August 18, 2018

Crabbe leads all scorers with a game-high 41 points and; Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen makes the NBA record books

Oh, what a difference a season makes for the Brooklyn Nets! Last night, the Nets played their last home game of the season against the Chicago Bulls and to the delight of the fans and the team itself, the appreciation and excitement were palpable. As the clock ticked off its final seconds, a good number of Nets’ fans stood and applauded, as the Nets with aplomb etched a “W” with a score of 114-105 against the Bulls, bringing the Nets season to 28-53, and no longer in the NBA basement.

Nets players gave the jerseys that they were wearing right off their backs to fans as a show of appreciation for sticking with the team. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson in his postgame press conference with the media underscored his appreciation for the Brooklyn Nets’ fans.

“I thought the fans have been great all year and really want to thank them for their support,” Coach Atkinson started. “We’ve had some tough games, some good games, some not so good games, but they’ve been there. I think this is the unique thing about being in New York, no insult to other markets and all that, but we have true basketball fans here. You see it, you feel it. When you talk to them after the games or when you’re walking around Brooklyn, they really know the game and they appreciate the effort our guys put in and we appreciate their patience, their understanding, and their enthusiasm. I just think it’s awesome. I’m really hopeful down the line we can really reward them with something special, give them a gift.”

Obviously, as a team, a cohesive unit, the Nets gave the fans a gift, but on a night that capped off his birthday, Allen Crabbe gave and received the best birthday gift of all. Crabbe dropped 41 points on the Chicago Bulls, count ‘em, 41 points. Crabbe scored 20 points in the first quarter, which included five 3-pointers, a field goal and three points from the stripe and became just the second player in Nets’ franchise history to make five or more 3-pointers in three straight games. And, in case you’re wondering, Vince Carter was the first Nets player to make five or more 3-pointers in three straight games in the 2008-09 season.

But wait, there’s more! Crabbe went on to score 29 points in the first-half, which marked the most points he’s scored in any half in his career and the most points tallied by a Net in any half this season. For the night, Crabbe tallied 12-of-15 FG, 8-of-11 3FG, and 9-of-9 FT in 34 minutes. He also posted five rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block.

“The ball’s going in the hoop for me,” Crabbe modestly told reporters postgame about his hot shooting streak. “Like I’ve said from the jump, I’ve been capable of doing this all season. Just in the beginning I was missing shots, getting the same shots I was shooting earlier in the season but I just wasn’t making them. So I mean it’s starting to come around for me. I’m starting to find my rhythm, and you know just getting more comfortable within the flow of the offense. Tonight was just a night where, I’m glad I had a night on my birthday, and we got the win. It just puts the cherry on top.”

But Crabbe didn’t make it all about him; he gave plenty of credit to his teammates.

“They trapped the pick-and-roll, and then we played great team basketball,” Crabbe added. “The roll man finds us, or D’Angelo [Russell] found us, Spencer [Dinwiddie] found us, Rondae [Hollis-Jefferson] found me. I got everybody a couple assists tonight, so I think just our ball movement when the ball’s moving like that and everybody’s for it, it’s contagious. Everybody’s having a good time, so I think that was the key for us tonight, and it was a good night.”

The Allen Crabbe mutual admiration society was in full effect.

“I shook his hand after the game and it was still hot, still cooking,” Nets coach Atkinson said about Crabbe’s accomplishment. “I thought his overall game was good, obviously started out hot and kept it going… He’s really finishing the season the way we’re asking the team to finish, on a strong note. These games are important to us so the fact that he kept working on his game, kept improving, it’s really good for us.”

“Big time,” D’Angelo Russell said underscoring Crabbe’s performance. “Could easily come out, B.S. the game. For him, the player that he is to come out and put a performance like that on against anybody is big time.”

Other Brooklyn Nets leading point scorers were Russell with 21 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and two steals in 36 minutes. This makes Russell’s fifth double-double of the season after recording three in his first two NBA seasons combined. Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 20 points, seven assists, and three rebounds in 35 minutes. This was Dinwiddie’s 16th 20-point game of the season, matching Crabbe for the team lead in 20-point games this season.

Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen didn’t hit the double-digit points-scored mark, but he posted eight points, five rebounds and four blocks in 28 minutes. Allen is now in the record books becoming the fifth NBA rookie in the last 20 years (since 1997-98) to block four or more shots in three straight games. Jarrett Allen joins Yao Ming (2002-03), Kenyon Martin (2000-01), Lamar Odom (1999-00) and Tim Duncan (1997-98).

