August 11, 2020

Kyrie Irving’s 32 points were not enough for the Brooklyn Nets to overtake the Utah Jazz

Kyrie Irving was back in the Brooklyn Nets lineup for his second game after a shoulder injury sidelined the star for 26 games, and from the thumping the Brooklyn Nets took from the Utah Jazz last night, it’s official, Irving is not a savior for this team. The Nets lost to the Jazz 118-107, and thus, fell to 18-21 on the season with the loss, meanwhile the Jazz improved to 28-12 on the season with the victory.

How the Utah Jazz beat the Brooklyn Nets by the numbers:

Brooklyn shot .500 (45-of-90 FG) from the field last night, shooting .500 or better in a game for the fourth time this season and for the first time in a loss. However, Utah also shot .500 on 46-of-92 FG shooting. Utah also went further, it shot 36.1 percent (13-of-36) from behind the arc versus Brooklyn’s 30.8 percent (8-of-26), and it also punished the Nets on the free throw line 86.7 percent versus 60 percent.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on the aspects of the game where the Utah Jazz caused problems for his team

“First of all, just give them credit,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson about the Utah Jazz. “What you saw tonight backs up their stellar play recently. They’ve been the number one offense over 15, 20 games and we could never find a way to stop them. Just that simple. Transition defense, pick-and-roll defense, rebounding, physicality, all of this stuff, I think they just dominated. We’ve been really good defensively for the last couple of months, over a long period of time, and tonight we just weren’t. We never found a solution to stop them. I do want to look big picture and understand that we have been defending well lately. But they were just too strong tonight – made shots, screened us, great job by the Utah Jazz.”

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving pretty much co-signed on Coach Atkinson’s assessment of last night’s game against the Utah Jazz.

“I mean, when you look at them on film—I’ve watched a few of their games and there is a reason why they are 15-1 in their last 16 games, so we have to give them credit, said Kyrie Irving. “They finished off the first quarter, we gave up five points. We were up 26-25 then it was 30-26 to end the last four minutes and then the second quarter, you play against really good teams like that, they go on runs. We were down 13 going into halftime and we were just climbing uphill. And we’ve had a tendency to do that over our fair share of games and we just can’t get into that kind of position moving forward. But that’s a good team in that locker room. They’ve really played well together this season and they’re developing, so you give them credit. But also, we can correct some things on the defensive end. Switches, communication, being there to switch when we call out switches, just little things like that and we just have to keep developing that and we’ll be alright.”

The Brooklyn Nets’ Leading Scorers

Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 32 points, with a season-high 11 assists, five rebounds, and two steals in 32 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie recorded 17 points, five assists, and four rebounds in 36 minutes; Joe Harris added 13 points (5-of-10 FG) in 34 minutes, and; Caris LeVert chipped in 11 points, and three assists in 26 minutes off the bench.

Utah Jazz Leading Scorers

John Ingles scored a team-high 27 points, four assists, and three rebounds for the Utah Jazz in 30 minutes; Donovan Mitchell recorded 25 points and four assists in 36 minutes; Rudy Gobert accumulated 22 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, and two blocked shots in 37 minutes; Bojan Bogdanovic, a former Nets player, registered 18 points in 32 minutes, and; Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to chip in 13 points and three rebounds in 26 minutes.

Coach Speak: Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

“I think we’re getting contributions from a lot of guys,” said Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder on what he saw in last night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. I thought Rudy Gobert was terrific. It was a dominant performance by him on both ends of the floor. Joe Ingles obviously playing with Rudy, even driving and making plays. You kind of go on Donovan Mitchell, especially late when we really needed to score. Brooklyn was scoring, and we had to answer, and Donovan made some big moves to the rim and finished. So, all the way down the line, and everyone is defending. It’s not going to be perfect every possession, but the guys are really committed to defending together.”

At 6:20 in the third quarter, the Utah Jazz led the Brooklyn Nets by as much as 20 points and ended the third quarter up by 14 points at 88-74. In the fourth quarter at 6:48, the Nets got as close as eight points (99-91) on a Kyrie Irving five-foot pull-up jump shot, which pulled Nets fans in closer with the notion that the Nets just might be able to turn things around. However, it wasn’t to be as the Jazz had answers at every turn.

