March 18, 2019

With the win, the Nets move back into the No. 6 spot in the NBA Eastern Conference; Spencer Dinwiddie leads all scorers with 19 points

For the first time in a good long while, the atmosphere in the Barclays Center was like the NBA playoffs; it was over-the-top electric, as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Detroit Pistons 103-75. Wowza! With the win, the Nets have won four straight games and got back to the sixth position in the NBA Eastern Conference right behind the Boston Celtics. The Nets improved to 36-33 overall and 21-16 at Barclays Center, while the Pistons fell to 34-32 overall and 13-19 on the road with the loss.

By the Numbers

The Nets held the Pistons to .278 shooting (27-of-97) from the field, which marked a season-low for a Nets' opponent field goal percentage and the third-lowest opponent field goal percentage in franchise history. You would have to go all the way back to November 9, 2004, to a Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers game when the Nets held the Trail Blazers to a .244 field goal percentage, yikes! And, on March 7, 2006, against the Phoenix Suns when the Nets held the Suns to a field goal percentage of .268.

Not only did the Detroit Pistons lose, right now they are a team that holds the dubious distinction of a Nets’ opponent with a season-low 75 points, that has to sting. But that is better than ending the game with 62 points, which is what the Pistons had after three quarters – Nets 88 Pistons 62.

But don’t despair, Detroit, you’re not the only team that the Brooklyn Nets led by 26 after three quarters. Just last week on March 4, the Nets led the Dallas Mavericks by 26 points at the end of the third quarter with a score of 99-73. But wait, there’s more. The Nets held the San Antonio Spurs to the fewest points at the end of the third this season, which was 81-59.

Brooklyn also edged Detroit 54-24 (+30) in points in the paint and 18-5 (+13) in fast break points.

What stuck out most about the Nets for Detroit Pistons head coach Dwyane Casey, was “just the physicality of the game – they came in and whipped us every which way there was. We didn’t fight through screens, we didn’t set screens, any phase of basketball you want to talk about. If we’re serious about making the playoffs, we have to come out and not believe all the hype and all the stuff. We didn’t come out and play. I didn’t coach physical enough or whatever. We didn’t play physical enough. We took a full step back tonight.”

“Everything kind of aligned tonight,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought the game plan was good and the guys executed well, especially defensively. Detroit was coming off a game the night before, and it is late in the season, so we had more juice tonight. I don’t say that to take anything away from our guys.”

“It was another step from all our other games,” Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen explained. “We knew that we had to bring a certain physicality against Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, so we had to turn it up a little bit.”

So how did Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin fare when it was all said and done?

Andre Drummond scored 13 points, 20 rebounds, and three assists for Detroit, while Blake Griffin added 10 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

While the Pistons only had two players to score 10 points or more, the Nets had seven.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead all scorers with 19 points (5-of-11 FG, 7-of-7 FT), Allen Crabbe scored a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and he added four assists; Rodions Kurucs posted 13 points; both Joe Harris and Caris LeVert tallied 12 points, Harris accumulated four rebounds and three assists to his totals, while LeVert who came off the bench and added five rebounds to his points. Both Jarrett Allen and D’Angelo Russell each scored 11 points, Allen added eight rebounds and two blocked shots to his totals, while Russell added seven assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

What's Next

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the Brooklyn Nets kick off their seven-game road trip with their first stop in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder and their last game on this road trip is against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 28, 2019, before returning home to play the Boston Celtics on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons will travel to Miami to play the Miami Heat, another team struggling to make the playoffs. This match-up will be on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 7 p.m. ET.

Spencer Dinwiddie leads all scorers with 28 points

The Cleveland Cavaliers put up a good fight last night but ultimately lost to the Brooklyn Nets 113-107. A good win for the Nets, as the team is now back over .500, improving their record to 34-33 overall, while the Cavaliers fell to 16-49 overall and 6-25 on the road with the loss. The Nets also improved its wins against Eastern Conference teams, which could be needed to sort out placement and ties if the Nets are still in the running for a playoff position at the end of the regular season.

