January 19, 2019

D’Angelo Russell leads Brooklyn Nets with 23 points; Vince Carter gets a video tribute, and; Jeremy Lin says he feels good

Last night was evidence that the Brooklyn Nets are working hard to turn a corner and a page on losing seasons of the recent past. Early on in last night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn dug itself into an 18-point hole at the 38.3-second mark in the first quarter and minus 19 points with a score of Hawks 46 and Nets 27 at the 9:02 mark in the second quarter. But, by the end of the first half, the Nets whittled the Hawks lead to six at 57-51. The reversal of fortunes for the Hawks occurred in the third quarter as the Nets ended the third stanza up by six points with the score 86-80. In the fourth is where the Nets kicked things into high gear leading by 20 points at the 2:38 mark on a Shabazz Napier running layup, and then ultimately defeating the Atlanta Hawks 116-100.

With this win, the Nets improved to 21-22 overall and 11-11 at Barclays Center, while the Hawks fell to 12-29 overall and 5-19 on the road with the loss. The Nets are now 13-4 in their last 17 games, which marks their best 17-game stretch since the 2013-14 season when the Nets had a 13-4 stretch from March 9, 2014, through April 8, 2014. Wow, that seems like eons ago. But hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen because right now, the Brooklyn Nets are now the sixth seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference, which would make them playoff bound. If the NBA playoffs were held today, the Nets would be playing the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Not my favorite choice, I think they would have a better chance emerging from the first round if they were to play the Philadelphia 76ers. Just saying.

Die-hard Nets fans know that 2014 was the last time the Brooklyn Nets were in the NBA Playoffs. They also know during the Nets’ “Dark Ages” starting with the 2014-15 NBA season through 2017-18, that if the Nets got behind by more than 10 points, most likely, it would be a wrap because they lacked the strategic basketball acumen to climb back to the top. In many cases, the individual talent was there but collectively, they just didn’t know how to mix all of the strategic elements to survive as winners. And, last night, it was if someone hit a switch and pulled them out of a losing trance. Perhaps, it’s the influence of the respected new veteran players, or, hungrier new younger players, their own growth and maturity as a team, listening to the coaches, or, just tired of losing, or, any combination of the listed reasons and more.

But somehow, last night, the Nets figured out a way to climb out of a 20-point deficit to win by 16 points.

“First of all, no easy games in the NBA, that’s for sure,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about how his team turned around a losing game to a winning one. “They blitzed us in the first quarter. I think a lot of that was them and some of it was us. And 38 points in the first quarter, it’s like you’re playing with fire when you dig a hole like that. Then I think 19 points in the second quarter we gave up and then 43 points in the second half, so we turned our defense around. I think the zone helped us, just got them out of rhythm a little bit, wasn’t our main kind of slice, but it was helpful. I thought it got them out of rhythm a little bit, helped us.”

Nets guard Joe Harris also chimed in on how this comeback showed the maturity and growth of the team.

“Yeah, obviously not the start that we wanted,” Harris said. “We talk about it a lot, trying to be consistent over four quarters, and if you’re not, you have a blimp. Say you have a quarter like today, 38-23, a little sluggish, especially on the defensive end – that’s where the veteran leadership comes in. Guys like J.D. (Jared Dudley) and DeMarre (Carroll) and Ed (Davis), they’re the ones who are vocalizing. They’re talking about aspirations that we have for this team. We can’t have these lapses if we want to get where we’re trying to go. I think considering where we’ve been, where we’re at now says a lot about the team. A lot of it rests with those veteran guys.”

What’s really amazing is that the Brooklyn Nets have found their way to win even without Caris LeVert, who was scoring 18 points per game and seemed destined to be the team’s rising star before his injury on November 12, 2018, when the Nets were playing the Minnesota Timberwolves. So, right now, we are witnessing “next man up” in action.

Obviously, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce was disappointed in the game’s outcome and he pinpoints where things went awry for his team.

“I think we came out with the momentum from last night’s game, Atlanta Hawks coach Pierce told reporters. “A lot of energy, a lot of ball movement, a lot of pace, attacking downhill, and we just ran out of gas in the second quarter is where it started. It looks like the second half, but it really started in the second quarter. I don’t think we had a turnover in the first quarter, I could be wrong, it may have been at the end. But to end up with 22 turnovers basically over three quarters and just being flat. Tough, tough.”

Nets starting point guard, D’Angelo Russell, scored a team-high 23 points (11-of-20 FG) with three rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 26 minutes. Joe Harris registered 16 points and eight rebounds, and; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen, also starters, each contributed 11 points, Allen added five rebounds, while Kurucs, a rookie, added four rebounds.

Brooklyn’s bench outscored the Hawks’ reserves 55-31, led by DeMarre Carroll’s 17 points and four rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie added 16 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals, and; Shabazz Napier chipped in 11 points, and three rebounds, assists, and steals respectively.

