August 19, 2019
Ruth J Morrison

Ruth J Morrison

Caris LeVert scores a career-high 29 points for the Nets, and don’t sleep on Carmelo Anthony, Rockets forward scored 28 points off the bench against the Nets

What started off as a winnable game for the Brooklyn Nets turned into a nightmare. 

The Nets were up by as much as 10 points in the first quarter at the 2:15 mark and up by as much as 14 points in the second at 3:11 before ending the first half with a five-point spread 61-56. As per the case with the Nets, the third quarter brought a reversal of fortunes, as the Rockets came on with a burst of energy leading the Nets by as much as eight points before ending the third with just five points over the Nets at 91-86. Early in the fourth quarter, the Rockets led by as much as eight points; the Nets tried to make it interesting by getting within one point twice with two three-pointers from guard Caris LeVert at 7:12 (Rockets 100 – Nets 99) and then again at 6:45 (Rockets 106 – Nets 102). But with missed shots and fouling, the Nets allowed the Rockets to close out the fourth 119-111.

With this loss, the Nets fell to 3-6 this season and 2-2 at Barclays. The Nets loss also allowed the Rockets to improve their overall record to 2-5 and 2-1 on the road.

“Third quarter was where they got their break,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media after the game. “We’ve had some issues there (in the third quarter) before and felt like they came out more aggressive and thought we missed some shots. They picked up their defense. I felt that. I definitely felt that. Listen, I think you’ve got to give them credit they were the better team tonight. Obviously, the third quarter was where they got their break.”

“Their defense, they locked down,” Atkinson continued. “They had their defensive unit out there. We had a tough time getting shots off. I thought we got a good few opens ones that didn’t go down, something we have to look at. But again, I give a lot of credit to their defense.”

So, now, let’s give some credit to LeVert for keeping the Nets in the game with his offense.

LeVert had another fiery night. Yep, LeVert was on FIYAH! He led the Nets with a career-high 29 points (10-of-17 FG, 4-of-6 3FG, 5-of-7 FT) with four rebounds, two assists, a season-high three steals and one block in 30 minutes. Let me repeat that, Nah, I won’t; you can read it again if you want. Caris LeVert is moving into NBA All-Star territory. LeVert has already matched or set a new career-high three times through nine games this season, scoring 20-plus points five times this season. By comparison, LeVert didn’t record his fifth 20-point game last season until March 8 at Charlotte. Yes, this season is a different story, through nine games, LeVert is averaging a team-high 20.0 points per game with .489 FG%.

As good as his performance was, LeVert knows that it is a team effort and somewhere the Nets defense was not what it could have been.

“We have to watch the tape,” LeVert said regarding what allowed the third quarter comeback by the Rockets. But it looked like Chris Paul hit a lot of tough shots and then they turned up the defensive pressure. They started getting a lot more loose balls and we just have to be better in those situations.”

So, what can the Nets do to prevent the lapses when the momentum shifts dramatically?

“I think just focusing more on defense instead of offense,” LeVert added. “Sometimes you can’t control the offense. If you make shots and things like that. You can always control your defense and your effort. So I think that in those situations, we just have to focus on getting shots.”

AUDIO: IN HIS OWN WORDS: BROOKLYN NETS GUARD, CARIS LEVERT

Nets other high scorers were Joe Harris with 18 points and four assists; D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie (off the bench) each scored 12 points and three assists, and Russell added three rebounds. Shabazz Napier came off the bench and scored 11 points in 16 minutes, while center Jarrett Allen chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Houston Rockets only had four players scoring in double digits, but that’s all they needed, as they all scored more than 20 points each. Chris Paul led all scorers with 32 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds. Former New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony came off the bench scoring 28 points and four rebounds for his new team; Clint Capela registered 22 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists, while; Eric Gordon added 21 points and three assists.

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni liked what he saw in his guys.

“That was a good Chris Paul right there,” D’Antoni said. “That was as good as it gets. And again, that’s who Chris is. His will, his heart will not let you lose, especially when times are tough. He knew times were tough and he had to find even more within himself and he did it. That’s why he is one of the best. He has such an unbelievable spirit that won’t let you lose.”

VIDEO: IN HIS OWN WORDS: CHRIS PAUL, HOUSTON ROCKETS GUARD

D’Antoni also praised Carmelo Anthony’s production coming off the bench with hopes that there is more to come.

“That’s what we envisioned. Obviously, he can’t shoot that well every night – maybe he can, hope he can. That’s kind of the role we envision, shooting threes and doing what Carmelo does. He’s super good that way.”

