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.

Caris LeVert leads Brooklyn Nets to victory over the New York Knicks with 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists

There’s no party like a Brooklyn Nets party when the Brooklyn Nets party doesn’t stop! Now that’s a take on the saying about an old-school party. In this case, on Friday night, the party was at the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets didn’t stop even against adversity and kept it going until the end. It was a close call, but at the end of the night, the Brooklyn Nets dropped their crosstown rival, the New York Knicks, 107-105, improving their record to 1-1 and 1-0 at home.

Now, this was no walk in the park for the Nets, as they saw a comfortable 12-point lead rapidly diminish to seven in the second quarter ending the first-half 50-57. Overall, the lead changed 13 times and nine times the score was tied. The moral of this story, don’t lose faith when your lead evaporates, keep grinding until the end.

From 5:57 minutes in the third quarter until the end, the Nets found themselves in the hole seven times. Here’s where you can visualize everyone on their feet, at 15.9 seconds left in regulation, Knicks center Eric Kanter hits a free throw to tie the game at 105-105. The Nets call a timeout. The game resumes and Nets guard Caris LeVert hits a driving layup over Knicks forward Lance Thomas, which put the Nets up 107-105 with one-second left in regulation. The Knicks call a timeout and when the play is resumed, Knicks guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. hurls a 31-foot three-point jump shot with .4 seconds left on the clock, the ball bounces off the rim. The Knicks rebound with .1 seconds left. The horn blows before any action could be taken. The Brooklyn Nets eke out a win and Nets fans have a 107-105 home victory to celebrate.

Statistically speaking, to show the significance of the Nets’ start tonight, Brooklyn shot .700 (14-of-20) in tonight’s first quarter, leading the Knicks 33-24. The Nets’ .700 first-quarter field goal percentage was higher than any of their first quarter field goal percentages all of last season and marked Brooklyn's highest field goal percentage in an opening period since April 4, 2017, at Philadelphia (.714).

Additionally, the Nets edged out the Knicks 22-14 in assists.

The Nets also out-rebounded the Knicks 55-36 in tonight’s win led by double-digit rebound performances from center Jarrett Allen, who is a sophomore in the NBA and center Ed Davis. Allen posted 11 rebounds; while Ed Davis, who the Nets acquired from Portland over the summer, is known as an efficient rebounder and is already paying dividends. Davis came off the bench crashing the boards with 10 rebounds and five points in 14 minutes. Since entering the league (2010-11), no player has recorded more rebounds off the bench than Davis (2,949).

The Nets’ improved rebounding did not go unnoticed by Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“Huge, I thought we did a really good job,” Atkinson stated in a way that Nets reporters don’t get to hear too often. “They had that one stretch in the fourth quarter where they grabbed five or six in a row, but besides that, guys were really helping us there. Jarrett Allen had 11 rebounds. That’s what we asked of him. We asked him to improve. I think against Detroit he had 10, so he’s heavy into 10, 11, 12, 13 rebounds to make another step as a defensive player.”

In contrast to the Knicks, the Nets had four starters scoring in double digits and two off the bench. Caris LeVert, whom most believe will have a transcendent season, barring injury, led the Nets with a career-high 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists.

Coach Atkinson could not have been more pleased about LeVert’s performance tonight.

“Heck of a job,” Atkinson stated in a way that reporters covering the Nets don’t get to hear too often. “Heck of a battle on both ends of the floor. I’ll tell you what, I thought he made, especially at the end, made (Tim) Hardaway (Jr.) work for his shots. He was our leader tonight, and he said after the game ‘Coach I owe you one from the Detroit game.’ So, great game, but that was a heck of a finish at the end.”

VIDEO: In His Own Words: Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson

 

As one could imagine, with seconds left on the clock and a win or lose play outcome on the line, LeVert was singularly focused on the victory when he saw Atkinson had drawn up the play for him.

“I just wanted to get the shot that I wanted,” LeVert told the media postgame in the locker room. “I wanted to get the last shot. Unfortunately, I think there was a second left, but I wanted to get the last shot. I wanted to get the shot that I wanted to get.”

LeVert's performance didn't go unnoticed by Knicks head coach David Fizdale.

"He's a good player," Fizdale stated. "He's an explosive athlete. He can really put the ball on the floor. His three-ball has improved tremendously. He's competitor. I know that he and Timmy (Tim Hardaway, Jr.), that old Michigan connection, that gets them going. That kid can play and I think he's going to have a breakout year this year."

