April 20, 2019

In the loss, Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell leads Nets in scoring with 27 points, seven rebounds, and six assists

It wasn’t a blowout last night at the Barclays Center when the Brooklyn Nets lost 115-105 to the Toronto Raptors, the second-best team in the NBA Eastern Conference. Some say a loss is a loss no matter what the point spread is. But, in this case, when you’re fighting to clinch a spot in the playoffs, a loss can be more than a loss.

With the loss, the Nets fell to 39-40 overall and 22-18 at the Barclays Center, while the Raptors improved to 56-23 overall and 25-14 on the road with the win. But, moreover, the musical chairs of who’s in the NBA playoff seeding and who isn’t shifted last night and is likely to be a game of musical chairs over the remaining week. The Nets are still in the seventh spot, but the Miami Heat's loss to the Boston Celtics put the Orlando Magic in the eighth spot, while Miami fell to the ninth position.

So, what happened to the Nets last night.

“They were the better team,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I don’t know how else to tell you that. I think they were the better team tonight – from start to finish, gotta give credit. Excellent team. A team that’s going to compete for a championship. We were not up to that. Like I said before the game, those standards, you’ve got to be almost perfect. We weren’t. I would say we were average, and that’s not getting it done against a team like that.”

Toronto is the better team, hence the reason they are in the second position in the Eastern Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks are a better team, hence the reason, it is first in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Nets have no experience of turning it up in the final stretch of the regular season. And, they are traveling to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and then will travel to play the Indiana Pacers the very next day on Sunday. So, should we expect an upset in Milwaukee or in Indiana or both or two losses for the Nets? The best scenario for the Nets to make the playoffs is that since Miami is in the ninth position that Miami loses to Toronto on Sunday and Philadelphia on Tuesday and when Miami comes to Brooklyn on Wednesday, it would be too tired on the second game of a back-to-back to be victorious over Brooklyn. Of the three games on the Orlando Magic’s schedule, only the Boston Celtics are worrisome because the Magic could overtake Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets. But, of course, anything could happen.

The Nets really do have to turn it up because last night, the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Toronto Raptors despite shooting .477 (41-of-86) from the field and limiting Toronto to .419 (44-of-105) from the field. The Nets also edged the Raptors 60-48 in points in the paint.

With the Toronto Raptors in the rearview mirror and as the Net face the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, a question was posed to Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell: What can the Nets do against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo on Saturday?

“Just you know, make him feel us,” Russell responded. “He’s dominated the league this whole season. It’s a tough matchup. But we know what we gotta do. It’s going to take five of us to stop him, it’s not just (one) individual.”

Nets fans hear you, D’Angelo Russell, and they hope that you and the rest of the team can muster up a strategy and the energy to follow the strategy to prevail.

The Brooklyn Nets will play its final game of the regular season on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. Hopefully, it won’t be the last game of the season and this team that has faced so many adversities this season gets a taste of what the NBA postseason is all about.

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.”

Caris LeVert’s return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup spoiled with 125-106 loss to the 12-42 Chicago Bulls

On the heels of a 135-130 win on Wednesday night over the Denver Nuggets, the team that happens to be the No.2 seed in the NBA’s Western Conference, the Brooklyn Nets managed to get shut down at home last night by the 12-42 Chicago Bulls, 125-106.

Brooklyn allowed Chicago to shoot .541 from the field, .500 (14-of-28) from three-point land and was out-rebounded 50-33. The only metric that the Nets overpowered the Bulls on last night was bench points, 43-24.

So, what was the big difference between last night and 10 days ago when the Nets played the Bulls?

