August 18, 2018

Nets get a red-hot burst of 24 points from D’Angelo Russell in the first quarter, but could not overcome Raptors’ energy force in second-half

For Brooklyn Nets fans, Tuesday night started off with a D’Angelo Russell show. Russell, with a little help from his teammates, scored 24 points in the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors, on 7-of-8 shooting from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line. Russell was on fire!

And, of course, postgame, D’Angelo Russell’s assessment of his first quarter performance was what inquiring minds wanted to know

“My teammates, they got me open,” Russell told the media postgame in the Nets locker room. “Transition – they found me, they made the extra pass to me. Give a lot of credit to them.”

Shout out to Spencer Dinwiddie, as three of his five assists went to Russell during the first quarter.

Brooklyn made nine threes in the first quarter, which marked a new franchise-record for 3-pointers made in a quarter. The Nets ended the first quarter up by eight points 40-32, and Brooklyn closed out the first-half up by 10 with a score of 67-57. The 67 points marked the most points scored by the Nets in a first half this season and the most points the Nets have ever scored in a first half against the Raptors.

But, then came the third quarter when the Raptors added 30 points to its ledger and the Nets only added 18 points, putting Toronto in the lead by two, 87-85. A two-point deficit at the end of the third stanza for the Nets, that’s not so bad. But then the Nets had few answers in the final quarter, and the Raptors just ran away with the game, gaining their ninth straight win, 116-102.

So, what did Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson have to say about the Raptor’s turnaround in the second-half?

“I thought (Fred) VanVleet came in and changed the game,” Atkinson responded. “I just think his pressure, his aggressiveness, his grit, he really changed the game. I think behind him, they have two big-time rim protectors in (Serge) Ibaka and (Jonas) Valanciunas, which allows them to be aggressive on the perimeter and that’s why they are a heck of a defensive team. I think a sign of a great team is a team that can beat you in different ways. I thought we did a good job on (Kyle) Lowry and (DeMar) DeRozan considering the great players they are, and Valanciunas had a great game. I thought CJ Miles – those three threes. We foul him once, give three free throws and then he hits two threes. That got the separation there.”

Kenny Atkinson's Assessment of the Nets' Performance against the Toronto Raptors

“I thought our guys, I thought we were aggressive,” Atkinson continued. “I thought we competed, I thought we were in it and it just slipped away at the end. We missed some shots, some bunnies, some shots I thought we had a good shot at making and they come down and they made their shots. That’s how the separation – I’m a little disappointed the score says what it says because I thought the game was closer than that. I thought we were in it pretty much the whole game and then, bang, that’s how explosive they are.”

Indeed, the Raptors were explosive. They had no other choice, as they are trying to hold on to their first-place standing in the NBA Eastern Conference.

For Toronto Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey, the second-half defensive adjustments were critical and necessary, and he didn’t mince any words

“It’s something called hard play,” Casey told reporters postgame about his team’s second-half adjustments. “It’s amazing how those two words impact the game. That’s the thing we need to start the game with. Our disposition to start the game was not good. We just talked about it in there, our starters need to come out with a better disposition, a hungrier mentality and understand they are going to get the other team’s best shots. Those shots that D’Angelo Russell made at the start of the game, we can’t let somebody come in and get hot like that. It starts from the first play. We can’t play our way into the game and put taxing minutes on our bodies trying to come back. We have to do better.”

And, Russell agrees that Toronto made those necessary adjustments after the break to contain him and the Nets.

“They trapped me, forced me to pass it,” Russell said explaining the Raptors’ defensive adjustments in the second-half. “We just missed shots down the stretch. I think if we make those shots it might be a different game.”

Russell scored a game-high 32 points (10-of-22 FG, 7-of-12 3FG, 5-of-5 FT) with a team-high-tying seven rebounds, one steal, and two blocks in 35 minutes against the Raptors on Tuesday. This was Russell’s third game of 30-plus points this season, and his 32 points on Tuesday against the Raptors marked the second-most points he has scored in a game this season. He scored a season-high 33 points on Halloween 2017 against the Phoenix Suns.

Other leading scorers for the Nets on Tuesday night against the Raptors were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert, and Dante Cunningham. Hollis-Jefferson totaled 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 27 minutes off the bench. LeVert recorded 11 points, three rebounds, a team-high seven assists, and three steals in 29 minutes off the bench tonight. Cunningham tallied 10 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. He scored in double figures for the third time in his 12th game for the Nets. This was also Cunningham’s first start for the Brooklyn Nets.

For the Raptors, three of its five starters scored in double digits: Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry. Valanciunas had a team-high 26 points and 14 rebounds; DeRozan tallied 15 points and seven rebounds, and; Lowry recorded 11 points and 11 assists. From the Raptors second-unit, VanVleet had 15 points, four assists, and two steals; Miles contributed 12 points and three rebounds, and; Delon Wright chipped in 10 points, three rebounds, and four assists.

Next up for the Toronto Raptors, as they try to hold onto the No. 1 seed position in the Eastern Conference, are the No. 3 seed Indiana Pacers on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at Indiana.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets have another date with the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia on Friday, March 16, 2018.

Brook Lopez, Jeremy Lin, and Sean Kilpatrick lead Nets in victory over Pacers, final score Brooklyn 103; Indiana 94

The Brooklyn Nets kicked off its first home game of the season on Friday night with a check mark in the win column. Taking on the Indiana Pacers, the Nets showed the home crowd at the Barclays Center that they are trying to live up to their marketing slogan, We Came to Play.

With only four players in double digits, versus the Pacers five players, the Nets hammered the Pacers 103-94.

“Man, I’m just happy for that group in there,” said an elated Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “They’ve been working their tails off, and I was happy with our defense. Just a great job, great job by our guys.”