VIDEO: In His Own Words: Brooklyn Nets Guard, Caris LeVert

LeVert’s tag-team partner, center Jarret Allen, contributed 15 points and four blocks in addition to his 11 rebounds. Allen’s four blocks tonight followed his four blocks in the season opener in Detroit on Wednesday, making him the first player in franchise history to record four blocks in each of the first two games of a season. He also became the first player since Tim Duncan (2003-04 season) to register a double-double and four blocks in each of the first two games of an NBA season. The last three NBA players to do so prior to Duncan were: Dikembe Mutombo (1999-00), David Robinson (1994-95) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1992-93). Can you say Hall of Fame greatness in the making!

Additionally, for the Nets, D’Angelo Russell scored 15 points and piled on six assists and five boards. Two players scoring 11 points each were Joe Harris and rookie Rodions Kurucs of the secondary unit. Kurucs also added five rebounds, while Harris added four boards. Spencer Dinwiddie, who was rumored to be a trade option for Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, chipped in 10 points, six assists, and three rebounds off the bench.

Kevin Knox, a rookie that the Knicks selected in the 2018 NBA Draft, whom Knicks Nation is watching like a hawk, showed flashes of brilliance again in his second NBA game. Knox was one of three Knicks players that scored in double digits, scoring 17 points and six rebounds off the bench. The other two Knicks scoring leaders were starters Enes Kanter, as expected, with 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. also with 29 points. It’s important to note that Hardaway Jr. had no assists.

And, if you’re keeping Nets vs. Knicks overall scoring records, the Knicks only have four wins over the Nets at 98-94.

Nets fans revel in this victory because your team will be on the road tomorrow for Game Three of this NBA season and the first of its 14 back-to-back games for the 2018-19 Season. The Nets will take on the Indiana Pacers, a team that many prognosticators believe, based on last season’s performance, will be an NBA Eastern Conference playoff contender.

See you at the Barclays Center on Sunday, October 28, 2018, at 5:00 p.m., the next time the Nets play at home when they take on the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.

VIDEO: Brooklyn Nets rookie player, Rodions Kurucs, gives the media his feeling about getting his first opportunity to play in an NBA game.

In this video, Brooklyn Nets rookie, Rodions Kurucs from Latvia, spoke to the media about his performance for the first time as an NBA player.

It was the Brooklyn Nets first preseason game of the 2018-19 NBA season and Kurucs was fearless scoring 13 points in 12 minutes in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter against the NY Knicks.

Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Nets lost 107-102.

VIDEO: Coach Kenny Atkinson summarizes his thoughts about the Nets performance during their first preseason game playing the New York Knicks

REPORTER 1: Obviously, you guys put a lot of emphasis in getting shooting out on the floor. But when you see those, when you see those numbers what jumps out at you? Is it shooting or, is it something else?

COACH ATKINSON: I think it's, yes it’s the shooting Brian, that we missed a lot of open shots. But still, I thought we took some contested shots especially the contested ones off the dribble. You know the contested threes off the dribble is a tough shot. I felt like we took too many of those. But I do think our offense has a long way to go. We struggled to execute. You know give, give the Knicks credit that they pressured, put pressure on our guards, did a good job of getting into the ball and we struggled, struggled executing.

REPORTER 2: You know that (Enes) Kanter had his way with you on the inside again deep you 22 points 20 rebounds. What do you think the problem was there? It's the undersized or just poor defense?

COACH ATKINSON: First of all, he’s a very good player and he's a load. So when we play in the first game of the regular season, we’re going to need to do a better job. I thought he caught the ball too easily in the post, so a guy like that so good with the ball post, you better keep it from him or push him off the blocks. He caught it too deep. You know that we let him get to the middle too much I thought. And then, in offensive rebounding, we just we can't box him out with one guy, you know. We need two guys. We need three guys and I’m going to say this all year, we need five guys, five guys coming back to rebound. So that's kind of his strength, but we have to do a much better job. You're correct on that.

REPORTER 2: Caris (LeVert) kind of showed us I think what you might have been seeing in all this preseason and training camp. How would you evaluate his performance?