The Bulls traded Jabari Parker to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter Jr. and in so doing, its starters have greater size over the Brooklyn Nets starting five. Both Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez are seven feet tall, the only Nets player close to seven feet tall is Jarrett Allen, who is in his second year in the NBA. Also, according to the NBA, Parker’s average points per game this season is seven and Porter’s PPG this season is 18. Averages for Chicago’s starting five with Jabari Parker was 66.2 and with Otto Porter Jr. is 77.2, which potentially is a big difference between Chicago on January 29, 2019, and last night. From an eyeball test, it was also Chicago’s aggressiveness and Brooklyn seemed to be missing a beat allowing the Chicago Bulls to shoot .541 from the field, .500 (14-of-28) from 3-point land and was out-rebounded 50-33. And, it’s obvious, if you can’t beat those numbers, you’re not going to win.

“I’ve said this before, but I thought we got a lot from a lot from a lot of guys,” Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen told the media. “Obviously, the addition of Otto Porter Jr. changes the way we look, how we play sliding Lauri Markkanen to the five. It’s obviously a difficult matchup for people. I thought we played hard. This team beat us three times and we defensively needed to do a better job. I thought defensively for most of the game we were really good, so I’m proud of us for that. We kind of ham and egged it a little bit. Kris Dunn had a great third quarter. Zach LaVine had his moments in the fourth. And we just kind of played together and I felt like we looked like a team out there and played like a team. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for our guys. I’m proud of our guys.”

“We just weren’t really locked in defensively tonight,” said Allen Crabbe. “They basically got whatever they wanted, did whatever they wanted to do. I don’t think we gave them any resistance on the defensive side. Guys were comfortable out there. They’ve got guys who are capable. It’s the NBA, regardless of their record, every team has players who can play, and we just weren’t ready to play tonight, and they took advantage of that.”

“Poor rating overall,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about his team’s performance last night. “Our defense was just non-existent. Couldn’t keep them in front of us. Couldn’t guard them. There wasn’t, one or two guys, I thought collectively we couldn’t guard them. Give them (Bulls) a lot of credit. I thought they played great. They obviously made shots. They added shooting with Otto (Porter Jr.) in there. It was really poor.”

And, Coach Atkinson said he tried everything.

“I think we tried one through 25 tonight,” Atkinson added. “If we had 25, we probably would have tried them. Yeah, we played some guys, but I don’t think that was an excuse tonight. They outplayed us 1 through 12. It’s just that simple. I don’t think tonight was a lineup thing.”

Truth.

Unfortunately, the Nets’ overall performance spoiled Caris LeVert’s return to the lineup. LeVert missed the previous 42 games with a subtalar dislocation of his right foot, which he sustained playing the Minnesota Timberwolves on November 12, 2018. Coming off the bench, LeVert gave the Nets an instant boost, which is what he always does. LeVert registered a career-high-tying (and Nets season-high) five steals, to go along with his 11 points, four assists, and two rebounds in 15 minutes.

“It felt good to get back out there with the team,” LeVert said about his return to the lineup. “Obviously, we didn’t get the win out there, but it felt good to be back out there for sure. I was kind of tired the first little stint I played, the first six minutes, but after that I kind of settled into the game and got more comfortable.”

Of course, when an athlete gets injured everyone is concerned about the return on a physical level.

“I prepared for it,” LeVert explained. “We put a lot of time in over the last couple of months, so it was kind of expected for me. I don’t want to make it about me because I wish we would have won the game for sure, but that’s expected. We didn’t come back to just be there. We wanted to be better than before.”

As for Coach Atkinson, LeVert’s return was the silver lining about last night’s game against the Bulls.

“If I had to take one positive from tonight that was a positive, I thought he looked good, looked athletic, he was athletic, came downhill like he does, make some passes,” Atkinson said. “Obviously there were a few bumps here and there, but for the most part I think he was a plus-five on the sheet, so he had some positives tonight and played well.”

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets’ with 23 points, six assists, and two steals; Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe each scored 19 points, and Harris added five assists to his total, and; Jarrett Allen chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds.

For the Bulls, Lauri Markkanen led all scorers with 31 points, 18 rebounds, and two blocked shots; Zach LaVine added 26 points, five assists, three rebounds, and two steals; Otto Porter Jr. accumulated 18 points and four rebounds; Kris Dunn tallied 14 points, nine assists, and five rebounds; Robin Lopez registered 12 points and five rebounds, and; Wayne Selden chipped in 11 points.