Nets rookie Milton Doyle, who shares his time between the Nets G-League team and the Nets on a two-way contract, showed a glimmer of who could be next. Doyle, a four-year student from Loyola University Chicago, bested the Nets second-unit players in points in the least amount of time by scoring a career-high eight points and one blocked shot in 16 minutes.

In their loss, seven of the Chicago Bulls’ players scored 10 or more points. Former Nets player, Sean Kilpatrick came off the bench for the Bulls and scored 16 points, three rebounds, one assist, and two steals. Bobby Portis, also part of the Bulls’ second unit, tallied 14 points, seven rebounds, and two assists; and Cameron Payne, led the Bulls’ starting five with 15 points, three rebounds, six assists, and two steals.

“I thought we really went out and competed at a really high level,” Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said postgame. “I thought we reversed that from the last game that we played the other night against Brooklyn. It was really good effort for 48 minutes. I thought we moved the ball much better as well. We had a really good film session this morning. We’re still learning. We’re still teaching. I thought our guys responded by going out and playing with great effort tonight. That’s what it’s about. I thought each and every guy that stepped on the court tonight competed at a very high level. That’s what it’s all about for our group right now.”

The Bulls will play their last game of the 2017-18 season, on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, at home against the Detroit Pistons.

The Nets will play their last game of the 2017-18 season on the road in Boston against the Boston Celtics also on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

Tip in: The Chicago Bulls lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, April 7, 2018, 124-96

Joe Harris scores a career-high 30 points in the loss

When the Cleveland Cavaliers come into your building, the operations change and it is unlike when any other team in the NBA arrives at your doorstep. The same can almost be said for in-arena activity.

At the end of 48 minutes, the Cavaliers had left its imprint on the Barclays Center defeating the Brooklyn Nets by only seven points, 121-114.

In the loss for the Nets, Joe Harris had a great night, scoring a career-high 30 points (11-of-14 FG, 6-of-7 3FG) with seven rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes off the bench. His previous career high was 21 points back on December 29, 2017, at Miami.
Harris’ 30 points also marked the most points scored by a Net off the bench this season.

“I think he’s good because he cuts off the ball, so against their switches, I think that messed with them,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about Joe Harris’ performance. “He’s a good cutter. Obviously came off some good screens. I thought our bigs set some really good screens for us. He gets out in transition. You know Joe’s had a darn good year. I think he’s struggled a little lately so it was nice to see him break out, have a really good game especially against his former team, so great for Joe, just stinks we couldn’t get the W for him.”

“I just got in the rhythm early,” Harris told the media about his performance today. “We were moving the ball well and I was able to get room and rhythm looks right off the get-go, knocked down my first couple. It just felt good after that and I was a little bit more aggressive, hunting into shots. I guess towards the end, especially I took a couple more chances on taking contested looks when we needed the three’s. But it started at the beginning of the game just us moving the ball, and me getting room and rhythm looks.”

“He’s been solid throughout the season,” Nets guard D’Angelo Russell said about his Harris’s performance. “He knows his job. He knows his role. He embraces it. He and a few others, they have that job to shoot the ball and space the floor and they embrace that. He does a great job at that as well.”

“This Brooklyn team has been a really tough team for us to play against all year long, whether we’re at our building or theirs,” said Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Larry Drew. “I’m just proud that we hung in there. We got behind a little bit but we didn’t fold. LeBron (James) was once again spectacular. We got some really good play out of George Hill. Rodney Hood was really good for us as well. I’m just proud of the fact that we didn’t fold. We got behind, we kept grinding. I thought we gave a much better defensive effort in the second half than we did in the first half. ”

DeMarre Carroll posted 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals in 34 minutes today. Spencer Dinwiddie recorded 16 points, four rebounds, and two assists in 25 minutes off the bench today. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson totaled 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in 33 minutes. D’Angelo Russell also scored in double figures for the Nets with 12 points in 26 minutes today.

Entering today’s game, the Nets’ bench ranked as the second-highest scoring bench in the league with 43.5 ppg and Brooklyn’s bench outscored Cleveland’s bench 60-42 today, led by Joe Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie.

For Cleveland, LeBron James led all scorers with 37 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. Kevin Love added 20 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists. Jordan Clarkson recorded 18 points, George Hill contributed 17 points, four rebounds, and five assists, and Rodney Hood chipped in 16 points.

