March 24, 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.

Nets D’Angelo Russell leads all scorers with 26 points, but couldn’t pull his team anywhere near a W against Philadelphia

Sunday night was a sad day for Brooklyn Nets fans at the Barclays Center. The Nets were up against the Philadelphia 76ers and it was a far cry from when the Nets defeated the Sixers 116-108 on January 31, 2018. Fast forward six weeks and one can see that this Philadelphia 76ers team is clearly on a mission, and the Brooklyn Nets were just collateral damage as they fell to the Sixers 120-97.

Currently, Philadelphia is in the sixth seed in the NBA Eastern Conference and it could move up, as positions three through eight are so close in the standings that positioning could change on any given day. Barring injury, the way the 76ers played on Sunday, it could move up a notch or two. Who would have thought at the beginning of this season, that the Philadelphia 76ers would be 1.5 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. I am concerned that the Cavaliers may not rep the Eastern Conference this season, but that’s a story for another day. Clearly, this Philly team bought into the philosophy of trusting the process. And, with 8 of the 11 Philadelphia 76ers team members scoring in double digits against the Nets, this team is making a statement. On Sunday, the 76ers said, “we belong in the conversation of top NBA teams.”

So, considering that the Nets beat the 76ers just six weeks ago and on Sunday, even though the Nets are healthy, they received a shellacking; are the Sixers really just that good?

“Yeah, they’re a great team,” Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell stated. “They’ve got a lot of great players over there. They’re well-coached, but I feel like we could have given ourselves a better chance by being better prepared coming into the game from the players’ perspective, the players’ standpoint, so we’ve just got to lock in as a group and do that for these last few games.”

“I mean they came out, just from the jump, ready to play,” Russell continued. “You’ve got to give them credit. We didn’t (come out and play). For 48 minutes they just kept making that happen, being aggressive. Aggressive won.”

Joel Embiid, Robert Covington, and Dario Saric, who were among the starting five, were the top three leading scorers for Philadelphia. Embiid scored 21 points, eight rebounds, and three assists; Covington had 19 points, five rebounds, and four assists; while Saric tallied 18 points, six rebounds, and three assists. JJ Redick and Ben Simmons also started and contributed in their own way; Redick added 12 points and Simmons chipped in 11 points, six rebounds, and six assists.

It should be noted that three of the 76ers’ bench players scored in double-digits. Marco Belinelli totaled 13 points, Ersan Ilyasova put up 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds; while T.J. McConnell chipped in 10 points, four rebounds, six assists, and four steals.

On the other hand, comparatively speaking, other than D’Angelo Russell, the Nets played like they were captured by witchcraft or something similar. Russell led all scorers with 26 points, six assists, and three rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie, a winner of the NBA All-Star Taco Bell Challenge, scored 13 points, six assists, and three rebounds. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert did not start on Sunday, and as part of the Nets second unit, Hollis-Jefferson scored 12 points and six rebounds, while LeVert tallied 10 points and five assists.

Anyone can have a so-so day and not perform as expected, and this night was Joe Harris’ turn. The Nets’ sharp-three-point shooter only finished with five points on 1-for-5 shooting.

Although the Brooklyn Nets started off slowly, by the end of the first half, the Nets were only down by 10 points (70-60). So, how did the Nets fall into this position?

“We’ve just got to stop people,” Dinwiddie responded. “And some of that was them (Sixers) hitting tough shots, so you have to give them credit on some of them. But we also had mental errors where we gave up 10, 12 points in the game. Can’t do that, obviously changes the whole flow of the game. Just a completely different psychology to the game.”

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson echoed his players.

“They dominated us in every fashion,” Atkinson said responding to a reporter’s question. “I don’t think there is an aspect of the game tonight where they didn’t dominate and I just have to give them a lot of credit. I thought they were the more aggressive team. They really, really got after us defensively and then offensively, we couldn’t stop them, obviously. So, these are the tough ones for a coach because you’re trying to get something positive out of it and for some reason, and that’s on me, we didn’t have it tonight. We just didn’t have it and I think they dominated us at every position. At the coach position also. I just think it was a great job by the Sixers. They played a great game.”

