January 19, 2019

Joe Harris hits the game-winning shot to help Nets edge the Hornets, and Spencer Dinwiddie records his first double-double of the season

It was the night after Christmas, and all through the Barclays Center arena, the fans were on their feet as the Brooklyn Nets tried to close out the Charlotte Hornets in the regular session, then the first overtime, and finally the second. It was thrilling to watch the Nets battle to the end, as well as, watching the fans applaud, cheer, and jump up and down spontaneously. At 29.1 seconds in the second overtime, you could feel the tension in the air with the score tied at 132-132 and Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie misses a 26' 3-point pull-up shot, then at 25.6 seconds, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker rebounds and calls a timeout. When the game resumes, the Hornets have possession, there’s ball movement with seconds ticking away. At 6.7 seconds left on the clock, Charlotte’s Malik Monk turns the ball over, Nets forward Joe Harris aka “Joey Buckets” steals the ball and at 3.4 seconds, goes for a driving layup and puts the Nets ahead 134-132. Monk tries to redeem his earlier turnover by hurling a 40-foot 3-point shot, but to no avail.

And, the Brooklyn Nets get the “W” defeating the Charlotte Hornets 134-132. Inching closer to the .500 mark, with this victory the Nets improved to 17-19 overall and have won nine of their last 10 games, while the Hornets fell to 16-17 overall and 4-10 on the road with the loss.

“Great fight,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about the Nets win against the Hornets. “We lost the game three or four times and we just kept coming back. They hit tough shots, we came back and hit tough shots. Just a great basketball game. It was just a fun game to be a part of. Give a lot of credit to them, (the) same thing they didn’t give up, that’s why they’re a good team. That’s why they’re a playoff team and it was a good test for us tonight and we made some big plays to pull it through.”

Coming off the bench, Dinwiddie led all scorers with 37 points, which is two points shy of his career-high set on December 12th at Philadelphia. Dinwiddie also had a season-high 11 assists in 41 minutes off the bench, recording his first double-double of the season in the victory and a career-high seven 3-pointers tonight.

On where this win stands with the rest, Dinwiddie gave his assessment to the media.

“I mean, obviously we didn’t lose a lead, so it is not disappointing or anything like that in terms of close games we’ve had in the past,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s a dogfight, they’re a good ball club, obviously, they’re sixth in the East I believe before this game. They have a phenomenal player who is probably going to be an (NBA) All-Star in Kemba (Walker) and we made just enough plays, just enough shots, just enough stops. So, it’s a credit to our group in terms of maturing.”

Leading the Nets starters, Joe Harris scored a season-high 27 points, six rebounds, two assists, and the one steal that mattered in this game. Both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and D’Angelo Russell recorded 16 points. Hollis-Jefferson added a season-high 15 rebounds, a season-high-tying six assists, and a season-high three blocks. Hollis-Jefferson also registered his second double-double of the season. Russell, who only played 27 minutes, added four assists to his 16 points. Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs never ceases to amaze, he recorded his second-career double-double with 13 points, a career-high 12 rebounds, three assists, and a career-high-tying three steals in a career-high 39 minutes.

DeMarre Carroll came off the bench for the Nets and scored 12 points and four rebounds.

Brooklyn’s bench outscored Charlotte’s bench 55-35. The Nets’ bench is moving up the ladder on NBA bench scoring, entering last night’s game against Charlotte ranking third in the NBA in bench points per game (45.4). The Nets’ reserves have averaged 48.0 bench points per game in their last 10 games. The Nets also edged the Hornets 31-26 in assists, recording their third game of 30-plus assists this season.

For the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker scored a team-high 35 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Jeremy Lamb registered 31 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals; Marvin Williams recorded 14 points and 12 rebounds; Nicolas Batum tallied 13 points and three assists, and; Tony Parker, yes that Tony Parker formerly of the San Antonio Spurs, chipped in 10 points and five assists in 21 minutes.

Time to get your popcorn, as the Nets and Hornets will face off again, this time in Charlotte, on tomorrow, Friday, December 28, at 7 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on the YES network or listen via radio on WFAN.

 

TIP-INS:

Spencer Dinwiddie recorded his eighth game of 25+ points this season last night against the Charlotte Hornets, which marks the most for any NBA player off the bench this season and the second-most in a single-season in franchise history (most: 10 for Bubbles Hawkins in 1976-77).

Rodions Kurucs is the first Nets rookie to record a double-double in consecutive games since Terrence Williams in the 2009-10 season. Kurucs has scored in double figures in six of his last eight, averaging 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in 28.0 minutes per contest in those eight games.

 

In the Nets’ game loss, a phenom in the making emerges, Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs leads all Nets players with a career-high 24 points

Seven.

Seven was the number of consecutive wins the Brooklyn Nets had heading into their game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Unfortunately, the Nets could not keep pace with the Pacers (pun intended) starting in the first quarter and lost 114-106.

In addition to snapping their season-high seven-game winning streak, the Nets fell to 15-19 overall and 7-11 at home, while the Pacers improved to 21-12 overall and 10-7 on the road with the victory.