“I thought Brooklyn was playing well,” responded Jazz coach Quin Snyder to a question about the Nets cutting the lead down to eight in the fourth quarter. “They were scoring, whether it was (Spencer) Dinwiddie or Kyrie (Irving). They came up with a couple of loose balls, and I thought we answered offensively when we needed to. Sometimes you’re just against a good team and you’re not going to get every stop. You have to respond, and I think we continued to defend and got some big ones when we needed.”

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on catching a team like the Utah Jazz, “I would say right now they are far ahead of us; we’ve got a long way to go to catch a team like that.”

What’s Next for the Utah Jazz and the Brooklyn Nets?

 The Utah Jazz will travel to New Orleans with its sights on getting a win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, January 16, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. CT.

The Brooklyn Nets traveled to Philadelphia last night to be ready to play the Philadelphia 76ers tonight, January 15, at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Nets will return to Brooklyn, NY to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, January 18, 2020, at the Barclays Center at 6:00 p.m. and you may want to arrive early to cop a Spencer Dinwiddie bobblehead doll.

 

Atlanta Hawks guard, Vince Carter, gets a rousing standing ovation from basketball fans at the Barclays Center during a game against the Nets on Sunday

Make that two-in-a-row.

To no one’s surprise, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Atlanta Hawks at the Barclays Center last evening. What might have surprised most is the score, 108-86. The 22-point victory marked Brooklyn’s largest win margin of the season; topping the 20-point win margin against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 15, 2019. With the win, the Nets improved to 18-20, while the Hawks fell to 8-32 on the season with last night’s loss. With the Nets' most recent losing skid, it could make one forget that this wasn’t the first time this season that Brooklyn held the lead wire-to-wire, with the largest margin being 39 points. The last time this season the Nets’ held the lead from start to finish was on November 22, 2019, against the Sacramento Kings.

How The Brooklyn Nets beat the Atlanta Hawks by the numbers:

Brooklyn led Atlanta 37-16 at the end of the first quarter, its 37 points marked the highest point total for the Nets in a first-quarter this season, while Atlanta’s 16 points marked the fewest points. At halftime, with the score 70-46, the Nets continued its lead, but the Hawks narrowed it to 24 points, and it was the Nets' largest halftime lead of the season. At the end of the third quarter, the Nets led the Hawks 92-66. Brooklyn also outrebounded Atlanta 62-33, with the Nets’ 62 rebounds marking a season-high. The Nets only eclipsed the Hawks by two assists, 25-23.

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on the metrics that got away from the Nets

“Free throws, obviously,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I’ll have to talk to our free-throw coach about that – we obviously have to do a better job making free throws. Turnovers bothered me. I will give Atlanta credit – I thought they put their
young guys out there and they were just trying to make every catch hard. We had a tough time getting open. They were denying us and causing a lot of problems – I give them a lot of credit. Listen, when guys deny you and are in your shorts, we have to do a better job of screening, (a) better job of getting open. We did that early and I thought we slipped later.”

One area that didn’t disappoint Coach Atkinson was Kyrie Irving’s return.

“Yeah, he was really efficient,” Coach Atkinson said about Kyrie Irving’s shooting after missing 26 games. “I liked that he didn’t force anything, and he just played like a pro. My fear was being out so long, he’d try to really force things. He was just in a perfect flow – had a nice demeanor and nice rhythm about him. Normally when you come back after a long time, your rhythm is off, you’re going too fast or too slow – you’re not in the right tempo. He was in the right tempo, right place and I thought defensively, (he) competed his tail off. The first group, I think 16 points in the first quarter, really made a mark defensively – I thought our defense was good again. Offense has a long way to go.”

Did Nets' players think that Kyrie Irving’s return gave the team an energetic emotional boost?

“It did,” said Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen. “Seeing anybody come back from that (shoulder injury), just being able play basketball again – you take the Nets out of it, just having a friend being able to come back and play, then that gives everybody an extra boost to play hard.”

“…Having Caris (LeVert) and Kyrie (Irving) back, that brings us to a whole other level,” Allen continued. “We have more ball handlers, we have more people that can score without having an action for them, so it just brings us all together.”