Next, the Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Miami Heat in Miami on Tuesday, March 27.

The Nets will fly to Orlando to play the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, March 28, 2017.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson leads the Nets’ charge to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 114-106

The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Dallas Mavericks at the Barclays Center in the evening on St. Patrick’s Day, and the luck of the Irish was on the side of Nets, as they defeated the Mavericks 114-106. The win gives the Nets a record of 22-48 so far this season, which is two more than all of last season.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was clicking on all cylinders; he scored a team-high 23 points (9-of-16 FG, 5-of-6 FT) with five rebounds and four assists for the Nets in 32 minutes.

“He had a stretch there that carried us when we were struggling to score,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about Hollis-Jefferson’s performance. “They were switching and it’s nice to have Rondae there because we can throw it to him on the block and he can take advantage of the switch. That’s huge. If you don’t have that then it’s just iso-ball and you’re driving it every time, you’ve got your guards with the ball out top… I felt like he had a couple of tough ones but I thought he was getting in the lane, that’s his elite skill, driving the ball, got in the lane, got to a spot, made some big shots.”

It wasn’t a walk in the park for the Nets, ending the first quarter with a six-point lead over Dallas, 30-24. Although the Nets led at halftime, 59-56, the Mavericks came charging back in the third quarter to end the third stanza with a one-point lead over the Nets 89-88.

“It was pretty much just locking in,” Hollis-Jefferson said about taking control of the fourth quarter. “Like, who’s going to start it? A lot of the time it’s Caris (LeVert), a lot of the time it’s myself, but pretty much it was definitely a team effort. We talked in the huddle at half court like ‘Hey let’s do it now, let’s do it together, let’s make it hard for them.’ A lot of teams, that’s what they do to us, they want to speed us up, make us take tough shots. Tonight, it worked for us.”

Other Nets scoring leaders included D’Angelo Russell, who recorded 22 points (9-of-17 FG, 4-of-9 3FG) with four rebounds and a team-high six assists in 29 minutes vs. Dallas. Russell is on a scoring roll, he has now tallied 20-plus points in three of his last four games and four of his last six games overall. DeMarre Carroll tallied 19 points and 12 rebounds with three assists, recording his team-leading 12th double-double of the season. Caris LeVert posted 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 27 minutes off the bench against the Mavs. LeVert has now scored in double figures in seven straight games. Spencer Dinwiddie posted 12 points, five boards, and four assists in 31 minutes.

Mavericks’ rookie Dennis Smith Jr. led Dallas with 21 points. Unfortunately, Smith left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle injury. He got hurt when he stepped on the foot of Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Dwight Powell added 18 points. Jalen Jones achieved a career-high 16 for the Mavericks, who made 12 of 22 3-point attempts (54.5 percent) but shot 44.6 percent overall. Dirk Nowitzki contributed 13. Yogi Ferrell, a former Nets player, had 12 points and 12 assists.

Win, lose or draw, it was a great night for Nowitzki, as he reached a milestone in his career against the Nets, appearing in his 1,463rd game, moving past Kevin Garnett into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list. Congratulations to Nowitzki.

“It’s unbelievable, really,’ Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Dirk had a terrific game I thought. He shot the ball well when open. He’s still rebounding well. He’s a leader out there. It’s just amazing that he has just been able to keep going. We all hope it never ends.”

Next, up for the Mavericks, they travel to New Orleans to play the Pelicans on Tuesday, March 20th at 7 p.m. CDT.

Meanwhile, the Nets take on the Memphis Grizzlies at home at the Barclays Center on Monday, March 19th at 7:30 p.m.

Nets get a red-hot burst of 24 points from D’Angelo Russell in the first quarter, but could not overcome Raptors’ energy force in second-half

For Brooklyn Nets fans, Tuesday night started off with a D’Angelo Russell show. Russell, with a little help from his teammates, scored 24 points in the first quarter against the Toronto Raptors, on 7-of-8 shooting from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line. Russell was on fire!

And, of course, postgame, D’Angelo Russell’s assessment of his first quarter performance was what inquiring minds wanted to know

“My teammates, they got me open,” Russell told the media postgame in the Nets locker room. “Transition – they found me, they made the extra pass to me. Give a lot of credit to them.”

Shout out to Spencer Dinwiddie, as three of his five assists went to Russell during the first quarter.