With the Nets experiencing so many losses, sometimes it’s easy to forget that the team has had win streaks in the past. This current win streak matched the team’s longest winning streak since relocating to Brooklyn for the start of the 2012-13 season. The Nets winning back-to-back games in this fashion and at this time had many sports reporters talking about the Nets who wouldn’t have otherwise because the Nets win streak marked the longest active winning streak in the NBA.

Yesterday's breakdown for the Brooklyn Nets came in the first quarter when they ended the quarter with a 10-point deficit 37-27 and didn’t gain much in the second, ending that stanza 59-49. Brooklyn closed in on Indiana in the third, but still fell short by four points, finishing the third 84-80, and similarly, in the fourth, the Nets just couldn’t make up enough ground. The Pacers outscored the Nets in the final quarter by four points 30-26 and ultimately winning the game 114-106.

“We could really never stop them,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters after the game. “We didn’t stop them all night. I think we got in a big hole – 37-point first quarter and then (in the) fourth quarter we couldn’t stop them either. We tried some different things. We tried mucking up the game a little, some different defenses, and never found that key to stopping them.”

Despite the outcome of tonight’s game, there were several bright spots for the Brooklyn: a season-high .516 (16-of-31) from 3-point range including .647 (11-of-17) from 3-point range in the second half, which also marked a season-high for 3-point shooting percentage by the Nets in a half this season, which also included 7-of-8 from 3-point range in the third quarter, matching the team's highest 3FGM total in any quarter this season.

Additionally, the Nets edged the Pacers 28-24 in assists and also outrebounded Indiana 41-29, including an 11-6 edge on the offensive glass. Actually, when it comes to rebounding, the Nets have been on a roll, they have outrebounded their opponents 353-292 (+61) in their last eight games. The Nets’ bench also outscored the Pacers’ reserves last night 43-29. Entering the game against the Pacers, the Nets’ bench ranked fifth in the NBA with 45.4 points per game.

It was a special night for Nets rookie forward Rodions Kurucs, he led all Nets scorers with a career-high 24 points; he also registered three rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal in 34 minutes.

Last night’s game also marked Kurucs’ first-career 20-point game and the first time Kurucs has led the Nets in scoring; all the while proving each game with attitude and performance that he belongs in the NBA and perhaps in the Nets starting line-up. His four made 3-pointers marked a career high, while his six made field goals matched his career high. Kurucs has scored in double figures in four of his last six games and has averaged 12.3 points per game in those six outings.

When asked about his role and continued growth, Kurucs responded, “I mean, it’s been good. I’m enjoying it every day. I don’t really have much to say. Like before I said, I’m enjoying it every day. I enjoy the team, the guys, the staff, everyone. I just love to be here. I just love to help the team.”

Other Nets starters in double digits were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris who scored 13 points each, along with five and four rebounds respectively, and; Jarrett Allen tallied 10 points and five rebounds. D’Angelo Russell who had a rough scoring night with only three points contributed nine assists.

DeMarre Carroll led the Nets’ second unit with 16 points and four rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie contributed 15 points and nine assists, and; Jared Dudley chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one blocked shot.

For Indiana, Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Former Nets players, Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 and 17 points respectively; Myles Turner registered 15 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and five blocked shots, and; Domantas Sabonis came off the bench and chipped in 17 points and three steals.

Next up, the Indiana Pacers will return home to host the Washington Wizards on Sunday, December 23rd at 5:00 p.m. ET. The Brooklyn Nets will host the Phoenix Suns at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn also on Sunday, December 23, 2018, at 6 p.m. ET.

Nets capture the Hawks and score its 5th consecutive win; Jeremy Lin fans did not get the show they expected

When the Brooklyn Nets met up with the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon, this was a game that one went in thinking that the Nets would definitely get a “W.” The Nets were coming to the table with a four-game winning streak. The Hawks win-loss record was only 6-22 while the Nets were sitting at 12-18. The prevailing thought was for the Nets to lose to the Atlanta Hawks under these conditions would have been an absolute travesty. But this is the NBA, and anything can happen. Fortunately, the Nets turned up and kept it going to send the Hawks out of the Barclays Center with a 144-127 loss.

Although the Hawks are not sitting at the upper echelon of the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the attendance at the Barclays Center for this Sunday afternoon game was 13,955 slightly higher than the attendance of 13,232 for the Washington Wizards game on Friday night and the Wizards have a similar overall record as Brooklyn. The prevailing thought was that the attendance draw was Jeremy Lin. After all, it was Lin’s first return to Brooklyn since being traded to Atlanta, a trade which took a number of people by surprise including Lin. Unfortunately for Lin’s fans, he played just under 14 minutes scoring a dismal six points and one assist. Certainly not the performance Lin’s fans wanted to see and most of all, not one that Lin wanted to happen for himself. Many reporters thought this would be Lin’s revenge game, but apparently, Lin is still trying to find his rhythm following his catastrophic injury from last season, he scored two points in the first quarter and four in the third, two free-throws and a driving layup. Lin did not play at all in the second quarter.