After the NBA All-Star break and into the month of March, the playoffs are on everyone’s mind, especially, as with the Nets, if your team hasn’t been there in a few years. As much as Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson would like not to have the NBA playoffs front and center, at this point there is no escaping it, particularly when a reporter asks, what tonight’s win means for a playoff push.

“Yeah, I think there was a moment in the fourth quarter where we were desperate,” Coach Atkinson responded. “And even in the third, they had an eight-point lead, I think. I’m glad we kept our cool though because you know, maybe last year or two years ago we would lose that lead, or the lead would go to 16 or 18. The fact that we kept our cool, weathered the storm and came back was important. We won that game without playing great.”

Atkinson didn’t respond directly to the playoffs. But reading between the lines, if a team doesn’t know how to come back from a deficit, it probably won’t be in NBA playoff conversation at least from a positive perspective. In years past, the Nets would get into trouble in the third quarter even after leading in the first half. However, players have bought into Atkinson’s system and have learned to take back control when they are not leading coming out of the third quarter, as in this case, Cleveland led 85-80.

“I thought our defense was good all night,” Atkinson said starting to explain how the Nets were able to take control of the fourth quarter. “I think we did a pretty good job – they hit a few too many three’s – but for the most part, we defended. I think Caris (LeVert) had an important stretch there when we were struggling and couldn’t really score. He made some big plays, started to get downhill, and obviously, Spencer (Dinwiddie) too. Those two guys, I thought they turned it up. Our offense, we’re struggling. And we really needed those two guys tonight. I think they did a good job.”

“We needed stops,” Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell proffered. “Teams get going like that. Any team in the league can get going. It’s hard to stop the bleeding without getting stops so we knew we had to get stops.”

And, the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew pretty much co-signed on how the Brooklyn Nets were able to take down his team.

“First of all, come out ready to play at the start of the game,” Drew said. “I believe we had eight turnovers in the first quarter, but we were able to overcome that. Playing on the road you just can’t play like that. Going down the stretch we just didn’t make the plays on either end. Brooklyn’s been playing well. You have to give credit where credit is due. They’ve really been getting after people. We allowed them to speed us up a little bit. When it came down to it down the stretch, we just didn’t make the plays. We had some bad shots. We had a couple of turnovers and we let it get away from us.”

At the end of the day, it was the Nets’ defense and keeping their composure under pressure.

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and led all scorers with 28 points, four rebounds, and five assists. D'Angelo Russell registered 25 points, four rebounds, and five assists, and three steals; Jarrett Allen had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and he added three assists to his total; Caris LeVert accumulated 14 points and four rebounds off the bench; Rodions Kurucs chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds, and; Ed Davis crashed the boards with 12 rebounds.

The Nets’ bench outscored the Cavs’ bench 50-45 points. Brooklyn also edged the Cavs 7-3 (+4) in blocks, 58-38 (+20) in points in the paint and 22-14 (+8) in second-chance points.

Leading scorers for the Cavaliers were Kevin Love with 24 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists; David Nwaba added 22 points off the bench; Larry Nance Jr. registered 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and four steals; Jordan Clarkson came off the bench and accumulated 14 points and seven rebounds, and; Colin Sexton chipped in 12 points and five assists.

The Cavaliers will travel to Miami to take on the Heat on Friday, March 8, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET., and the Brooklyn Nets won’t see its next opponent, the Atlanta Hawks until Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Atlanta. The Nets will then travel back to Brooklyn and take on the Detroit Pistons on Monday, March 11, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

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.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers with 22 points in the loss; Spencer Dinwiddie back in the lineup after missing 14 games following surgery on right thumb

This was a tough game to watch. For the second time this week, the Brooklyn Nets got pushed into the L column by an opponent that was either banging on the door for a playoff spot or seeking to move up in the standings. On Wednesday, it was the Washington Wizards, last night, the Nets lost to the Charlotte Hornets 123-112. The Nets are now 32-32 overall and 18-16 at the Barclays Center and the Hornets improved to 29-33 overall and 9-21 on the road with the win.

“We have given up 68 points in the first half two games in a row,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about his team’s recent streak. “It starts on the defensive end. It’s not about the lineups or working guys back in from injury. It’s about defense and we have to do a better job on that end. Right now, we just aren’t getting it done.”