The Brooklyn Nets’ Leading Scorers

Last night, Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 21 points (10-of-11 FG) with four rebounds, four assists, and a steal in 20 minutes. Irving’s .909 field goal percentage marked a career-high and the highest field goal percentage for a Net in a game this season. Taurean Prince recorded 14 points (5-of-8 FG, 4-of-6 3FG) with five boards and two assists in 21 minutes; Caris LeVert totaled 13 points, two rebounds, and a season-high-tying three steals in 22 minutes off the bench; DeAndre Jordan also added 13 points (5-of-7 FG), eight rebounds, and a block in 24 minutes off the bench; Joe Harris tallied 11 points and seven rebounds with a steal in 21 minutes, and; Jarrett Allen chipped in 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds in 24 minutes, notching his team-high 18th double-double of the season.

About Kyrie Irving’s performance

“I mean, he is who he is,” Brooklyn Nets forward Taurean Prince, said about Kyrie Irving’s return after missing 26 games. “He’s missing all the games, but he’s not missing any days in the gym. He’s probably there before us, more than half the time, so that just shows you the preparation he puts in for himself. It also shows you that he cares about the organization and the team to be ready and able to put on a performance like this on his game back.”

The Atlanta Hawks’ Leading Scorers

Cam Reddish led the Atlanta Hawks with 20 points and five steals in 29 minutes; DeAndre' Bembry recorded 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in 22 minutes, and; Alex Len chipped in 10 points.

It is worth mentioning that even though Atlanta Hawks guard Vince Carter, who at age 43-years-old, plans to retire at the end of this season, only scored eight points, three steals, and two rebounds, he received several “call-outs” from the crowd to play and several standing ovations.

“It’s always great to receive a standing ovation coming into or checking out of the game,” said Carter. “It’s always extra special when it’s a team I’ve played for before. To come back here — and some of the other stops I’ve played for — and receive a standing ovation one last time is great.”

Vince Carter played for the Brooklyn Nets from 2004-2009.

Coach Speak: Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce

“Not a lot of fun in that one,” said Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce. Brooklyn was good. They fed off of Kyrie (Irving) being back and had some great momentum in that first quarter. We were stuck in (the) sand. We were stuck in cement, trying to move and just late to everything with everybody.”

What’s Next for the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets?

The Atlanta Hawks will return home to host the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

As for the Brooklyn Nets, they will host the Utah Jazz at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, also on Tuesday, January 14, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

 

TIP-INS:

Caris LeVert has now scored in double figures off the bench in four straight games, which matches the longest streak of appearances in double figures off the bench for a Net this season.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brooklyn Nets were close for the first three quarters against the Utah Jazz, but could not close it out

With losing four consecutive winnable games, it is probably an understatement to say that the Brooklyn Nets are really missing Caris LeVert right about now. LeVert, who was averaging 18 points per game for the Nets, took a spill in a game against the Timberwolves in Minnesota on November 12, 2018, and the team has been trying to find its way to close out games ever since. Last night, was one of those nights when every member on the team probably wished it could rewind the clock and prevent LeVert’s injury because no matter how many people step up to try to fill the void, that vacuum just hasn’t been filled. On Wednesday evening, the Nets were at home to play the Utah Jazz, a fairly evenly matched team. Although the Jazz led at the end of the first two quarters, the spread was very thin. The first quarter ended 17-16, and at the half, the score was 43-42. Surprisingly, the Nets led at the end of the third, 78-70. Then came the fourth quarter where the Jazz outscored the Nets 31-13, ending the game on top with a score of 101-91. This is the third straight home loss for the Nets.

So were the Nets fourth-quarter struggles self-inflicted?

“When you miss shots, you just power downhill until you can break the streak,” Nets center Jarrett Allen responded. “And they just kept up the defense for the whole game really, and you can tell it escalated in the fourth quarter.”

“I didn’t think we had open shots,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media postgame. “I thought they locked us up. I thought that they played great defense. We couldn’t find clear looks and Jarrett (Allen) had one in the lane after a timeout and there was a travel or something, but it wasn’t like Philly where I felt like we had a ton of open looks. We didn’t have open looks. It’s a credit to their defense. I thought they were superb defensively and obviously, we weren’t at our best offensively. The ball stuck a lot.”