The Houston Rockets are on to another road game, as they will play the Chicago Bulls tonight at 7:00 p.m. CT.

On tomorrow, Sunday, November 4, 2018, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center at 6:00 p.m. ET.

Dinwiddie hits game-winning 3-pointer, and Nets crush Pistons’ hopes of getting a win on the road

Let’s set the scene. The Brooklyn Nets are at home at the Barclays Center. Spencer Dinwiddie knocks down a three-pointer to pull the Nets ahead by one point with 7.1 seconds left in overtime. And then after a timeout, Blake Griffin misses a 19-foot turnaround fadeaway shot at the 1.3-second mark that could have pulled the Detroit Pistons ahead. Nets guard Caris LeVert grabs the rebound, and the horn sounds to seal a Brooklyn Nets 120-119 win over the Pistons and pandemonium sets in. Well, pandemonium may be hyperbole, but it was close, as the last Nets win at home was on October 19, 2018, against the New York Knicks. Now, the Nets home record at the Barclays Center for the season is 2-1, and their record overall for this young season is 3-5, while the Pistons fell to 4-3 overall and 1-2 on the road with the loss.

The player of the game, Dinwiddie, scored a season-high 25 points (8-of-15 FG, 5-of-9 3FG, 4-of-4 FT) with four rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes off the bench. With 21 seconds left in the fourth stanza, Dinwiddie also tied the game (110-110) to send the game into overtime, scoring 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime period combined. Dinwiddie has now tallied 20-plus points twice this season. Ironically, his previous season-high 23-point performance came against the Pistons in the season opener at Detroit on October 17th, but the Nets lost 103-100.

But last night, a three-pointer nearly at the buzzer from Dinwiddie, a missed shot from Griffin and a rebound from LeVert sealed the win. 

The irony here is that the Detroit Pistons selected Dinwiddie with the 38th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Dinwiddie spent two years with the Pistons going back and forth between the Pistons and its G-League Team the Grand Rapids Drive and in October 2016, the Pistons traded Dinwiddie to the Windy City Bulls, the Chicago Bulls developmental team. After all that development, the Brooklyn Nets acquired Dinwiddie on December 8, 2016. 

So, did Dinwiddie want to prove a point?

“At this point, no,” Dinwiddie said. “Players have changed. Coaching staff has changed. I was just able to hit a couple shots and help my team win. That’s about it.”

What was really important to Dinwiddie was ending the Nets losing streak.

“That was the thing that made this win really big for us – because of the losing streak,” Dinwiddie added. “Because of what we’re fighting for. We’re trying to be a good team and trying to change the tide of Nets teams of the past. You’ve got to learn how to get out of a rut quickly. They can string together and it can affect morale and all that other stuff.”

Now, before you start thinking that this article is all about the Spencer Dinwiddie Show, other Nets players made significant contributions as well.

Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris scored a season-high 23 points (8-of-14 FG, 4-of-7 3FG, 3-of-3 FT) with five rebounds in 41 minutes.

Harris commented on the magnitude of the Nets improving in clutch situations.

“Yeah, that’s huge for us in terms of the maturation of everyone,” Harris stated. “We’ve been in this experience a lot. A lot of close games last year, a lot of close games to start this season. For us to close one out – execute down the stretch – take care of the ball. Execute defensively. This is huge in terms of confidence for us and just a big morale boost whenever you get a win like this.”

LeVert, in addition to grabbing the rebound at the end of the game, also had a big night for the Nets, tallying 19 points with six rebounds, six assists, and two steals. LeVert gets the vote for “most-improved” Nets player this season, as he has averaged a team-leading 18.9 points per game through eight games this season. Ed Davis, a Nets pick-up this summer from the Portland Trail Blazers for his rebounding abilities, did not disappoint. Davis posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards (five offensive rebounds) in 18 minutes off the bench. Last night, Davis registered his second double-double off the bench this season through eight games.

Jarrett Allen, in his second season as an NBA player, contributed 14 points (6-of-8 FG) and nine rebounds in 22 minutes, while Jared Dudley, who is in his 11th year with the NBA and his first playing for the Nets, chipped in 11 points, six rebounds and three assists in 38 minutes.

A big win for Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, as he can see the words and actions of the coaching staff are not falling on deaf ears.

