March 22, 2018

Allen Crabbe led Nets’ scorers with 24 points; Nets defense broke down in the fourth quarter

The Nets had a 79-73 lead heading into the final period. Brooklyn also led 95-93 after Allen Crabbe's 3-pointer with 4:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Nets could not hold on, missing eight shots in the last four minutes. The Nets got within two points with 1:04 to go after Spencer Dinwiddie hit a pair of free throws, but Indiana answered with five straight points, with 26 seconds left. And, at the end of the night, the Nets were on the losing end for the seventh straight game with a final score, 108-103 and a 19-40 win-loss record on the season.

So, what happened down the stretch?

“I think we got the shots we wanted and we missed some,” Crabbe explained to reporters following the loss. “For the most part, we had some costly turnovers too, I mean even me. We were down five so that kind of contributed to us not executing at the end there, coming up with another loss and it’s frustrating. It sucks that we keep putting ourselves in winning situations and we keep coming up short. Like I said, we were definitely looking forward to getting this big win going into the All-Star break. Now, we got like a week before our next game so hopefully, this break gives us some time to really get our minds right and attack this second half of the season.”

For the second consecutive game, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson blames the team’s lack of, or, stunted defensive capabilities as a major contributing factor for the loss against Indiana.

“We couldn’t stop them,” Atkinson stated. “Defense again I think was our Achilles heel. Thirty-five points is just too many. I just felt like they got too many easy baskets, too many easy looks. There were too many breakdowns. Until we fix up our defense it’s going to be tough to get a W. That’s the way it is. We’re going to look at it, we’re going to look at our coverages; we’re going to look at who’s in the game. That’s disappointing to give up that many points in the fourth quarter.”

Allen Crabbe led Nets players who scored in double-digits, with a team-high 24 points (9-of-16 FG, 5-of-11 3FG) and with a career-high-tying eight rebounds. DeMarre Carroll recorded 21 points (6-of-13 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, 4-of-6 FT), 10 rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes tonight. This is Carroll’s seventh game of 20-plus points this season; it matches his single-season career high seven 20-plus point games in the 2014-15 Season with Atlanta. And, there is still time left in this season for Carroll to break his record. D’Angelo Russell posted 18 points and a game-high nine assists in 29 minutes off the bench. Nets rookie Jarrett Allen totaled 10 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes in his ninth career start. Allen has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 12 games.

Although Spencer Dinwiddie did not score in double digits, he tallied seven points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block in 33 minutes.

Indiana is the second team this week where all five starters scored in double digits against the Nets. For the Pacers, Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 25 points. Corey Joseph scored 15 points and 11 rebounds; former Nets’ player Bojan Bogdanovic put up 14 points and five rebounds; Thaddeus Young, another former Nets’ player, tallied 13 points and seven rebounds; Al Jefferson came off the bench to score 13 points; and starter Myles Turner posted 11 points and 14 rebounds.

This was the last game for both teams before the NBA All-Star break. Nets point guard Dinwiddie will represent the Nets in the 2018 Taco Bell Skills Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles this Saturday, February 17, at Staples Center at 8 p.m. ET. The event will be televised nationally on TNT.

After the break, the Pacers will meet up with Atlanta on February 23rd, while the Nets will play the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte on Thursday, February 22nd at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Nets rally in second half, too little, too late as Kings defeat Nets on the second night of their back-to-back on the road

The Brooklyn Nets loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night was a tough pill to swallow. Sacramento came into the Barclays Center with a 10-20 record compared to the Nets’ 11-18 record, not much of a difference, but it should mean something particularly when you’re at home. To add insult to injury, the Kings had just defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 101-95 the night before, so the Kings were playing the second game of a back-to-back when they played the Nets at the Barclays Center. Instead of showing sign of lethargy, Sacramento took the floor and busted the game wide open. Sacramento closed out the first half by 16 points (64-48); just after doing the same thing in the first quarter. The Nets allowed the Kings to score 36 points in the first quarter, ending the first at 36-20.