“At the coach position also.” I am not surprised that Atkinson admitted that 76ers dominated the Nets’ coaching staff as well because sometimes Atkinson is just too forthcoming. However, during his pregame press conference, Atkinson alluded to trouble ahead when he said that this Philadelphia team is a different team from the team the Nets played in January.

AUDIO: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson’s Philadelphia 76ers’ pregame press conference

Comparatively speaking, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown, during his pregame press conference was by no means “smash mouth” in his expectations for his team’s outcome. Nevertheless, Brown clearly was expecting his team to get a “W”.

VIDEO: Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown gives media insight into his decision-making prior to facing off with the Brooklyn Nets

Postgame, Brown gave his assessment of the Sixers performance against the Nets.

“We came out at halftime at the start of the third period and were just sort of trading baskets,” Brown stated. “We tried to call timeout and regroup our guys. This team (Brooklyn) is a very dangerous team and I thought we responded. I thought from that point on we played defense to hold that team to 37 second-half point, 14 in the fourth period. Brooklyn is hard to guard, they are really hard to guard. I think that’s what excites me the most was our second half defense.”

“We’re just trying to improve on the things that will matter if we’re fortunate enough to play in the postseason,” Brown continued. “Turnovers are always on our mind. We played with the fourth fastest pace. We have a young rookie point guard.”

Perhaps because the Philadelphia 76ers are bigger and more talented than the Brooklyn Nets, they were destined to beat the Nets on Sunday. However, I contend that if your mind is focused on your strengths and positive outcomes, you just might win or, if not, the blow may be a little softer.

Comment below and let me know your thoughts.


Next up for the Brooklyn Nets (21-46) are the Toronto Raptors (49-17) on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Yeah, I know, it’s probably going to be brutal.

For Philadelphia, check out the 76ers (36-29) as they battle it out with the Indiana Pacers (39-28).

Joe Harris and D’Angelo Russell each scored 16 points, but all Clippers’ starters scored in double digits

Monday night was not a good night for the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. Team black-and-white could not make any inroads against the Los Angeles Clippers and its 114-101 loss brings the Nets’ losing streak to six consecutive games. Right now, sitting on a 19-39 win-loss record for this season, the Nets need to hustle to bypass its 20-62 win-loss record from last season in order to show that it is an improved team. It hasn’t helped to have several injured players this season. D’Angelo Russell just returned after he was sidelined for six weeks, now both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are out with injuries. And, the Nets are really missing Hollis-Jefferson’s defensive presence.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters at his postgame presser that “defensively” is where the Nets struggled the most tonight.

“We couldn’t stop them,” Atkinson said regarding the Nets’ defensive abilities. “We never found any solution to stop them. They really got downhill on us. Their pick-and-roll game, their guards were in the paint and they were laying it up or shooting floaters or throwing the lob. We held them to 16 three’s but, again, did way too many paint drives. We knew we had to keep them out of the paint and we never did it. That was the story of the game, couldn’t stop them.”

The picture is not totally bleak, as there were some bright spots for Brooklyn. In this game against the Clippers, the Nets registered 10 steals led by three steals from Quincy Acy and two steals from Allen Crabbe. Brooklyn’s assist game was tight showing that the team played as a team, edging the Clippers 27-19 in assists. The Nets have averaged 30.0 assists per game in their last three games, compared to an average of 20.7 assists per game for their last three opponents.

The Nets weren’t exactly doormats. Joe Harris and D’Angelo Russell each had 16 points for the Nets, with Russell adding five assists, two rebounds, and one steal. Allen Crabbe totaled 15 points, six rebounds, two assists and a season-high-tying two steals in 33 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie also scored in double figures for Brooklyn, tallying 13 points, eight assists, two rebounds and one steal in 36 minutes. DeMarre Carroll recorded his eighth double-double of the season tonight with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes.