“We were just resilient,” Atkinson told the media postgame. “We’re the resilient team. We fought through a lot of missed opportunities. I thought that we had a bunch of opportunities to close it out and we just kept fighting. The last defensive stop was kind of indicative of our toughness tonight. Caris (LeVert) comes up with the huge rebound at the end, Spencer (Dinwiddie) gets caught in the switch against one of the best players in the league and does a heck of a job. So that was kind of the picture I leave from this game. But they’re (Pistons) a heck of a team. I think that they’re an excellent team. It’s a really good win for us, especially in front of our home crowd. ”

Of course, Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey was disappointed that his team did not get the W.

“You live by the sword and you die by the sword,” Casey said. “…the first few games were close and we were winning them and now we’re losing them. It’s on ourselves, myself, everybody in this locker room. It’s mental things, leave the strong side corner and they knock down a three, miscommunicate on switches and they knock down a three. This team, made us pay for every mental mistake we made. They’re a good 3-point shooting team, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t execute our switches properly.”

Blake Griffin led the Detroit Pistons with the most points at 25 along with nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

Griffin told the assembled media that he, too, believes his team’s performance came down to mental mistakes and a collection of little things.

“Yeah, I think so,” Griffin said. “Little mistakes down the stretch, mostly defensively. Like I said earlier on those little things, they come back to bite you, and each game was decided by such a small margin that we got to be better.”

Griffin could have blamed the Pistons’ lack of focus on playing back-to-back games, as they had just played the Boston Celtics the night before in Boston. But, he didn’t.

And, yes, even though Griffin’s last shot to go-ahead for the win didn’t go in, he still relishes the opportunity to have the ball with the game on the line.

“I’ll gladly take that (shot) every single time – try to make the right play,” Griffin said after the game. “I don’t think forcing a shot is very good, but our play kind of got a little mangled. I just tried to get the ball up on the rim, early enough, and unfortunately, it didn’t go in.”

Although, a good deal of the focus was on Griffin because he had the most points of all Pistons’ players. However, truth be told, the real Pistons scoring-player of the game honors should go to Andre Drummond, who tallied 24 points, 23 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Reggie Jackson added 21 points and four rebounds.

Next up, the Pistons play the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, November 3, 2018, in Philadelphia.

The Nets play the Houston Rockets at home at the Barclays Center on Friday, November 2, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Tip-ins:

Ed Davis’ ninth rebound of the game was his 3,000th career rebound off the bench. He's one of just seven players since 1983-84 to grab 3,000+ boards off the bench, joining Detlef Schrempf, Thurl Bailey, Nick Collison, Chris Andersen, Chris Gatling, and Dennis Rodman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Kevin Durant

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

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Stephen Curry

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

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

Caris LeVert leads Brooklyn Nets to victory over the New York Knicks with 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists

There’s no party like a Brooklyn Nets party when the Brooklyn Nets party doesn’t stop! Now that’s a take on the saying about an old-school party. In this case, on Friday night, the party was at the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets didn’t stop even against adversity and kept it going until the end. It was a close call, but at the end of the night, the Brooklyn Nets dropped their crosstown rival, the New York Knicks, 107-105, improving their record to 1-1 and 1-0 at home.

Now, this was no walk in the park for the Nets, as they saw a comfortable 12-point lead rapidly diminish to seven in the second quarter ending the first-half 50-57. Overall, the lead changed 13 times and nine times the score was tied. The moral of this story, don’t lose faith when your lead evaporates, keep grinding until the end.

From 5:57 minutes in the third quarter until the end, the Nets found themselves in the hole seven times. Here’s where you can visualize everyone on their feet, at 15.9 seconds left in regulation, Knicks center Eric Kanter hits a free throw to tie the game at 105-105. The Nets call a timeout. The game resumes and Nets guard Caris LeVert hits a driving layup over Knicks forward Lance Thomas, which put the Nets up 107-105 with one-second left in regulation. The Knicks call a timeout and when the play is resumed, Knicks guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. hurls a 31-foot three-point jump shot with .4 seconds left on the clock, the ball bounces off the rim. The Knicks rebound with .1 seconds left. The horn blows before any action could be taken. The Brooklyn Nets eke out a win and Nets fans have a 107-105 home victory to celebrate.

Statistically speaking, to show the significance of the Nets’ start tonight, Brooklyn shot .700 (14-of-20) in tonight’s first quarter, leading the Knicks 33-24. The Nets’ .700 first-quarter field goal percentage was higher than any of their first quarter field goal percentages all of last season and marked Brooklyn's highest field goal percentage in an opening period since April 4, 2017, at Philadelphia (.714).

Additionally, the Nets edged out the Knicks 22-14 in assists.