Unfortunately, the Nets struggle wasn’t just defense, the Hornets had 50 field goals to the Nets 44 and 10 offensive rebounds to the Nets seven.

“We have to find some solution because we are out of sync right now,” Atkinson continued acknowledging his team’s offensive struggles. “We will figure it out because right now we aren’t sharp. Shot selection is not great, ball movement is not great. We will look at some things. Obviously, this late in the season, we won’t be changing our offense, but we will find some ways to help the guys.”

Coach Atkinson may want to look at his team’s offense because other teams certainly are looking at their offense to take them off their game, case in point, Hornets head coach James Borrego.

“…I think when we were here last time, Kemba was rolling there in that fourth quarter and they switched to a zone and they tried to take the ball out of his hands. This is a zone team, they’re number one in the NBA playing zone. We‘re going to see zone tonight, we understand that we play better against the zone of late…,” Coach Borrego told the media just before the game started.

For the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker led all scorers with 27 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and four steals; Jeremy Lamb registered 22 points off the bench; Nicolas Batum accumulated 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists; Frank Kaminsky recorded 15 points and seven rebounds; both Cody Zeller and Tony Parker scored 12 points, with Parker scoring his 12 points and five assists off the bench and Zeller adding nine rebounds and three assists, and; not to be outdone, Marvin Williams chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds.

D’Angelo Russell led Brooklyn with 22 points and nine assists in 28 minutes. DeMarre Carroll scored 20 points (5-of-10 FG, 3-of-5 3FG, 7-of-8 FT) with five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench; Spencer Dinwiddie returned to action last night for the first time since January 23, 2019, vs. Orlando and posted 15 points and four assists in 23 minutes off the bench. Dinwiddie missed 14 games following surgery that repaired ligaments in his right thumb. Caris LeVert totaled 14 points (6-of-11 FG) with seven rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes, and Jarrett Allen chipped in 10 points in 23 minutes.

Regarding the Nets struggles lately, could it be an abundance of riches now that everyone is healthy and back in the lineup and they need to adjust?

Or, is it just as simple as what D’Angelo Russell said: “We can’t dig ourselves in holes and teams shoot well and expect to get out of it by us scoring; we’ve got to get stops.”

Or, perhaps, it’s both.

The Brooklyn Nets travel to Miami to play the Miami Heat tonight at 7:30 p.m.

TIP-INS:

Dinwiddie has now scored 808 points off the bench this season, becoming the second player in franchise history to tally 800+ points in a season off the bench (Armen Gilliam scored 878 points off the bench in the 1993-94 season).

With his fourth rebound tonight, Ed Davis moved past Detlef Schrempf (3,640) and is now third in NBA history in rebounds off the bench (since the NBA first tracked starters in 1970-71). He now has 3,641 career rebounds off the bench and trails only Kevin McHale (3,526) and Paul Silas (5,337).

Washington Wizards down early, but used its wizardry to tie it up and wrap it up with 125-116 victory; D’Angelo Russell scored 23 points in the first half

This was a game where the final score really doesn’t tell the whole story. From the last third of the first quarter, it was tough sledding, but the Nets managed to close the gap in its 125-116 loss to the Washington Wizards.

At the outset, it took the Wizards more than three minutes to get points on the board. At 8:56 in the first, the Nets were leading 10-0, but with some wizardry, Washington scored its first two points. At the 4:08 mark in the first quarter, the score was tied 18-18. By the end of the quarter, the Washington Wizards finished on top 34-28. The remaining three quarters were more of the same. In the second stanza the Nets stayed close, tying twice, but ultimately, ending the quarter on the losing end 68-60. The third quarter was when things really went south, the Nets were down by as much as 28 points at 2:14, ultimately ending the third, 101-79, a deficit of 22 points. In a word, UGLY. Now, to their credit, towards the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, you could physically see the Nets hustling. But prior to the fourth period, everything that could go wrong went terribly wrong, it was as if they were under a spell. But, ultimately, the Nets managed to dig themselves out of the double-digit hole, ending the game down by nine, 125-116.

