to par in the first half. And again, the second half I thought that we improved.”

Although Jonas Valanciunas led all scorers with 22 points for the Raptors, Lowry, battling the flu, was a real spark for Toronto finishing with a triple-double scoring 15 points and 11 rebounds and assists. Terrence Ross added 17 points, DeMarre Carroll had 15 points and five rebounds, and Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet each scored 10 points, and Powell also added six rebounds.

For the Nets, Brook Lopez totaled a team-high 20 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. This is Lopez’s 29th game of 20-plus points this season. Sean Kilpatrick added 18 points and five rebounds off the bench, Trevor Booker earned a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 13 points.

Although the Nets fell to 9-42 overall and 7-20 at home with today’s loss, Lopez sees the team’s growth that may not be obvious to the casual observer.

“We obviously can look at personal growth, personal improvement, and team growth, and I think we obviously incrementally improved,” Lopez told the press in the locker room after the game.” It’s just a matter of, again, I’ve said it, but just being better for longer and being more consistent. It’s tough. We have a lot of young guys, a lot of guys who haven’t had a lot of experience in the league, and that’s why the things that really separate the great players, great teams, in this league is just coming out every night and performing at the same level. And again, I’ve got to do better at that, I’ve been guilty of that and I think we agree that we can be better when it comes to that.”

The Nets are on the road to play Charlotte on Tuesday and then come home to the Barclays Center to face the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

In final game of the season, Nets general manager gives strong signal that Tony Brown won’t be back

Today was the last game of the season for the Brooklyn Nets. They hosted the Toronto Raptors at the Barclays Center, a team the Nets bounced out of the playoffs in the first round in 2014.

I thought there was an outside chance that the Nets could close out the season with a win, particularly since Toronto head coach Dwane Casey told the media in a pregame press conference that the Raptors would be without DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Luis Scola and Jonas Valanciunas. And, adding to the missing key Toronto players, the Nets started the game with a 21-4 run, which made me hopeful.

However, the 17-point lead seemed to vanish in an instant. By the end of the half, Toronto led Brooklyn 49-47; at the end of the third stanza, Toronto had a 12-point lead 78-66. When the music stopped, the Nets had lost to the Raptors 103-96, and in so doing, finished the season with a 21-61 record, the 3rd-worst in the league.

In the loss, Bojan Bogdanovic came up big for the Nets, scoring 29 points on seven 3-pointers. Sean Kilpatrick, a fan favorite, as they are still calling his name when he steps on the hardwood, added 12 points and tied his three career assist record. Donald Sloan scored 11 points, and Henry Sims chipped in 10 points and tied his career-high three blocked shots.

Like the Nets, the Raptors also only had four players in double digits; but they scored more points. Norman Powell led all scorers with 30 points and nine rebounds; Terrence Ross scored 24 points and 10 boards off the bench; Delon Wright added 18 points and seven assists; and Jason Thompson chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds.

Anyone following the Nets this season knows that this season is the team’s worst season in Brooklyn. The downward spiral caused the reassignment of general manager Billy King and the firing of head coach Lionel Hollins on January 10, 2016. Anthony (Tony) Brown, an assistant coach under Hollins was named interim head coach and played caretaker to a team that seemed to be in disarray. As one who followed the team, I don’t think the 21-61 record really reflects the potential of the Brooklyn Nets’ team as it is presently constituted. The team needs a stronger point guard, a defender around the rim, and a coach that has experience developing young players, and particularly millennials. The salary cap is expected to go up to approximately $89 million and with Nets current salary obligations it could have between $42.1 and $48.2 million for free agents. Attracting good free agents to the Nets will depend in part on who becomes the next head coach.

Sean Marks, the Nets new general manager has been in evaluation mode of both players and interim coach Tony Brown. There is no doubt some of the players will not be back next season and certainly Tony Brown won’t be back.

Brown told the media that the Nets’ young players are still being evaluated and was asked if he still believed he was being evaluated by Marks.

“I can’t answer that. I really can’t,” Brown said before Monday’s game against the Wizards. “We’ve got two games left. I feel like the situation has been tough from the beginning, I’ve tried to make the best of it and I’m going to continue to do that the last two games and whatever happens, happens. I’m not worried about my fate with this organization.”

As I watched Brown hustle out the door after the Nets final game against Toronto and there were no final remarks by Nets General Manager Marks, I guess we all have our answer soon enough.

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