The Nets also out-rebounded the Knicks 55-36 in tonight’s win led by double-digit rebound performances from center Jarrett Allen, who is a sophomore in the NBA and center Ed Davis. Allen posted 11 rebounds; while Ed Davis, who the Nets acquired from Portland over the summer, is known as an efficient rebounder and is already paying dividends. Davis came off the bench crashing the boards with 10 rebounds and five points in 14 minutes. Since entering the league (2010-11), no player has recorded more rebounds off the bench than Davis (2,949).

The Nets’ improved rebounding did not go unnoticed by Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“Huge, I thought we did a really good job,” Atkinson stated in a way that Nets reporters don’t get to hear too often. “They had that one stretch in the fourth quarter where they grabbed five or six in a row, but besides that, guys were really helping us there. Jarrett Allen had 11 rebounds. That’s what we asked of him. We asked him to improve. I think against Detroit he had 10, so he’s heavy into 10, 11, 12, 13 rebounds to make another step as a defensive player.”

In contrast to the Knicks, the Nets had four starters scoring in double digits and two off the bench. Caris LeVert, whom most believe will have a transcendent season, barring injury, led the Nets with a career-high 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists.

Coach Atkinson could not have been more pleased about LeVert’s performance tonight.

“Heck of a job,” Atkinson stated in a way that reporters covering the Nets don’t get to hear too often. “Heck of a battle on both ends of the floor. I’ll tell you what, I thought he made, especially at the end, made (Tim) Hardaway (Jr.) work for his shots. He was our leader tonight, and he said after the game ‘Coach I owe you one from the Detroit game.’ So, great game, but that was a heck of a finish at the end.”

VIDEO: In His Own Words: Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson

 

As one could imagine, with seconds left on the clock and a win or lose play outcome on the line, LeVert was singularly focused on the victory when he saw Atkinson had drawn up the play for him.

“I just wanted to get the shot that I wanted,” LeVert told the media postgame in the locker room. “I wanted to get the last shot. Unfortunately, I think there was a second left, but I wanted to get the last shot. I wanted to get the shot that I wanted to get.”

LeVert's performance didn't go unnoticed by Knicks head coach David Fizdale.

"He's a good player," Fizdale stated. "He's an explosive athlete. He can really put the ball on the floor. His three-ball has improved tremendously. He's competitor. I know that he and Timmy (Tim Hardaway, Jr.), that old Michigan connection, that gets them going. That kid can play and I think he's going to have a breakout year this year."

VIDEO: In His Own Words: Brooklyn Nets Guard, Caris LeVert

LeVert’s tag-team partner, center Jarret Allen, contributed 15 points and four blocks in addition to his 11 rebounds. Allen’s four blocks tonight followed his four blocks in the season opener in Detroit on Wednesday, making him the first player in franchise history to record four blocks in each of the first two games of a season. He also became the first player since Tim Duncan (2003-04 season) to register a double-double and four blocks in each of the first two games of an NBA season. The last three NBA players to do so prior to Duncan were: Dikembe Mutombo (1999-00), David Robinson (1994-95) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1992-93). Can you say Hall of Fame greatness in the making!

Additionally, for the Nets, D’Angelo Russell scored 15 points and piled on six assists and five boards. Two players scoring 11 points each were Joe Harris and rookie Rodions Kurucs of the secondary unit. Kurucs also added five rebounds, while Harris added four boards. Spencer Dinwiddie, who was rumored to be a trade option for Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, chipped in 10 points, six assists, and three rebounds off the bench.

Kevin Knox, a rookie that the Knicks selected in the 2018 NBA Draft, whom Knicks Nation is watching like a hawk, showed flashes of brilliance again in his second NBA game. Knox was one of three Knicks players that scored in double digits, scoring 17 points and six rebounds off the bench. The other two Knicks scoring leaders were starters Enes Kanter, as expected, with 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. also with 29 points. It’s important to note that Hardaway Jr. had no assists.

And, if you’re keeping Nets vs. Knicks overall scoring records, the Knicks only have four wins over the Nets at 98-94.

Nets fans revel in this victory because your team will be on the road tomorrow for Game Three of this NBA season and the first of its 14 back-to-back games for the 2018-19 Season. The Nets will take on the Indiana Pacers, a team that many prognosticators believe, based on last season’s performance, will be an NBA Eastern Conference playoff contender.

See you at the Barclays Center on Sunday, October 28, 2018, at 5:00 p.m., the next time the Nets play at home when they take on the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.

VIDEO: Brooklyn Nets rookie player, Rodions Kurucs, gives the media his feeling about getting his first opportunity to play in an NBA game.