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez led all players with 25 points and five rebounds. The “big man” even grabbed a steal. Nets starting point guard Jeremy Lin notched 21 points and just missed a triple-double in his Nets home debut with nine rebounds and nine assists. Nets shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick, who was a great pickup for the Nets last season, came off the bench with 18 points and five rebounds. Additionally, Kilpatrick hit consecutive 3-pointers during the decisive fourth-quarter. Forward Trevor Booker didn’t disappoint, he turned in 10 points and 11 points.

Coach Atkinson didn’t miss heaping praise on Kilpatrick.

“Sean was great,” Atkinson said. “Listen, Sean has had a fantastic summer. He played great in Summer League, and he has just worked so hard. So it’s great to see him have a good night.”

Pacers point guard Paul George led all Indiana scorers with 22 points and nine rebounds. Former Brooklyn Nets player Thaddeus Young, who now wears the gold and blue, scored 19 points and 8 rebounds for the Pacers. CJ Miles came off the bench and scored 15 points and six rebounds.

It goes without saying that the fans left the Barclays Center in a state of euphoria.

The next home game is on Monday, October 31 (Halloween) against the Chicago Bulls; things could get scary!

Sergey Karasev comes up big with a career-high 17 points to help Nets

On Thursday evening, the Brooklyn Nets hammered the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-95 and then picked up its second consecutive win last evening against another playoff-bound team, the Indiana Pacers 120-110.

Initially, with Brook Lopez not playing his best for most of the first three quarters against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday evening, the Nets looked a bit lethargic; not falling off the cliff lethargy, but a beat behind.

Leading the Nets by as many as 14 in the first half and then by 10 early in the fourth quarter, the Pacers dominated until Lopez got his groove back and took control.

Lopez had only scored nine points by the end of the third quarter and with fire in his belly, he scored 14 points in the last stanza for a total of 23 points for the night. Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points. However, the surprise Brooklyn Nets double-digit point scorer of the night was Sergey Karasev.

Karasev, who was rumored to want off the Nets and possibly the NBA altogether, had a big night. Making the most of his starting minutes (25:44), Karasev scored a career-high 17 points, seven boards, four assists, and two steals.

In a postgame interview, Karasev with humility deflected credit from himself and heaped praise on his teammates, Brook Lopez and Bojan Bogdanovic.

"Bojan hit a big three and Brook played a great fourth quarter," Karasev said. "Everyone was touching the ball on the court. Everybody looked pretty good today and when we moved the ball we looked pretty good, like a team."

Sean Kilpatrick, who recently was called up from the D-League and received a multi-year contract from the Nets, and Markel Brown contributed 14 and 11 points respectively off-the-bench for Nets. Kilpatrick, known as a scorer, surprised a few people with his defensive moves.

VIDEO: Sean Kilpatrick talks about his defensive play in his own words

Pacers’ starters Paul George led the Pacers with 27 points; Ian Mahinmi scored 18 points and George Hill added 17 points to round out the starters in double-digits.  C.J. Miles and Jordan Hill both chipped in 12 points each coming off the bench.

Unfortunately for the Indiana Pacers, its 120-110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets is the team’s first loss to a sub-.500 team since January 23rd. The Pacers are trying to hold on for a playoff spot.

The Brooklyn Nets, who are not playoff bound, finished off the Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday like it was fighting for an eighth playoff spot or home-court advantage. Nets starting guard Shane Larkin in a postgame interview talked about how the players are still sticking together and playing for each other even though the Nets are not playoff bound.

VIDEO: Brooklyn Nets guard Shane Larkin in his own words

The Nets visit Miami on Monday to face off against Dwyane Wade and former Nets player Joe Johnson and the rest of the Miami Heat.

Pacers' Bench Key to victory over Nets

Quick, somebody call the bomb squad; watching the Brooklyn Nets game on Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers, looked like the Nets were going to implode on their own! The Nets lost to the Pacers 114-100 and their record for the season is now 12-38; with an 8-20 record at home.

The Nets have more losses at home than on the road; this record is not how you represent Brooklyn!

The Indiana Pacers straight out the gate stampeded with a 17-9 run. The Nets, a little wobbly, missed their first eight shots to start the second quarter and then was outscored by the Pacers by 36-20. At the end of the half, the Nets had dug themselves into a 19-point deficit (62-43).

The tide turned for a brief period in the third when Joe Johnson and Thaddeus Young combined for 21 of the 34 points and gave the Nets a reason for hope going into the in the fourth, as the Net’s deficit was cut down to 10.

Even though Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, AKA “The Big Guy,” and his fellow starters were in double digits, it wasn’t enough to put the Nets within striking distance. Lopez led all Nets players with 21 points and eight rebounds; Joe Johnson scored 20 points and nine assists, both Thaddeus Young and Wayne Ellington scored 16 points, with Young adding 14 rebounds accomplishing his 22nd double-double; and Donald Sloan chipped in 11 points.

The Nets’ bench did not keep up; scoring only 16 points. Meanwhile, C.J. Miles, with 27 points, led the Pacers bench to outscore the Nets bench 58-16, a tremendous help to the Pacers because the Pacers starters were in role reversal mode.

Paul George scored 17 points, six assists, and four rebounds for Indiana. George Hill added 13 points, Lavoy Allen added 12 points and eight rebounds; and Monta Ellis chipped in 11 points, 5 assists and six rebounds.

Adding to the Nets scoring issues were 17 turnovers.

"It seems like every game we have a mental lapse or there's just turnovers," Johnson said attempting to explain the Nets’ loss. "I have no idea. I'm sorry. I don't know. We just hurt ourselves from time to time."

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