Veteran player, Ed Davis, who Nets center Jarrett Allen credits with helping him to up his game, crashed the boards with 16 rebounds to go along with his eight points.

John Collins led the Atlanta Hawks and all scorers in points last night against the Brooklyn Nets with 30 points and 14 rebounds; Trae Young registered 17 points and seven assists, and; Kevin Huerter rounded out the Hawks starters in double digits with 14points, 10 rebounds, and three assists.

The Hawks’ bench players in double digits were Jeremy Lin with 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals, and; Alex Len who contributed 10 points, and four assists.

This is Jeremy Lin’s second time at the Barclays Center since being traded from the Nets to the Atlanta Hawks. Lin was plagued with injuries the two seasons he was on the Nets roster. He spoke with reporters about how feels about his game right now.

“I feel good,” Lin told reporters. “I know tonight shots didn’t fall the way I wanted to. But for me, it’s not about makes or misses, it’s about the quality of the shot. I felt like I got really high-quality shots tonight and honestly, a ton of them felt great. That’s how it is sometimes. As many of those nights as I have, where they feel great and don’t fall, I’ll have many where they do. So I’m not too worried about it, I’m more just concerned with making sure I take great shots that I know I can hit and continuing to ride this momentum of trying to be aggressive, trying to make plays for my teammates as well, just trying to be disruptive on both ends of the floor.”

Veteran NBA player Vince Carter who was a Net from 2004 -2009, when the team was in New Jersey, received a video tribute to commemorate his 21st year in the NBA, as he had the night before in Toronto. No one really knows if this is Carter’s last season in the NBA, however, Carter was grateful.

“It’s a great trip – stressful sometimes, a lot of people to see,” Carter said about the reception from both teams. “But the appreciation, I’m very thankful for and I’ll never forget. The video – yes, it could be premature or not –they’re thinking about me and I’m very thankful.”

And, what’s up for the Atlanta Hawks’ immediate future, the Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, the Hawks will travel to Philadelphia to play the 76ers tomorrow, Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will have their own test as they travel to another country to face the Toronto Raptors, the team with the most wins in the NBA at 31, also on Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Nets then play the Boston Celtics at home at the Barclays Center on Monday, January 14, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nets continue to struggle to close out games; D’Angelo Russell scores 30 points in Nets loss

Seven is often looked upon as a lucky number in many quarters but when it comes to the Brooklyn Nets, the team isn’t wearing that number very well. Seven is the number of consecutive losses the Nets have racked up with its loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. Yes, the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets lost to the Cavaliers 99-97.

With the loss, the Nets fell to 8-17 overall and 3-9 at Barclays Center, meanwhile, the Cavaliers improved to 5-18 overall and 2-10 on the road with the win. Of the last seven losses, only the 102-88 loss to the Washington Wizards was more than 10 points. The other six games were winnable. The Wizards game was the second of a back-to-back to which the team had to travel to Washington to play. Now, back-to-back games are not unique to the Nets; every team has back-to-back games on their schedule but watching the Nets play the Wizards on Saturday, you could see a certain kind of exhaustion. The Nets looked downright tired.

Fast-forward to Monday, team standouts D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie are still showing up even though Dinwiddie, who took and missed the last shot with three seconds left on the clock that could have given the Nets a win. Russell scored a game-high 30 points, his third-most points in a game this season. He also tallied eight rebounds, a game-high six assists, and two steals in 33 minutes.

When Russell was asked, where he was able to expose the Cavs and get hot, his response was very telling.

“I feel like I get what I want but it’s not really about the offense, Russell answered. “I would say for us it's defensively. We’ve got a few guys over here who can really get it going but, it’s defensive. At the end of the game, we need that stop. We always need that rebound and unfortunately, we don’t get it, so, the results are like this.”

Dinwiddie registered 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds in 32 minutes. Nets rookie, Rodions Kurucs, recorded a season-high-tying 12 points with four rebounds and one steal in 14 minutes off the bench. Kurucs shot 6-of-10 from the field last night, with his six field goals made and 10 field goals attempted both marking season highs.

Kurucs’ effort did not go unnoticed by Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“He just plays hard,” Atkinson commented about Kurucs' energy off the bench. “He’s got extreme energy, but he turned the game for us and got us back in it. His energy was contagious. He gets in there, so it’s good news for the Nets. Disappointing loss, but, to have a young player like that contribute at this level this early is good news.”

Kurucs, who is mainly hanging out with the Nets G-League team, has now scored in double figures in three games with the Nets this season. He previously scored in double figures in the second and third games of the season.

Could Kurucs be playing himself into the rotation?