COACH ATKINSON: I thought he was up and down, you know, I thought he did some good things and obviously he gets to the rim well. I thought some of those contested threes were on his plate. He needs to clean up his shot selection a little. I would say it was up and down, some good things mixed in and like I said, shot selection was one, one of the things that concerned me a little bit.

REPORTER 1: With Caris(LeVert) specifically, is one of those things defense on (Allonzo) Trier who obviously had a heck of a night? And I guess, you know somewhat to a lesser extent, you know, you talked about how if you had everybody healthy you would be able to go big and be able to use a lot of different lineups and take a look at a lot of different things. Did the fact you had so many forwards that were out they kind of prevent you from experimenting you can see how those people are?

COACH ATKINSON: Yeah, and yeah, I think, I think we were obviously we had a few guys out and so that too. You know the first game Brian, we’re really, you know focused on understanding the minutes where guys gotta play, so it’s tough to mix and match a little bit at that first preseason game because you know guys were on a set number of minutes and that’s, that's on me. So didn’t maybe have a chance playing Ed (Davis) and Jarrett (Allen) together like I said we might. But yes, I thought Allonzo Trier he drove the heck out of the ball and especially in the first half, we couldn’t keep him in front of us and that was, that was collectively, everybody got beat by him and credit to him he was very aggressive driving the ball.

REPORTER 3: Kenny, Rodi (Rodions Kurucs) had some good numbers and good moments in the fourth, what did you see there?

COACH ATKINSON: Yeah, I was very pleased with Rodi, I loved was his energy. I think he, he's a talented guy and he’s got nice length. I like how he drove it. You know, he showed some good things defensively. Listen, I think at training camp, he's been, talk about Caris and the other guys, but I thought he's been a little bit of a surprise, you know. He's a multi-position player. I think his speed is better than I thought. I was, I was really pleased with how well he played, love his energy he came out with.

REPORTER 3: Did you kind of go into it thinking you really want to give an opportunity to look at?

ATKINSON: Yeah, no doubt. We had him right up there. We want to see these guys play right off the bat. And then secondly, he's earned it. He earned it in training camp. You know every time he stepped on the floor when we scrimmaged, or in our breakdowns, he's been, he's been, he's been impressive and confirmed tonight that he's a talented, talented player.

REPORTER 2: And, you talked about him (Rodions Kurucs) the other day, as a stretch five. Even though it was garbage time and it was scrubs against scrubs.
Did you like the instincts he showed, as far as, being in the right place you know kind of showing a basketball IQ, showing passing ability, good hands?

ATKINSON: Yes, I loved, though, I liked all that. I think he showed good instincts passing the ball. And again, maybe the thing I liked about him, he doesn't have any fear that keeps, you know, he's going to, he's barreling in there and he's hitting guys.

And you know, I just like how aggressive he was, that his overall energy, it was like just a real bright spot, really. I thought it really helped that third unit, you know play pretty well.

 

 

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Expectations are higher this season for the Brooklyn Nets than the New York Knicks, but neither will make the NBA playoffs this season

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Outlook for Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks for NBA Season 2018-19

KEISHA: Welcome back to What's The 411Sports! We’re in a New York state of mind with our New York Sports Report. Now, Mike, the NBA regular season is upon us. So why don't we just take a quick look at the preseason for both the Nets and the Knicks and give our impressions.

MIKE: Sure. I think the Knicks are certain. We'll start with the Knicks, they have their work cut out for them. Right? Because (Kristaps) Porzingis is not going to be healthy and that's really going to hurt them and I think one of the things that Knicks fans…you're going to start to see as they get 15 to 20 games into the season and they're going to struggle. Then, we are going to hear the word tank, absolutely; you're going to hear it a lot because that's what the Knick fans are going to be leaning towards. I think from what the Knicks have put together, this group, and this roster, it's not necessarily…it's something you know team that's going to be able to compete for the playoffs and it was a tough year that they had last season as well. You got a first-year head coach. You know, you have a couple pieces that you can work with. But, I think, for the most part, it's going to be a difficult, difficult season for the New York Knicks. You're going to see regression not progression and I really do believe that.