“Brooklyn shoots a lot of three’s and when they get it going it’s tough,” Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said regarding the Clippers’ need to step up its defense. “For the most part, I was pretty happy. We’ve had some bad losses here. The last two years we’ve had some big leads and it looked like it was going to happen again but we caught ourselves. Give Brooklyn credit. All year they come back. That’s how they play and we warned our guys about that when they started coming back. When they put them away at the end it was nice.”

For the Clippers, all of its starters scored in double digits, along with two from its second unit. Lou Williams came off the bench and led all scorers with 20 points. Austin Rivers scored 17 points. Both Danilo Gallinari and DeAndre Jordan scored 16 points. Jordan added 17 rebounds to his tally and Gallinari scored five boards. Montrezl Harrell tallied 15 points off the bench. Avery Bradley tallied 11 points, and Tobias Harris chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

Next up, the Clippers will face the Celtics in Boston on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. Also on Wednesday, the Nets will face the Indiana Pacers at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

DeMarre Carroll leads Nets players with 21 points in the loss; Caris LeVert leaves game with concussion

In a game where the lead changed six times, the teams tied three times, and during the fourth quarter, the Houston Rockets led the Brooklyn Nets by as much as 16 points, at 1:22 left in regulation the Nets managed to close in on a six-point differential on an Isaiah Whitehead nine-foot floating shot. Unfortunately, Brooklyn couldn’t sustain the momentum to stop the Rockets and bowed to Houston 123-113 on Tuesday night.

“I think we competed better than we did against Milwaukee,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters in his postgame presser. “We never found a solution to stop them, obviously. They made a lot of tough shots. For them, we limited their 3-point attempts. Instead of shooting 50 – what’d they have, 33? – so that was good. We did a decent job keeping them off the free-throw line, but, it’s pick your poison with them so we never really found a solution to stop them.”

In addition to the game loss, Nets guard Caris LeVert suffered a concussion after running into a hard screen set by Houston center Nene Hilario at the end of the third quarter.

“I think it moved all of us,” Atkinson told the media. “I think we’re all affected, but we’re professionals and guys moved on, it’s just we obviously missed Caris the player. He was playing really well, so that was a big blow.”

LeVert, who was only on the court for 12 minutes, left the game with nine points, three assists, and three rebounds.

Although the outcome of this game against the Rockets didn’t go the Nets way, the team’s competitive spirit was on full display.

“…I think we did a great job as a team and making them work,” Nets guard D’Angelo Russell stated. “They’ve got some All-Star caliber guys over there, so making it as tough as we can is the objective.”

At the end of the night, the Nets shot .457 (16-of-35) from 3-point range and recorded their 10th game with 15-plus made threes this season. The Nets’ assist record bested Houston 24-16, and so did Brooklyn’s free-throw record, which was 88.2 percent versus the Rockets 81 percent.

“Oh, we definitely competed,” Nets center Jahlil Okafor expressed. “I think everybody across the roster played extremely hard. The Rockets are an extremely tough team to beat. Their dynamic was a challenge for us but I do think everybody did compete...”

DeMarre Carroll scored a team-high 21 points (7-of-12 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, 2-of-2 FT) with two boards and two steals in 30 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie tallied 18 points (5-of-7 3FG, 3-of-3 FT) with three rebounds, nine assists, and a career-high-tying three steals in 25 minutes. Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen, recorded 16 points (6-of-11 FG, 4-of-4 FT) with two rebounds and one assist in 23 minutes. With his 16 points on Tuesday night, Allen extended his career-best streak of games scoring in double figures to eight games. Okafor had a good night, he posted 15 points (7-of-9 FG, 1-of-3 FT) and six rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. (D’Angelo) Russell also scored in double figures for Brooklyn, recording 10 points in 19 minutes off the bench.

When asked about Houston putting up so many points against the Nets, “Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni laughed and said, “It’s all coaching out there – you saw that, right?” But in all seriousness, D’Antoni gave credit where credit was due, “Chris Paul and James Harden, when you have those two guys, it’s either one or the other. It’s unbelievable.”

D’Antoni also tipped his hat to Brooklyn’s effort.