“He’s in the conversation, you can’t deny it,” Atkinson responded. We’ll have to look at it. We’ll have to consider getting him minutes. I think he’s shown that he can do it. Now, it’s a competitive environment in the NBA. Minutes are out there, and guys have to compete for minutes, but he’s definitely earning some playing time.”

Shabazz Napier also scored in double figures for Brooklyn, posting 10 points, four rebounds, and two assists in 18 minutes off the bench. Napier has scored in double figures in four of his last six games, recording averages of 10.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game in those six contests.

Ed Davis, not a prolific scorer, made his expected contribution to Nets, pulling down 10 rebounds in 16 minutes.

For the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points off the bench, along with 11 rebounds and four assists. Tristan Thompson registered 19 points and 14 rebounds; Collin Sexton tallied 15 points, and Alec Burks chipped 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Next up for Cleveland will be the Golden State Warriors at home in Cleveland on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, at 7 p.m. ET.

The Brooklyn Nets will remain home to host Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Barclays Center on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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.

Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris lead Nets; as Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose shows flashes of brilliance leading all scorers with 25 points

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and the Brooklyn Nets are back home after playing back-to-back games against the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks on the road; getting a 104-92 win over the Heat and a 119-113 loss against the Mavericks. As fans piled into the Barclays Center, of course they were hoping that the home team would prevail against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but unfortunately, the Nets fell to the ‘Wolves 112-102.

With the loss to the Timberwolves, the Nets fell to 8-12 overall and 3-5 at Barclays Center, while the Timberwolves improved to 8-11 overall and 1-8 on the road with the win.

At the end of the first quarter, there was a glimmer of hope that the energetic-looking Nets just might pull off a win, as the Nets outscored the Timberwolves 26-22 in the first quarter. Although the Timberwolves took the lead in the second stanza, the differential was small enough at 54-49, that there was no real need to hit the panic button. In the third quarter where the Nets often struggle, there was cause for alarm as the T-Wolves continued to outpace Brooklyn, ending the third with a score of 89-72.

“I think we were searching for energy but we kind of just didn’t have the juice,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about the damage caused in the third quarter. “I don’t know how many turnovers we had in the third. I thought the turnovers hurt us overall. Thirty-one points off our turnovers I believe, that’s a huge number. That’s tough. We’ve done a fantastic job of taking care of it. Tonight we didn’t take care of it. I see (Karl-Anthony) Towns hurt us in the post there in the third quarter. We tried different things, tried different guys on him, we tried fronting him. We just couldn’t get the stops we needed. ”

The Nets did come roaring back in the fourth just enough to make it interesting, outscoring Minnesota 30-23, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome the gap that was built up in the third quarter.

“First of all, I like that group that had the energy to come back and make it a heck of a game,” Atkinson said regarding the Nets’ effort in the fourth quarter. “I thought we missed a couple open shots that could have really cut the lead. But like you said, we couldn’t get over the hump. Again, I think our turnovers were a big part of our inefficiencies tonight. ”

Those inefficiencies allowed Minnesota to score 31 points off of Brooklyn’s turnovers.

“That was big,” Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau told the media following the game. “And we then we didn’t turn it over either. I thought that was a big part of the game. I thought with Karl-Anthony Towns in foul trouble I thought our bench came in and did a really solid job. And then down the stretch, we made plays.”

This win for the Timberwolves was especially sweet, as it was the team’s first road win this season.

“It’s a start,” Thibodeau added. “We have a long way to go. It’s challenging to play a noon game and then turn right around and be ready to play again tomorrow night on a back-to-back. We have to play well at home.”

The Nets scorers in double digits this afternoon were Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, each scoring 18 points. Harris added six rebounds and four assists, while Dinwiddie, who came off the bench, supplemented his 18 points with eight assists, and three rebounds. DeMarre Carroll, scored 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while Shabazz Napier, another member of the second unit tallied 12 points and six rebounds; Jarrett Allen, now in his second year with the NBA, registered 12 points and four rebounds, and; Allen Crabbe chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.

The Timberwolves leading scorer was also from the second unit. Derrick Rose, the only Minnesota player to come off the bench and score in double digits, also led all scorers with 25 points and three assists leaving some media people to believe that we are witnessing the resurgence of NBA All-Star Derrick Rose.

However, Coach Thibodeau believes the qualities of Rose as an NBA All-Star didn’t vanish.

“I say this all of the time,” Thibodeau responded. “I’ve watched most of his games. I watched him the year he was in New York. The only time he hasn’t played well is when he was injured, so I’m not surprised.”

Other Minnesota leading scorers were Karl-Anthony Towns who attained 21 points and nine rebounds; Taj Gibson registered 16 points, 11 rebounds, and three steals, while; Jeff Teague chipped in 15 points and nine assists.

Next up, Minnesota will return home to host the Chicago Bulls tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. CT

Meanwhile, the Nets will host the Philadelphia 76ers at the Barclays Center on Sunday, November 25, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. ET

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.