“I was concerned before the game about this team (Wizards),” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said responding to a question about the Nets lack of defense. “They’re a very good, talented offensive team. We didn’t stop them. Credit to them, I thought they played really well. Obviously, we didn’t have that it. Whatever it is, we didn’t have it across the board – players, coaches. It just wasn’t there. Just not nearly good enough to beat them tonight.”

Atkinson went on to say that he addressed the Wizards’ numerous fast-breaks during the team’s meeting at halftime.

“Yeah, we told them,” Atkinson continued. “Even without John Wall, they played faster than they did before. That was key, number one. We had poor transition defense. It doesn’t help when you’re missing shots – 5-for-23 for three in the first half, missing lay-ups and etcetera, etcetera. I think we can throw it in one bucket, it was across the board. I just thought we just weren’t very good, and they were very good. Really, it was nine points, but it’s really a 20, 25-point loss, the way it feels.”

THE THIRD QUARTER BREAKDOWN

“We were locked in, we defended,” Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said about the third quarter. “We did a great job of defending the basketball. Brooklyn is a hard team to guard. They have a lot of players that play fast. They can make a lot of threes. We did a good job of guarding the 3-point line. That was a point of emphasis that we wanted to accomplish tonight, and we did. It’s just one game, we played solid on the defensive end. We made too many mistakes down the stretch with the eight turnovers in that fourth quarter. Other than that, I thought we played solid throughout the game.”

“I think it just all happened after the 10-point lead,” Nets center Jarrett Allen said responding to a question about the Nets’ third-quarter breakdown. “We just came out unprepared, just mentally unfocused. You could tell that our energy wasn’t there, and our minds weren’t there either.”

In addition to beating the Nets 33-19 on points in the third quarter, the Wizards also took over on the boards. On the defensive end, Washington outrebounded Brooklyn 10-7 and offensively 4-1.

“I think we got a little dejected,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about his team’s performance in the third. “The energy felt down when they started to make a run in the third quarter. It seemed the harder that we tried, the worse that it got. We made a little run at it and then they started making some plays, they took advantage of our low energy. Tough to dig yourself out of it. But I thought the guys that went in at the end of the game did a good job of competing all the way through. Seeing Tahjere (McCall) go out there and compete, get a few buckets was awesome. Shabazz (Napier) played well. But, collectively, it was not a good enough effort on everybody’s part tonight.”

SCORING LEADERS

D’Angelo Russell led all Brooklyn Nets scorer with 28 points (9-of-16 FG), seven assists and three rebounds; Shabazz Napier came off the bench and scored 22 points, and Jarrett Allen accumulated 12 points and six rebounds.

Tahjere McCall, who the Brooklyn Nets signed to his first 10-day contract, made his NBA debut and registered four points and one rebound in under eight minutes after stepping on the court for the first time in the fourth quarter at the 7:58 mark. McCall scored his first two points on a driving layup at 5:16.

For the Washington Wizards, five players scored in double digits. Bradley Beal led all scorers with 31 points and four assists; Trevor Ariza registered 23 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists; Thomas Bryant accumulated 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists off the bench; Jeff Green scored 15 points and five rebounds, and; Bobby Portis chipped in 10 points and 12 rebounds.

UP NEXT

The Washington Wizards will travel to Boston to play the Boston Celtics tomorrow, Friday, March 1, 2019. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets remain at home to play the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, March 1, 2019, at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

With the win, D’Angelo Russell leads Nets with 23 points, now in second place on the franchise’s single-season 3FGM list with 172, needs 202 to take first place

The San Antonio Spurs are still in the playoff hunt, but barely. To see a team with the legacy of the Spurs to have a record of 33-27 and lose to the 11-48 New York Knicks 130-118 on Sunday and then turn around and lose to the Brooklyn Nets 101-85 the very next night, clearly, there are underlying issues plaguing this team. One could see the Spurs losing to the Brooklyn Nets on the road, and also on the second game of a back-to-back because the Nets are on an upswing, but the Knicks, a team that is in the NBA basement? Surely, Knicks and Nets fans will take the win.

From the look of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich during a pregame interview, you can visibly see that his 2018 life events of losing his wife, Erin, after a long illness; losing Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors, and Tony Parker to the Charlotte Hornets, have and still are taking a toll. Add to that having to manage new members of the Spurs, there’s a lot going on here even for this military veteran, after all, he is human.