Brooklyn made nine threes in the first quarter, which marked a new franchise-record for 3-pointers made in a quarter. The Nets ended the first quarter up by eight points 40-32, and Brooklyn closed out the first-half up by 10 with a score of 67-57. The 67 points marked the most points scored by the Nets in a first half this season and the most points the Nets have ever scored in a first half against the Raptors.

But, then came the third quarter when the Raptors added 30 points to its ledger and the Nets only added 18 points, putting Toronto in the lead by two, 87-85. A two-point deficit at the end of the third stanza for the Nets, that’s not so bad. But then the Nets had few answers in the final quarter, and the Raptors just ran away with the game, gaining their ninth straight win, 116-102.

So, what did Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson have to say about the Raptor’s turnaround in the second-half?

“I thought (Fred) VanVleet came in and changed the game,” Atkinson responded. “I just think his pressure, his aggressiveness, his grit, he really changed the game. I think behind him, they have two big-time rim protectors in (Serge) Ibaka and (Jonas) Valanciunas, which allows them to be aggressive on the perimeter and that’s why they are a heck of a defensive team. I think a sign of a great team is a team that can beat you in different ways. I thought we did a good job on (Kyle) Lowry and (DeMar) DeRozan considering the great players they are, and Valanciunas had a great game. I thought CJ Miles – those three threes. We foul him once, give three free throws and then he hits two threes. That got the separation there.”

Kenny Atkinson's Assessment of the Nets' Performance against the Toronto Raptors

“I thought our guys, I thought we were aggressive,” Atkinson continued. “I thought we competed, I thought we were in it and it just slipped away at the end. We missed some shots, some bunnies, some shots I thought we had a good shot at making and they come down and they made their shots. That’s how the separation – I’m a little disappointed the score says what it says because I thought the game was closer than that. I thought we were in it pretty much the whole game and then, bang, that’s how explosive they are.”

Indeed, the Raptors were explosive. They had no other choice, as they are trying to hold on to their first-place standing in the NBA Eastern Conference.

For Toronto Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey, the second-half defensive adjustments were critical and necessary, and he didn’t mince any words

“It’s something called hard play,” Casey told reporters postgame about his team’s second-half adjustments. “It’s amazing how those two words impact the game. That’s the thing we need to start the game with. Our disposition to start the game was not good. We just talked about it in there, our starters need to come out with a better disposition, a hungrier mentality and understand they are going to get the other team’s best shots. Those shots that D’Angelo Russell made at the start of the game, we can’t let somebody come in and get hot like that. It starts from the first play. We can’t play our way into the game and put taxing minutes on our bodies trying to come back. We have to do better.”

And, Russell agrees that Toronto made those necessary adjustments after the break to contain him and the Nets.

“They trapped me, forced me to pass it,” Russell said explaining the Raptors’ defensive adjustments in the second-half. “We just missed shots down the stretch. I think if we make those shots it might be a different game.”

Russell scored a game-high 32 points (10-of-22 FG, 7-of-12 3FG, 5-of-5 FT) with a team-high-tying seven rebounds, one steal, and two blocks in 35 minutes against the Raptors on Tuesday. This was Russell’s third game of 30-plus points this season, and his 32 points on Tuesday against the Raptors marked the second-most points he has scored in a game this season. He scored a season-high 33 points on Halloween 2017 against the Phoenix Suns.

Other leading scorers for the Nets on Tuesday night against the Raptors were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert, and Dante Cunningham. Hollis-Jefferson totaled 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 27 minutes off the bench. LeVert recorded 11 points, three rebounds, a team-high seven assists, and three steals in 29 minutes off the bench tonight. Cunningham tallied 10 points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. He scored in double figures for the third time in his 12th game for the Nets. This was also Cunningham’s first start for the Brooklyn Nets.

For the Raptors, three of its five starters scored in double digits: Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry. Valanciunas had a team-high 26 points and 14 rebounds; DeRozan tallied 15 points and seven rebounds, and; Lowry recorded 11 points and 11 assists. From the Raptors second-unit, VanVleet had 15 points, four assists, and two steals; Miles contributed 12 points and three rebounds, and; Delon Wright chipped in 10 points, three rebounds, and four assists.