The Bulls will play the Washington Wizards today, February 9, 2019, in the nation’s capital. Meanwhile, the Nets have two road games before the NBA All-Star break. The Nets will travel to Toronto to play the Toronto Raptors on Monday, February 11, 2019, and then the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. The next time the Brooklyn Nets will be at home is on Thursday, February 21, 2019, to play the Portland Trail Blazers at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

D’Angelo Russell scores 34 points to help the Nets defeat the Celtics; the victory also snaps the Nets’ 10-game losing streak against the Celtics

Is it too early to cue up the music, “Movin’ on Up,” the theme song from the 1970s – 1980s sitcom, The Jeffersons? Perhaps, but to Brooklyn Nets fans, it sure does feel good to be one game away from reaching the .500 mark and to still be in contention for an NBA playoff spot.

NBA Playoff Watch: The Brooklyn Nets are now in the seventh spot in the NBA Eastern Conference (The Boston Celtics are currently in the fifth spot).

“We don’t really talk about it as a team,” Jarrett Allen said about the Nets currently in an NBA Playoff spot. “It’s obviously something on all of our minds that we want to make it, but it’s never that ‘oh, let’s make it.’ It’s never spoken out loud, but we all know what we have to do.”

We hear you, Jarrett Allen, but people who follow the Nets, are talking about it and not necessarily in hush tones because the upward trajectory of the Nets so far this season has taken many by surprise.

Last night, the Nets defeated the Boston Celtics 109-102 at home at the Barclays Center and in so doing, the Nets improved to 22-23 overall and 12-11 at Barclays Center, while the Celtics fell to 25-18 overall and 10-13 on the road with this loss. The Nets have also won five straight home games, which is a big deal for the Nets since it is the first time since the 2014-15 season (March 27 – April 6, 2015) that the Nets have won five consecutive games at home more evidence that the Nets are turning a corner.

This victory also snapped the Nets’ 10-game losing streak against the Celtics, which had marked the team’s longest active losing streak against any opponent. The last time Nets won a game against the Celtics it was three years ago on January 2, 2016, in Boston, for those of you who may be keeping score.

Last night’s win was not without some bumps in the road. The Nets ended the third quarter with a 24-point lead (90-66) and that wasn’t the largest lead of the night. The Nets had a 27-point advantage over the Celtics at 9:33 in the fourth quarter on a Spencer Dinwiddie 26' 3-point pull-up shot, but over the course of the last stanza, the Nets lead started slipping eventually getting to only seven points at 1:28 on a Jaylen Brown driving finger roll layup. Over the course of the closing seconds, the Nets were up by nine, up by seven, up by nine, and eventually ending the game at 109-102.

Of course, the media wanted to get Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson’s take on the Nets defensive breakdown in the fourth quarter.

“It speaks to how good they are,” coach Atkinson said regarding the Boston Celtics’ surge in the fourth. “We know it is coming. You’re not beating that team by 30 – you could but considering we haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here. I also think we played eight guys and that’s part of it. I think there was some fatigue. Sure, there’s things we can get better at. I’m going to talk to our 22-year-old point guard about being a little more secure with the ball. But overall, we hung on and closed it out.”

The Nets’ 22-year-old point guard, D’Angelo Russell, posted a game-high-tying 34 points (13-of-26 FG, 7-of-13 3FG, 1-of-2 FT) with five rebounds, a game-high seven assists, one steal and one block in 37 minutes. Russell scored 18 of his 34 points in the third quarter.

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had his eye on Russell.

“…The (Celtics) third-quarter defense was awful,” Stevens said. “Obviously, Brooklyn scored 44 in the quarter and D’Angelo Russell got going. We didn’t get a stop or a rebound for the first four minutes of the quarter. You’re not going to win games when you start the quarter like that in what was a back-and-forth, tougher, more physical game that we just couldn’t make a shot in the first half. But for whatever reason, our third quarter defense was not there. We (Celtics) went on a drought and Brooklyn just blew us out of the water…”

Still feeling good about his accomplishment in last night’s game against the Celtics, Russell told the media what it took for him to go on his scoring roll in the third quarter.