With the loss, the Nets fell to 8-14 overall and 3-7 at Barclays Center, while the Jazz improved to 10-12 overall and 8-6 on the road with the win. There were some bright metrics for the Nets last evening, as it recorded a season-high 12 steals, one better than its previous high of 11 steals against the Philadelphia 76ers just a few weeks ago on November 4. Although it didn’t give Brooklyn a win, team Black and White did edge the Jazz 14-8 on the offensive glass tonight. And, entering tonight’s game, Brooklyn was tied for sixth in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game (12.2), which is a bright spot showing that the team hasn’t totally fallen apart.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead Brooklyn with 18 points, three rebounds, and two blocks in 22 minutes. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie collected six fouls. The Nets do have to learn to be aggressive without collecting unnecessary fouls, as fouls were one of the things that hurt them against Philadelphia on Sunday. But, on the bright side, among NBA reserves this season, Dinwiddie ranks first in points (351), first in assists (105), first in games scoring in double figures (21) and second in 3FGM (44). If Dinwiddie keeps going with these metrics, he should be a lock for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.

Starters, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen, and D’Angelo Russell each scored 14 points. Jefferson and Allen had 11 and 10 rebounds respectively, while Russell accumulated seven assists and five rebounds. Shabazz Napier, who is part of the Nets second unit, scored 10 points.

Although not a prolific scorer, Ed Davis, known for his defense, pulled down 10 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.

Leading scorers for the Utah Jazz were starters Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gorbert, and Royce O’Neale, and Raul Neto from Utah’s secondary unit. Mitchell, who is in his second year with the NBA, registered 29 points, five rebounds, and 4 steals; Gorbert, tallied 23 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, and four blocked shots; O’Neale scored 13 points and four rebounds, and Neto chipped in 11 points and three rebounds.

With LeVert, the Nets scoring leader, out for the next few months, don’t think the Nets are falling apart.

“We just want to win,” Allen responded knowing how close the team could have pulled off a win last night and against Philadelphia on Sunday. “We were up two games in the fourth quarter, so we just want to learn how to close it out and finally close a game out in the fourth.”

The Brooklyn Nets get another opportunity to show they can close out games without LeVert when they play the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow, Friday, November 30, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

Despite D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie scoring 38 and 31 points respectively against the 76ers, the Nets lose their Brooklyn grit and the game in the fourth

The Barclays Center was rocking with enthusiasm for the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday from tip-off until the buzzer sounded signaling the end of the game. For the first three quarters, it looked like the Brooklyn Nets would get another victory at home against the Philadelphia 76ers this season. Brooklyn led by as much as 20 points at 1:22 in the second quarter, ultimately ending the half up by 14 with a score of 68-54. Things were even looking pretty good for Brooklyn in the proverbial third quarter, as the team was up by as much as 19 points at 6:20 and ending the third with a 13-point spread.

However, the Sixers went into a turbo-charged gear in the fourth quarter. The Nets lost their double-digit lead after an Allen Crabbe foul and Sixers Joel Embiid hits two foul shots with 4:50 left in regulation and the score resting at the moment at 118-110. Over the next few minutes, Philadelphia chips away and takes the lead at 1:03 on a JJ Redick three-point jump shot and now the score is 121-120. Brooklyn takes a slim one-point lead (125-124) on a Spencer Dinwiddie pull-up jumper at 26.8 seconds left in regulation.

Now, here is where it really gets interesting, at 19.7 seconds, Redick misses a jump shot, Jimmy Butler rebounds, there’s a tussle, and a jump ball is called between Butler and Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Butler tips the ball to Embiid and Philadelphia calls a timeout. At 2.3 seconds, the game resumes and Butler hits a step-back three putting Philadelphia in a game-winning position with a score of 127-125. Timeout is called. Game resumes. With .4 seconds on the clock, Nets forward DeMarre Carroll throws a bad pass, Ben Simmons intercepts the ball and its game over.

Postgame in the locker room, Butler reflects on the game-winning shot for Philadelphia.

“Another play drawn up by coach,” Butler said to the media. “My teammates have a lot of confidence in me to take shots late; hopefully I make shots late as well. But I mean I got to the spot that I wanted to get to, raised up, and knocked it down.”