Next up for the Toronto Raptors, as they try to hold onto the No. 1 seed position in the Eastern Conference, are the No. 3 seed Indiana Pacers on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at Indiana.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets have another date with the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia on Friday, March 16, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson echoed his players.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

TIP INS:

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

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

Allen Crabbe leads Brooklyn Nets scorers with 21 points, as Nets break eight-game losing streak with 104-87 win over Bulls

Last night, Brooklyn Nets fans came out of the doldrums, as the Nets ended an eight-game losing streak with their 104-87 win over the Chicago Bulls and the fans could not have been happier. As the clock ticked down to the final minute at the Barclays Center, Nets fans showed their approval with spontaneous applause.

And, Monday night’s win against the Chicago Bulls was no ordinary win; it is a significant milestone in the recent development of the Brooklyn Nets. This win against the Bulls is the Nets’ 61st game of the 2017-18 NBA season and marks the 20th win of the season for the Nets and matches their win total from all of last season. Moreover, the Nets didn’t win their 20th game last season until their 80th game, which was a home win over Chicago on April 8, 2017.

This game wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. During the first half, the Nets lead by as much as 10 points at 4:27 in the first quarter and ended the first quarter up by nine points. Taking it into to the second quarter, the Nets were up by as much as nine points, 49-40 at 2:24. But by the closing horn of the second quarter, the Nets had lost its edge allowing the Bulls to depart the court at half-time up two points 51-49 and leaving this reporter with thoughts of which Brooklyn Nets team was going to show up in the second-half. Fortunately, the Nets played the second-half with a “take no prisoners” intensity. Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen, with an assist from Spencer Dinwiddie, using a reverse dunk tied the game 51-51 within the first minute of the third quarter. Starting the fourth stanza up 14 points at 84-70, the Nets stayed in control and ended this session with a 104-87 win over the Chicago Bulls, a victory that the team and Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson could feel good about.

“I thought our defense was really good,” Coach Atkinson said regarding the Nets power moves in the third quarter. “I thought our activity was good. I thought we got into them. Spencer (Dinwiddie) starts the first play of the second half, gets the deflection, DeMarre (Carroll) gets the deny and we just kept getting stops and that’s the real story. I think defensively, really good game by us and then 31 assists on the offensive end. I thought we really shared it, really moved it around.”

And, Atkinson didn’t stop there, heaping a whole bunch of praise on Allen Crabbe, who was the Nets leading scorer with 21 points.

“What I’m most proud of, I just told our staff, he was really good defensively also,” Atkinson said about Crabbe whose confidence level has noticeably increased. “When I watch him now, you’re really not worried about him defensively. He’s fighting through screens, he’s breaking up passes and I think that’s been a while now. I’m just glad he’s starting to realize that he can do it on both ends. Then offensively he’s just ultra-aggressive. I still think he can add some things to his game, I still think he can drive it more to the rim with the shot he has, but excellent all-around game by Allen (Crabbe).”

Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg was disappointed that Bulls did not get a “W,” and in his team’s offensive play.

“We missed some easy ones early and I thought that affected everybody, Hoiberg said. “We weren’t getting out with the same aggressiveness in transition. I was really pleased with how we finished the second quarter. I thought we had a really good stretch of basketball, I think we held them to 32 points in the final 22 minutes of the first half and that’s growth for our team.”

“…End of the first half was great and then we came out so sluggish with no energy and the adversity hit and we got stagnant, Hoiberg continued. “It’s just something that has to be a constant, playing through the good times and the bad. Handling adversity well is what you have to do as a young group. Tonight we handled the adversity in the first half but not the second. You have to keep playing through the tough times and we did not do that well tonight.”

In addition to Crabbe, the Nets’ players leading the offense were DeMarre Carroll and Jarrett Allen who both scored 18 points; Allen added nine rebounds and Carroll posted six. Joe Harris added 15 points and seven rebounds. Although newly acquired player, Dante Cunningham, was not a points scoring leader for the Nets, he chipped in nine rebounds (eight of them defensive rebounds). Dinwiddie, who is the NBA All-Star Game’s Taco Bell Skills Challenge winner, wasn’t a leading points’ scorer for the Nets this time around, but he helped his teammates by tallying nine assists and five rebounds.

For the Chicago Bulls, Kris Dunn led all scorers with 23 points. Lauri Markkanen totaled 19 points and six rebounds; Bobby Portia scored 12 points and nine rebounds, and; Denzel Valentine chipped in 11 points and 13 rebounds. It should be noted that Noah Vonleh recorded eight rebounds for the Bulls.

Next, the Bulls travel to Charlotte to face the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday, while the Nets travel to Cleveland to meet up with the Cleveland Cavaliers, also on Tuesday.

