January 19, 2019

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets win with 29 points against the NBA leader, the Toronto Raptors

For the Brooklyn Nets, the end to the long drought of wins came yesterday against the No. 1 team in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors. It took an overtime session to clinch the win, a third overtime game this season for the Nets by the way, but the Nets beat the Raptors 106-105.

This win, took down a number of demons, the first of which, the Nets ended a 12-game losing streak against the Raptors and the team’s season-worst eight-game losing streak. The win improved Brooklyn’s overall win-loss record so far this season to 9-18, and 4-10 at the Barclays Center.

The last time the Brooklyn Nets won a game this season was way back on November 20, 2018, against the Miami Heat on the road in Miami. The journey to get here was a bit tumultuous, as Brooklyn led so many games in the closing minutes only to drop the ball and allow the other team to win. Watching them give up double-digit leads and lose games in the closing minutes this season, gave many the feeling that perhaps, the team felt they were not worthy of winning. However, Friday night, Brooklyn pushed that monkey off its back and was justly rewarded by the basketball gods. Beating the Raptors should be a sign that this is a win they can build upon. And, don’t cry for the Raptors, they still hold the best record in the NBA.

“Obviously, it’s a great win for us just to get off of the losing streak, the skid that we were on,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about finally getting a game in the win column after a long drought. “We’ve been playing great basketball, and we just haven’t been able to execute and finish down the stretch. Tonight it was with our defense. Big plays. Big possessions. Winning plays all the way around. Obviously, Rondae did a hell of a job individually, defensively, but it was a collective effort for sure.”

Harris also felt this Nets win against the Toronto Raptors is better than other wins this season because the Raptors are number one in the league.

“Yeah, I think it just kind of validates what we were already feeling,” Harris continued. “We’ve obviously been able to compete night in night out with everybody that we’ve played against. Toronto up to this point, even now, has been record-wise the best team in the NBA, and they really have been playing the best basketball. For us to come in and get some validation that our process, we’ve been sticking with it, staying consistent, and we were finally able to execute and finish one off.”

To say that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was elated with this win would be an understatement.

“I think that stop at the end of the game was indicative of who we were all night,” Atkinson said about his guys. “We fought, we clawed and the basketball gods shined on guys that have been playing good basketball and guys of high character and guys that are together and spirited. So it’s just nice to see those guys in that locker room rewarded for their efforts.”

Leading the way in points for the Brooklyn Nets were D’Angelo Russell with a team-high 29 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and registered 17 points and eight assists; Jarrett Allen scored a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and added two steals and two blocked shots; both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Allen Crabbe tallied 11 points and four rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

Nets forward Ed Davis led the way in rebounding with 15 rebounds, of which 13 were defensive rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 32 points for the Raptors; teammates Jonas Valanciunas added 24 points and eight rebounds, while Pascal Siakam contributed 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Toronto returns home to host the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow, Sunday, December 9, 2018, at 6 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Nets will travel across the East River to Manhattan to play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden tonight, Saturday, December 8, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Can the Nets make it a two-game winning streak?

Only time will tell.

Brandon Jennings scored a game and season-high 36 points for the Bucks, and Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 35 points for the New York Knicks

With the New York Knicks offense struggling and the team on a 5-game losing streak, head coach Mike D 'Antoni can't wait until Baron Davis gets healthy enough to bring stability and veteran leadership to the backcourt. It may not happen for a couple of more weeks, but it's not because of a lack of effort on Davis' part.

Prior to the game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night, Davis talked about his health and the state of the team. It hasn't been easy watching the team go through the offensive funk that has them averaging only 88 points in their 8 losses. They have scored over 100 points only 3 times, winning 2 of those games. Defensively they have been better than in the past under D 'Antoni giving up 100 points or more in 4 out of the 14 games they've played. With Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the floor, points should not be hard to come by. Both have been in a funk evidenced by their poor performance in the Wednesday night loss to Phoenix. They combined for 35 points but needed 44 shots to do so. Only Stoudemire's free throws (9 out of 10) made his final line look respectable. Granted, Anthony has been hampered by a sore wrist and ankle and Stoudemire may still be dealing with a sore back, but as a team, they have not moved the ball well enough to give their teammates open looks and uncontested shots. That's where Davis is hoping to contribute when he's ready to play.

"I can shoot, dribble and a lot of spot shooting," said Davis sitting in front of his locker.

He basically does this alone with the help of the assistant coaches and watched closely by the training staff. He's doing things in moderation while working on conditioning drills.