“You have to give it to Brooklyn, they wouldn’t let us put it away,” D’Antoni added. “They kept coming back. They kept hitting hard shots. We would go up seven and Brooklyn would hit a hard three. They played well; they played with a lot of energy. Like I told them, Brooklyn isn’t going to beat themselves, we’ll have to beat them. I think at the end we did. They’re well-coached and they do a good job.”

Harden led all scorers with 36 points and five assists with his effort for Houston. (Chris) Paul scored 25 points, seven rebounds, and five assists; and Clint Capela added 18 points and 11 rebounds. Coming off the bench for the Rockets, Gerald Green added 16 points, and Eric Gordon chipped in 13 points.

Hopefully, both teams will have enough energy to go up against their next opponents. Houston plays the Miami Heat on Wednesday in Miami, and Brooklyn goes up against the Detroit Pistons with the newly-acquired Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers also on Wednesday.

The Brooklyn Nets next home game at the Barclays Center is on Saturday, February 10, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. against the New Orleans Pelicans.

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.


“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.


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.


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.

DeMarre Carroll scores 26 points to lift the Brooklyn Nets over the Miami Heat

In front of a sold-out crowd of 17,732 people, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Miami Heat 101-95 and improved to 11-1 when holding their opponents under 100 points this season. Friday night’s win snapped Brooklyn’s five-game losing streak at the Barclays Center and the team’s three-game losing streak overall.

In the win, DeMarre Carroll scored a career-high-tying 26 points with six rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block in 31 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie, who has scored 15 or more points five times in his last nine games, tallied 15 points, six rebounds and, three assists in 29 minutes tonight against the Heat. Joe Harris and Caris LeVert each scored 12 points with LeVert adding five assists and four rebounds to his score.

LeVert, and Quincy Acy’s energy, which is not displayed in totality in the stat sheet, were instrumental in knocking Miami off its rhythm during the second-half, enabling the Nets to erase a 16-point deficit, which ultimately led to a Nets victory.

“I thought Caris (LeVert) and Quincy (Acy) came in the game and changed the energy,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Caris had a big hand in it, obviously Quincy shooting opened up the floor for us. Lastly, our offense definitely wasn’t pretty by any means but a really good defensive performance.”

“I think defensively is what got us going,” LeVert said describing the spark that got the Nets going in the second half. “D’Angelo (Russell) was real vocal when he came in like in the third quarter, when he came in I think that is when the run started. He was just telling us stop by stop, just get a stop. Easy baskets. And that kind of sparked the run.”

D’Angelo Russell, who missed 32 games and has not played since November 11, 2017, played 14 minutes off the bench on Friday. Russell, although he only scored one point in his 14 minutes of play, was a critical catalyst for the Nets in the second half.

“I think the third quarter was really when that switched,” LeVert pointing out when the Nets defense clicked into high gear. “Like I said, when D’Angelo checked in he was real vocal and that was the main point. Just get stops on defense and that will spark the offense. We held them to 95 points and that was the game right there.”

Hassan Whiteside led the Miami Heat with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Other Miami scoring leaders were: Goran Dragic, who scored 17 points; Josh Richardson added 12 points and seven assists; Kelly Olynyk recorded 12 points and five rebounds, and; Wayne Ellington chipped in 10 points.

Next up, the Nets have five road games including an opportunity to avenge its 114-80 loss to Detroit when it plays the Pistons on Sunday. The next Brooklyn Nets home game is on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

Crabbe leads Nets with 20 points and career-high-tying eight rebounds; Carroll scores sixth double-double for the Nets, and it’s LeVerts’ 100th NBA game

Last night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs started off fairly well for the Brooklyn Nets, who led the Spurs by as much as eight points in the first quarter. However, quarter by quarter, the Nets’ reversal of fortune started to show in a big way down the stretch with the Spurs leading the Nets by as much as 17 points at 6:56 in the third quarter. Brooklyn battled back to come within four points (85-81) at 5:38 in the fourth quarter and then again at 2:48, but ultimately lost to the Spurs 100-95 in regulation.