In a word, “Confidence,” Russell said. “I mean, I trust my craft. My teammates like I said they put me in the position to do that. They’re finding me when we have the hot hand, but once again I trust my craft and I know what I’m capable of.”

So, those of you who doubted D’Angelo Russell’s abilities and belief in himself, take note.

Looking at other Nets starters who were scoring leaders last night, Rodions Kurucs, a Nets rookie who has surprised everyone with his skills, totaled 19 points, four rebounds, and two steals in 33 minutes. Jarrett Allen also recorded 19 points with 12 rebounds and four blocks in 33 minutes. Joe Harris tallied 13 points, eight rebounds, and three assists in 35 minutes.

Coming off the bench for the Nets, DeMarre Carroll posted his second double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in 33 minutes.

For the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum had a game-high-tying 34 points, five rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots, and one steal. Jaylen Brown scored 22 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Brad Wanamaker, who came off the bench for Boston, chipped in 13 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

Both teams are really going to have to put on their big boy pants tomorrow as they both face formidable teams. The Celtics square off against the Toronto Raptors at home at the Boston Garden. The Brooklyn Nets travel to Houston to play the Rockets, also tomorrow, and then on to Orlando to play the Magic on Friday, January 18, 2019. The Nets will then return home to play the Sacramento Kings on Monday, January 21, 2019, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at 3:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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 win with 29 points against the NBA leader, the Toronto Raptors

For the Brooklyn Nets, the end to the long drought of wins came yesterday against the No. 1 team in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors. It took an overtime session to clinch the win, a third overtime game this season for the Nets by the way, but the Nets beat the Raptors 106-105.

This win, took down a number of demons, the first of which, the Nets ended a 12-game losing streak against the Raptors and the team’s season-worst eight-game losing streak. The win improved Brooklyn’s overall win-loss record so far this season to 9-18, and 4-10 at the Barclays Center.

The last time the Brooklyn Nets won a game this season was way back on November 20, 2018, against the Miami Heat on the road in Miami. The journey to get here was a bit tumultuous, as Brooklyn led so many games in the closing minutes only to drop the ball and allow the other team to win. Watching them give up double-digit leads and lose games in the closing minutes this season, gave many the feeling that perhaps, the team felt they were not worthy of winning. However, Friday night, Brooklyn pushed that monkey off its back and was justly rewarded by the basketball gods. Beating the Raptors should be a sign that this is a win they can build upon. And, don’t cry for the Raptors, they still hold the best record in the NBA.

“Obviously, it’s a great win for us just to get off of the losing streak, the skid that we were on,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about finally getting a game in the win column after a long drought. “We’ve been playing great basketball, and we just haven’t been able to execute and finish down the stretch. Tonight it was with our defense. Big plays. Big possessions. Winning plays all the way around. Obviously, Rondae did a hell of a job individually, defensively, but it was a collective effort for sure.”

Harris also felt this Nets win against the Toronto Raptors is better than other wins this season because the Raptors are number one in the league.

“Yeah, I think it just kind of validates what we were already feeling,” Harris continued. “We’ve obviously been able to compete night in night out with everybody that we’ve played against. Toronto up to this point, even now, has been record-wise the best team in the NBA, and they really have been playing the best basketball. For us to come in and get some validation that our process, we’ve been sticking with it, staying consistent, and we were finally able to execute and finish one off.”

To say that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was elated with this win would be an understatement.

“I think that stop at the end of the game was indicative of who we were all night,” Atkinson said about his guys. “We fought, we clawed and the basketball gods shined on guys that have been playing good basketball and guys of high character and guys that are together and spirited. So it’s just nice to see those guys in that locker room rewarded for their efforts.”