MIKE: Now as far as the Brooklyn Nets, I think that there will be some progress. I'm not sure how much, but I think that this is a team that, remember two to three years ago, was at the bottom of the barrel in the NBA, worst team in the NBA. And, then you get no reward by being the worst team because they weren't even getting draft picks. I think what they've been able to do with Sean Marks, okay and Kenny Atkinson. I think that they've put a good culture in place for this team. I think that they will compete. Making the playoffs is going to be very difficult. We've discussed this several times over the course of the last month or so how you know what the expectations will be for the Brooklyn Nets. But I think this is a team that despite these dismal records that they put out the last couple of seasons, there have been some games that they've competed in and I don't mean just against like some of the other poor teams in the NBA even against some of the good teams. So I think that the expectations for the Nets should be a little bit more optimistic than it is across the river for the Knicks.

KEISHA: Well, we're going to see a lot from the Knicks in terms of this is going to be Coach David Fizdale’s inaugural season as the New York Knicks head coach. And, we're going to see how well he handles the bright lights of the big city because they're going to shine bright. And, the New York City media is harsh, they can be harsh. So I mean it's going to be a rebuilding, it's going to be…they already know that they have a lot of young talent and they're really going to build their team through the draft and so they're going to see these young people develop and grow. And, it's up to them to nurture that growth and we're going to see what is going to become of Kevin Knox. You remember, he was booed mercilessly during the draft, a la Kristaps Porzingis and we saw what how Kristaps handled it and what he was able to do during his rookie season. So maybe you know, maybe history will repeat itself and Kevin Knox can be the shining, the shiny star on the New York Knicks.

KEISHA: And then, also with the Brooklyn Nets, you know, you hit it on the head. This is a team that's rebuilding and they’re getting better. Each season’s going to be incremental. We're not going to really talk playoffs because I just don't think that's realistic. But, they're definitely in position to win more games this coming season than last. They have a lot of depth on the team, a lot of ball handlers, a lot of shooters. And, Kenny Atkinson is really harping on defense. And, it is believed that D'Angelo Russell will have a breakout season, like this will be the year for him.

MIKE: Brooklyn hopes so.

Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs playing in his first NBA game showed true grit scoring 13 points in 12 minutes, all in the fourth quarter

Granted it's a preseason game, in a new season, but the Brooklyn Nets still look like the team of last season. The first competitive game for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018-19 NBA season was held at the Barclays Center tonight against its East River rival, the New York Knicks. The one thing that was different from the very start was that a Brooklyn Brigade fan group showed up in full force and cheered the Nets from start to finish shutting down any Knicks’ fans in the audience. Believe me, this is a first. At one Knicks game last season, when I checked in on Facebook, the app thought I was at Madison Square Garden and would not allow me to put in the Barclays Center.

Tonight the Nets got off to a good start, which isn’t unusual, leading by as much as 15 points with 1:04 left in the first quarter. But in the closing minute of the first quarter, New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina put up a three-pointer at the 50-second mark. Nets guard Joe Harris missed a 3-point jumper with 35 seconds left, and Knicks guard Allonzo Trier added another three points at the buzzer, ending the first quarter with a score of Nets 26 and the Knicks 17.

During the second stanza, with just under eight minutes left to play in the half, the Nets had a 15-point lead (38-23). However, the New York Knicks found cracks in the armor and little by little chipped away to end the first-half 50-46. The reverse of fortunes continued into the third, when the Knicks went up 10, ending the third quarter with a score of 81-71. The Nets tried to claw their way back in the fourth quarter and came within one point (99-98) at the 2:26 mark, however, turnovers and defensive pressure on the part of the Knicks at the end of the day is what contributed to the Nets demise in Preseason Game 1, ending with a hurtful 107-102.

“I thought that we missed a lot of open ones,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media during his postgame interview. “But still I thought that we took some contested ones, especially the contested ones off the dribble. You know the contested threes off the dribble – it’s a tough shot, I felt like too many of those. But, I do think our offense has a long way to go. We struggled to execute, give the Knicks credit. I thought they pressured our guards and did a good job of getting into the ball and we struggled executing.”

“There were a lot of positives,” an assessment that Nets guard D’Angelo Russell gave the media in his locker room postgame presser. “I think we came out and competed, played hard. We focused on what coach was expecting of us. Things we can work on as well. But it’s something that we can watch film, build on it.”

In adversity, there is generally a silver lining somewhere, and Net rookie Rodions Kurucs was it. During the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Kurucs got his first opportunity to play in an NBA game and he was pushing for a real comeback. Kurucs scored 13 points in 12 minutes.

Russell was not surprised by Kurucs’ deliverables.