"It's a process," he continued. "It's strength, it's conditioning, it's balance. It's being able to do that on a consistent basis day in and day out and wake up the next day and be ready to progress forward. I'm making leaps and bounds and huge strides to get myself on the court."

In the meantime, when the ball goes up in the air, Davis is relegated to being a cheerleader and teacher. When Toney Douglas' poor early season play forced D 'Antoni to bench him in favor of first-year guard Iman Shumpert, Davis had already been mentoring him while he was waiting to come off the bench. He was giving Shumpert advice and making sure he never lost confidence. Shumpert isn't his only pupil.

"We have a lot of young guys on the team," Davis continued. "If I see a weakness in a defender on the floor I will talk with Toney or Shumpert about it. I try and work with the younger guys to get them to hone in on the fundamentals. As we proceed thru the season, those are the things that are going to push us over the top."

As he watches his team from the bench, dressed to the nines, Baron Davis is learning the offense he will be running as soon as his back can handle the everyday pounding. As easy as it may look from his vantage point, putting it into action with a new group won't be easy. He doesn't think it will take that long to pick things up.

"I'm the type of person that I pick up things very, very quickly when I'm out there."

He will do that with a starting line-up that is still trying to develop offensive cohesiveness.

"Any time you have these many new faces in a system, it takes everyone to really catch a rhythm and to get on a roll. You have to be patient. Offensively I know that will come around."

It didn't come around against the Bucks as New York fell behind early in the fourth quarter by as many as 17 points in their 100-86 loss. Brandon Jennings, who torched the Knicks the last time he touched the Madison Square Garden floor for 37 points, scored a game and season-high 36 points. Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 35 points but his frustration showed after with 1:33 left in the game as he was hit with his second technical foul resulting in his ejection. The Knicks lost for the 5th straight time and their 3rd straight at home. D 'Antoni said the team was in "crisis" after Wednesday's loss. You can add turmoil as well.

"It's the whole team," he said afterward. "We are just not sharp. It looks like they are running circles around us. It is not just one guy. We wouldn't be this bad. Again, we have to dig deeper and get through this."

Getting Baron Davis on the floor would be a good start.

Never knowing which Nets team is going to show up, Keith Bogans rises to the occasion and Joe Johnson hits the winning shot

When the Brooklyn Nets stepped on the floor at the Barclays Center to start the second half of their NBA season, everyone from the players, to the coaching staff, to the fans wondered which team they would see. Would it be the team that won 11 of its first 14 games to start the year resulting in then-head coach Avery Johnson being named Coach of the Month? Or would it be the team that lost 11 games the following month that cost Johnson his job? Or would it be the team that won 9 of its first 10 (7 wins in a row at one point) games under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo finishing the first half with a 17-8 record under him? Their overall record of 31-22 had them in second place in the Atlantic Division only 2 1/2 games behind the Knicks. Despite Deron Williams' health and inconsistent play between him and fellow guard Joe Johnson, center Brook Lopez responded from an early ankle injury to play his way onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team. They faced the Milwaukee Bucks at the Barclay Center last night a team they had not beaten in 13 straight games. By night's end, there were still many questions to be answered.

At the start, there were more positive answers, as Brooklyn jumped all over the Bucks taking a seven-point lead (31-24) at the end of the first period. The trio of Williams, Johnson, and Lopez combined for 20 points. It got better in the second period as the Nets extended the lead to as many as 15 (56-41) after a short Lopez jumper. Milwaukee dwindled the lead to 10 at the half, as Bucks guard Brandon Jennings started what would be a big night for him scoring five of his 11 first-half points.

Jennings, on the strength of scoring 16 third-period points, carried the Bucks to a one-point lead (81-80) nailing 6 of 9 shots (2 of 3 from 3-point land) going into the final period. The largest lead by any team was no more than 5 points (87-82) after Bucks Ekpe Udoh bank shot as both teams made big baskets down the stretch.

With the score tied at 94 and 5:26 left, each remaining possession was treated like a Game 7 playoff, with no team ever leading by more than three points. After a Williams jumper brings Brooklyn within 1 (101-100) Andray Blatche gives them a brief lead after making two free throws. After a Larry Sanders offensive tip regains the Milwaukee lead (102-101), Nets Williams got called for an offensive foul and sent Jennings to the free throw line (he made both) giving them what looked like an insurmountable lead 105-102. Brooklyn's Joe Johnson then broke the Bucks heart not once but twice.