“Yeah, giving up 36 points in the first quarter,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson remarked about the Nets’ abysmal first half. “They have good players on the other side and you can’t get in a hole like that. It is [a] disappointment in our defense and our defensive mentality to start the game. Obviously, the second half shows we are capable of doing it and capable of getting stops. But we let our guard down in the first quarter, dug a hole, and too deep of a hole.”

Yes, it was too deep of a hole. The Nets tried to claw their way back by scoring and getting stops in the second half, but it wasn’t enough and the Kings walked away with a 104-99 win over the Nets.

Once again, the Nets let a team force them to play their game. Instead of leading out of the gate, the Kings made the Nets play their game.

“I don’t know what you want to call it,” Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie said regarding the Nets slow start. “Lack of focus, lack of attention to detail, lack of effort, I don’t know what you want to call it. Sixty-four points in the first half is inexcusable, regardless of what team you play…”

“I think they had 30-something points in the first quarter,” Nets guard Caris LeVert said. “We can’t start a game off like that.”

Darn straight, not if you want to win! Why make the game harder than it needs to be, particularly with middling teams. What happens when Houston, Boston, and Cleveland come to town? Fortunately, Atkinson is not adverse to looking at changing the starting lineup, which is a good thing.

“I think four losses in a row, we have to look at everything,” Atkinson told the media. “We have to look at the start, what our lineup looks like to start. I definitely think we have to look at it. We have to analyze it and see if there is something to change up. We will look at that in the next day and see what is going on there.”

The one thing of many that is puzzling to the media is Atkinson’s reticence to putting Jahlil Okafor in the lineup. Looking for answers, one reporter did ask with Trevor Booker traded for Okafor and if Okafor is not playing, does this leave the Nets shorthanded?

“No, we are not shorthanded,” Atkinson responded. “We have Quincy (Acy) and Jarrett (Allen) in there as our back up bigs and Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson)and Tyler (Zeller), so we are not playing shorthanded there. I thought Quincy gave us some decent minutes. You know Jarrett is a young guy trying to learn this league, obviously, that is a physical team – did some good things. I thought he had some big blocks in the second half. We got to get our rhythm in general. We have lost it these last four games. It is a little perplexing this game after I thought we had two good days to get ready for this game. I was hoping we had the juice to compete at a higher level. But again, perplexed with the first quarter and the first half in general.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson

Dinwiddie led all Nets players with 16 points. DeMarre Carroll scored 15 points and seven rebounds; both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris scored 14 points and Hollis-Jefferson also added 10 rebounds to his total. LeVert and Allen Crabbe each chipped in 13 and 10 points respectively.

Sacramento’s scoring leaders were also rebounding machines. George Hill led all scorers with 22 points and seven rebounds; Zach Randolph scored 21 points and eight rebounds; former Nets player Bojan Bogdanovic added 14 points; Willie Cauley-Stein had 13 points and nine rebounds, and; Kosta Koufos chipped in 12 points and 8 rebounds.

Next up: Sacramento plays the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, December 23rd, and the Nets will play the Washington Wizards for the second time this month at home at the Barclays Center on Friday, December 22, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.

Brooklyn Nets acquire first round draft pick, Andrew Nicholson and Marcus Thornton from Washington Wizards

As the NBA trade deadline approached, those who follow the Brooklyn Nets closely wondered if a trade deal would happen. Weeks before the deadline, there was lots of speculation swirling around Brook Lopez and Bojan Bogdanovic. So, it’s no surprise that the Nets traded “Bogie”. The knock, if you want to call it a knock, is that although Bogdanovic is a great three-point shooter, he lacked consistency. Also, his laid-back style, fairly or unfairly, seemingly translated into aloofness.

Bogdanovic played in 212 games (121 starts) with the Nets, registering averages of 11.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 25.7 minutes per game. In 55 games this season, Bogdanovic has recorded averages of 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 26.9 minutes per game. The 27-year-old was originally acquired by the Nets in a draft-night trade with Miami (via Minnesota) after he was selected with the 31st pick (second round) in the 2011 NBA Draft. He signed a multi-year contract with Brooklyn prior to the start of the 2014-15 NBA season.