Butler, confident and somewhat humble, didn’t put himself out there as “the guy” since joining the Sixers after a tumultuous early start to the season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“To tell you the truth, it could have been anybody,” Butler said regarding taking the last shot. They do have a lot of confidence in me but I got so much more confidence in those guys. They really got us back in the game. Joel throwing the ball off the backboard, and; everybody else making shots, it’s so fun to play that way. Then, in the end, I just made one play out of the many that were already made as well.”

A winnable game for the Nets, but instead they go down in defeat by a small margin 127-125.

With this loss, the Nets fell to 8-13 overall and 3-6 at the Barclays Center, while the 76ers improved to 14-8 overall and 4-7 on the road with the win.

Looking at the way Brooklyn competed, there were some things for the Nets to feel good about, particularly compared to last season. This team competed and played defense. Overall, Brooklyn out-rebounded Philadelphia by a slim margin 43-42. The 33-29 defensive rebounding score is where the Nets saw some daylight and went into darkness with allowing Philadelphia to beat them on the offensive boards 13-10.

D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with a season-high and Nets career-high 38 points with eight rebounds and eight assists in 34 minutes.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and recorded a career-high-tying 31 points along with three rebounds and five assists inside of 29 minutes within regulation. The first time Dinwiddie scored 31 points, it took an overtime session against the Toronto Raptors earlier this year on January 8, to accomplish this feat.

Other Nets leading scorers were center Jarrett Allen, who is in his second year with the NBA. Allen had a good night, posting his seventh career-high double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes. Allen’s seven double-doubles are the second-most for all second-year NBA players (behind Ben Simmons’ 14 double-doubles). Hollis-Jefferson also scored in double figures, tallying 13 points with six rebounds in 30 minutes in his second start of the season.

Unfortunately, once again, Allen Crabbe, who is part of the starting five, disappeared. Crabbe scored zero (0) points, donuts for rebounds, and one assist in 25 minutes of play.

By contrast, all of Philadelphia’s starters scored in double digits. Butler scored 34 points, 12 rebounds, and four steals. Embiid registered 32 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists; Redick tallied 15 points and four rebounds; Simmons added 13 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals, and; Wilson Chandler chipped in 10 points, five assists, and three rebounds.

Landry Shamet, a member of Philadelphia’s secondary unit and a rookie, got into the double-digit scoring action by posting 16 points.

“It’s a shame,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said to the media postgame. “Heck of a basketball game. I thought our guys competed. They led for most of the game and it’s one of those you think you deserve to win it and they pull it out at the end. But listen, credit to them. They hit some tough shots. Obviously, (Jimmy) Butler’s shot at the end was a heck of a shot. We got our best defender (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) on him, so be it.”

Understand the disappointment, but so be it?

The Nets were up by as much as 20 points in the second and 19 in the 3rd and so be it. What!?

But upon further reflection, Atkinson added: “Listen, we lose the free-throw battle again and I think it seems like every game it’s a 13 free-throw differential, 20 free-throw differential. “That’s not a complaint about the referees, that’s on us. We have to learn how to be active and play physical but without fouling. We lost the free-throw battle, I thought that was big.”

Atkinson is right on the free-throw opportunities. Philadelphia had 33 occasions to get to the free-throw line, making 27 of them. Meanwhile, Brooklyn made 15 out of their 20 free-throw chances.

And, down the stretch, Nets center Jarrett Allen missed an eight-foot floating shot at 4:30 in the fourth that would have put the score at 120-110 giving the Nets a 10-point lead instead of keeping them at 118-110. Then, Allen missed two free-throws at 3:21 when the Nets had a slim 118-114 lead, an ominous sign that this game would probably not be a win for the Nets.

And, Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris summed it up best.

“I think it was how they slowly chipped away at it,” Harris said about how the Sixers were able to get back into the game. “Obviously they have a lot of capable guys, whether it’s JJ (Redick) coming off the screen, (Ben) Simmons getting downhill, (the) ball going to the post to (Joel) Embiid, or now, Jimmy (Butler) being able to go and get buckets for them. So, it poses a lot of difficult matchups and I think a lot of it came down to individual pride, ownership on the defensive end, and us being able to go with the lead when we had it and capitalizing on where we were at 15, 16, 17, 18-point lead. Being able to execute and make the right plays in those scenarios instead of (a) turnover, bad shot, they come down and get a bucket. That’s basically what ended up happening with them slowly chipping away at it.”