This loss to the Spurs extends the Nets losing streak to six-games including five of those losses at home. And, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that a six-game losing streak can begin to wear on a team’s morale. Here’s where good coaching helps. A really good coach can help people to keep their spirits up when the challenge of reaching a goal is difficult and facilitating the feeling that ultimate victory is near. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told his team that he believes the breakthrough for them is just around the corner.

“I told the guys I do,” Atkinson told the media postgame after speaking with his team. “I feel like we’re getting close. This is San Antonio, Toronto, and Boston, these are elite teams in our league and there are no moral victories.”

Atkinson is right, in competitive sports, there are no moral victories per se. However, the Nets have more wins today than they had this time last year. Also, to lose with five or fewer points to elite teams such as the Spurs, Raptors, and Boston even with these teams’ best players on the floor, Brooklyn should be heartened.

“…I do think they’re encouraged,” Atkinson continued. “We’re improving and getting better. Like on a night like tonight we got better, we improved, we can look at things. How can we get over the hump, how can we execute a little better? Again, I think our mistakes are execution mistakes and are things we can control. And it’s not just a Joe [Harris] missed shot, which was a great look but are things we can clean up.”

Brooklyn proved it can execute better. A week ago the Nets lost to Detroit 114-80. This week, for the divide to be only five points against the San Antonio Spurs, a team that is No. 3 in the Western Conference, shows the Nets were not totally demoralized because last night they executed better. Not enough to win, but close.

Patty Mills’ five threes, those are the ones that stick in your mind..,” Atkinson added. “…I know there were a couple breakdowns on our part, just execution, leaving him. That was not part of the game plan, obviously…”

Speaking of San Antonio guard Patty Mills, he scored 25 points on 7-for-10 shooting off the bench. And, Mills was not the Spurs’ leading scorer that honor goes to forward LaMarcus Aldridge who led all scorers with 34 points, 8 rebounds on 54.2 percent shooting.

“I give credit to the Nets,” San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “They had a tough time making some shots down the stretch, but overall their execution, I thought, was better than ours. Brooklyn’s attack to the rim, finding open people I thought was spectacular. They played very physically. We made a few shots, made some 3’s and took care of the ball pretty well. We came out with a win we’re thrilled about because overall I think Brooklyn did a great job.”

For the Nets, its leading scorers were Allen Crabbe, who recorded a team-high 20 points, a career-high-tying eight rebounds, and three assists in 31 minutes. Joe Harris scored 18 points (7-of-13 FG, 4-of-9 3FG) in 32 minutes off the bench. This game against the Spurs marked Caris LeVert’s 100th game as an NBA player and he added 13 points off the bench with two boards and two assists in 22 minutes. DeMarre Carroll posted 11 points and 10 rebounds, recording his sixth double-double of this season. Although Spencer Dinwiddie did not score points in double-digits, Dinwiddie recorded a career-high 13 assists (with no turnovers), nine points and two steals in 35 minutes for the Nets. Dinwiddie’s 13 assists last night were the most assists in a game for a Net without recording a turnover since Jason Kidd handed out 15 assists with no turnovers on January 8, 2006, at Toronto.

Although the Nets didn’t win, and ultimately, that is why teams play, to win, the stats weren’t all bad. Brooklyn’s bench outscored San Antonio’s reserves 44-34. Entering last night’s game, the Nets’ bench was averaging 44.5 points per game, which ranked second in the league in bench ppg. The Nets also edged San Antonio 42-30 in points in the paint and 13-6 in second-chance points.

Next up, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Miami Heat on Friday, January 19th at the Barclays Center. And, of course, the Nets look to get off of its current losing streak. Perhaps, D’Angelo Russell will make an appearance on Friday, as he has been in full practices with the Long Island Nets.

We can only hope.

DeMarre Carroll scored 22 points and eight rebounds in loss to Knicks

Not a good day for the Brooklyn Nets on this Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday. The event started with a pre-game montage of Nets players giving their views on Dr. King and the significance of his life. That was Thing 1, as Chris Hayes says on his MSNBC show, All in With Chris Hayes. Thing 2, the Nets lost to the Knicks 119-104.

The Nets fell to 16-28 this season and 8-13 at Barclays Center with today’s loss, while the Knicks improved to 20-24 overall and 3-11 on the road with the win.