Despite Lin’s troubles, the Hawks did try to make a run for it in the second quarter and came within two points, 66-64 at 1:34, which possibly sent shivers through Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“I was worried at halftime,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media postgame. “I said this game is too loose; it’s too up and down. They play fast and we knew we had to start that third quarter with an edge and I felt we did. We got stops. Our defense wasn’t great overall, obviously, but I thought we got stops and I thought D’Angelo (Russell) did a great job on both sides of the ball. Defensively he did a great job in pick-and-roll and then, obviously, offensively he was making shots.”

In thinking about D’Angelo Russell’s aggressiveness at the start of quarters, Atkinson said, “he was just spry. Spry; he was aggressive, he was energetic. Offensively he was aggressive. But I thought defensively he was locked in. When D’Angelo is like that we take it to another level. He was excellent tonight.”

Meanwhile, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce reflected on how his team responded to him challenging them at the end of first quarter.

“The response has always been good for our guys,” Pierce stated. “I give them credit there. On the season we’ve been a plus in the second quarter. It’s the first six minutes and the third quarter. That’s the issue. It’s the urgency to come out and take a little pride in what we’re doing to start games. We put ourselves in a hole and come back to within six points at halftime. Our defense all night was suspect.”

The Hawks leading scorers were John Collins with 29 points and eight rebounds; Dewayne Dedmon registered 24 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists; Kent Bazemore tallied 20 points, seven assists, and three rebounds, and Trae Young contributed 13 points and 10 assists.

On the contrary, Brooklyn had eight players in double digits including all starters. D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 32 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals. Other starters in double-digits were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 18 points, four rebounds, and three assists; Joe Harris tallied 16 points and six assists; both Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen scored 11 points. Kurucs added six rebounds and four assists, while Allen put up four rebounds and two blocked shots.

The Nets’ double-digit scorers in the second unit were Jared Dudley with 16 points and three steals; both Spencer Dinwiddie and DeMarre Carroll scored 15 points each, and Dinwiddie added five assists and three rebounds to his scoring total.

Looking ahead, the Hawks play the Washington Wizards in Atlanta on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

Meanwhile, the Nets are scheduled to play the Los Angeles Lakers at home also on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Nets season-high win streak now stands at four; Wizards-Suns postgame trade announcement creates confusion

Last night, the Brooklyn Nets picked up their fourth straight win with its 125-118 victory over the Washington Wizards. With the win, the Nets improved to 12-18 overall and 5-10 at home, while the Wizards fell to 11-18 overall and 4-12 on the road with the loss.

Looking at how the Nets defeated the Wizards by the numbers, starting with teamwork, Brooklyn recorded a season-high 34 assists, edging the Wizards 34-30. The Nets recorded 19 of those assists in the first half, which marked Brooklyn’s most assists in a half this season. The Nets also shot .524 (44-of-84) from the field tonight, which marked their second-best field goal percentage in a game this season (behind a season-high .568 vs. Philadelphia on 11/25). The Nets also out-rebounded the Wizards 46-25 (+21). Washington’s 25 boards marked the fewest rebounds recorded by a Nets opponent this season, and the Nets’ +21 rebounding differential marked their best differential on the glass in a game this season. The previous high: 19 on two separate occasions.

The Nets led the Wizards 101-85 through three quarters, which marked the second time the Nets broke 100 points through three quarters this season. The Nets also led the Wizards 70-59 at halftime tonight, with their 70 points marking Brooklyn’s most points in a first half this season. Brooklyn also recorded 43 points in the second quarter tonight, marking the team’s highest-scoring quarter of the season.

“Good job closing it out,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said as he began to explained to the media the keys to the Nets win against the Washington Wizards. “I thought our execution at the end of the game was good on both ends. Not giving up threes, up nine up 10, and being disciplined. Not fouling. And then our offense, I thought we executed at the end. We had a couple of beautiful, we call them play with the pass highlights, where guys had a good shot and they threw it one more and had great shots.”

Spencer Dinwiddie scored a team-high 27 points (8-of-15 FG, 9-of-11 FT) with four rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes off the bench. In his last three games, he’s averaged 30.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 30.5 minutes per contest. Dinwiddie entered tonight's game as the league's leading scorer off the bench (17.3 ppg). Joe Harris tallied 19 points with a season-high six assists, two rebounds, one steal and one block in 31 minutes. Rodions Kurucs posted a career-high 15 points with a career-high-tying six rebounds in 30 minutes in his first career start tonight. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also recorded 15 points tonight, along with nine rebounds, a season-high-tying six assists and one steal in 32 minutes. Both DeMarre Carroll and Jarrett Allen scored 12 points.

The Nets are beginning to show their ability to close out games and Coach Atkinson explained how his team began to make the shift.

“I think going through those struggles, number one, helps you,” Atkinson explained. “When we went through those struggles, we had the player film session, and then after coaches just really focusing on the fourth quarter execution and the game execution, so I think that helps. I think not turning the ball over is huge, taking care of the ball. And quite honestly, we made some shots. We made the extra pass and made some shots. But our defensive execution, the silly mistakes we were making, the fouling the shooter, not running the guy off the three-point line, there are so many examples it’s hard to give. I’m giving you 10 instead of one, but that’s really the story of our failures in the fourth quarter. It was a multitude of things. We just collectively, across the board, did a better job in those situations.”