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert, who is also human and only returned to the Nets lineup just before the NBA All-Star break on February 8, 2019, understands the urgency of now and said the team had their game plan ready for the Spurs and all they needed to do was push play.

“We knew they (San Antonio Spurs) were coming off of a back-to-back and we wanted to jump on them early and that’s what we did, kept up the defense all night and came away with the win,” LeVert told reporters.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson felt good about his team’s victory, “Just a good win against a very good team. Especially at the end, I felt like we struggled again a little to close the game out and made some mistakes and took our foot off the pedal a little, so that’s a little concerning, but I thought we had to match their physicality. I thought that was key. I thought we did a good job of that, rebounding was good. We were ready for them physically, which was a concern.”

Concerned, yes, but Coach Atkinson still had a lot to like about his team’s performance.

“Yeah, I think against a good offensive team, good shooting team, we did a pretty good job – pretty solid job even on (DeMar) DeRozan,” Atkinson continued. “LaMarcus (Aldridge) got rolling there a little bit, but 85 points against that team, that’s a good job by our guys.”

Even Coach Popovich liked what he saw about the Brooklyn Nets game, As I’ve said before the game, the Brooklyn Nets have done a great job this year. They’re just getting better and better. On the road, 4-for-24 is not going to get it done from the 3-point line. That poor shooting is always going to be a problem. It got us tonight, but I’m actually pleased with the game. I was angry after the game last night (against the New York Knicks). I’m very pleased about this game because we held a good team to 101 points. If we continue to do that we’ll be in good shape.”

“I thought we communicated a lot better tonight and switching back and forth between the man and the zone defense was really good,” Popovich continued. “As I’ve said, if we can hold somebody to 101 points we’ll be in great shape. You have a night, once in a while, where you shoot like this. Coming in, we were one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, but tonight it was awful. That happens but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t think about it. I think about the effort we put out last night which wasn’t good. Everybody busted their butts tonight and I feel great. I can sleep.”

The Spurs had three scoring leaders with 10 points or more; LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocked shots; DeMar DeRozan registered 23 points and five rebounds, and; Rudy Gay chipped in 13 points and three rebounds.

The Nets also only had three players in double digits. D’Angelo Russell dropped 23 points (9-of-19 FG, 5-of-11 3FG), a game-high eight assists, and seven rebounds; Caris LeVert and Joe Harris both scored 15 points each. LeVert added seven assists and five rebounds to his scoring total, while Harris added three assists. DeMarre Carroll had a game-high 12 rebounds.

The Brooklyn Nets will face the Washington Wizards tomorrow, Wednesday, February 27, 2019, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m.

In the loss, Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis, lead the Brooklyn Nets in scoring against their old team, the Portland Trail Blazers

Last night, fresh from the excitement of the NBA All-Star extravaganza, which saw four Brooklyn Nets players participating in different activities and Nets forward Joe Harris beating out Stephen Curry to win the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest, the Brooklyn Nets sputtered in its first game after the NBA All-Star break losing to the Portland Trail Blazers 113-99. With the loss, the Nets have a 30-30 overall win-loss record and 17-14 at the Barclays Center. They are also still in the sixth position in the NBA Eastern Conference playoff berth standings right behind the Boston Celtics. On the contrary, the Portland Trail Blazers improved to 35-23 overall and 11-15 on the road with the win.

Like the Nets’ game against the Chicago Bulls, Portland’s starting five out-sized the Nets starters with the Trail Blazers’ center and forward being 7’0” and both forwards 6’9” while the Nets players in those positions are 6’11” (center) and 6’7” and 6’5” for the forwards. Also, Portland’s players in those positions have more experienced with 6, 8, and 4-years’ NBA experience versus no more than two years of experience (2, 2, and 1) for Nets players in similar positions. This not to excuse the Nets loss, but to put into context things that can contribute to the ups and downs in the NBA and sports in general.

When Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was asked about the biggest difference between the two teams, he responded, “I think rebounding, I think physicality. I think they were the more physical team. I see 19 offensive rebounds. We couldn’t corral. I think we did a decent job on (Damian) Lillard and (CJ) McCollum, just a tough time rebounding tonight. I said pregame that’s one of the things we’re focused on, so I’m disappointed there was no carryover from the emphasis at the All-Star break. So, credit to Portland – I thought overall, they were the more energetic, more physical team, and deserved to win.”

Atkinson also added what he would like to clean up regarding the Nets’ rhythm and flow: “We didn’t have great rhythm tonight, didn’t play well. I think that’s across the board – didn’t coach well, didn’t play well. It’s just one of those games where Portland was simply the better team. There’s just no way around it. I thought in all facets they played really well.”

All of the Portland Trail Blazers starting five scored in double digits. Jusuf Nurkic, the team’s center achieved 27 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocked shots; CJ McCollum recorded 21 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two blocked shots; both Maurice Harkless and Damian Lillard each scored 13 points and eight rebounds, while Lillard added 8 assists to his total and Harkless added four assists; Al-Farouq Aminu contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds, and; Enes Kanter, who recently landed in Portland via a transaction with the New York Knicks, came off the bench and registered 18points and nine rebounds to help his team get the “W”.

“Good to get a road win, good to get that first win after the break,” Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said about his team’s victory against the Brooklyn Nets. “Brooklyn played a lot of zone. We didn’t have a lot of offense in with Enes Kanter, so it was just kind of playing free basketball. I thought we did a good job with pick-and-rolls when we had it. Obviously, our two big guys dominated inside. That was an important part of our offense.”

“Yeah, that’s my game,” Kanter said not shying away from his style of basketball. “Just go out there, I play hard and bring energy, rebounds – the inside game. I think it’s just the important thing to go out there and get a win.”

Allen Crabbe, a former member of the Portland Trail Blazers and in his second season with the Nets, summed up his thoughts on where the Trail Blazers hurt the Nets most: “Offensive rebounds. They got a lot of second-chance points, they got a lot of offensive rebounds. It’s hard to beat a team when you give up that many offensive rebounds and they get that many looks, second chance aside, so you’ve just got to give them credit. They outworked us tonight. We’ve just got to get back to the drawing board and figure it out.”

Crabbe understands there is no time to dwell on this loss and what to do next is not rocket science. Everyone understands what needs to be done to be ready for the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

“I think just practice really, just keep going back, watching film, looking at things we can correct, things we can sharpen up a little bit,” Crabbe added. “Like you said, finally getting back to a full, healthy roster, so just that rhythm of playing with the regular lineups we had at the beginning of the season. I think in due time it will come, so we’re not worried about it. We know we have a lot of guys capable of doing good stuff for us each and every night, so I think it will click for us eventually.”

Oddly enough, the players that led the Nets in scoring last night were former players from the Portland Trail Blazers, Crabbe and Ed Davis and they both came off the bench. Crabbe scored 17 points and four rebounds, while Davis scored a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets first unit with 14 points, eight assists, and four rebounds; Joe Harris scored 13 points and four rebounds, both Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen each scored 12 points, while Allen added 11 rebounds to his total.

Some have called this loss to Portland a wake-up call for the Brooklyn Nets.

Davis begs to differ: “It’s not really a wake-up call, I mean we’re woke. They’re a good team – they were the third seed (in the NBA Western Conference) coming in here. They played well, they(are) coached well and they just beat us. That’s the NBA. Like you said, you gotta move on and get ready for the next game.”

After playing the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, February 23rd, the Nets return home to take on the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, February 25, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, Coach Atkinson said he tried everything.

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

Truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nets hit 19 3-pointers; D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 27 points and Shabazz Napier gets his first career double-double against the Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets may be No. 2 in the NBA Western Conference, but there is something about the Brooklyn Nets that the Nuggets just can’t shake. The Nets became the second team this season to sweep the Nuggets (2-0), the other being the Milwaukee Bucks. And, because teams only play teams outside their conference twice in a season, there won’t be an opportunity for the Nuggets to even the score, so see you next season.