Leading the way in points for the Brooklyn Nets were D’Angelo Russell with a team-high 29 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and registered 17 points and eight assists; Jarrett Allen scored a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and added two steals and two blocked shots; both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Allen Crabbe tallied 11 points and four rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

Nets forward Ed Davis led the way in rebounding with 15 rebounds, of which 13 were defensive rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 32 points for the Raptors; teammates Jonas Valanciunas added 24 points and eight rebounds, while Pascal Siakam contributed 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Toronto returns home to host the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow, Sunday, December 9, 2018, at 6 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Nets will travel across the East River to Manhattan to play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden tonight, Saturday, December 8, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Can the Nets make it a two-game winning streak?

Only time will tell.

On Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets held a 23-point lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder late (4:21) in the third quarter. And, things quickly began to unravel. Paul George became a one-man wrecking crew in the fourth quarter busting holes in the Nets sizeable lead to help the Thunder win 114-112. In the loss, the Nets fell to 8-18 overall and 3-10 at Barclays Center, while the Thunder improved to 16-7 overall and 6-4 on the road with the win.

Prior to being outscored 39-19 by the Thunder in last night’s fourth quarter, Brooklyn seemed to be clicking on all cylinders.

Allen Crabbe led the Nets 22 points (7-of-13 3FG) alongside four rebounds, two assists and one steal in 37 minutes tonight. Joe Harris, who returned to the starting lineup for this game, after missing the last three games due to left adductor tightness, tallied 19 points (6-of-12 FG, 3-of-4 3FG, 4-of-5 FT), a season-high seven rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes. D’Angelo Russell, also one of the Nets starters, scored 17 points and four assists; and Jarrett Allen, the Nets second-year center, registered 15 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Not to be outdone, the Nets’ bench outscored the Thunder’s bench 37-18 tonight, led by Spencer Dinwiddie with 17 points, and; DeMarre Carroll with 12 points.

Paul George led the Oklahoma City Thunder scoring leaders with 47 points, 15 rebound, and four assists. George scored 25 points in the fourth quarter alone. Russell Westbrook grabbed a triple-double with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists; Steven Adams registered 15 points and eight rebounds, and; Dennis Schroder scored 12 points off the bench.

“Paul George really got going,” stated Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought their offensive rebounding hurt us. Obviously, Paul was fantastic. We had some defensive breakdowns, not picking them up in transition before Paul really got going.”

“..You can’t let a big shot like Paul George deflate you in the offensive end and allow you to discourage you from executing offensively,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about needing to be mentally tough. “You’ve got to still be able to come down, be mentally tough enough, execute whatever plays Kenny’s drawn up or whatever plays D-Lo (D’Angelo Russell) calls. That’s just a hurdle that mentally we need to mature in that regard and get better, and I think that’s ultimately what it is. That’s why we’ve been limited in closing out tough games.”

Next up for the Oklahoma City Thunder will be the Chicago Bulls on Friday, December 7, 2018, in Chicago at 7:00 p.m. CT.

The Nets will host the Toronto Raptors tomorrow, Friday, December 7, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams helped to propel the Nets over the Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors helped the Brooklyn Nets christen the Barclays Center when they faced each other to open up the 2012-2013 season. The Nets came away with the 107-100 victory, which started the Nets on an 11-4 record (franchise best for wins in a month) and yielded a coach of the month award for Nets former head coach Avery Johnson.

December became a month to forget as Brooklyn would lose 11 of 16 games costing Coach Johnson his job. Since then, interim head coach PJ Carlesimo has taken advantage of a schedule that had the Nets playing only 2 teams (Oklahoma and Indiana) with winning records during their six-game winning streak. Brooklyn looked to stay perfect against the Raptors. Why not, the team has already beaten the Raptors twice this season; once at home and one on the road. Tonight Brooklyn played host for the last time against a Toronto team who were once again playing without its forward Andre Bargnani out with a right elbow/wrist injury.