The Philadelphia 76ers play the New York Knicks on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at home in Philadelphia.

Next up for the Brooklyn Nets is the Utah Jazz at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

New Yorkers are happy with the NFL Draft picks of Saquon Barkley and Sam Darnold for NY Giants, and NY Jets respectively; everyone applauds Shaquem Griffin pick

In this episode of What’s The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking about the NBA Playoffs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs, the NFL Draft 2018, the NY Knicks search for a new coach, Shaquem Griffin, and more.

With two primary guards out with injuries, Dinwiddie scores a game-high and career-high 25 points to lead Nets over Jazz

There was a little bit of nervousness going into the Brooklyn Nets home game on Friday night against the Utah Jazz. When these two teams met less than a week ago in Utah, the Jazz defeated the Nets 114-106. But, the loss was not only in points, D’Angelo Russell, the Nets leading scorer suffered a left knee contusion during that session. Prior to last night’s game, Nets general manager Sean Marks gave the media the bad news that there is no timetable for Russell’s return.

With Jeremy Lin out with a season-ending right knee injury and D’Angelo Russell out indefinitely, to the surprise of many, there was a lot to like about the way the Nets played on Friday night. The next man up concept became more than a concept it was a concept in action.

Enter the Brooklyn Nets backup point guard, Spencer Dinwiddie.

Dinwiddie, making his fourth start of the season was the player of the game, hands down. Dinwiddie, the engine behind the Nets 118-107 victory over the Jazz, scored a game-high and career-high 25 points (9-of-14 FG, 6-of-10 3FG) with five rebounds, eight assists (no turnovers) and two steals in 31 minutes. Dinwiddie’s six made 3-pointers marked a career high and the most threes made by a Net in a game this season. He has recorded 78 assists with just 14 turnovers this season (5.57:1 assist-to-turnover ratio), which ranks second in the league behind Andre Iguodala’s 5.75:1 ratio.

Dinwiddie’s performance did not go unnoticed by his teammates, no hating on this team.

“He’s showing us consistency and he’s showing us that he’s capable of knocking down big shots,” Nets shooting guard Allen Crabbe said about Dinwiddie’s performance. “ Not only that, but he’s doing other things too. I mean, he had like, what, eight rebounds tonight? And dishing the ball out, so he’s playing great for us and, like I said, just another person like him – telling him, this is your opportunity, so go out there and take advantage.”

“I think as a starter and as a point guard in my position, you try to lead,” Dinwiddie said regarding the need to step up for the team and his career high of 25 points against the Jazz at home. “I didn’t do anything different because of his (D’Angelo Russell) surgery. I would like to think that we won for him though because our heart goes out to him, he is our teammate and our brother. We feel for him in this time. A lot of us have had injuries and surgeries and things of that nature. So, like I said, our heart goes out to him.”

Can anyone say, Spencer Dinwiddie for NBA Player of the Week?

Crabbe, who normally comes off the bench, but started last night, scored 18 points with five boards and three assists in 30 minutes in this game against Utah. In his last two games, Crabbe has recorded averages of 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 31.4 minutes per game while shooting .500 (12-of-24) from the field and .500 (8-of-16) from behind the arc.

Team ball was a factor in the Nets success and Crabbe liked the Nets ball movement.

“It makes life a little bit easier for all of us on the offensive end when the ball just moves like that – makes the defense break down as well when you’re not just playing on one side, pick-and-roll and putting up a shot, dropping off to the roller to shoot,” Crabbe explained. “We get other options out of our offense. Sometimes teams break down off of one, two, three passes and he (Kenny Atkinson) came in at halftime and told us we need to keep that up. You saw the lead that we had in the first half. So, like I said, it just makes life easier for all of us when we’re playing team basketball.”

Brooklyn scored 39 points in during the first quarter, which marked the most points the Nets have scored in any quarter this season and scored 65 points in the first half, which marked the most points the Nets have scored in a first half this season.

Other Nets players in double digits included DeMarre Carroll who totaled 17 points (5-of-10 FG, 3-of-5 3FG, 4-of-4 FT), tying his second-highest scoring output this season. In this meetup, Carroll recorded two rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 27 minutes. Trevor Booker added 14 points and Caris LeVert chipped in 10 points.