“Players only, baby – players-only film session,” is how Dinwiddie explained the Nets win streak. “JD (Jared Dudley) did a wonderful job in our film session of just helping us. It also spurred some communication. Now we’re kind of rolling a little bit. Let’s keep it going. Let’s never get too high or too low.”

Although the Wizards lost, it too, also had six players scoring in double digits. Bradley Beal led all scorers with 31 points and nine assists.

“He’s an All-Star player,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said in praise of Bradley Beal. “He brings it. He spreads his offense all the way around. He’s not a selfish player. He looks for his team. That’s one of his biggest improvements, of making his teammates get easy buckets. He had nine assists. Brad is good. We just have to get stops. The team seems to give up 40-point quarters. It’s hard to generate enough points if you don’t make shots at a high level. You have to somehow get stops.”

Wizard starters John Wall registered 17 points and 13 assists, and; Jeff Green tallied 12 points. The Wizards’ second unit scoring leaders were Markieff Morris with 15 points and three rebounds; Austin Rivers contributed 14 points, three rebounds and three assists, and; Kelly Oubre Jr., chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

The Wizards and the Nets appear to be evenly matched, so what prevented the Wizards from winning according to Coach Brooks?

“We could not get any stops, especially in that second quarter when Brooklyn busted out and scored 43 points,” said Coach Brooks. “In that second half, we couldn’t keep them off of that free-throw line. We couldn’t stay in front of the basketball. When you have those issues, you’re going to have trouble winning a game, whether it’s on the road or at home. You have to man up and get in front of the basketball and stay in front of it and not always have help. We put them on the free-throw line when we couldn’t stay in front of them.”

NEXT UP

The Washington Wizards will face the Los Angeles Lakers at home in Washington, DC on December 16, 2018. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will face the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, December 16, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 

TIP-INS:

During the postgame press session, a news report stated that a deal was in place to send Trevor Ariza to the Wizards, Kelly Oubre to the Grizzlies, and Austin Rivers, Wayne Selden, and a person with the last name Brooks to the Suns. Which "Brooks" was a mystery. There was confusion whether it was to be Dillon or MarShon Brooks included in the deal. The Wizards players named in the deal were in shock and obviously not too happy.

 

Nets center Jarrett Allen now in the NBA history books simply by blocking a LeBron James Dunk

Oh, how sweet it is, to coin a phrase from Jackie Gleason, an early 20th Century comedian from Brooklyn. Right now the Brooklyn Nets and their fans are savoring the sweet because the Nets won their sixth straight game last night against the Los Angeles Lakers 115-110.

This wasn’t just any ole Los Angeles Lakers. This Lakers team features LeBron James, the best all-around player in the NBA and one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball. The Lakers also have rising stars Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and an NBA standout Lance Stephenson from Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School. Even with this firepower and James leading all scorers with 36 points, the Lakers were no match for the Brooklyn Nets.

Within two minutes, the Nets put their stake in the ground when Nets center Jarrett Allen blocked a dunk by LeBron James, leading to shockwaves around the NBA. Allen, only in his second year in the NBA, is now the eighth player to block James, a four-time NBA MVP. James has 1,850 dunk attempts and has only nine denials. Let that sink in for a minute.

So what was going through Jarrett Allen’s mind when he attempted to block LeBron James’ dunk?

“He came down the lane and it was just going up to contest the shot,” Allen said matter-of-factly. “It’s LeBron (James), so I had to go up with some extra emphasis, and then I ended up getting it.”

So, let’s get inside the head of a 20-year-old going up to contest LeBron James.

“I’m going to say my quote growing up: ‘Either way, you’re going to be on the highlight.’ If you go up and you block it, you’re going to be on the highlight. You get dunked on, you’re going to be on the highlight. So just go up and protect the rim,” Allen added.

Talk about fearless! This kid is greatness in the making. Allen recorded eight rebounds along with two steals and two blocked shots.

D’Angelo Russell is another young man coming into his own. This was the first opportunity that Russell was available to play against the Lakers since they traded him to Brooklyn. And, of course, the general consensus is that a player in this situation is always ready to turn up.

When asked the question, Russell responded: “No. Honestly, the crowd was electric in there. You could feel it. The Lakers were in town, so we wanted to give them a run.”

“He hurt us,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton, said about D’Angelo Russell. “He’s a talented player, and we know that. When we forced him right and we were up shocking the ball I thought we did a pretty good job on him. When we let him dance and get to his left, he hurt us. Give him credit. He had a big-time game tonight. That’s why this team (Brooklyn) has won six games in a row. They have a lot of different guys that can hurt you.”