Chris McCullough, on the other hand, is a relative newbie; this is only his second year in the NBA. McCullough appeared in 38 games in two seasons with the Nets, registering averages of 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game. This season, McCullough spent his time going back and forth between the Nets and its D-League team, the Long Island Nets.

Fair Trade: NETS and Wizards

In the trade, the Nets acquired a 2017 first round draft pick, and Washington players Andrew Nicholson and Marcus Thornton. The Nets will be able to use the first-round selection from Washington as long as the Wizards don’t end the season in the bottom 14, right now they are No. 8 in the league.

Nicholson has appeared in 28 games with Washington this season after signing with the team as a free agent on July 7, 2016, recording averages of 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game. Prior to joining the Wizards, Nicholson spent the first four seasons of his NBA career (2012-16) with the Orlando Magic, appearing in 247 games and posting averages of 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game. The 27-year-old native of Mississauga, Ontario was originally selected with the 19th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by Orlando after a standout four-year career at St. Bonaventure University, where he earned Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors, as well as All-American Honorable Mention, while leading the Bonnies to their first-ever Atlantic 10 Tournament title in his senior season.

Thornton has appeared in 483 career games with New Orleans, Sacramento, Brooklyn, Boston, Phoenix, Houston, and Washington recording averages of 11.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 23.4 minutes per game. In 33 games this season with Washington, Thornton has averaged 6.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 17.4 minutes per game.

Nets Bojan Bogdanovic forces overtime, but Wizards pull off 114-110 win in OT

Another close game resulted in yet another loss for the Brooklyn Nets, as they fell short 114-110 in overtime to the Washington Wizards. In front of a packed crowd of 15,529 at the Barclays center, fans watched as their Nets failed to hold it together in the final minutes of the game.

The Wizards, led by John Wall (25 points) and Bradley Beal (18 points) handed the Nets their 11th straight loss.

The Nets played a decent first half, leading the Wizards 66-51 at halftime. They shot 56.5 from the field and only turned the ball over seven times before entering the third quarter.

But like the Nets’ normal routine, they struggled to maintain momentum, blowing a 15-point lead. The Wizards were able to snap a 28-8 run in the third quarter.

“Their aggressiveness got to us and we started playing a different game,” said Brook Lopez, who finished with 25 points. “Obviously between that run and the turnovers down the line, it hurt us. We were playing well, doing our thing. But obviously, the second half was inversely just as rough.”

By the fourth quarter, Brooklyn trailed by 12 points, while the Wizards gained an 84-72 lead. The Nets didn’t go down without a fight and tied the game up at 89 with 6:21 left in the game. Things got messy when Lopez fouled out the game with 1:20 left in the fourth. With 41.9 seconds left in the game, Bojan Bogdanovic kept hope alive for Brooklyn with a backboard shot to force the game into overtime at 100 points even.

The Nets tried. They fought again, but it wasn’t enough, losing in overtime.

After the game, Lopez reflected on the call that took him out of the game.

“To make that call at that juncture, I don’t agree with it,” said Lopez.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson praised his guys for fighting until the end.

“We made some really unselfish defensive plays at the end — guys flying around, guys taking charges — so there were a lot of positives,” Atkinson said during a postgame presser.

The Nets are now 9-44 and are the worst team in the NBA. They are the only team in the league who has won less than 10 games. With 29 games left of the 2016-2017 season, they can now put their focus on how they can rebuild their team for next year.

The Memphis Grizzlies lived up to their name on Monday night at the Barclays Center, getting off to a fast and deep start mauling the Nets and ultimately winning the session 112-103.

It wasn’t a blow-out, but with Mike Conley’s game-high 32 points for the Grizzlies juxtaposed to the Nets high scorers Brook Lopez and Spencer Dinwiddie's lowly 17 points each, it just looks worse than it was. But, then again, anytime you lose is not a good thing.

The Nets led the first quarter 19-17 before the Grizzlies went on a 10-0 run ending the quarter 27-19 and then keeping the lead without looking back.

The Nets didn’t go away quietly, scoring 30 points in the third quarter to pull within seven. But, basketball is a game of runs and a Grizzlies run with two minutes remaining in the fourth, kept the Nets at bay.