“I thought they did a great job waiting for us at the rim on our drives,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about the Knicks effort today. “But we do have to do a better job of kicking it out. If they have two guys waiting for us at the rim, we have to make that extra pass. I think we’ve regressed in our ‘making the extra pass’ philosophy and against this team, that’s flood the rim all the time with two bigs, you have to make that extra pass.”

Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson expressed his thoughts on some of the successful things the Nets did tonight, “I think we did a better job at rebounding the first three quarters, the first half especially. I feel like we could have done a better job at keeping them from driving in and fouling them, too.”

For the Nets, DeMarre Carroll scored a team-high 22 points with eight rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes today. Caris LeVert totaled 20 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes as a Nets’ reserve this afternoon. Hollis-Jefferson recorded 16 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes. Quincy Acy added 13 points off the bench and Joe Harris chipped in 10 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.

In the win, Knicks center Kristaps Porzingis led all scorers with 26 points in 27 minutes.

“I just try to slow down mentally and that’s helping,” Porzingas said about his shot selection tonight. “Just not thinking I need to score as much, I just want to be involved and when the shots come I’m gonna take them and those are going to be higher percentage shots. You know, not as many contested shots and not as much me fighting to get the bucket. Just trying to make it easier for myself and I think it’s just mentally, I’m slowing down a little bit and that’s helped me. ”

Knicks rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, who has been a big concern of many Knicks fans, finished with 10 points and 10 assists in 29 minutes for his first career double-double.

And, Ntilikina’s performance did not get past Porzingas.

“He played great,” Porzingas said congratulating his teammate. “The last few games he wasn’t really in rhythm but tonight you could see that he was pushing the ball and making plays. He was close to that triple-double that I talked about early in the season and you know I still believe that and moving forward as he keeps growing as a player, he will be that type of player.”

Today was the start of the Knicks’ seven-game road trip, the next stop for the Knicks is the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, January 17.

The Nets will host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. EST.

An Allen Crabbe layup sends game into overtime; Spencer Dinwiddie led all Nets scorers with a career-high 31 points

It was a one-point heartbreaking 114-113 overtime loss for the Brooklyn Nets as they fell to the Toronto Raptors, the second-seeded team in the NBA Eastern Conference. This loss was on top of the Nets’ two-point loss (87-85) to the Boston Celtics, the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference on Saturday evening. The good news is that for the Nets to go toe-to-toe with these teams and to lose by a basket says that the Nets can play with anyone.

The Nets tied the game at 107-107 on an Allen Crabbe layup with 9.8 seconds remaining in the game to send the game into overtime, but the Raptors edged Brooklyn 7-6 in the extra frame for the win. In the loss, the Nets edged the Raptors 55-51 on the glass, 22-19 in assists and 31-26 in bench points tonight.

Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie led all Nets scorers with a career-high 31 points (on 10-of-24 FG – with both 10 FGM and 24 FGA marking career highs – and 8-of-9 FT). He also posted five rebounds, eight assists (with just one turnover) and two steals in a career-high 42 minutes. At the end of regulation, Dinwiddie had scored 27 points and 17 of those points were scored in the fourth quarter.

In responding to a reporter’s question regarding Dinwiddie’s scoring, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said, “I said this earlier, that’s the best bargain in this league. That young man has really improved his game. I tell young players all the time, he’s taken advantage of an opportunity. He’s playing well. He’s producing. He’s playing like a big-time point guard. My hat is off to this team. They’re scrapping. Coach (Kenny) Atkinson has them playing hard every possession, and that’s all you could ask for from his team with as many injuries as they have.”

Crabbe recorded 20 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in 34 minutes tonight for the Nets, his fourth 20-point game of the season. Crabbe absorbed contact on a drive in the closing minutes of the fourth, left the game in pain, but came back in overtime.