In this video, Brooklyn Nets rookie, Rodions Kurucs from Latvia, spoke to the media about his performance for the first time as an NBA player.

It was the Brooklyn Nets first preseason game of the 2018-19 NBA season and Kurucs was fearless scoring 13 points in 12 minutes in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter against the NY Knicks.

Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Nets lost 107-102.

VIDEO: Coach Kenny Atkinson summarizes his thoughts about the Nets performance during their first preseason game playing the New York Knicks

REPORTER 1: Obviously, you guys put a lot of emphasis in getting shooting out on the floor. But when you see those, when you see those numbers what jumps out at you? Is it shooting or, is it something else?

COACH ATKINSON: I think it's, yes it’s the shooting Brian, that we missed a lot of open shots. But still, I thought we took some contested shots especially the contested ones off the dribble. You know the contested threes off the dribble is a tough shot. I felt like we took too many of those. But I do think our offense has a long way to go. We struggled to execute. You know give, give the Knicks credit that they pressured, put pressure on our guards, did a good job of getting into the ball and we struggled, struggled executing.

REPORTER 2: You know that (Enes) Kanter had his way with you on the inside again deep you 22 points 20 rebounds. What do you think the problem was there? It's the undersized or just poor defense?

COACH ATKINSON: First of all, he’s a very good player and he's a load. So when we play in the first game of the regular season, we’re going to need to do a better job. I thought he caught the ball too easily in the post, so a guy like that so good with the ball post, you better keep it from him or push him off the blocks. He caught it too deep. You know that we let him get to the middle too much I thought. And then, in offensive rebounding, we just we can't box him out with one guy, you know. We need two guys. We need three guys and I’m going to say this all year, we need five guys, five guys coming back to rebound. So that's kind of his strength, but we have to do a much better job. You're correct on that.

REPORTER 2: Caris (LeVert) kind of showed us I think what you might have been seeing in all this preseason and training camp. How would you evaluate his performance?

COACH ATKINSON: I thought he was up and down, you know, I thought he did some good things and obviously he gets to the rim well. I thought some of those contested threes were on his plate. He needs to clean up his shot selection a little. I would say it was up and down, some good things mixed in and like I said, shot selection was one, one of the things that concerned me a little bit.

REPORTER 1: With Caris(LeVert) specifically, is one of those things defense on (Allonzo) Trier who obviously had a heck of a night? And I guess, you know somewhat to a lesser extent, you know, you talked about how if you had everybody healthy you would be able to go big and be able to use a lot of different lineups and take a look at a lot of different things. Did the fact you had so many forwards that were out they kind of prevent you from experimenting you can see how those people are?

COACH ATKINSON: Yeah, and yeah, I think, I think we were obviously we had a few guys out and so that too. You know the first game Brian, we’re really, you know focused on understanding the minutes where guys gotta play, so it’s tough to mix and match a little bit at that first preseason game because you know guys were on a set number of minutes and that’s, that's on me. So didn’t maybe have a chance playing Ed (Davis) and Jarrett (Allen) together like I said we might. But yes, I thought Allonzo Trier he drove the heck out of the ball and especially in the first half, we couldn’t keep him in front of us and that was, that was collectively, everybody got beat by him and credit to him he was very aggressive driving the ball.

REPORTER 3: Kenny, Rodi (Rodions Kurucs) had some good numbers and good moments in the fourth, what did you see there?

COACH ATKINSON: Yeah, I was very pleased with Rodi, I loved was his energy. I think he, he's a talented guy and he’s got nice length. I like how he drove it. You know, he showed some good things defensively. Listen, I think at training camp, he's been, talk about Caris and the other guys, but I thought he's been a little bit of a surprise, you know. He's a multi-position player. I think his speed is better than I thought. I was, I was really pleased with how well he played, love his energy he came out with.

REPORTER 3: Did you kind of go into it thinking you really want to give an opportunity to look at?

ATKINSON: Yeah, no doubt. We had him right up there. We want to see these guys play right off the bat. And then secondly, he's earned it. He earned it in training camp. You know every time he stepped on the floor when we scrimmaged, or in our breakdowns, he's been, he's been, he's been impressive and confirmed tonight that he's a talented, talented player.

REPORTER 2: And, you talked about him (Rodions Kurucs) the other day, as a stretch five. Even though it was garbage time and it was scrubs against scrubs.
Did you like the instincts he showed, as far as, being in the right place you know kind of showing a basketball IQ, showing passing ability, good hands?