Russell led all Nets players with 22 points, 13 assists, and four rebounds. If you still think Russell wanted to prove something to the Lakers, then you might as well spread that thought over the entire Nets team, as six of the nine players in the rotation scored in double digits. Starters Joe Harris, aka “Joey Buckets,” tallied 19 points and four rebounds; and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson registered 17 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Spencer Dinwiddie, who led the Nets’ second unit, recorded 18 points and six assists; Jared Dudley and DeMarre Carroll each chipped in 13 points with five and three rebounds respectively.

When Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson looks at this win against the Lakers he sees a “Team victory”.

“Everybody that came in contributed. I thought Jared Dudley was huge making smart plays at the end of the game. DeMarre (Carroll) was good. I thought everybody that came in – that’s the only way you have a chance to beat this team, is if everybody plays well, and I thought they did.”

Looking at the two other Lakers’ scoring leaders, Lonzo Ball, who was sort of a laughing stock in his rookie season mainly because of his father LaVar Ball, and the way he shot the ball, contributed 23 points, six rebounds and, three assists. Kyle Kuzma tallied 22 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists.

Next stop for the Lakers is New Orleans, as they will go against the Pelicans on Friday, December 21, 2018.

For the Nets, they have a back-to-back; they face the Chicago Bulls tonight in Chicago at 8:00 p.m. The Nets are also at home on Friday, December 21, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. to play the Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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.

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets with 26 points; but two thrilling overtimes, missed shots, unfavorable calls, and Nets get handed fifth consecutive loss

Wow, wow, wow, what a ride the Brooklyn Nets took its fans on when it played the Memphis Grizzlies last night at the Barclays Center. It took two thrilling overtimes to complete the game, but unfortunately, the Nets came out on the losing end with a score of 135-131. The Nets had their biggest lead of 10 points at 3:52 in the fourth quarter on a Spencer Dinwiddie three-point 25-foot jump shot and then the Grizzlies started to chip away during the waning minutes to end the fourth tied at 111-111.

Then there was the first overtime session, which ended with a score of 117-117 and the second and final session of the game, which led to the 135-131 final score.

“Tough; tough league, tough way to end,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson about how tough of a loss this was for the Nets. “I thought we played a good game and listen – up seven with 33 seconds, the kid makes a heck of a shot, two great shots. I regret we fouled him on that three. Can’t foul him, can’t suck in off the 3-point shooter. We had a guy suck in and then Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson) goes to make a contest. You just can’t foul him there and then, hell of a job, he makes a hell of a shot against Jarrett Allen, contested three. That’s on us, but you gotta give them a lot of credit. Give that kid a lot of credit.”

Dinwiddie gave a different perspective of the game as he sees common threads to the Nets’ losses.

“…in a lot of ways it kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Dinwiddie stated. “So, if in the minds for some of the people out there…You know what I mean, like, this one’s going a certain way or whatever, and they have the ability to control that, then it’s going to go that way. (Are) You feeling me? So, there you go.”

In the loss, D’Angelo Russell led Brooklyn with 26 points, eight assists, and three steals; DeMarre Carroll tallied a season-high 21 points and a season-high 12 rebounds in 39 minutes tonight. Ironically, Carroll’s 21 points off the benchmarked the most points he's scored off the bench in a game in his career. Carroll’s previous high was 19 points off the bench with Utah vs. Charlotte on March 1, 2013. Shabazz Napier scored a season-high 18 points, a season-high-tying six rebounds, and two assists in 24 minutes. Three Nets players scored 15 points. Jarrett Allen recorded his team-high ninth double-double of the season with 15 points (5-of-5 FG, 5-of-6 FT) and a team-high-tying 12 rebounds in a career-high 39 minutes. He also recorded a season-high-tying five assists. Additionally, Allen shot 100 percent from the field for the third time in his career. In his first start of the season, Dinwiddie also posted 15 points, five assists, and two rebounds in 43 minutes. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, in his seventh game since returning from injury, tallied 15 points with three rebounds in 38 minutes.

Scoring leaders for the Grizzlies were Mike Conley with 37 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds; Jaren Jackson, Jr., registered 36 points and eight rebounds; Marc Gasol scored 15 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and two steals; Garrett Temple tallied 13 points and three steals, and; JaMychal Green chipped in 11 points and four rebounds.

After the work of a two-overtime game, the Grizzlies do have a minute to breathe, as they meet their next opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

The Nets, on the other hand, only have a few hours to get ready for their next opponent. Next up for the Nets, are the Washington Wizards in DC tonight at 7:00 p.m. ET.

So, will the Nets bounce back?

“We’ve got to bounce back,” Coach Atkinson said. “We’ve got a resilient group. It’s the good thing about having a young group. They’ll bounce back.”