Asked what he sees in practice from Kurucs that translated into tonight’s game, and Russell responded, “Same thing, same thing. He’s active, he’s athletic, he plays hard, he knows his role. He knows what he’s capable of. He never steps outside the box. He’s the guy that plays hard and brings that energy.”

“It was really emotional for me because I didn’t play last year,” Kurucs said about getting his chance to play for the first time ever in the NBA. “It was a really good moment for me. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed every minute.”

Kurucs was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 NBA Draft in the second round (40th overall).

“I think I bring energy on defense,” Kurucs continued. “I’m just working on all the stuff, what coach told me. I’ll help my team out. I’ll do all my best. I’ll give my all.”

And, from tonight’s performance, he’s definitely one to watch this season.

The Nets had six players to score in double digits. Caris LeVert led the Nets with 15 points and four steals. Both Spencer Dinwiddie and Kurucs scored 13 points. Dinwiddie added six assists, while Kurucs added four rebounds and four steals. Russell and Treveon Graham each tallied 11 points. Russell added three rebounds and three assists, while, Graham secured eight rebounds and three assists. Joe Harris chipped in 10 points and three rebounds.

For the Knicks, Allonzo Trier led all scorers with 25 points and four rebounds; his teammate, Enes Kanter contributed 22 points and 20 rebounds.

Next up, for the Knicks, are the New Orleans Pelicans at home at Madison Square Garden on Friday, October 5, 2018.

The Nets travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons on Monday, October 8, 2018. The Nets first regular season game at home will be against the New York Knicks on Friday, October 19, 2018. 

In His Own Words: Rodions Kurucs:

Timberwolves owner seeks to trade Jimmy Butler, but no deal yet

KEISHA: Welcome to this week's edition of What's The 411Sports. I'm Keisha Wilson and I'm Mike McDonald. Mike, we have so much to talk about. So we're just going to get to it.

The NBA season is upon us. And as of this taping, the Jimmy Butler saga continues. Butler is demanding a trade and he also said he's not going to show up for training camp nor was he present during the Timberwolves media day. Now, Timberwolves owner, Glen Taylor, had a demand of his own that Jimmy Butler is to be traded sooner than later, preferably before the start of training camp.

Now, Jimmy is reportedly asking for a change to the Brooklyn Nets, the Clippers, and the New York Knicks. However, the Knicks are reportedly not interested in Butler's services. Now, Mike, you are a Knicks fan. News of the reported disinterest by the Knicks of having Jimmy Butler on their team is getting the fans livid.

Do you think that the fans should be upset and are you upset if the Knicks pass on Jimmy Butler?

MIKE: No, I'm not. I think for the Knicks, they really want to build for the future. And you know, from their standpoint, look, you can't bring on a guy like Jimmy Butler who's been struggling to play with some younger players and then you bring him onto the Knicks where they're also filled with the young roster as well. I think you're kind of just asking for trouble.

I think what a lot of Knick fans are thinking here is they're looking at the numbers. They're looking at these fantastic, All-Star caliber numbers that Jimmy Butler has put up over the course of the last several seasons, but at the same time, I feel like it would not necessarily be a good fit for the Knicks. I think the plan is to build for the future. The Knicks right now are not necessarily a win now team and I think by giving up some of the pieces that they've sort of picked up over the course of the last several years, I think that that's going to wind up hurting them in a long run.

Now, I get it, it is enticing to go after a guy like Butler bring him in try to get him signed up, right, and then at the same time, maybe try to make a push for Kyrie Irving when all is said and done. But I just think right now, the Knicks should stand pat and I don't see that they should go make a move for Jimmy Butler.

KEISHA: I wholeheartedly agree, and according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, reports of Butler's interest in the Knicks were overstated. So, allegedly, Butler wants to win sooner rather than later which would not put the Knicks in contention. And, which also makes the fact that Brooklyn Nets are on his list a head-scratcher, but that might be more for money because the Brooklyn Nets, have room to offer a max contract.

So, I definitely agree with you. I don't think that the Knicks aren't interested. It's just that they're sticking to their philosophy. They have learned from the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York City in exchange for pretty much decimating their future. They want, they have a new coach, they have new players, and they want to build a culture, and; they feel as though they want to build that culture through the young talent that they have and the draft picks that they have and maybe will acquire again.