“They’re an excellent team,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said regarding the Grizzlies. “You know (Mike) Conley really gave us a lot of issues with the pick and roll. I forget, it was you know - made a lot of big shots at the end. It’s tough. They have rollers going down, down the gut of your defense. You have him coming off and you’re trying to – it is a tough play to stop. I thought Brook (Lopez) did a pretty good job on (Marc) Gasol. I thought he fought and did a good job. I just thought the pick and roll defense really hurt us tonight. You know a lot of that has to do with them and Conley, I thought he was really good but I thought we did some good things. I thought we had a ton of looks in the first half, a ton of open looks. I think we were 5-for-19 from 3. We had opportunities, I felt like some decent looks and we just didn’t convert at a high enough level but that is an excellent team right there.”

“That’s a very good team we just played and I think the good thing is we were out there, we competed until the end and we were aggressive and physical with them,” Lopez told reporters post game. “They definitely make their mark by grinding games out and being tough, being physical and I think we responded to that; we didn’t back down, definitely. And we came out in the second half and answered right back and made them call the first timeout.”

For the Grizzlies’ win, Marc Gasol had 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, Brandan Wright added 17 points, Vince Carter put up 14 points, and JaMychal Green chipped in 10 points and six points.

In the loss, Sean Kilpatrick scored 15 points and six rebounds for the Nets. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Trevor Booker each added 13 points, and Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.

Next up for the Nets will be the Milwaukee Bucks at home at the Barclays Center, tomorrow, February 15, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.

The Nets continue to lead early, but is still having troubling closing the deal

On January 25, 2017, the Miami Heat overcame an 18-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter and used a 15-2 run in final 4:35 to beat the Brooklyn Nets 109-106. Last night, the Heat came back to Brooklyn and the Nets pulled out the same playbook, led early and then gave up the lead in the end.  In so doing, the Heat overcame an 11-point, third-quarter deficit to capture a 108-99 victory.

"I don't what it is against [Brooklyn] but they always take the lead against us," said Miami guard Goran Dragic who scored 21 points and five assists. "I'm proud of our guys, how we responded and came back."

“Sometimes you just have to dig really deep and Brooklyn forced us to have to do that,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after the game. “It’s whatever it takes. The habit we’ve been taking all season long is that we’re a team that it takes a village. There’s not necessarily going to be one guy every single night to defend. We have to do it five-man basketball. Offensively, it’s different guys making different contributions on different nights.”

The Heat scorched the Nets in the second half, outscoring Brooklyn, 34-27, in the fourth. Again, turnovers worked against the Nets. Brooklyn had 22 turnovers to Miami’s 14.

“You felt it,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson regarding the Nets turnovers and pressure from the Heat. “They made every catch tough. Bringing the ball up was a task, sideline out-of-bounds was a task. We had trouble getting open, so we’ll have to go back to the drawing board now and try to help our guys when the pressure is turned up like that, but credit to them. Again, I thought that small lineup really hurt us.”

“They hit us at a certain point and their physicality definitely had an effect,” Brook Lopez told reporters about the Heat’s defensive pressure. “I think we responded well but that initial bout, you know we definitely turned the ball over and they made a run but again I think we responded and we definitely went right back at them.”

In the loss, Lopez had a game-high 30 points and eight rebounds. Randy Foye scored 15 points (5-of-9 FG, 1-of-2 3FG, 4-of-4 FT) in 26 minutes tonight vs. the Heat. Foye’s 15 points last night mark his second-highest scoring output this season (behind a season-high 16 points on January 27th at Cleveland). Bojan Bogdanovic totaled 10 points with six rebounds in 29 minutes vs. Miami. Spencer Dinwiddie recorded a season-high-tying eight assists in 19 minutes tonight (he previously recorded eight assists on January 15th vs. Houston).