ATKINSON: Yes, I loved, though, I liked all that. I think he showed good instincts passing the ball. And again, maybe the thing I liked about him, he doesn't have any fear that keeps, you know, he's going to, he's barreling in there and he's hitting guys.

And you know, I just like how aggressive he was, that his overall energy, it was like just a real bright spot, really. I thought it really helped that third unit, you know play pretty well.

 

 

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Expectations are higher this season for the Brooklyn Nets than the New York Knicks, but neither will make the NBA playoffs this season

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Outlook for Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks for NBA Season 2018-19

KEISHA: Welcome back to What's The 411Sports! We’re in a New York state of mind with our New York Sports Report. Now, Mike, the NBA regular season is upon us. So why don't we just take a quick look at the preseason for both the Nets and the Knicks and give our impressions.

MIKE: Sure. I think the Knicks are certain. We'll start with the Knicks, they have their work cut out for them. Right? Because (Kristaps) Porzingis is not going to be healthy and that's really going to hurt them and I think one of the things that Knicks fans…you're going to start to see as they get 15 to 20 games into the season and they're going to struggle. Then, we are going to hear the word tank, absolutely; you're going to hear it a lot because that's what the Knick fans are going to be leaning towards. I think from what the Knicks have put together, this group, and this roster, it's not necessarily…it's something you know team that's going to be able to compete for the playoffs and it was a tough year that they had last season as well. You got a first-year head coach. You know, you have a couple pieces that you can work with. But, I think, for the most part, it's going to be a difficult, difficult season for the New York Knicks. You're going to see regression not progression and I really do believe that.

MIKE: Now as far as the Brooklyn Nets, I think that there will be some progress. I'm not sure how much, but I think that this is a team that, remember two to three years ago, was at the bottom of the barrel in the NBA, worst team in the NBA. And, then you get no reward by being the worst team because they weren't even getting draft picks. I think what they've been able to do with Sean Marks, okay and Kenny Atkinson. I think that they've put a good culture in place for this team. I think that they will compete. Making the playoffs is going to be very difficult. We've discussed this several times over the course of the last month or so how you know what the expectations will be for the Brooklyn Nets. But I think this is a team that despite these dismal records that they put out the last couple of seasons, there have been some games that they've competed in and I don't mean just against like some of the other poor teams in the NBA even against some of the good teams. So I think that the expectations for the Nets should be a little bit more optimistic than it is across the river for the Knicks.

KEISHA: Well, we're going to see a lot from the Knicks in terms of this is going to be Coach David Fizdale’s inaugural season as the New York Knicks head coach. And, we're going to see how well he handles the bright lights of the big city because they're going to shine bright. And, the New York City media is harsh, they can be harsh. So I mean it's going to be a rebuilding, it's going to be…they already know that they have a lot of young talent and they're really going to build their team through the draft and so they're going to see these young people develop and grow. And, it's up to them to nurture that growth and we're going to see what is going to become of Kevin Knox. You remember, he was booed mercilessly during the draft, a la Kristaps Porzingis and we saw what how Kristaps handled it and what he was able to do during his rookie season. So maybe you know, maybe history will repeat itself and Kevin Knox can be the shining, the shiny star on the New York Knicks.

KEISHA: And then, also with the Brooklyn Nets, you know, you hit it on the head. This is a team that's rebuilding and they’re getting better. Each season’s going to be incremental. We're not going to really talk playoffs because I just don't think that's realistic. But, they're definitely in position to win more games this coming season than last. They have a lot of depth on the team, a lot of ball handlers, a lot of shooters. And, Kenny Atkinson is really harping on defense. And, it is believed that D'Angelo Russell will have a breakout season, like this will be the year for him.

MIKE: Brooklyn hopes so.

What will be the aftermath following the Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor fight?

WHAT'S THE 411SPORTS: POPPIN – PART 1

• The Jimmy Butler saga continues. At last count, the Miami Heat and the L.A Clippers were vying for Jimmy Butler’s services. What’s complicating Butler’s trade is that Gorgui Dieng must be part of the deal.

Q. Will the Minnesota Timberwolves deal Jimmy Butler before the start of the NBA season?

Kyrie Irving is the man! First, Jimmy Butler, now it’s Anthony Davis that says he wants to play with Kyrie Irving in Boston. According to league sources, Davis will probably end up with the Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers.

Q. Let’s dream a bit, can you imagine a Boston team with Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Anthony Davis? If not Boston, where would you rather see Anthony Davis?

• Billed as one of the most significant fights in UFC history. Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor had their very anticipated showdown and Khabib won.