The next home game for the Brooklyn Nets is against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, March 11, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., at the Barclays Center.

Allen Crabbe led Nets’ scorers with 24 points; Nets defense broke down in the fourth quarter

The Nets had a 79-73 lead heading into the final period. Brooklyn also led 95-93 after Allen Crabbe's 3-pointer with 4:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Nets could not hold on, missing eight shots in the last four minutes. The Nets got within two points with 1:04 to go after Spencer Dinwiddie hit a pair of free throws, but Indiana answered with five straight points, with 26 seconds left. And, at the end of the night, the Nets were on the losing end for the seventh straight game with a final score, 108-103 and a 19-40 win-loss record on the season.

So, what happened down the stretch?

“I think we got the shots we wanted and we missed some,” Crabbe explained to reporters following the loss. “For the most part, we had some costly turnovers too, I mean even me. We were down five so that kind of contributed to us not executing at the end there, coming up with another loss and it’s frustrating. It sucks that we keep putting ourselves in winning situations and we keep coming up short. Like I said, we were definitely looking forward to getting this big win going into the All-Star break. Now, we got like a week before our next game so hopefully, this break gives us some time to really get our minds right and attack this second half of the season.”

For the second consecutive game, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson blames the team’s lack of, or, stunted defensive capabilities as a major contributing factor for the loss against Indiana.

“We couldn’t stop them,” Atkinson stated. “Defense again I think was our Achilles heel. Thirty-five points is just too many. I just felt like they got too many easy baskets, too many easy looks. There were too many breakdowns. Until we fix up our defense it’s going to be tough to get a W. That’s the way it is. We’re going to look at it, we’re going to look at our coverages; we’re going to look at who’s in the game. That’s disappointing to give up that many points in the fourth quarter.”

Allen Crabbe led Nets players who scored in double-digits, with a team-high 24 points (9-of-16 FG, 5-of-11 3FG) and with a career-high-tying eight rebounds. DeMarre Carroll recorded 21 points (6-of-13 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, 4-of-6 FT), 10 rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes tonight. This is Carroll’s seventh game of 20-plus points this season; it matches his single-season career high seven 20-plus point games in the 2014-15 Season with Atlanta. And, there is still time left in this season for Carroll to break his record. D’Angelo Russell posted 18 points and a game-high nine assists in 29 minutes off the bench. Nets rookie Jarrett Allen totaled 10 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes in his ninth career start. Allen has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 12 games.

Although Spencer Dinwiddie did not score in double digits, he tallied seven points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block in 33 minutes.

Indiana is the second team this week where all five starters scored in double digits against the Nets. For the Pacers, Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 25 points. Corey Joseph scored 15 points and 11 rebounds; former Nets’ player Bojan Bogdanovic put up 14 points and five rebounds; Thaddeus Young, another former Nets’ player, tallied 13 points and seven rebounds; Al Jefferson came off the bench to score 13 points; and starter Myles Turner posted 11 points and 14 rebounds.

This was the last game for both teams before the NBA All-Star break. Nets point guard Dinwiddie will represent the Nets in the 2018 Taco Bell Skills Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles this Saturday, February 17, at Staples Center at 8 p.m. ET. The event will be televised nationally on TNT.

After the break, the Pacers will meet up with Atlanta on February 23rd, while the Nets will play the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte on Thursday, February 22nd at 7:00 p.m. EST.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, Isaiah Thomas is ecstatic; St. John’s Red Storm has people talking, and; Le’Veon Bell wants SZA to be his Valentine

In this episode of What's The 411Sports, hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking about the moves the Cleveland Cavaliers made at the NBA trade deadline; Damian Lillard hitting 50 points in 29 minutes, and should he sit or continue to play until the end of the game; the Top 5 prospects for NBA MVP consideration; Isaiah Thomas says he got his powers back; Paul Pierce celebrated in Boston; the state of the Brooklyn Nets and NY Knicks; Tim Tebow is back with the NY Mets; the New York Yankees acquire Russell Wilson; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell wants R&B singer, SZA, to be his Valentine; and will the XFL get off the ground?

What’s The 411Sports’ Photo of the Week

The What’s The 411Sports Photo of the Week is a photo of Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie shaking hands with his former teammate Trevor Booker who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Spencer Dinwiddie shaking hands with former teammate Trevor Booker 750x469

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

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

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

So what changed?

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

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

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

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

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