The Brooklyn Nets were close for the first three quarters against the Utah Jazz, but could not close it out

With losing four consecutive winnable games, it is probably an understatement to say that the Brooklyn Nets are really missing Caris LeVert right about now. LeVert, who was averaging 18 points per game for the Nets, took a spill in a game against the Timberwolves in Minnesota on November 12, 2018, and the team has been trying to find its way to close out games ever since. Last night, was one of those nights when every member on the team probably wished it could rewind the clock and prevent LeVert’s injury because no matter how many people step up to try to fill the void, that vacuum just hasn’t been filled. On Wednesday evening, the Nets were at home to play the Utah Jazz, a fairly evenly matched team. Although the Jazz led at the end of the first two quarters, the spread was very thin. The first quarter ended 17-16, and at the half, the score was 43-42. Surprisingly, the Nets led at the end of the third, 78-70. Then came the fourth quarter where the Jazz outscored the Nets 31-13, ending the game on top with a score of 101-91. This is the third straight home loss for the Nets.

So were the Nets fourth-quarter struggles self-inflicted?

“When you miss shots, you just power downhill until you can break the streak,” Nets center Jarrett Allen responded. “And they just kept up the defense for the whole game really, and you can tell it escalated in the fourth quarter.”

“I didn’t think we had open shots,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media postgame. “I thought they locked us up. I thought that they played great defense. We couldn’t find clear looks and Jarrett (Allen) had one in the lane after a timeout and there was a travel or something, but it wasn’t like Philly where I felt like we had a ton of open looks. We didn’t have open looks. It’s a credit to their defense. I thought they were superb defensively and obviously, we weren’t at our best offensively. The ball stuck a lot.”

With the loss, the Nets fell to 8-14 overall and 3-7 at Barclays Center, while the Jazz improved to 10-12 overall and 8-6 on the road with the win. There were some bright metrics for the Nets last evening, as it recorded a season-high 12 steals, one better than its previous high of 11 steals against the Philadelphia 76ers just a few weeks ago on November 4. Although it didn’t give Brooklyn a win, team Black and White did edge the Jazz 14-8 on the offensive glass tonight. And, entering tonight’s game, Brooklyn was tied for sixth in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game (12.2), which is a bright spot showing that the team hasn’t totally fallen apart.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead Brooklyn with 18 points, three rebounds, and two blocks in 22 minutes. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie collected six fouls. The Nets do have to learn to be aggressive without collecting unnecessary fouls, as fouls were one of the things that hurt them against Philadelphia on Sunday. But, on the bright side, among NBA reserves this season, Dinwiddie ranks first in points (351), first in assists (105), first in games scoring in double figures (21) and second in 3FGM (44). If Dinwiddie keeps going with these metrics, he should be a lock for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.

Starters, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen, and D’Angelo Russell each scored 14 points. Jefferson and Allen had 11 and 10 rebounds respectively, while Russell accumulated seven assists and five rebounds. Shabazz Napier, who is part of the Nets second unit, scored 10 points.

Although not a prolific scorer, Ed Davis, known for his defense, pulled down 10 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.

Leading scorers for the Utah Jazz were starters Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gorbert, and Royce O’Neale, and Raul Neto from Utah’s secondary unit. Mitchell, who is in his second year with the NBA, registered 29 points, five rebounds, and 4 steals; Gorbert, tallied 23 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, and four blocked shots; O’Neale scored 13 points and four rebounds, and Neto chipped in 11 points and three rebounds.

With LeVert, the Nets scoring leader, out for the next few months, don’t think the Nets are falling apart.

“We just want to win,” Allen responded knowing how close the team could have pulled off a win last night and against Philadelphia on Sunday. “We were up two games in the fourth quarter, so we just want to learn how to close it out and finally close a game out in the fourth.”

The Brooklyn Nets get another opportunity to show they can close out games without LeVert when they play the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow, Friday, November 30, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

Despite D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie scoring 38 and 31 points respectively against the 76ers, the Nets lose their Brooklyn grit and the game in the fourth

The Barclays Center was rocking with enthusiasm for the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday from tip-off until the buzzer sounded signaling the end of the game. For the first three quarters, it looked like the Brooklyn Nets would get another victory at home against the Philadelphia 76ers this season. Brooklyn led by as much as 20 points at 1:22 in the second quarter, ultimately ending the half up by 14 with a score of 68-54. Things were even looking pretty good for Brooklyn in the proverbial third quarter, as the team was up by as much as 19 points at 6:20 and ending the third with a 13-point spread.

However, the Sixers went into a turbo-charged gear in the fourth quarter. The Nets lost their double-digit lead after an Allen Crabbe foul and Sixers Joel Embiid hits two foul shots with 4:50 left in regulation and the score resting at the moment at 118-110. Over the next few minutes, Philadelphia chips away and takes the lead at 1:03 on a JJ Redick three-point jump shot and now the score is 121-120. Brooklyn takes a slim one-point lead (125-124) on a Spencer Dinwiddie pull-up jumper at 26.8 seconds left in regulation.

Now, here is where it really gets interesting, at 19.7 seconds, Redick misses a jump shot, Jimmy Butler rebounds, there’s a tussle, and a jump ball is called between Butler and Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Butler tips the ball to Embiid and Philadelphia calls a timeout. At 2.3 seconds, the game resumes and Butler hits a step-back three putting Philadelphia in a game-winning position with a score of 127-125. Timeout is called. Game resumes. With .4 seconds on the clock, Nets forward DeMarre Carroll throws a bad pass, Ben Simmons intercepts the ball and its game over.