After a slow start in which the teams were tied after the first quarter at 27, Toronto went up by as many as 10 points (40-30) before Brooklyn outscored the Raptors 16-10 aided by Mirza Teletovic coming off the bench and hitting 2 straight 3-pointers giving the Nets a 54-50 halftime lead.

Said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey of Teletovic, "he came in and opened up the game. We lost him in transition a couple of times and he's too great of a shooter to have miscommunication."

Brook Lopez led all scorers with 14 first-half points with Deron Williams chipping in 12.

Toronto continued to play Brooklyn tough through most of the third quarter (66-65) when Williams, Joe Johnson and Keith Bogans nailed trifectas sandwiched around two Lopez free throws extending the lead to 77-68.

Said Lopez, "that has kind of been the story for us the past few games; the second halves are really where we bring the energy."

The momentum carried over to the final quarter as the Nets came out on a 10-2 run opening up a 15-point lead (93-78) with a little more than eight minutes to go in the game.

Brooklyn kept a double-digit lead for the next 6 1/2 minutes paced by Williams, Lopez and Joe Johnson who all scored more than 20 points. It sealed their 7th straight win 113-106, as they get set to play back to back games against the Atlanta Hawks beginning Wednesday night on the road. The Hawks scored a pathetic 5 points in the second quarter in their loss to the Bulls Tuesday night.

Brooklyn can't help but think they can extend their winning streak to 9 games.

Knicks Defeat Raptors 106-87 and Stay Perfect Under Mike Woodson 

The three-game winning-streak followed the six-game losing streak cost the New York Knicks head coach Mike D' Antoni his job. The winning-streak has breathed life back into the team's NBA playoff life. It has given interim head coach Mike Woodson a platform to instill in his players how much is at stake as the season winds down.

There were 21 games when the Knicks hosted the Toronto Raptors Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. They will face each other for the last time this year in three days in Toronto after splitting their previous two games both teams winning on the road. Except for pride, Toronto has nothing to play for with their 15-30 record. That may have been the only reason they gave the Knicks a hard time.

Led by DeMar DeRozan (6 points) Toronto and the Knicks were tied 3 times in the first period, with no team leading by more than 1 point after the first Raptors basket gave them a 2-0 lead. Down by one, the Knicks go on 7-0 run to take a 21-15 lead. Toronto closed the gap to three to end the period (27-24) after a Linas Kleiza three-pointer at the buzzer.

With New York sensing that the longer they allowed Toronto to feel they belonged, the harder it would be to put them away, Woodson once again called on his bench to slow the Raptors down. With the game tied once again at 29, Steve Novak hit his customary three-pointer, extending the lead to 7 again 36-29. Toronto clawed back to two (36-34) after a Gary Forbes lay-up. It's as close as the Raptors would get the rest of the period as the Knicks outscored them 13-4 over the next 5-plus minutes for the biggest lead of the half (49-38). J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Jared Jeffries and Steve Novak contributed 17 points off the pine.

Except for an early lapse at the start of the third period, the Knicks defense stiffened when the Raptors dwindled the lead to 7 (57-50) after an Andrea Bargnani running hook shot. Thirteen must have been the lucky number for the Knicks as they once again rattled off those points allowing Toronto only four, taking a 16-point lead (70-54) and never looked back in the 106-87 victory.

Said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, "they turned up the juice and we didn't meet the challenge. Anytime you give up 16 offensive boards, our turnovers are the two things that hurt us."

When the New York Knicks lost to the Chicago Bulls last week, they gave up 22 offensive rebounds leading to 24 points in the five-point loss. It was an eye-opener for the team.

Said Woodson, "that's been a big problem all season," he started. "Us putting bodies on bodies to secure the rebound. I stress that every game before every game. Five guys are going to block out and rebound the basketball. Then we go and play offense. We've done a better job as of late."

Although Jeremy Lin and the "Linsanity" have quieted down, his numbers are starting to reflect what put him on the map in the first place. He finished his night with his seventh double-double of the year scoring 18 points and 10 assists.