“I just came down pretty awkward on my left leg, but I’ll be alright,” Crabbe told the media in a postgame presser. “Other than that, it just sucks that I missed most of overtime and couldn’t be out there to help get a win with my team. But I loved the effort tonight. I feel like we’re going in the right direction, and we just need to continue to build off a miss.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a big night. Hollis-Jefferson posted 14 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Other Nets scorers in double digits were Jarrett Allen, who tallied 14 points (5-of-5 FG, 4-of-6 FT) and five rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. Allen scored in double figures for the eighth time this season. Joe Harris, making his fifth start of the season, recorded 12 points and six rebounds.

For Toronto, Demar DeRozen led all scorers with 35 points. Kyle Lowry led all players in assists with 11.

The Nets have now played a franchise-record five straight games decided by three or fewer points, of which the Nets won three of the five games.

Regarding tonight’s loss, Nets guard Caris LeVert said, “This is extremely heartbreaking for us. We felt we fought hard and we deserved to win the game, but we’ve just got to play better down the stretch.”

The Nets will have another opportunity on Wednesday when they play the Detroit Pistons.

Brooklyn Nets Defeat Orlando Magic 98-95, on the second night of a back-to-back; Caris LeVert comes up big with 15 hustle points, 8 Assists, five rebounds

Tonight the Brooklyn Nets met up with the Orlando Magic for the third time this season and for their second meeting at the Barclays Center this season. With a team effort, the Nets did not disappoint the hometown fans. Starting the New Year on a good note, the Nets held Orlando to under 100 points and came up victorious 98-95.

What is significant about this win is that it is the second night of a back-to-back, something that this team hasn’t had much success with and tonight’s accomplishment wasn’t lost on Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“It was a good, great way to come back from last night,” Atkinson said. “We played Boston tough and this is a talented team, especially with Aaron Gordon back, so great job by our guys. Great resiliency, we weren’t great offensively but we did it with our defense. I thought we got some real big 50-50 balls and rebounds. Allen Crabbe gets the block at the end of the game, so a lot of guys contributed. Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson), I thought was really good, made some big plays and free throws. A really good team win.”

Crabbe’s block at the end of the game and his career-high total of three blocks for tonight didn’t go unnoticed by the media. When asked about tonight’s block stat, Crabbe told the media, "I'm low key tired of hearing people trying to question my defense.”

Okay, we hear you.

In addition to showing off his defensive chops with three blocks, Crabbe also scored 15 points and eight rebounds.

Brooklyn Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen is blossoming right before our eyes. He led the Nets in scoring tonight with a career-high 16 points. He also added eight rebounds and two blocks.

Caris LeVert scored 15 points, eight assists, and five rebounds for the Nets. LeVert has also registered seven or more assists in each of his last four games, becoming just the second Net since the 1983-84 season to record seven or more assists in four straight games off the bench.

LeVert and Allen are emerging as a dynamic duo. When they are both on the floor, LeVert will find Allen because he knows that unlike a lot of big men, Allen keeps his eye on the ball. To his credit, with just two months of NBA playing time, Allen is being recognized as a “catching and going” type of big man. And, LeVert is not too shabby either as he’s tough to defend with his great on-the-court decision-making.

Regarding his chemistry with LeVert, Allen said, “I don’t know where it came from, but it’s just been there since we started playing together. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

DeMarre Carroll scored a double-double adding 14 points and 10 rebounds, this is Carroll’s fourth double-double of the season, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson chipped in 13 points and seven rebounds for the Nets.

Orlando had five players in double digits. Aaron Gordon led all players with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Elfrid Payton added 17 points and seven assists. Bismack Biyombo scored a double-double with 13 points and 17 rebounds. Also scoring 13 points for Orlando was Evan Fournier, and; Jonathan Simmons chipped in 10 points and five rebounds.

Next up, the Brooklyn Nets meet the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, January 3, 2018, at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. According to Atkinson, Nets recent addition from the Philadelphia 76ers, Jahlil Okafor, could make his debut at home for the Nets on Wednesday.

“He’s close. I’d expect to see him against Minnesota,” Atkinson told the media. “I think we’ll start to get him some minutes. He’s been doing a phenomenal job getting ready physically with our assistant coaches learning what we’re doing. Collectively we feel like he’s ready to get some minutes.”

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