With this loss, the Nets fell to 9-45 overall and 7-22 at home. The Nets will host the Memphis Grizzlies next on Monday, February 13, at 7:30 p.m. EST at Barclays Center.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Porzingas and Knicks bench lead the comeback to beat the Nets

On a day when Carmelo Anthony was relegated to the bench during the fourth quarter and Derrick Rose was inactive because of an injury, the New York Knicks staged a come from behind win with the use of Kristaps Porzingas, Willy Hernangomez, and Sasha Vujacic.

Porzingas scored 19 points and 12 rebounds and 12 of his points came in the fourth quarter. Hernangomez had 16 points and 16 rebounds and Vujacic added 12 points and made team history with his effort by converting a pair of four-point plays in the game.
Anthony has had better days; he scored 15 points by the third quarter (26:39 minutes), but on 6 of 22 from the field.

“It was tough, trying to get it going and muster up some energy from somewhere,” Anthony said in a postgame locker room interview. “But our second unit and our guys that came in off the bench picked it up for us, so we liked that. Today was a big day for us to get this win, especially after coming off a back-to-back and for guys to step up – for guys like Sasha (Vujacic) who haven’t been playing that much lately to come in ready when his number was called. Billy (Hernangomez) played extremely well tonight. And then K.P. (Kristaps Porzingis) also had a great game, so for those guys to pick it up like that and get us to a victory, we needed every piece of that tonight.”

The Knicks fourth quarter push was not lost on Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“They picked up their intensity, picked up their heat, picked up their heat on the ball,” Atkinson said during a postgame presser. “We turned it over, we didn’t get the type of shots we wanted and then I thought they started getting second and third shots. And it’s tough to give any team in the NBA multiple shots at the rim, multiple possessions, and so I think that’s the story of the game really, story of the fourth quarter – us turning it over and then not being able to control the defensive boards. ”

Brooklyn Nets center and de facto team captain, Brook Lopez, thought the Knicks made better use of their second point chances.

“They hit some big shots,” said Lopez about the Knicks. “And, I think we were working hard, they just, they definitely made a lot of opportunity off their second chances throughout the game and that was definitely the key in the last five minutes down the stretch.”

Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led all Nets scorers with 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists pretty much echoed Lopez’s thoughts on the outcome of the game.

“We could have done a better job of coming together, staying poised and doing what we did in the third quarter,” added Hollis-Jefferson. “I feel like there were a couple of times when I made mistakes, I mean we all made mistakes, but there are things we have to try and limit during the stretches where teams are making a run. And we can limit it from a 12-2 run to like a 4-or 6-2 run, and that’ll benefit us.”

Nets top scorers included Bojan Bogdanovic with 15 points and seven rebounds, Trevor Booker scored 12 points and eight rebounds; and Lopez and Caris LeVert each added 10 points.

The Nets fell to 9-40 overall and 7-18 at home with tonight’s loss. Next up for the Nets on Friday will be the Indiana Pacers at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

Lack of execution, turnovers, and iso-ball give Nets its third straight loss

Dion Waiters is having a very productive week. On Monday, Waiters danced on Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson with 2.4 seconds left in the fourth and drained the go-ahead three-pointer to beat the western conference power 105-102. On Wednesday night, Waiters would send the Nets to the same fate.

The Miami Heat overcame an 18-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter and used a 15-2 run in final 4:35, setting up Waiters dagger trey, to lead the Heat to an exhilarating 109-106 victory. With 30 seconds remaining in the final period, Randy Foye found Trevor Booker in the paint for a layup that gave the Nets an opportunity for the win, down one, 104-103. And then it happened.

Wayne Ellington inbounded the ball to Waiters who streaked towards the ball behind the three-point line. He dribbled once defended by Foye, pulled up without hesitation and fired a high-arching, 27-footer, giving the Heat a 107-103 lead with 6.8 seconds left to play.

“I love those type of moments,” Waiters said post-game. “Coach just drew up a play, and I looked at (Ellington) and said, ‘give it to me, I want it.”

It was a play that capped off the Heat’s big fourth quarter in which they outscored the Nets 38-17. And it also highlights the stellar defense they played down the stretch, especially on Brook Lopez, who after torching the Heat for 26 first half points, was limited to a two-point fourth quarter.