The first came when he hit a three-pointer at the end of the regular period buzzer (105-105) sending the game into overtime. Nets Keith Bogans began the extra frame by contributing his own three giving Brooklyn a very brief 108-105 lead. The Bucks crashed the offensive boards their next two possessions outscoring the Nets 6-0 pushing ahead 111-108. But Brooklyn was not done. Bogans continued his hot streak draining another three-pointer, tying the game at 111. With 1.4 seconds left, Johnson curls left at the top of the key after getting a pass from Williams and hits nothing but the bottom of the net sending the Bucks home and putting an end to their 13-game losing streak at the hands of the Bucks. It was Johnson's third game-winning shot of the season.

Brooklyn had a lot of questions coming into the game against the Bucks. The win was a good answer to start the second half of their season. A win they can't celebrate for long, as they travel to Milwaukee Wednesday night where the Bucks will look to begin another winning streak.

Dwane Casey agrees to a 5-year deal as Pistons' new head coach

Few people, if any, expected Dwane Casey to be without a head coaching position for the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season after his abrupt firing by the Toronto Raptors on May 11.

And today, that belief proves to be true.

Casey has reached an agreement on a 5-year deal to become the next coach of the Detroit Pistons, league sources tell ESPN.

What’s The 411Sports reported on a recent episode that Casey, along with former Bucks coach, Jason Kidd, had interviewed for the Piston’s head coach position. In the last few days, reports stated that the Pistons had narrowed down its search between Casey and John Beillin of the University of Michigan. Beillin pulled his name from consideration, according to Clutch Points.

However, Casey is no consolation prize, as he is the Raptors all-time leader for the most regular-season games coached (397) and the most regular-season game wins (210). Additionally, this past season, Casey led the Raptors to its best season with 59 wins and 23 losses and the No. 1 seed in the NBA Eastern Conference. He was also voted National Basketball Coaches Association’s coach of the year for the 2017-18 season.

VIDEO: Dwane Casey: The mindset of a winning NBA head coach

 

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Brooklyn Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson, explains the Nets' loss to Milwaukee Bucks

What hurt the Nets the most this afternoon?

“Our start,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media without hesitation.

“Somehow, for some reason, we weren’t ready,” Atkinson continued. “I don’t understand how that happens. I’m a little upset with our group that we weren’t more ready mentally, physically. You give up 36 points in the first quarter; it’s like, that team is too good, too good to let that happen. We did show some fight with our bench. I thought they came in and gave glimmer of hope there. But too big of a hole against a very talented team.”

 

DeMarre Carroll scores 11 of 15 points in first quarter; Nets bench kept team in the game; Coach Atkinson visibly disturbed by Nets effort in first quarter

It’s NFL Super Bowl Sunday, and the Brooklyn Nets had a 12-noon date with the Milwaukee Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo aka the “Greek Freak”.

For the Brooklyn Nets, things got ugly fast. Save, DeMarre Carroll and Jahlil Okafor off the bench, the Nets shots weren’t going down; their trajectory seemed to be off, too much force, too much spin, etc., etc. Meanwhile, the Bucks seemed to be scoring at will.

At the end of the first quarter, it was Bucks 36, Nets 22. When the Nets dig themselves into a hole early, the outcome is usually not good, and today’s 109-94 thumping by the Bucks proved the point.

What hurt the Nets the most this afternoon?

“Our start,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media without hesitation.

“Somehow, for some reason, we weren’t ready,” Atkinson continued. “I don’t understand how that happens. I’m a little upset with our group that we weren’t more ready mentally, physically. You give up 36 points in the first quarter; it’s like, that team is too good, too good to let that happen. We did show some fight with our bench. I thought they came in and gave a glimmer of hope there. But too big of a hole against a very talented team.”

The Nets’ bench outscored the Bucks’ bench 38 – 30; however, the Bucks outrebounded the Net 54-36.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: BROOKLYN NETS HEAD COACH KENNY ATKINSON (AUDIO)

“Against some of the best teams in the league, we’ve competed and we’re ready, but we were on our heels from the start,” Atkinson added. “And if you do that against a bigger team, a more athletic team, that’s just going to happen. You have to take 36 (points Bucks made in the first quarter) on the chin. So we just weren’t ready for the fight. I thought (Eric) Bledsoe set the tone. I thought he was the difference. He was an absolute ball of fire out there. We couldn’t stop him. Obviously, Giannis (Antetokounmpo) is going to do what he’s going to do, but Bledsoe really set the tone for them and dominated us.”

