August 11, 2020

Bittersweet: Chris Chiozza scored in double figures for the first time in his NBA career last night in the Brooklyn Nets’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies

What a difference a day makes.

On Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets pulled off an upset against the 41-18 Boston Celtics. The Nets, a 7th-seed Eastern Conference team, defeated the Celtics, a 3rd seed Eastern Conference team, 129-120 in overtime behind Caris LeVert’s 51 points, rendering the Celtics’ win-loss record to 41-19.

And, what a difference a day makes. No need to cry for the Celtics, like the Nets, they played a back-to-back last night and defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-106. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets were blown out by the Memphis Grizzlies 118-79. This is the difference between elite NBA teams and the not-so-elite teams, among many things, their ability to bounce back. With the loss to the Grizzlies last night, the Nets fell to 27-34 and the Grizzlies improved to 31-31.

By The Numbers:

Let’s just say, the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Brooklyn Nets on every metric that matters:

Field Goals: Grizzlies - 43 percent (43-of-100) versus Nets - 33.3 percent (30-of-90)
Behind the Arc: Grizzlies 45.5 (20-of-44) versus Nets 16.7 percent (7-of-42)
Free Throws: 85.7 (12-of-14) versus 70.6 (12-of-17)

The Memphis Grizzlies even outrebounded the Brooklyn Nets 59-42, as well as, on assists 21-15; steals 8-6, and blocked shots 5-4.

So, what does a head coach say when a team is blown out in this fashion?

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson

“These are the type of games where, you know – 40-point losses, believe it or not, happen in this league,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “But I think collectively we didn’t like our compete level and our spirit wasn’t where it needed to be. And we talked about it in the locker room. Coaches and players having a good old-fashioned great communication. Like I always say, these are the moments where you really have to embrace the adversity. We’re obviously disappointed and frustrated that we couldn’t build off of a great win. We’re definitely frustrated with that.”

And, what was the most disappointing aspect of Coach Atkinson’s team’s performance?

“That our energy wasn’t there,” Coach Atkinson continued. “I don’t know if it was mental spirit, whatever that, you know, we’re playing for something. Like I said, we came off of a really good win last night. We didn’t build on that. I didn’t feel that we had our, I keep saying the word, but our spirit in the right place and that’s disappointing. The crowd let us know about it and I think they are 100 percent right. I think that you feel it when it’s not there. So, we have a great group of guys, I think fatigue plays something in a back-to-back. Guys were a little frustrated we got down, we were missing shots, but we didn’t have that fighting spirit that we normally do.”

 

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Brooklyn Nets forward Taurean Prince led Brooklyn with 15 points and added five rebounds in 25 minutes last night against the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring in double figures in six of his last seven games. Caris LeVert, after scoring 51 points the night before, totaled 14 points, four rebounds, and a game-high-tying six assists in 27 minutes; Chris Chiozza scored a career-high 14 points (5-of-8 FG, 2-of-4 3FG, 2-of-2 FT) and three rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench, and; Joe Harris tallied 13 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes against the Grizzlies.

Some reporters were a little concerned that Spencer Dinwiddie hasn’t had a high offensive output as of late, including only scoring four points against the Memphis Grizzlies last night.

“That’s the thing,” said Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. “I’ve seen people kind of talk about my offensive output in Boston, I mean I had 14 and four in like 20 minutes. Not bad guys, that’s not bad. Granted – don’t get me wrong – Boston should be all about Caris (LeVert), he had 51 and the crazy comeback win. But the stigma of like ‘Spencer (Dinwiddie) played bad in Boston’ is not quite accurate. Tonight is a totally different story. But you know, played all 61 games we had. I’m sorry. Deeply Nets fans, I’m sorry.”

Memphis Grizzlies Scoring Leaders

For the Memphis Grizzlies, its top two scorers were from its second unit, Josh Jackson and Tyus Jones.

Jackson came off the bench and scored 19 points and two steals in 17 minutes, and Jones recorded 18 points, six assists, and five rebounds in 21 minutes. Among the Grizzlies’ starters, Ja Morant recorded 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in 29 minutes; Kyle Matthews tallied 12 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes, and Dillion Brooks chipped in 12 points in 22 minutes.

While Jonas Valanciunas may have missed being a scoring leader with only nine points, he more than made up for it with a game-high 16 rebounds.

Coach Speak: Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins

“Another great win for our guys back-to-back,” said Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins. “Just really proud of the defensive activity. Didn’t have like we did against Atlanta in that first half, but our guys just turned it on in that third and fourth quarter. We just really clamped down, our ability to get out and scramble. Obviously, the Nets still end up shooting a lot of threes. They were highly contested. Our guys were flying around. Much better job in the second half keeping Brooklyn off of the boards, which allowed us to get out and run. Just great contributions throughout the entire rotation – the starters, but obviously the bench has been huge for us. Two nights in a row, the 3-point shooting, the defensive activity, the rebounding, the steals, the blocks, just the general unselfishness. So very proud of the guys. Great win for us tonight. Just have to keep focus of the daily task at hand – one day at a time.”

Up Next for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Brooklyn Nets

The Memphis Grizzlies will travel to Dallas to play the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, March 6, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will remain at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, to take on the San Antonio Spurs also on Friday, March 6, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.

TIP-INS:

Brooklyn Nets two-way guard, Chris Chiozza, scored in double figures for the first time in his NBA career last night after totaling a then-career-high-tying eight points on Tuesday night in Boston. In his last two contests, Chiozza has averaged 11.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals in 22.5 minutes per game while shooting .615 (8-of-13) from the field, .571 (4-of-7) from 3-point range and 1.000 (2-of-2) from the free-throw line.

Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris made three 3-pointers last night against the Memphis Grizzlies. Harris has now made at least one three in 51 straight games dating back to November 12, 2019, at Utah. Harris’ three-point shooting streak marks the second-longest streak in Nets history behind D’Angelo Russell’s 61-game streak last season.

Harris has also made at least one three in all 30 of Brooklyn’s home games this season.

Spencer Dinwiddie leads Nets with 26 points and nine assists in the win; Jimmy Butler misses jumper at the buzzer; Okafor gets first play at home

It was the calm before the “Bomb Cyclone” hit New York City. Bomb Cyclone, a new ride coming to Coney Island? No, it’s winds gusting as high as 60 mph and a bone-chilling blast of Arctic air and, in this case, on top of all that, a prediction of six to nine inches of snow. Some even joked that it’s the Minnesota Timberwolves coming to Brooklyn to beat up on the Brooklyn Nets.

At the outset, the “Tims” came into the Barclays Center having won seven of its last eight games and Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler with a record of practically scoring at will. Butler did lead all scorers racking up 30 points when it was all said and done. Meanwhile, it has been a struggle for the Nets to win two consecutive games all season. So with a win against the Orlando Magic on Monday night, many predicted the Timberwolves would blow the Nets out of the Barclays Center.

But not so fast! Brooklyn pulled out that old-fashioned defense keeping the ‘Wolves to under 100 points, and the Nets led by 12 points at 9:43 in the third quarter. The biggest lead for Minnesota was five, and with seven lead changes, the Nets were leading by one point in the closing seconds. Although Butler took a pull-up jumper for the win at the one-second mark, he missed (hey, I didn’t say he was perfect) and time ran out on a Minnesota rebound with the score Nets 98 and Timberwolves 97.

Nets fans jumped with excitement, but the Timberwolves and their fans wondered how could Butler miss a shot that he could probably do with his eyes closed?

“Get a rhythm, rise up, shoot it like I always shoot it,” Butler explained his last shot. “Just didn’t make it. I shoot that shot a lot of times. When it leaves my hand I always think that it’s going in, this time it just didn’t. ”

“There were three options on the play and he (Butler) got it,” Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s got open floor, get to his spot, rise up and shoot. That’s what he saw and I thought he got a good look at it and didn’t make it. I’ve seen him make that pull up a million times. I trust him in those situations. He’s a big shot maker, he’s got good balance. The play before he back cut and got fouled on that one. You’ve got to trust that he’ll make the right decision. That’s what he saw and I was good with the shot.”

“It’s like coach said, we got the ball in the man’s hand that we wanted, got him the ball,” Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said backing up his coach. “You know he made a play (Butler), not every day you’re going to hit that shot but you know what, we got it to the man we wanted, we got the shot we wanted, it didn’t fall. It just happens like that some days but it wasn’t Jimmy, it was all of us collectively, especially me in the first half. We just didn’t play with the energy like I told you. And that urgency that made us so great the last two wins.”

“We really just kind of need to get out of these situations honestly,” Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie said after the game. “These do or die situations. I’d rather just win the game by like 10.”

Lately, the Timberwolves have been shutting out teams in the first quarter. Understanding this, the Nets put their preparation into action.

“I think we made them (Nets’ players) aware, like this team is taking teams out here, you know 16-0, 18-0,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I think our guys are conscious enough and understood the importance of getting out to a good start
tonight, so, good job by our first unit. Like I said, they’ve (the Nets)been struggling in the first quarter, I think we addressed it two games ago -- our poor starts. So that was important to hold them at bay.”

Adam Harrington did a great job with the scouting,” Dinwiddie added. “You know the last couple games he told us they’ve started 15-plus to zero and when you spot a team that many points, it’s always hard to come back, so that was something that we really didn’t want to let happen and we didn’t.”

Fortunately, the Nets put that knowledge to work because there have been far too many games where they allowed the opposing team to set the tone of the game from the start.

Oddly enough, only three Nets players scored in double digits. Dinwiddie scored 26 points and nine assists for the Nets. Other Nets players scoring in double digits were Joe Harris with 17 points off the bench, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10 points and five rebounds.

Four of five Minnesota starters scored in double digits. In addition to Butler, Andrew Wiggins scored 17 points, Karl-Anthony Towns had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Tyus Jones added 11 points, and Jamal Crawford chipped in 10 points.

Brooklyn’s bench outscored Minnesota 38-18.

Jahlil Okafor, who the Nets recently acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers, and is being worked into the Nets system, made his first appearance at the Barclays Center at the start of the second quarter getting a warm reception from the crowd.

“It was exciting just to be playing in front of the home crowd,” Okafor told the media after the game. “It was a lot of fun. It was my first time in a while because when I played with Philly for a long time I was in Toronto, Utah. And then when I played with Brooklyn, I played in Toronto, so to finally play in front of a supportive crowd, it was a good feeling.”

In his first play at home for the Nets, Okafor scored 2 points and two rebounds.

“I thought he was solid,” Atkinson said about Okafor getting playing time. “Understood what we’re doing. I just think it’s going to take him time. He really understood our system and was in the right place. Now our guys have got to learn how to play with him. It’s more with the chemistry with the group he’s going to be out there with when to throw him the ball, when not. When does he go pick and roll? So there’s some hesitancy. But executed our pick and roll coverages perfectly. Offensively was in the right spots. I’d say very positive.”

The Nets improved to 15-23 this season and 8-9 at Barclays Center with tonight’s win, while the Wolves fell to 24-15 with the loss. This stat alone shows that last night’s win for the Nets was huge. Additionally, The Nets improved to 10-0 this season when holding their opponent under 100 points and have now held three of their last four opponents to under 100 points.

Next up, the Brooklyn Nets will play the Boston Celtics on Saturday, January 6, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center at 6:00 p.m.

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