March 19, 2019

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets scorers with 22 points; Nets Sitting Right Outside 8th Seed in NBA Eastern Conference

It's January 2nd and it's supposed to be cold, but it's not. Today, the Brooklyn Nets fought off the New Orleans Pelicans, with one of the best players in the league in the name of Anthony Davis and sent them home in defeat to the Nets 126-121.

The Nets playing with poise and skill improved to 18-21 overall and 10-11 at the Barclays Center, while the Pelicans fell to 17-22 overall and 4-16 on the road with the loss.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers and starters with a team-high 22 points, a career-high-tying (and Nets season-high-tying) 13 assists, five rebounds, and two steals. Other Nets starting players scoring in double-digits were Joe Harris who scored 21 points (9-of-16 FG, 3-of-4 3FG) with two rebounds, one assist and one steal in 29 minutes; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen each scored 10 points, while Allen added 11 rebounds.

DeMarre Carroll led the Nets bench with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 points, and four assists, and; Shabbazz Napier chipped in 12 points and four assists.

Ed Davis, not a prolific scorer, led all Nets rebounders with 12 rebounds.

When asked about the effort from the Nets’ bench, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson responded: “It’s a heck of a win against a very good team, so great job all around. I thought everybody contributed – big play from all the guys. I thought we were very balanced, and the bench was great.”

Brooklyn’s bench is legendary; it outscored New Orleans’ reserves 55-5, yep 55-5. Entering tonight’s game, the Nets bench ranked second in the NBA with 46.3 points per game.

As good as the Nets scoring leaders were, Pelicans’ Anthony Davis led all scorers with 34 points and 26 rebounds. In fact, all of the New Orleans Pelicans scored in double digits. Elfrid Payton had 25 points and seven assists; Julius Randle registered 21 points, four rebounds, and two blocked shots; Jrue Holiday posted 20 points and four assists, and; E'Twaun Moore chipped in 16 points and two steals.

Even with the firepower from the Pelicans starters, it just wasn’t enough.

“Brooklyn started out shooting the ball extremely well,” New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry told the media postgame. “We got behind and you’re playing uphill. We know the story. We’ve seen the story before. We’re playing uphill – it’s extremely hard against a team with that talent level that has the ability to score. Once again, you’re talking about a perfect storm to get back and we almost got there but we just didn’t. You can’t start the game and get that type of separation and think that against a team with that kind of firepower that you’re going to be able to get all the way back.”

“We weren’t playing good defense,” Pelicans forward Anthony Davis echoed. “The whole first half they did what they wanted. They didn’t feel us on the defensive end. We weren’t physical. We weren’t talking. They had a lot of layups, a lot of open threes. They shot the ball well in the first half.”

Each team will have another opportunity to gain a win this weekend. The Nets will travel to Memphis to play the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, January 4, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET. The Pelicans will be in Cleveland to face off against the Cavaliers on Saturday, January 5, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

On The Way To NBA Playoffs, Nets Take Advantage of 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers were clearly the surprise team in the eastern conference in a strike-shortened season last year under third-year head coach Doug Collins. They stunned the heavily favored Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs after Derrick Rose tore up his knee in Game 1. Then they pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games before succumbing in a very physical series. So there was plenty of optimism coming into this year especially after they traded for center Andrew Bynum. Unfortunately for Bynum and the team, he never played a minute because of knee surgery. Philadelphia is basically playing out the string 14 games under .500 (31-45) when they came to Brooklyn to face the playoff-bound Nets.

The Nets took advantage of an undersized Philly team as Brook Lopez (19) and Reggie Evans (14) first-half points helped establish a 19-point (56-37) first half lead. As a team, the Nets also dominated the boards outrebounding the 76ers by 20 (36-16). Defensively, Brooklyn limited Philadelphia to a meager 34% on 14 of 41 shooting. The Nets shot 49% themselves turning the ball over only 4 times. Shooting guard Joe Johnson playing in his second consecutive game after missing the previous 5, connected on 4 of 7 shots (8 points) still a little confused as to why he was passed over as an offensive option in the last two possessions in the loss to Chicago last Thursday. His backcourt mate Deron Williams was held scoreless for the first time this season attempting only 2 shots.

Philadelphia was down 1 point (16-15) after a Jrue Holiday 3-pointer when Brooklyn outscored them 15-3 the rest of the quarter for a 13 point lead (31-18). Lopez and Evans combining for 25 of the 31 points. The 76ers managed to get back in the game trimming the lead to 5 (38-33) after a Nick Young short jumper. Again, the Nets went on a scoring tear finishing the half on an 18 to 5 run extending the lead to 18 (56-38).