Perhaps, the Nuggets got too comfortable with their 14-point lead in the first quarter. Or, perhaps it was Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson’s decision to pull starting forward Rodions Kurucs, who wasn’t as productive as he could have been, and slide in DeMarre Carroll in his place, but whatever the reason, in short order the momentum changed. The Nets ended the first quarter down five points, Nuggets 35 – Nets 30. Brooklyn turned up the heat in the second leading by as much as 14 points at 5.6 seconds before ending the half up by 12 with a score of 72-60. The Nets saw more gold in the third quarter ending it up by 21 with a score of 108-87. Now, the Denver Nuggets are No. 2 in the Western Conference for a reason, and in the fourth stanza, the Nuggets dug deep into their inner being and gave the Nets a run for the money. Fortunately for the Nets, the Nuggets couldn’t seal the deal and the Nets won 135-130.

With the win, the Nets improved to 29-27 overall and 17-12 at Barclays Center and besting last season’s win total of 28-54, a huge accomplishment.

“I think it’s a sign of real progress,” Coach Atkinson said about the Nets’ current standing in the NBA. “It’s a sign that we’re a little ahead of schedule – I don’t want to get too excited because I look at the schedule for the rest of the year, but this was one of those games I looked at the schedule and said this is gonna be a tough one to get. But, I’m proud of the guys, proud of the organization. We’ve reached this victory mark this early – it’s a sign of real progress.”

At the end of a game, there are some coaches that take a loss and don’t show their disgust or disappointment in their team’s performance. However, last night, Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone gave kudos to the Brooklyn Nets, and overall, he was not happy with his some of his starters.

“The 3-point line was a byproduct of the real difference in the game which was how hard Brooklyn played,” Coach Malone told the media. “I think it’s a shame I have to take five starters out in the third quarter because you’re not playing at the level you’re supposed to play. This is a game of mistakes, you’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to miss shots. Things are going to happen but when you’re out there and you’re going through the motion, that’s one thing I can’t stand to watch and will not stand to watch. I was really happy and proud of the guys who went into the game in that third quarter. They got us back in the game and gave us a little bit of life. Nineteen threes is an awful number, but alarming for me is back-to-back games when we have guys out there in our starting lineup and not playing as hard as they need to play.”

Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell explained how the Nets were able to take advantage of the Nuggets.

“I think it’s just us figuring out how to win,” Russell said. “Last year we were in this position a lot of the times and it came down to that – figuring out how to win situation. I think we were really putting our foot on that.”

And, on how good it felt as a group for the Nets to get their offensive groove going after Monday night’s shellacking by the Milwaukee Bucks, Russell said: “It’s special. To be honest, we got our guys coming back. We’ve been doing this without our guys so just to get our guys back in one at a time and keep that groove going, I think it’s really special.”

D’Angelo Russell was one of seven Nets players scoring in double-digits against the Denver Nuggets. Russell led the Nets with 27 points (6-of-9 3FG), six rebounds and 11 assists in 35 minutes and registered his single-season career-high sixth double-double in the process. And, he will now play in the NBA All-Star game replacing the Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo who is out with an injury. DeMarre Carroll, posting his third double-double of the season, recorded 18 points, 10 rebounds, a career-high-tying six assists and a season-high four steals (matching the most steals recorded in a game by any Net this season) in 28 minutes off the bench. Joe Harris scored 17 points (7-of-13 FG, 3-of-6 3FG) with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 32 minutes. Treveon Graham tallied 16 points (6-of-9 FG, 4-of-6 3FG) – marking his second-most points scored in a game in his career – with three rebounds, two steals and, an assist in 23 minutes. Both Jarrett Allen and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson logged 15 points and Allen added five rebounds to his total. Shabazz Napier, part of the Nets second unit last night, posted his first-career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 11 assists in 27 minutes.

For the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic registered 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists; former Nets player, Mason Plumlee, posted 24 points, six rebounds, and three blocked shots; Jamal Murray accumulated 19 points, 11 assists, and three rebounds; Monte Harris, came off the bench and scored 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists; Malik Beasley, a starting guard, tallied 17 points, and; Trey Lyles, a member of Denver’s second unit chipped in 15 points and five rebounds.

With Plumlee being a former Nets player, of course, someone had to ask Coach Malone about Plumlee’s performance last night.