Q. What was not expected was the fight’s aftermath. Should the fight organizers have been more prepared for a potential melee?

WHAT'S THE 411SPORTS: QUICK BITES

LeBron James was considering joining the Toronto Raptors before he finalized his move to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, it seems both sides were interested in reaching an agreement.

• The family of NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau has settled their wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL. Seau died from suicide at the age of 43; his death followed a long battle with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head.

Drew Brees passes Peyton Manning as NFL's all-time passing leader: New Orleans Saint quarterback Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning's record of 71,940 career passing yards with a 62-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith in the second quarter of a game against Washington. New Orleans defeated Washington 43-19, ouch!!!

WHAT'S THE 411SPORTS: POPPIN – PART 2

• Former Louisville men’s basketball head coach, Rick Pitino, has been promoting his new book, entitled Pitino: My Story. He says he never wants to coach basketball again.

Q. Do you believe Pitino?

• Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul has taken offense to the criticisms of fellow teammate, Carmelo Anthony, calling the criticism of Melo disrespectful.

Q. Do you think Chris Paul is right that the media may have gone too far with their assessment of Carmelo Anthony?

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

What’s The 411’s Photo of the Week is a photo of Saquon Barkley making a touchdown during the New York Giants game against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium.

NY SPORTS REPORT

• We have a preseason look at the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks.

• New York Yankees Update: The Yankees made it into the ALDS and will play the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 tonight.

• Discord has visited upon the NY Giants.

Q. Are the New York Giants on the brink of falling apart?

WHAT'S THE 411SPORTS OFF TOPIC:

Summer vacation is officially over, and Khloe Kardashian was headed back to Cleveland to be with baby True’s father, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and decided to stay in Los Angeles.

Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs playing in his first NBA game showed true grit scoring 13 points in 12 minutes, all in the fourth quarter

Granted it's a preseason game, in a new season, but the Brooklyn Nets still look like the team of last season. The first competitive game for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018-19 NBA season was held at the Barclays Center tonight against its East River rival, the New York Knicks. The one thing that was different from the very start was that a Brooklyn Brigade fan group showed up in full force and cheered the Nets from start to finish shutting down any Knicks’ fans in the audience. Believe me, this is a first. At one Knicks game last season, when I checked in on Facebook, the app thought I was at Madison Square Garden and would not allow me to put in the Barclays Center.

Tonight the Nets got off to a good start, which isn’t unusual, leading by as much as 15 points with 1:04 left in the first quarter. But in the closing minute of the first quarter, New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina put up a three-pointer at the 50-second mark. Nets guard Joe Harris missed a 3-point jumper with 35 seconds left, and Knicks guard Allonzo Trier added another three points at the buzzer, ending the first quarter with a score of Nets 26 and the Knicks 17.

During the second stanza, with just under eight minutes left to play in the half, the Nets had a 15-point lead (38-23). However, the New York Knicks found cracks in the armor and little by little chipped away to end the first-half 50-46. The reverse of fortunes continued into the third, when the Knicks went up 10, ending the third quarter with a score of 81-71. The Nets tried to claw their way back in the fourth quarter and came within one point (99-98) at the 2:26 mark, however, turnovers and defensive pressure on the part of the Knicks at the end of the day is what contributed to the Nets demise in Preseason Game 1, ending with a hurtful 107-102.

“I thought that we missed a lot of open ones,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media during his postgame interview. “But still I thought that we took some contested ones, especially the contested ones off the dribble. You know the contested threes off the dribble – it’s a tough shot, I felt like too many of those. But, I do think our offense has a long way to go. We struggled to execute, give the Knicks credit. I thought they pressured our guards and did a good job of getting into the ball and we struggled executing.”

“There were a lot of positives,” an assessment that Nets guard D’Angelo Russell gave the media in his locker room postgame presser. “I think we came out and competed, played hard. We focused on what coach was expecting of us. Things we can work on as well. But it’s something that we can watch film, build on it.”

In adversity, there is generally a silver lining somewhere, and Net rookie Rodions Kurucs was it. During the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Kurucs got his first opportunity to play in an NBA game and he was pushing for a real comeback. Kurucs scored 13 points in 12 minutes.

Russell was not surprised by Kurucs’ deliverables.

Asked what he sees in practice from Kurucs that translated into tonight’s game, and Russell responded, “Same thing, same thing. He’s active, he’s athletic, he plays hard, he knows his role. He knows what he’s capable of. He never steps outside the box. He’s the guy that plays hard and brings that energy.”