Spencer Dinwiddie, who did not have a good day in the points’ column, picked up his eighth game of double-digit assists this season. He totaled one such game in his first three NBA seasons combined and he credits his teammates for getting the Nets back in the game.

“I think Caris [LeVert] and D-Lo [D’Angelo Russell] did a great job picking up the pace, Staus [Nik Stauskas] hit a big shot,” Dinwiddie said. “I think Joe [Harris] had great energy, DC [DeMarre Carroll] was part of that run as well as Quincy [Acy], so I think those guys should be attributed for that run. Give all credit to those guys for getting us back into it; obviously, we didn’t get close enough.”

DeMarre Carroll recorded a team-high-tying 15 points and three rebounds in 32 minutes, with 11 of his points coming in the first quarter. Caris Levert came off the bench to also score 15 points and he leads the Nets with 27 games scoring in double figures off the bench this season. Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen tallied 14 points (7-of-11 FG) and a team-high seven rebounds in 27 minutes in his fourth-career start for Brooklyn. Allen Crabbe chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.

Like Dinwiddie, D’Angelo Russell was not a points’ leader against the Bucks, but he recorded seven assists in 18 minutes off the bench.

Eric Bledsoe led all scorers with 28 points and six assists in the win for the Bucks. John Henson tallied 19 points and 18 rebounds; both Khris Middleton and Antetokounmpo scored 16 points, while Antetokounmpo added eight rebounds to his tally.

Antetokounmpo twisted his right ankle with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining and left the game, not long after the Nets had cut what had been a 28-point deficit to seven. Post-game, the Greek Freak assured the media that he’s fine and would have gone back into the game if his team needed him.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO AKA "THE GREEK FREAK" (VIDEO)

This game against the Nets was Jabari Parker's second game after returning from a year-long injury and he helped the Bucks with 11 points off the bench. Bucks head coach Joe Prunty is pleased with Parker’s progress so far and is looking forward to Parker’s contributions.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: JOE PRUNTY, MILWAUKEE BUCKS, INTERIM HEAD COACH (VIDEO)

Next up for the Milwaukee Bucks is the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

The Nets will host the Houston Rockets also on Tuesday, February 6, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at home at the Barclays Center.

Jeremy Lin still on the sideline with injury; Nets go into NBA All-Star break with a 13-game losing streak and a 9-47 record, the worst in the league

‘Twas their last game before the NBA All-Star break and fans were flowing into the Barclays Center to watch the Brooklyn Nets host the Milwaukee Bucks. It has been a rough season for the Nets who entered the contest looking to break a 13-game losing streak and avoid a series sweep with the Bucks for the season. Nets point guard Jeremy Lin was on the sideline again with a hamstring injury but it is believed that Lin will return to action after the All-Star break. Quincy Acy was also listed as inactive for the Nets. On a positive note, Brooklyn power forward Trevor Booker was listed as questionable prior to the game but did suit up to take the court.

While the Bucks would be without their power forward Jabari Parker, they did have the man affectionately known as the “Greek Freak”, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Limiting the offensive power of Antetokounmpo would be a tall order but one that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was capable of fulfilling.

After winning the opening tip-off, the Nets exploited the Bucks’ inability at defending the three-point line as center Brook Lopez hit his first two three-point attempts helping Brooklyn jump to an early 11-5 lead. In the first quarter, Brooklyn only committed two turnovers. The Nets’ inability to take care of the ball has plagued them this season. Even though they were able to reduce their turnovers, the Nets were ineffective at defending the pick and roll leading to Milwaukee points in the paint. At the end of the quarter, Brooklyn trailed by six points.

Milwaukee built on their lead in the second quarter but the offensive spark provided by Booker off the bench kept the game within reach for the Nets. Lopez continued his excellent play which brought Brooklyn within two points at the half.

The start of the third quarter was difficult for the Nets as their offense went cold and further hampered by the amount of turnovers committed by the Nets. In his postgame conference, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson acknowledged the issue and the possible causes of the turnovers.

“I just felt like we’re trying to make difficult plays when the simple play is available,” Atkinson told reporters after the game. “And, what can I say? We’re going to keep working on it.”