With 4:35 remaining in the fourth, the Nets were in good shape. They were up by 10, 99-89 after two made free-throws by Lopez and had the opportunity to put the nail in the coffin and eliminate any chance of a Heat comeback, but they didn’t. They folded.

And while Lopez misfired on two consecutive trips on offense, the Heat, led by Goran Dragic and Waiters, spearheaded a 10-0 run capped off by Ellington’s three, that tied the game at 99-all with 2:16 remaining in the quarter.

A couple possessions later, with the Heat down one, 101-99 on two made free-throws by Nets rookie guard Caris LeVert, Miami rookie forward Okaro White buried a three, assisted by Waiters 102-101, which gave the Heat the lead for good.

“You know (Waiters) drew two at the end and I was wide open in that corner and he had that trust and the faith in me that I’ll knock it down and kicked it right to me,” White said post-game. “I went up into the shot and it was good so it’s nothing but God.”

At the end of the day, the Heat made shots when it counted and the Nets didn’t. The Nets also relied heavily on Lopez to create down the stretch and settled for “iso-ball”. It also doesn’t help that after Waiters’ layup cut the Nets lead to three 99-96 with 2:54 left to play, LeVert turned the ball over coming out of a timeout on the next possession.

After White’s three put the Heat up one, 102-101, the Nets left it up to Spencer Dinwiddie who missed a big three that could have put the Nets up two, with 43 seconds left. Late game execution has plagued the Nets all season long and on Wednesday night, it cost them another contest, this time against the Heat.

“I think we didn’t execute,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said post-game. “We started playing iso-ball and they turned us over a few times. We were missing shots, and then on the defensive end, we couldn’t get stops. You can’t give up 38 points in the fourth quarter, that’s way too many.”

Atkinson also said that he has to do a better job coaching, in finding the right balance between getting Lopez the ball and when to run plays and move the ball effectively for good shots. On too many occasions in the fourth, Atkinson said that Lopez wasn’t getting the ball in good positions to score and in doing so felt that it was up to him to save the day.

Despite his shortcomings, the Nets should’ve won this game and Lopez, who said post-game, that he has to do a better job of keeping the Nets offense going, knows that the Nets let one get away in large part to one single quarter.

“We really gave ourselves a chance for 40 minutes tonight, but obviously, it’s a full 48-minute game,” Lopez said post-game.

He led all scorers with a game-high 33 points. Bojan Bogdanovic added 17 points and LeVert, who broke Ellington’s ankles in the third quarter on a vicious crossover step-back three, recorded 12 points.

The hero of the game, Waiters scored a team-high 24 points and dished out eight assists while his backcourt mate, Dragic nearly clinched a double-double with 17 points and nine dimes. Ellington, who hit several big shots in this game and seemed eager to face his former team, handed the Nets 22 painful points off the bench and Willie Reed, another former Net scored 14 points.

This is a young team and you have to think that late game execution and defending for 48 minutes will be issues the Nets will tackle going forward. Like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Nets need to “Trust The Process,” and continue to learn from their mistakes to become a better team in the future.

The Nets will have Thursday off and then face the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers and with Lebron James voicing his disappointment in his team’s play as of late and the inability of his front-office to find a playmaker for their bench, this is the absolute worst time for the Nets to face the Cavaliers.

Following the Cavaliers, the Nets will still be on the road and will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday and the Miami Heat in Miami on Monday. The Nets will be home on Wednesday, February 1 to play the other struggling New York team, the New York Knicks.

Raptors Backcourt, Minus Lowry, Sends Nets To 11th Straight Loss

The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Toronto Raptors, Tuesday evening, for the second time in less than a week. In the last contest, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan would combine to score 48 points, leading Toronto to a 19-point win, 132-113. Unfortunately for the Nets, they would endure the same fate, this time around, losing 119-109, but instead of DeRozan teaming up with his usual backcourt mate in Lowry, and unlikely hero came off the bench to start and torched the Nets perimeter defense.

Corey Joseph, who started in Lowry’s place (rest), scored a career-high 33 points, supplemented with DeRozan’s monster performance of 36 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to lead the Raptors to their third straight victory over the Nets for the season.