“It was really emotional for me because I didn’t play last year,” Kurucs said about getting his chance to play for the first time ever in the NBA. “It was a really good moment for me. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed every minute.”

Kurucs was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 NBA Draft in the second round (40th overall).

“I think I bring energy on defense,” Kurucs continued. “I’m just working on all the stuff, what coach told me. I’ll help my team out. I’ll do all my best. I’ll give my all.”

And, from tonight’s performance, he’s definitely one to watch this season.

The Nets had six players to score in double digits. Caris LeVert led the Nets with 15 points and four steals. Both Spencer Dinwiddie and Kurucs scored 13 points. Dinwiddie added six assists, while Kurucs added four rebounds and four steals. Russell and Treveon Graham each tallied 11 points. Russell added three rebounds and three assists, while, Graham secured eight rebounds and three assists. Joe Harris chipped in 10 points and three rebounds.

For the Knicks, Allonzo Trier led all scorers with 25 points and four rebounds; his teammate, Enes Kanter contributed 22 points and 20 rebounds.

Next up, for the Knicks, are the New Orleans Pelicans at home at Madison Square Garden on Friday, October 5, 2018.

The Nets travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons on Monday, October 8, 2018. The Nets first regular season game at home will be against the New York Knicks on Friday, October 19, 2018. 

In His Own Words: Rodions Kurucs:

LeBron James makes his teammates better;…but…They don't want to have that scrutiny

KEISHA: Welcome back to What's The 411Sports? I'm going to start off this segment by just asking a simple question. Why don't people want to play with LeBron James?

Mike.

MIKE: Well, I think there's a few reasons. I mean, you know. One reason is that LeBron James has made the NBA finals every season since 2011 and I feel like when you're on a team where it's NBA finals or bust, it almost takes some of the fun out of playing, right, because you have this high-pressure mentality. So there's no question that the, you know, the pressure is always on when you're playing with LeBron James.

The other thing is that LeBron James has never been one to shy away from throwing his teammates and coaches under the bus, right? He's had a history of doing this throughout his whole career and the evidence is it's proven. But I think that it's easy to say people don't necessarily like playing with LeBron James, but what about like you go ask a guy like Mike Miller who really resurrected his career by playing with the Miami Heat where they won those two championships. I guarantee you that if you were to ask him. Did you enjoy playing with LeBron James? Of course, the big thing with LeBron James is he makes his teammates better? I think that's the number one reason why he's the top player in the NBA, is because the other four guys that are on the court with him automatically become better players because LeBron can hit them when they're open. LeBron plays such good defense that he's going to find the open man when he makes a steal. He's very good on the fast break despite the fact that he's getting up there in years.

But I think also, you know LeBron has never one to shy away from controversy. So there's always some drama that surrounds him. But I think it's easy to jump on him and say people don't like LeBron people don't want to necessarily play with LeBron but that isn't the case.

Remember how excited the Cleveland Cavs were specifically Kevin Love when he found out that he was going to be teaming up with LeBron James and I know that kind of played out a little bit differently. They did wind up winning a championship together, but I think it's a mixed bag. I think that there are some players that would not want to play with LeBron.

They don't want to have that scrutiny, but then I think that there are guys that would definitely salivate at the idea of teaming up with one of the greatest players of all time.

KEISHA: LeBron is such a presence. I mean, he just, just because of who he is. He's just otherworldly talented and he is a superstar and uber superstar. If you just want to put it even higher and in a League that is driven by stars, what he wants he's going to get, people are going to cater to him. Even Magic Johnson and company at the Lakers they're going to make sure that LeBron James is happy. When they were courting him, Magic Johnson showed up I mean, at least I think an hour earlier, or so before he was going to meet LeBron James because he knew it was that important that he didn't miss that opportunity to meet with him and talk to him and convince him to join the Lakers.

Now. I think that if you are a star and a superstar in your own right, it becomes difficult to play with LeBron because it's not going to be your team. And, you know, there's ego involved. There's machismo, like I'm just as good as you, in theory. Why can't I get this? Why can't this be my team? Why am I automatically pushed aside? So I think that's why you have people like Kyrie Irving and maybe Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, stars and superstars in their own right who don't want to be part of the LeBron James Show.

MIKE: Right.

KEISHA: Because they're going to be the supporting cast. When I was reading some articles the one thing that somebody said was that in order to play with LeBron James you have to specialize in something. You have to suppress some parts of your game to fit in with him and what that does for you long-term, who knows, you know, if you don't use it, you lose it I guess.

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