Postgame in the locker room, Butler reflects on the game-winning shot for Philadelphia.

“Another play drawn up by coach,” Butler said to the media. “My teammates have a lot of confidence in me to take shots late; hopefully I make shots late as well. But I mean I got to the spot that I wanted to get to, raised up, and knocked it down.”

Butler, confident and somewhat humble, didn’t put himself out there as “the guy” since joining the Sixers after a tumultuous early start to the season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“To tell you the truth, it could have been anybody,” Butler said regarding taking the last shot. They do have a lot of confidence in me but I got so much more confidence in those guys. They really got us back in the game. Joel throwing the ball off the backboard, and; everybody else making shots, it’s so fun to play that way. Then, in the end, I just made one play out of the many that were already made as well.”

A winnable game for the Nets, but instead they go down in defeat by a small margin 127-125.

With this loss, the Nets fell to 8-13 overall and 3-6 at the Barclays Center, while the 76ers improved to 14-8 overall and 4-7 on the road with the win.

Looking at the way Brooklyn competed, there were some things for the Nets to feel good about, particularly compared to last season. This team competed and played defense. Overall, Brooklyn out-rebounded Philadelphia by a slim margin 43-42. The 33-29 defensive rebounding score is where the Nets saw some daylight and went into darkness with allowing Philadelphia to beat them on the offensive boards 13-10.

D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with a season-high and Nets career-high 38 points with eight rebounds and eight assists in 34 minutes.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and recorded a career-high-tying 31 points along with three rebounds and five assists inside of 29 minutes within regulation. The first time Dinwiddie scored 31 points, it took an overtime session against the Toronto Raptors earlier this year on January 8, to accomplish this feat.

Other Nets leading scorers were center Jarrett Allen, who is in his second year with the NBA. Allen had a good night, posting his seventh career-high double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes. Allen’s seven double-doubles are the second-most for all second-year NBA players (behind Ben Simmons’ 14 double-doubles). Hollis-Jefferson also scored in double figures, tallying 13 points with six rebounds in 30 minutes in his second start of the season.

Unfortunately, once again, Allen Crabbe, who is part of the starting five, disappeared. Crabbe scored zero (0) points, donuts for rebounds, and one assist in 25 minutes of play.

By contrast, all of Philadelphia’s starters scored in double digits. Butler scored 34 points, 12 rebounds, and four steals. Embiid registered 32 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists; Redick tallied 15 points and four rebounds; Simmons added 13 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals, and; Wilson Chandler chipped in 10 points, five assists, and three rebounds.

Landry Shamet, a member of Philadelphia’s secondary unit and a rookie, got into the double-digit scoring action by posting 16 points.

“It’s a shame,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said to the media postgame. “Heck of a basketball game. I thought our guys competed. They led for most of the game and it’s one of those you think you deserve to win it and they pull it out at the end. But listen, credit to them. They hit some tough shots. Obviously, (Jimmy) Butler’s shot at the end was a heck of a shot. We got our best defender (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) on him, so be it.”

Understand the disappointment, but so be it?

The Nets were up by as much as 20 points in the second and 19 in the 3rd and so be it. What!?

But upon further reflection, Atkinson added: “Listen, we lose the free-throw battle again and I think it seems like every game it’s a 13 free-throw differential, 20 free-throw differential. “That’s not a complaint about the referees, that’s on us. We have to learn how to be active and play physical but without fouling. We lost the free-throw battle, I thought that was big.”

Atkinson is right on the free-throw opportunities. Philadelphia had 33 occasions to get to the free-throw line, making 27 of them. Meanwhile, Brooklyn made 15 out of their 20 free-throw chances.

And, down the stretch, Nets center Jarrett Allen missed an eight-foot floating shot at 4:30 in the fourth that would have put the score at 120-110 giving the Nets a 10-point lead instead of keeping them at 118-110. Then, Allen missed two free-throws at 3:21 when the Nets had a slim 118-114 lead, an ominous sign that this game would probably not be a win for the Nets.

And, Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris summed it up best.

“I think it was how they slowly chipped away at it,” Harris said about how the Sixers were able to get back into the game. “Obviously they have a lot of capable guys, whether it’s JJ (Redick) coming off the screen, (Ben) Simmons getting downhill, (the) ball going to the post to (Joel) Embiid, or now, Jimmy (Butler) being able to go and get buckets for them. So, it poses a lot of difficult matchups and I think a lot of it came down to individual pride, ownership on the defensive end, and us being able to go with the lead when we had it and capitalizing on where we were at 15, 16, 17, 18-point lead. Being able to execute and make the right plays in those scenarios instead of (a) turnover, bad shot, they come down and get a bucket. That’s basically what ended up happening with them slowly chipping away at it.”

The Philadelphia 76ers play the New York Knicks on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at home in Philadelphia.