Caris LeVert scores a career-high 29 points for the Nets, and don’t sleep on Carmelo Anthony, Rockets forward scored 28 points off the bench against the Nets

What started off as a winnable game for the Brooklyn Nets turned into a nightmare. 

The Nets were up by as much as 10 points in the first quarter at the 2:15 mark and up by as much as 14 points in the second at 3:11 before ending the first half with a five-point spread 61-56. As per the case with the Nets, the third quarter brought a reversal of fortunes, as the Rockets came on with a burst of energy leading the Nets by as much as eight points before ending the third with just five points over the Nets at 91-86. Early in the fourth quarter, the Rockets led by as much as eight points; the Nets tried to make it interesting by getting within one point twice with two three-pointers from guard Caris LeVert at 7:12 (Rockets 100 – Nets 99) and then again at 6:45 (Rockets 106 – Nets 102). But with missed shots and fouling, the Nets allowed the Rockets to close out the fourth 119-111.

With this loss, the Nets fell to 3-6 this season and 2-2 at Barclays. The Nets loss also allowed the Rockets to improve their overall record to 2-5 and 2-1 on the road.

“Third quarter was where they got their break,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media after the game. “We’ve had some issues there (in the third quarter) before and felt like they came out more aggressive and thought we missed some shots. They picked up their defense. I felt that. I definitely felt that. Listen, I think you’ve got to give them credit they were the better team tonight. Obviously, the third quarter was where they got their break.”

“Their defense, they locked down,” Atkinson continued. “They had their defensive unit out there. We had a tough time getting shots off. I thought we got a good few opens ones that didn’t go down, something we have to look at. But again, I give a lot of credit to their defense.”

So, now, let’s give some credit to LeVert for keeping the Nets in the game with his offense.

LeVert had another fiery night. Yep, LeVert was on FIYAH! He led the Nets with a career-high 29 points (10-of-17 FG, 4-of-6 3FG, 5-of-7 FT) with four rebounds, two assists, a season-high three steals and one block in 30 minutes. Let me repeat that, Nah, I won’t; you can read it again if you want. Caris LeVert is moving into NBA All-Star territory. LeVert has already matched or set a new career-high three times through nine games this season, scoring 20-plus points five times this season. By comparison, LeVert didn’t record his fifth 20-point game last season until March 8 at Charlotte. Yes, this season is a different story, through nine games, LeVert is averaging a team-high 20.0 points per game with .489 FG%.

As good as his performance was, LeVert knows that it is a team effort and somewhere the Nets defense was not what it could have been.

“We have to watch the tape,” LeVert said regarding what allowed the third quarter comeback by the Rockets. But it looked like Chris Paul hit a lot of tough shots and then they turned up the defensive pressure. They started getting a lot more loose balls and we just have to be better in those situations.”

So, what can the Nets do to prevent the lapses when the momentum shifts dramatically?

“I think just focusing more on defense instead of offense,” LeVert added. “Sometimes you can’t control the offense. If you make shots and things like that. You can always control your defense and your effort. So I think that in those situations, we just have to focus on getting shots.”

AUDIO: IN HIS OWN WORDS: BROOKLYN NETS GUARD, CARIS LEVERT

Nets other high scorers were Joe Harris with 18 points and four assists; D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie (off the bench) each scored 12 points and three assists, and Russell added three rebounds. Shabazz Napier came off the bench and scored 11 points in 16 minutes, while center Jarrett Allen chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Houston Rockets only had four players scoring in double digits, but that’s all they needed, as they all scored more than 20 points each. Chris Paul led all scorers with 32 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds. Former New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony came off the bench scoring 28 points and four rebounds for his new team; Clint Capela registered 22 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists, while; Eric Gordon added 21 points and three assists.

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni liked what he saw in his guys.

“That was a good Chris Paul right there,” D’Antoni said. “That was as good as it gets. And again, that’s who Chris is. His will, his heart will not let you lose, especially when times are tough. He knew times were tough and he had to find even more within himself and he did it. That’s why he is one of the best. He has such an unbelievable spirit that won’t let you lose.”

VIDEO: IN HIS OWN WORDS: CHRIS PAUL, HOUSTON ROCKETS GUARD

D’Antoni also praised Carmelo Anthony’s production coming off the bench with hopes that there is more to come.

“That’s what we envisioned. Obviously, he can’t shoot that well every night – maybe he can, hope he can. That’s kind of the role we envision, shooting threes and doing what Carmelo does. He’s super good that way.”

The Houston Rockets are on to another road game, as they will play the Chicago Bulls tonight at 7:00 p.m. CT.

On tomorrow, Sunday, November 4, 2018, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Philadelphia 76ers at Barclays Center at 6:00 p.m. ET.

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