The Nets shot a season-high .506 (43-of-85) from the field in last night’s victory (previous high: .500 vs. Orlando on 10/20) and improved to 2-0 this season when shooting .500 or better from the field this season. Also, this win snapped Brooklyn’s three-game losing streak to the Jazz and split their season series with Utah 1-1.

The Nets led by as many as 22 points in this game, which marked the team's largest lead at any point in a game this season (previous high: 16-point lead on 10/22 vs. Atlanta). It also recorded a season-high-tying 27 assists (also achieved on 10/22 vs. Atlanta) and edged the Jazz 27-21.

Even with the Nets’ season-high-tying 27 assists, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was a bit tempered in his assessment.

“I thought the first half was fantastic. I thought we were flying around. I told the guys the second half we really regressed and we can’t afford to do that. I thought we really got into isolation ball, that’s not our game. So first half I give us an A and second half I’d probably give us a C in terms of ball movement. Something we can work on before the Golden State game.”

There’s not much time, the Nets meet Golden State Warriors tomorrow, Sunday, November 19, 2017, at the Barclays Center at 6:00 p.m.

Without D’Angelo Russell, the Nets leading scorer, the Boston Celtics defeat the Brooklyn Nets 109-102

Returning from a West coast swing, Tuesday night at the Barclays Center was the Nets first game at home in 14 days, and they were without leading scorer, D’Angelo Russell who is suffering from a left knee contusion. He was hurt in the loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.

As good as the Celtics are, this wasn’t a game where Boston was out front for the entirety and Brooklyn was trying to play catch up all night. The Celtics started 7 of 9 from the field to lead 17-4, and ended the first quarter 30-21. However, the Nets jumped ahead in the second quarter and countered every time Boston threatened to pull away until the final minutes. Ultimately, the Celtics won their 13th straight victory, defeating the Nets 109-102.

What made the difference in tonight’s game for the Celtics?

“I thought, obviously, answering Brooklyn’s runs,” responded Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “You knew they (Nets) were going to come out and the first part we played great but we didn’t sustain it through probably the next two quarters. But then we mustered up enough at the end of the third to get a lead that went quick, which if you watch Brooklyn play that happens all the time. They do a great job of continuing to grind on you and making it as tough as possible. And they come back a lot. You knew it was going to be tough. I thought our group, once it got settled, played pretty well. ”

In the metrics that mattered, Boston out-rebounded Brooklyn 59-48 and the Nets 62.5 free throw percentage was abysmal compared to the Celtics’ 81.5 percent.

Joe Harris, the Nets three-point specialist, led Nets scorers with 19 points and described the Nets deficiencies against the Celtics.

“A lot of times bad shots offensively can make it really tough on your defense and I think that was a little bit of what happened to us,” Harris explained. “When we don’t play together and when we don’t play with the pass, a lot of times we take difficult shots and a lot of times that’s very similar to a turnover and they’re able to get in a good offense off of tough shots that we were taking.”

“I thought we had a lot of periods where we were really good moving it (the ball),” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought Caris (LeVert) gave us a big boost. He really came in and he’s able to break down the switches when they do switch so he can go by guys, go by their bigs when they do switch. But overall, first half we had 15 assists. I’m not sure what we ended up with, 27? So that’s good news for us. That’s higher than our season average so a lot of positives. Obviously frustrated with the result but they’re an excellent team. They have a lot of talent, a lot of athletic talent that you saw on display tonight.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 16 points and nine rebounds for the Nets; while Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert added 15 points apiece. Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 12 points, a career-high-tying 11 assists (with just one turnover), four rebounds and one block in his third start of the season tonight.

For Boston, Kyrie Irving, who wore a facial mask all night because of a facial fracture, led all scorers with 25 points. Irving suffered a facial fracture in Boston's win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night. Marcus Morris scored 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, Al Horford led the Celtics in rebounding with 11 boards, and Jayson Tatum added 19 points.

Next up, Boston meets up with the Golden State Warriors in Boston on Thursday night, while the Nets host the Utah Jazz on Friday at the Barclays Center.