At halftime, Joseph scored nearly half of his game total, with 18 points, but in the third quarter, the Raptors, thanks to their fifth year guard, would start to pull away after a competitive first half.

Toronto (28-13) would trade baskets with the Nets for the first six minutes of the third, and after Jonas Valanciunas’s layup, which put the Raptors up by two, 73-71, Joseph went on a mini-scoring run all by himself. He would score five straight points, including a desperation three, at the top of the key, with the shot-clock expiring.

“(Kyle) provides a lot of scoring for us,” Joseph said post-game. “I knew that slot would be missing today, so I took it upon myself to try to be more aggressive, try to be aggressive and take what the defense gave me.”

It was only five points and put the Raptors up 78-73 at the five-minute mark, but following that make, Toronto would get into a groove defensively, forcing three turnovers in the next two and a half minutes. Their five-point lead became nine, as the Raptors would transform those turnovers into points, capped off by a breakaway fast-break dunk by Valanciunas, off of a Randy Foye turnover.

In the final period, Joseph would continue terrorizing the Nets, scoring 13 points, blowing by his defenders, making them look silly. But this particular fourth quarter, where games are decided, belonged to DeRozan.

Joseph scored more than his All-Star teammate’s 10 points but the difference is, it seemed like DeRozan made shots exactly when Toronto needed them. When Sean Kilpatrick cut the deficit to six points on two made free-throws, 99-93, DeRozan answered on the other end converting a floater, spinning off of his defender, to put the Raptors back up by eight for the second time in the quarter, with 7:54 remaining.

With the Nets threatening to cut into the lead, once again, down nine at the 6:50 minute mark, 103-94, DeRozan would hush the crowd again. He drained a 10-foot jumper at the free-throw line increasing the Raptors lead to 11 and on their next offensive possession, DeRozan struck again, hitting a floater over the defense, which put Toronto up 13, 107-94 with six minutes left in the quarter.

Prior to DeRozan’s big second half, he struggled early, shooting three of 14 from the field for 16 points heading into the half.

“I just kept playing the same way,” DeRozan said post-game. “You know, getting good looks and just going out there and I know it’s going to come, it’s just more so being patient, not really worrying about the misses.”

For the Nets, Brook Lopez led all scorers with 28 points and Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert, all scored in double-figures chipping in 11 and 14 each respectively.

In the first half, the Nets were clicking on both sides of the ball, led by Lopez and Jefferson. Lopez scored 19 of his 28 points in the first half, highlighted by a couple of spin, step-through layups in the post that were Hakeem Olajuwon-esque on Valanciunas. Jefferson had some nice moments, taking his defender off the dribble, scoring 10 points at the half and as a group the Nets were looking good up 61-58.

In the third and fourth quarters, things went downhill for the Nets on offense due to the Raptors increased defensive pressure on Lopez. Toronto keyed in on the big-man, sending extra defenders and made sure to get the ball out of his hands. On several occasions, turnovers ensued and the Nets, collectively, just couldn’t find a rhythm on offense to prevent their 11th straight loss.

Despite their issues, the Nets know the season is far from over and can only do one thing: keep playing.

“You got to keep going,” Lopez said post-game. “We have a young group and we’re learning a lot on the fly so you got to just stay positive. We’re doing a lot well, just has not translated in the win column. I think we’re definitely going to break through soon. We just got to give ourselves a chance every night.”

One of the bright spots on the Nets has been LeVert’s play as of late. The rookie who missed most of training camp, scored 14 points with four assists and took the challenge of going up against DeRozan, at times, on both ends. His play has sparked the debate of whether he should be taking teammate, Joe Harris’s minutes and head coach Kenny Atkinson acknowledged that it is something that he has to mull over going forward.

“He’s getting more confidence,” Atkinson said regarding LeVert’s play. “He’s got the athleticism at that position that we need and the size and the quickness. I think, again, once the game slows down a little more, he’s even going to get better.”

The Nets are now 8-33 on the season, and haven’t won since last year in late December against the Charlotte Hornets.

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