"We just moved the ball and try to pick apart the defense and took whatever the defense gave us. I thought we were patient as a team," he said.

Amar'e Stoudemire led all scorers with 22 points with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler adding 17 each.

The New York Knicks traveled by Amtrak right after the game to face the division-leading Philadelphia 76ers. They are looking to avenge the March 11th home loss.

Landry Fields knows how important the game is: "We have already talked about it. We're trying to rise in the standings. It's an important game for us."

Brooklyn Nets host more than basketball, the game featured Russian Culture Night and a welcome back to Brooklyn for Lance Stephenson 

On a game night when the Brooklyn Nets hosted an Evening of Russian Culture, the team needed a fourth-quarter rush to prevail for its sixth straight victory over the scorching Indiana Pacers, who came in on this late Sunday night riding its own four-game winning streak. These two streaking teams could possibly see each other in the playoffs. Way too early to say, but right now if the playoffs started today the Nets would be the fourth seed and the Pacers would be the third seed. Also, the Nets and Pacers present great match-ups of all-star caliber players Joe Johnson vs. Paul George and Brook Lopez vs. Roy Hibbert.

This was no ordinary night at the Barclays Center, there was a great team matchup inter-weaved with two big stories: Russian Culture Night and the homecoming of Lance Stephenson.

Russian Culture Night envisioned by Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the Barclay's Center was packed with thousands of Russian-Americans waving the Russian flag. Among the Russians highlighted this night were Oleg Kolomyets who brought a lot of energy introducing the players on both teams and Alexander Markov, a violinist, who did a stunning job with the American National Anthem and at the halftime show with a glow-in-the-dark violin and bow performance.

The other half of the biggest story of the night was the homecoming of one of the most successful New York City high school basketball players in PSAL history. Pacers starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson of Abraham Lincoln High School was coming into Barclays with a season-high 39 minutes, 17 points, and four steals in a win against the Bobcats. Stephenson's improved play definitely caught the attention of Brooklyn Nets Interim Head Coach PJ Carlesimo who clearly knows a lot about New York City players. After all, Carlesimo played college ball at Fordham University in the Bronx, NY and he coached men's college basketball at Wagner College on Staten Island. At the pregame press conference, P.J. Carlesimo illustrated his knowledge about Lance and the history of New York City basketball.

"I have followed Lance Stephenson a lot," said Coach Carlesimo. "He has really improved from last year. He has really matured doing the little things that are helping his team win games."

"I recall not only watching the PSAL, and CHSAA but also the CYO leagues. Brooklyn is a big city they also have talent that even pre-dates me, Billy Cunningham, and Connie Hawkins," Coach Carlesimo added.

Unfortunately, due to a re-aggravated toe injury in the first quarter, Lance Stephenson's storied homecoming was short-lived, as he only played six minutes. However, taking the spotlight was tri-state area star, Teaneck, NJ David West of the Pacers who was coming off his first career triple-double (14,12,10). West gave the Nets problems for the first three quarters. West had 23 points at the end of the third quarter keeping the Nets down by six.

Nevertheless, the fourth quarter was an entirely different story for Nets.

Защита is Russian for defense and it was chanted over the surround sound at the Barclays Center, which seemed to help the Nets defense. The defense then sparked the offense, which guided the Nets turnaround. P.J. Carlesimo sent a furious double team commanded by Kris Humphries to shut down West. Pacers could not adjust and ended up shooting three for twenty-two in the fourth quarter prompting a 17-0 run by the Nets. A strong fourth quarter performance by the Nets big three, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez really put Brooklyn over the top scoring 22, 20, and 15 (ten in the fourth quarter) respectively. All three players talked about how they are starting to gel which allows them to be more aggressive.

With a final game score of Nets 97 – Pacers 86, the Nets have no time to rest. On Tuesday, January 15, it faces the team in which it grand opened the Barclays Center--- the Toronto Raptors. The Nets look to extend its winning streak to seven and improve to 9-1 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

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