Things would only get worse for the 76ers in the second half as the Nets continued to dominate on both ends of the floor. The rebounding number was an astounding 67 to 34 (24-8 offensive) in favor of Brooklyn with Evans corralling in 24 all by himself.

Said Evans afterward on what the team wanted to do to Philly, "We wanted to hit (the 76ers) upside the head."

It was blunt force trauma in the 104-83 win.

Five Nets finished with double-figure points as Lopez finished with 29. Nick Young came off the bench for Philly to score 18 points in a season that can't end fast enough for them.

Even with the win, Brooklyn lost a chance at winning the division when the Knicks routed Washington. The Nets, however, will be looking to lock up the 4th seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Their next 2 games on the road against Boston and Indiana will be tough before ending the year against lesser teams Toronto, Washington, and Detroit.

Down by as much as 28 points, the Nets tie the game to send it into OT on an Allen Crabbe 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds remaining in regulation

Saturday’s Brooklyn Nets game against the New Orleans Pelicans was schizophrenia on display. In the first half, it was the timid, sluggish-looking, run over me Nets, as they ended the first-half with a 20-point deficit, New Orleans 72 and Brooklyn 52. A really ugly way to start a professional basketball game, and it didn’t end there. The Nets carried their slow-start style into the third quarter and dug even a deeper hole, as midway through the third quarter the Nets were down by 28 points (89-61). And, it was at that point, it was as if the team had a light bulb moment that there was a way to dig out of the hole they had gotten themselves into. The Nets went on to cut their deficit nearly in half and ended the third quarter only down by 15 points, 100-85. In the fourth quarter, powering through and chipping away, Brooklyn closed the gap and on an Allen Crabbe 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds remaining in regulation, tied the score at 116-116 and forced overtime. Oddly enough, it was an Allen Crabbe bobble-head doll night.

Brooklyn took its first lead of the game with 3:45 remaining the game’s first overtime period and led by as many as four points before being outscored 14-4 in the game’s second overtime period to seal a Pelicans’ win.

So what changed?

“…We obviously started the game small,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media post-game. “We started with DeMarre (Carroll) at the four and then we put DeMarre back at the three and we brought Quincy (Acy) in, so we were just bigger. Being bigger helped us rebound and really helped us immensely.”

“I think in the second half we got ourselves in a big hole again, and we owe it to our fans not to get blown out like that,” Crabbe said. “Obviously, we didn’t play like us, as an organization wants to play in the first half, so Coach didn’t even come in and yell at us. He said y’all figure it out and get it together. I feel like we had a good effort in the second half but you can’t keep playing catch up all the time. It was a big hole, 27, 28, I guess we were down. Like I said, in the NBA, you can’t do that. We gave ourselves a chance, but didn’t make the plays we needed to make down the stretch.”

Crabbe scored a team-high 28 points (10-of-24 FG, 8-of-18 3FG) with six rebounds, one assist and, one steal in a career-high 44 minutes on Saturday for the Nets. Spencer Dinwiddie recorded 24 points, 10 assists, four rebounds and three steals in a career-high 43 minutes tonight vs. New Orleans. Dinwiddie posted his sixth-career double-double (and fifth this season). He also became the first Net to record a points/assists double-double in consecutive games since Deron Williams in the 2014-15 campaign (4/6 – 4/8/15). D’Angelo Russell posted 21 points (7-of-18 FG, 5-of-13 3FG, 2-of-2 FT) with a season-high nine rebounds, five assists and one steal in 32 minutes off the bench. Both DeMarre Carroll and Joe Harris tallied 12 points, while Harris 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a career-high-tying two blocks in 34 minutes in his ninth start of the season for Brooklyn. Additionally, Harris recorded his second-career double-double tonight (previously done for the first time on 1/6/18 vs. Boston). Carroll added nine rebounds and five assists to his 12-point total. Newly acquired Dante Cunningham made his Nets debut tonight and recorded two points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 20 minutes off the bench. For New Orleans, Anthony Davis led all scorers with 44 points and 17 rebounds. Rajon Rondo scored a triple-double with 25 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds. Jrue Holiday added 22 points, seven rebounds, and five assists; Nikola Mirotic had 21 points and 16 rebounds, and E’Twaun Moore chipped in 12 points. All was not lost for Brooklyn as its bench outscored New Orleans’ bench 44-14, during Saturday’s duel. With 21 points off the bench, D’Angelo Russell single-handedly outscored New Orleans’ reserves.

Next up for Brooklyn, it plays the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, February 12, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at home at the Barclays Center.

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