Next up for the Brooklyn Nets is the Utah Jazz at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Allen Crabbe’s “match made in heaven” could become the roadblock in the Brooklyn Nets' rebuilding plan, if he doesn't find his Brooklyn Grit

Last night was a sad night at the Barclays Center. The Brooklyn Nets rising star, guard Caris LeVert, was not in the lineup as he is recuperating from a subtalar dislocation of his right foot, an injury he sustained on Monday while playing the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The good news is that at this point, he does not need surgery and hopefully, he will return before the season ends. Another Nets rising star, Jarrett Allen, was also out because of an illness. So with two of the Nets best players out, the Nets lost to the 5-8 Miami Heat, 120-107 and dropped to 6-9 overall and 3-3 at the Barclays Center, while Heat’s record improves to 6-8.

Not sure why Brooklyn Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson, gave guard Allen Crabbe his first start of the season in LeVert’s place instead of guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Comparing the two players prior to the game, Dinwiddie was averaging 13.9 points per game compared to Crabbe’s 6.5 ppg. There’s not much difference between Dinwiddie and Crabbe’s rebounds per game 2.4 vs. 3.3, but Dinwiddie leads Crabbe in the assist column, 4.1 vs. 1.2, as well as in the grit column.

At game’s end, Dinwiddie, who came off the bench, led all Nets scorers with 18 points (6-of-12 FG), three rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes. Looking at Dinwiddie’s numbers for the season, he has scored in double figures in 14 games, which marks the most games scored in double figures for a Nets reserve in the team's first 15 games of a season in franchise history (previously: 12 games for Armen Gilliam in the 1993-94 season). Dinwiddie also leads the NBA in double-digit scoring games off the bench this season (ahead of JJ Redick, Lou Williams, and Jordan Clarkson, who have all come off the bench in 13 games in the 2018-19 campaign).

Against the Miami Heat last night, Crabbe scored a measly six points and one rebound in 26 minutes of play. He also had six fouls, so you know what that means.

So, why did Coach Atkinson shuffle the deck to insert Crabbe in the starting lineup, which may have affected the team’s rhythm particularly when Crabbe doesn’t have the best track record?

“It’s just part of the NBA, it’s part of the deal,” Atkinson told the media postgame. “You are going to have injuries. We have to have guys that step up. I think that a lot of those units that we threw out there tonight hadn’t played a lot together, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. We know each other, we’ve been to training camp, but again I thought Miami was simply the better team. Sure it was the first quarter, but throughout the game, they were the better team.”

The fact that the Nets players and the coaching staff know each other and have watched players over the last 14 games of the season is enough reason to know that Crabbe should not have started to disrupt the team’s rhythm.

Nets forward Joe Harris in responding to reporters’ questions about whether there’s an issue finding a rhythm with the different lineups being thrown out there, particularly with LeVert unable to play, in effect makes the point.

“Yeah, I think it is definitely an issue, but that’s not an excuse for not playing good defense or making the effort plays, the hustle plays,” Harris responded. “A lot of that first quarter was just mental mistakes, lack of effort, and you can’t have that. We should still be able to have some continuity on the defensive end. Everyone’s familiar with what the philosophy is, what Kenny (Atkinson) expects out of us, what the coaching staff expects out of us. Obviously, we missed Caris (LeVert) a lot, and I think that’s reflective in the way that we played offensively tonight. But the defense has got to stay constant and that’s kind of where we lost our way.”

Missing Caris LeVert is natural, but in these situations, it needs to be not just the next man up, but the best next man up.

And, Jared Dudley, a veteran player the Nets acquired over the summer for a veteran voice in the locker room, makes my point on who needs to step up to the starting position after the loss of LeVert.

“I think Spencer (Dinwiddie) has to step up in a bigger role,” Dudley said. “I think you got to be more mentally locked in when it comes to attacking the basket when it comes to not settling, to getting guys involved. I think that’s where we need to take it from here. I think Allen Crabbe is someone who’s very more capable of coming in and boosting up his point scoring, so I think it’s by committee. Definitely, Spencer (Dinwiddie) should take up that role and that challenge of someone who is easily capable of upping his scoring five to six points and getting more shot attempts.

Nets scorers in double digits behind Dinwiddie were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who posted 14 points, nine rebounds, and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench. Hollis-Jefferson’s nine rebounds marked a season high for him. Shabazz Napier totaled 13 points (his third-most points in a game this season) with two rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 26 minutes off the bench. Starters D’Angelo Russell added 12 points; Harris registered 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists in 25 minutes, and; Dudley chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one blocked shot.

The Miami Heat’s leading scorers were Tyler Johnson, who came off the bench to score 24 points and five rebounds. Goran Dragic put up 21 points, four assists, and three rebounds; Josh Richardson registered 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists; Hassan Whiteside tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals; Bam Adebayo, part of Miami’s second unit, accumulated 12 points and three rebounds, and; Rodney McGruder chipped in 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists.

Next up for the Miami Heat are the Indiana Pacers on Friday, November 16, 2018.

The Brooklyn Nets will play the first of a back-to-back against the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital also on Friday, November 16, 2018. They will return home to play the Los Angeles Clippers at the Barclays Center on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.

Hopefully, Allen Crabbe will find his heart in Washington, DC.

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