Meanwhile, Milwaukee’s offense ran like a machine going on a 15-4 run resulting in Brooklyn trailing by 13 points going into the fourth quarter. In order to leave the court with a win, the Nets had very little margin for error. Lopez’s play has always been steady and stellar but one man can’t do it alone. Fortunately for Brooklyn, he didn’t have to. Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie were instrumental in the surge that brought the Nets within two points with one minute remaining. Unfortunately, the Nets fell short by four points, 129-125. Dinwiddie gave some insight into his goals going into the fourth when he said that he wanted to “just get quality looks and hopefully get stops on the other end and just cut into the lead.”

Even though the season has not been stellar in terms of wins and losses, one thing that has remained consistent and positive for Brooklyn has been their competitive spirit.

The Milwaukee Bucks coached by former Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd, came into the Barclays Center and wreaked havoc on the Brooklyn Nets. Just two days before, the Nets played like they belong in the conversation about top NBA teams when they stunned the Los Angeles Clippers with a 127-122 double overtime win.

The Nets started off staying close; in fact, during the first half, the teams looked evenly matched. The Nets were even up 60-59 three minutes into the third quarter. But the Nets’ the third quarter nemesis showed up and said not so fast, and the team’s fortunes quickly changed. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks went on a tear ending the third quarter 90-78.

“I think turnovers hurt us,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “Just giving them too many easy baskets and, you know, third quarter again – they outscored us pretty good there, so we’ve really got to look at what we are doing there. And we are looking at it and trying to figure it out, but we haven’t figured it out yet.”

Early in the fourth quarter, it was a 10-point game, Bucks 92 and the Nets 82. But, the Nets just couldn’t get over the hump. They had too many missed opportunities in the fourth quarter, shooting 2-for-14 over the first six minutes. Meanwhile, the Bucks knocked down three 3s in less than 90 seconds.

“I think our offense got really stagnant,” Atkinson said. “Give them credit, they switched a lot of our stuff and forced us into a lot of one-and-one play and the ball stopped moving.”

In the win, Milwaukee’s Antetokounmpo had 23 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, Jabari Parker scored 22 points, and Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell each added 13 points.

Brook Lopez posted 15 points for the Nets. Sean Kilpatrick, who was signed out of the D-League last season, and who scored a career-high 38 points against the Clippers on Tuesday, only scored 14 points tonight. Bojan Bogdanovic added 13 for the Nets.

This was not a fun game to watch. Only the presence of former president Bill Clinton, a marriage proposal, and Clinton taking a photo with the engaged couple made it interesting.

Next up, the Nets have an opportunity to avenge the loss as they play the Bucks again on Saturday in Milwaukee.

Sean Kilpatrick’s spectacular home debut spoiled by Nets turnovers in the fourth quarter

The Milwaukee Bucks came into Brooklyn this afternoon after beating the New Orleans Pelicans yesterday at home 103-92.

In a pre-game interview, acknowledging the energy drain of back-to-back games and plane trouble, which prevented the Milwaukee Bucks from having an earlier arrival, Bucks head coach Jason Kidd stated that “we’re going to need everybody.”

Everybody wasn’t necessary because Giannis Antetokounmpo was on fire! Antetokounmpo aka “The Greek Freak” scored 28 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds, nearly obtaining his fourth triple-double in the last 11 games by halftime. Antetokounmpo already had 12 points, nine assists and eight rebounds by the half.

Jabari Parker added 23 points, and Khris Middleton chipped in 19 points to help the Bucks beat the Nets 109-100; securing the Bucks third straight game.

The Nets didn’t exactly roll over and play dead, as team Black and White led by one heading into the fourth quarter. However, Brook Lopez, who scored 20 points for the Nets, was held scoreless in the fourth.

Sean Kilpatrick, who recently signed a 10-day contract with the Nets, added 19 points in his first home game. Thaddeus Young pulled down 17 points and 10 rebounds, his 26th double-double of the year. Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 13 points and a career-high seven assists.

So, what happened?

In a nutshell, it was a 31-21 fourth quarter advantage for Milwaukee. Add to that, Lopez was held scoreless in the fourth, and the Nets committed 12 turnovers in the fourth and 20 on the night.

“Turnovers. We played well enough for three-quarters and then we had crucial turnovers that you can’t recover from,” Nets interim coach Tony Brown said.

"I wouldn't even say it was their pressure," Thaddeus Young said. "We were throwing the ball all over the place. We had a lot of turnovers that were kind of unforced."

The Nets loss to Milwaukee tonight was the Nets’ first game at Barclays Center after an unprecedented nine-game, three-week road trip.

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