And, in terms of a trade, with (Kristaps) Porzingis not on the trading block, the Knicks don't have a lot to offer, so their next valuable assets are their draft picks. But they want to hold on to them. So they're going to take a calculated risk to see if they can get Jimmy Butler in free agency where they don't have to give up any of their assets for him.

And then also, you know, like you mentioned, the fans are salivating over a possible Butler-Irving pairing in New York. However, If Jimmy Butler goes elsewhere, there goes that dream. And then Kyrie Irving has said on the record that he hadn't talked to you Jimmy Butler about that pairing or what his career is going to look like since 2016. So, Kyrie may not even want to come to New York. We don't know how his season with Boston will be this year and he may actually want to stay with a contender.

MIKE: Yeah. Well, it's going to be interesting Keisha to see how it all plays out.

 

The Knicks start out strong, but ultimately lose to Philadelphia 76ers 104-94

The clocks were turned forward one hour just a few hours before the New York Knicks faced the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. When they stepped on the floor, they played as if they were still asleep.

Coming into the game, the first place 76ers (24-17) were riding a two-game winning streak with wins over Boston and Utah. The Knicks, however, were coming back home after losing their four previous games, all on the road. With Tyson Chandler back in the starting line-up after missing the last 2 games (hamstring and left wrist), New York was hoping his presence, especially on the defensive side, would help bring the end to the losing streak.

With Carmelo Anthony coming out with a purpose (10 points), the Knicks took an early first-period lead (21-14) before Philadelphia outscored them 8-3 to end the period trailing only by two (24-22). Evan Turner (7 points) and Louis Williams (coming off the bench to add another 7) helped close the gap.

The teams went back and forth in the second period with no lead getting bigger than 6 (Philly 49-43) after Thaddeus Young, getting additional bench help, scores four straight points. He finished the period with 10 points. Louis Williams led the team with 13. Anthony, Jeremy Lin, and Landry Fields scored the Knicks last 6 points in the final 1:08, but ended the first half trailing by 2 (51-49).

The Knicks started the third period only trailing by three (65-62) after a Lin lay-up. Then New York went into its sleepwalking mode. Not hard to see how the Sixers dominated the rest of the period and showed why they have scored more points than any other team in that period. Philadelphia outscored the Knicks 24-11 over the rest of the period (38 points for the period) to take a 16 point lead (89-73) entering the final period. Williams continued his hot shooting scoring 14 points.

With both Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire benched in the last period, head coach Mike D' Antoni was hoping the second unit would spark a comeback. It wouldn't happen as Philadelphia continued to hammer the lifeless Knicks. With Young, Williams, and Evan Turner outscoring New York 9-4 to begin the final, the Sixers upped their lead to 21 (98-77). The Knicks got as close as 10 points (104-94) with a little more than 1 minute left but the game had long been decided.

The defense that had been a big part of the Knicks during the Lin-Sanity run not only allowed Philadelphia to shoot 51% from the floor but an unacceptable 57% from 3-point land.

"Collectively we didn't play well. Collectively our spirit isn't good. Collectively, our defense wasn't good. Collectively we just didn't do what we needed to do. We have to solve that," said D' Antoni.

Lawrence Frank Grinds On

February 01, 2012

Lawrence Frank, head coach of the Detroit Pistons has seen better days. The first year has not started kindly for the guy who as an assistant coach under Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics. Frank helped the Celtics give up the fewest points in the NBA. However, that hasn't been the case in the first 22 games this year, his first with the Pistons.

They came into Madison Square Garden having lost 18 of those games. It hasn't helped that his key player, Ben Gordon from Yonkers, has been out the last 5 games with a shoulder injury. In the 15 games he's played, Gordon averaged 33 minutes and 15 points. Will Bynum (strained right foot) and Charlie Villanueva (sore right ankle) have missed significant time as well. It's life in a league that had to start the year with a shortened training camp and an abbreviated pre-season schedule. Those facts have not been lost on Frank.

"It is what it is," Frank said after watching his team get romped by the Knicks 113-86 on a night where they allowed New York to shoot 60% from the floor and 50% from 3-point land. "There's no excuse. We have to do better with what we have."