“He was everywhere,” Malone responded. “The guy was blocking shots on defense, running the floor and finishing around the basket. He was screening, rolling. What didn’t Mason Plumlee do to start that game? Literally, Mason was everywhere. Mason played hard. Mason cared. Mason left everything he had on the floor until he fouled out. You have to give a guy who plays that hard respect.”

Yes, you should.

So, what’s Denver’s next move?

The Denver Nuggets will be in Philadelphia tomorrow, Friday, January 8, 2019, to play the Philadelphia 76ers.

Meanwhile, the Nets will still be at home and will host the Chicago Bulls, also tomorrow, Friday, January 8, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

 

 

Nets in striking distance of Bucks through first-half, but overwhelmed by Bucks in 3rd quarter 36-22; Nets still 6th in NBA Eastern Conference

The Brooklyn Nets have been undergoing a rough patch lately. All teams in the NBA go through a backward slide during the NBA season at some point or another, even the reigning NBA champion, the Golden State Warriors, as of today, has lost 15 games this season. However, when you’re fighting for relevancy and trying not to fall out of NBA playoff positioning, you have little room for error and so is the case for the Brooklyn Nets.

Last night, and every game at this point and going forward is important for the Nets. Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Nets couldn’t pull off a win against the Milwaukee Bucks, the current number 1 team in the NBA. The Bucks defeated the Brooklyn Nets, 113-94. With the loss, the Nets fell to 28-27 overall and 16-12 at Barclays Center. Meanwhile, the Bucks improved to 39-13 overall and 17-9 on the road. There’s little surprise that the Nets would lose to a team aiming to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, but the play of game exposed how Nets player injuries have put a serious dent in the Nets ability to keep pace with an elite team operating at full strength.

Even Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer agrees.

“Brooklyn’s really banged up so it’s almost not fair,” Budenholzer said graciously. “But for us on the end of a road trip, it’s a good win.”

Budenholzer highlighted key elements that helped the Bucks pull off a win against the Nets: “Really good win. The focus coming out of the halftime was really good. Khris (Middleton) had a stretch there for two or three minutes -- kind of put us on his back, and obviously, Giannis is special. I thought the defense between (Eric) Bledsoe and Malcolm (Brogdon) on D’Angelo Russell and Shabazz Napier was very good.”

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson sees a silver-lining ahead for his team, as Caris LeVert and Allen Crabbe will be at a full-on practice today.

“Progressing great,” Atkinson said about LeVert during his pregame press conference last night. “He will practice with the G-League team tomorrow, a full-on practice. Allen Crabbe will be in that bucket too and then we will evaluate after the practice, but both of them (are) progressing nicely.”

Nets guard D’Angelo Russell is chomping at the bit for Crabbe and LeVert’s return to the lineup because he knows how much their return will help the team.

“A lot, a lot, a lot,” Russell said about how much getting Crabbe and LeVert back in the lineup would help the team. “It’s forcing Coach to really go deep in the bench (player absences), but you get that caliber of guys back and you’re at another level, so the sooner the better.”

In addition to LeVert and Crabbe being out for the Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie, a team leader, is also out. Dinwiddie underwent successful surgery last week to repair ligaments in his right thumb. There is no timetable for his return as yet. And, Nets center Jarrett Allen acknowledges Dinwiddie's importance to the team and what the Nets are missing without Dinwiddie’s presence.

“Just Spencer driving to the rim,” Allen said. “Just Spencer being able to create space. Just him all around.”

Regarding Nets scoring leaders, Russell led the Nets with 18 points and five assists in 29 minutes against the Bucks. Shabazz Napier, who made his second start for the Nets last night, recorded 15 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 28 minutes. Theo Pinson added 10 points, a career-high-tying eight rebounds, and two assists in 26 minutes off the bench.

Although (Jarrett) Allen did not score in double-digits, he led the Nets in rebounding with 11.

For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 30 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, and three blocked shots; Malcolm Brogdon scored 15 points and eight rebounds; Eric Bledsoe registered 15 points, five assists, five steals, and three rebounds, and; Khris Middleton chipped in 12 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

The Bucks are heading home to Milwaukee to host the Washington Wizards, tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6, at 8 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Nets will stay at home and host the Denver Nuggets at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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