VIDEO DISCUSSION: NBA Free Agency 2017 took NBA fans on a wild ride with expected and unexpected changes

Yes, NBA free agency was in full effect this past week. There were changes that most of us expected and some that very few people saw coming. Let’s talk about the winners and those who didn't win too much.

Winners

Houston Rockets landing Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers, which seemed to come out of nowhere. But rumor has it that the relationship between Chris Paul and Doc Rivers had soured somewhat because of perceived favoritism towards Austin Rivers who is Doc Rivers’ son. The challenge will be how Chris Paul and James Harden will be able to play together.

Other winners include the Boston Celtics landing Gordon Hayward; OKC obtaining the services of Paul George; Minnesota for adding Jimmy Butler to its roster, the Golden State Warriors because Kevin Durant took a pay cut in order to keep the team intact, and the NBA for continuing to make headlines in mid-July.

Biggest Losers

The Chicago Bulls with the trade of Jimmy Butler to Minnesota Timberwolves by many accounts is the biggest loser in the 2017 NBA Free Agency. 

Also, the Indiana Pacers losing Paul George to OKC, and the Utah Jazz losing Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics. Indiana and Utah are both small market teams who are losing their draw and possibly revenue.

Trevor Booker lifts Nets through loss; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson shows his efficiency

A 101-89 loss is not a way for the Brooklyn Nets to ring in the New Year. But, that is exactly what happened at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Monday night. At the end of the night, it was the Jazz 101, the Nets 89.

And, this was coming off a huge 118-95 loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday and with two days’ rest, one would think that the Nets would have played harder to protect their home turf. No such luck, the Jazz was just a bit too overpowering. Nets center Brook Lopez, stifled by Rudy Gobert, only managed a 6-of-16 shooting night. Before the evening’s end, Lopez was a step away from fouling out picking up five fouls.

But there was hope, the Nets were able to build a 65-57 lead deep in the third quarter something this team doesn’t do too often. However, team Black and White could not sustain the momentum. Going into the fourth quarter, it was a totally different story. With the score tied at 70-70, it was downhill from there for the Nets.

“I thought it started in the end of the third,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “We were plus eight. Then plus eight went to even and they got the momentum and carried it into the fourth quarter. Listen, I am proud of our team’s defensive effort. I thought we really got after it. We were physical like we asked the players to be. I thought they really responded. Our offense wasn’t great; obviously, we were one-for-fifteen from three in the second half. I think it is hard to beat a team like that especially with Gobert in there. You have to make some of those and we got some decent looks, but they are an excellent defensive team. They’re a top five defensive team and Gobert, he changes things when you are diving to the rim. I am sure we will look at it and say, ‘Man we could’ve shared it a little better. We could’ve made the extra pass.’ I was proud of their defensive effort tonight. ”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, with only two years in the NBA, felt similarly about Gobert.

“I would say it’s definitely tough when you’ve got a guy that big and his wingspan is like 7’7” or whatever,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “That’s definitely in the back of your mind, but it’s about being aggressive and trying to create for your teammates is the best thing to do when you’ve got a guy like that in the middle.”

At game’s end, Trevor Booker had a great night. With a double-double, Booker led the Nets with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

“Trevor (Booker) had great energy tonight,” Atkinson added. “I thought he led us with his rebounding. Typical Trevor.”

Other Nets players in double figures were Lopez with 14 points and six rebounds. Isaiah Whitehead, who is starting at the point for the injured Jeremy Lin, scored 12 points and six rebounds and Hollis-Jefferson added 11 points in 14:19 minutes.

“I think Rondae is getting more in his comfort zone,” Atkinson said. “You know we are playing him at the four a lot more and he gets mismatches on his drives and can use his speed and quickness that way.”

And, what does Atkinson think of Whitehead’s performance?

“Isaiah is a heck of a competitor,” Atkinson continued. “Even at the end there we put him on (Gordon) Hayward. I was like, ‘Well let’s put him on Hayward.’ He has got a big body and I thought his defense was excellent tonight. I thought at the end of the third quarter we lost Hayward a few times on screens that was big. He kind of got going but again, good defensive effort by us.”

For the Jazz, Gordon Hayward was extremely efficient. He led the way with 30 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block in 35 minutes. Gobert added 15 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks. Rodney Hood also contributed 15 points, and Shelvin Mack chipped in 15 points and three steals.

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