For more than 7 years, Frank was the head coach of the New Jersey Nets taking over after then head coach Byron Scott was fired at the end of January during the 2004 season. He quickly made news by winning his first 13 games. No other coach in the four major professional sports began their career in such fashion. Six of those games came on the road, setting another record. When he was let go at the end of the 2009-10 season, Frank was the Nets all-time leader in coaching victories. Under his guidance, Frank's team made the playoffs 4 years in a row, including winning the Atlantic Division twice and advancing to the Conference Semi-Finals three times. Taking over a Detroit franchise that has seen better days may be Frank's most daunting task.

The Detroit Pistons championships years has been well documented. Led by Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars they won back-to-back NBA Titles in 1989 and 1990 against the Lakers and Portland respectfully. Those teams were led by legendary head coach Chuck Daly and the Bad Boys moniker was established by their hardcore defensive players, Dennis Rodman, Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer.

"When I was in New Jersey they (the Pistons) had to go through us in the eastern conference semi-finals. They were a hard-nosed, blue-collar defense first. Share the basketball, team first, grind it out team. Very tough-minded," said Frank.

It would take them 14 years (2004) to win their next championship, with a team that was built more on finesse and athleticism. Larry Brown was at the helm coaching Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Tashuan Prince and Ben Wallace. They defeated a heavily favored Lakers team that included Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O' Neal. Prince and Wallace are still with the Pistons and although they lost the following year to San Antonio, neither has been close to another final. Prince, who finished with 10 points on 5 of 10 shooting, believes the core is there to build another winner. Prince knows he and Wallace can guide the rest of the team in the right direction.

"At some point, we have to build a foundation to where we're going to get to that."

It would help if they could get Gordon, Bynum and Villanueva back and healthy, as soon as possible.

Knicks Cage Bobcats

March 30, 2013

New York Knicks Keep Winning Streak Alive Beating Charlotte Bobcats 111-102

Riding the current longest NBA winning streak (6 games) after the Heat streak was broken at 27 by the Chicago Bulls this past Wednesday, the New York Knicks faced a Charlotte Bobcats team that had only won 17 games when they stepped on the Madison Square Garden hardwood floor Friday night. Head coach Mike Woodson was not concerned about getting his team up against a club that had lost 54 games up to this point.

"They're next in line," Woodson said prior to tip-off. "It doesn't matter who we play. It's all about what we do as a team. We've been playing some pretty good basketball as of late. We're trying to stay at the top of our division. This is an important game. Every game from here on out is important for our ball club."

Right from the start, New York treated Charlotte like the team with the worst record (Orlando started the night with 18 wins) in the league. Like they did Wednesday night against Memphis, the Knicks jumped out to a huge first-period lead (38-20) behind 13 Carmelo Anthony points. J.R. Smith continued his scorching play. He chipped in 9 points (4-6 shooting) looking to score more than 30 points for the third straight game. Iman Shumpert, who hit his first 3-pointers against Memphis, picked up right where he left off. Eight of his points came from behind the three-point arc. Shumpert has converted 6 of 8 three-pointers in the last two games.

By halftime, the contest (if that's what you want to call it) resembled the latest NBA video game, as the Knicks lead ballooned to as many as 30 points (58-28) with Smith adding 14 more points. As a team, New York shot a blistering 62% from the floor including an eye-opening 75% from 3 point land. The Bobcats never had a chance as they were in the crosshairs of the Knicks all night.

Unlike the Grizzlies game, when the Knicks saw its 30 point lead dwindle to five, Charlotte really never made it a game even though they did outscore the Knicks 31-22 in the final period. The Bobcats managed to close the gap to 7 (104-97) but Smith did it on the defensive end with a steal, leading to free throws by Anthony sealing the game.

The streak extends to seven games with Smith scoring 37 points and pretty much locking up the NBA's 6th man award. Something his head coach said was a reasonable goal at the start of the year. His teammates have been impressed.

"He (Smith) is focused," said Anthony. "He is dialed in, locked in. His confidence is sky high. We are following his lead."

Knicks guard Jason Kidd, who began the year starting but now is coming off the bench, compared Smith to a golfer saying "he's putting well. He hasn't hit a bad drive. He's playing as well as anybody right now."

It's been a long time in the memory of Smith since he can recall playing this well.

"I haven't been on a streak like this since high school," he said.

The New York Knicks went on their customary west coast drought (1-4) dealing with injuries and could have easily fallen off the top of the division. Smith found his game at the right time becoming only the second player since 1990 to score more than 30 points in 3 straight games coming off the bench. The Knicks winning streak extends to seven games when they host the Boston Celtics Sunday night.

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