February 22, 2019

Caris LeVert’s return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup spoiled with 125-106 loss to the 12-42 Chicago Bulls

On the heels of a 135-130 win on Wednesday night over the Denver Nuggets, the team that happens to be the No.2 seed in the NBA’s Western Conference, the Brooklyn Nets managed to get shut down at home last night by the 12-42 Chicago Bulls, 125-106.

Brooklyn allowed Chicago to shoot .541 from the field, .500 (14-of-28) from three-point land and was out-rebounded 50-33. The only metric that the Nets overpowered the Bulls on last night was bench points, 43-24.

So, what was the big difference between last night and 10 days ago when the Nets played the Bulls?

The Bulls traded Jabari Parker to the Washington Wizards for Otto Porter Jr. and in so doing, its starters have greater size over the Brooklyn Nets starting five. Both Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez are seven feet tall, the only Nets player close to seven feet tall is Jarrett Allen, who is in his second year in the NBA. Also, according to the NBA, Parker’s average points per game this season is seven and Porter’s PPG this season is 18. Averages for Chicago’s starting five with Jabari Parker was 66.2 and with Otto Porter Jr. is 77.2, which potentially is a big difference between Chicago on January 29, 2019, and last night. From an eyeball test, it was also Chicago’s aggressiveness and Brooklyn seemed to be missing a beat allowing the Chicago Bulls to shoot .541 from the field, .500 (14-of-28) from 3-point land and was out-rebounded 50-33. And, it’s obvious, if you can’t beat those numbers, you’re not going to win.

“I’ve said this before, but I thought we got a lot from a lot from a lot of guys,” Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen told the media. “Obviously, the addition of Otto Porter Jr. changes the way we look, how we play sliding Lauri Markkanen to the five. It’s obviously a difficult matchup for people. I thought we played hard. This team beat us three times and we defensively needed to do a better job. I thought defensively for most of the game we were really good, so I’m proud of us for that. We kind of ham and egged it a little bit. Kris Dunn had a great third quarter. Zach LaVine had his moments in the fourth. And we just kind of played together and I felt like we looked like a team out there and played like a team. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for our guys. I’m proud of our guys.”

“We just weren’t really locked in defensively tonight,” said Allen Crabbe. “They basically got whatever they wanted, did whatever they wanted to do. I don’t think we gave them any resistance on the defensive side. Guys were comfortable out there. They’ve got guys who are capable. It’s the NBA, regardless of their record, every team has players who can play, and we just weren’t ready to play tonight, and they took advantage of that.”

“Poor rating overall,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about his team’s performance last night. “Our defense was just non-existent. Couldn’t keep them in front of us. Couldn’t guard them. There wasn’t, one or two guys, I thought collectively we couldn’t guard them. Give them (Bulls) a lot of credit. I thought they played great. They obviously made shots. They added shooting with Otto (Porter Jr.) in there. It was really poor.”

And, Coach Atkinson said he tried everything.

“I think we tried one through 25 tonight,” Atkinson added. “If we had 25, we probably would have tried them. Yeah, we played some guys, but I don’t think that was an excuse tonight. They outplayed us 1 through 12. It’s just that simple. I don’t think tonight was a lineup thing.”

Truth.

Unfortunately, the Nets’ overall performance spoiled Caris LeVert’s return to the lineup. LeVert missed the previous 42 games with a subtalar dislocation of his right foot, which he sustained playing the Minnesota Timberwolves on November 12, 2018. Coming off the bench, LeVert gave the Nets an instant boost, which is what he always does. LeVert registered a career-high-tying (and Nets season-high) five steals, to go along with his 11 points, four assists, and two rebounds in 15 minutes.

“It felt good to get back out there with the team,” LeVert said about his return to the lineup. “Obviously, we didn’t get the win out there, but it felt good to be back out there for sure. I was kind of tired the first little stint I played, the first six minutes, but after that I kind of settled into the game and got more comfortable.”

Of course, when an athlete gets injured everyone is concerned about the return on a physical level.

“I prepared for it,” LeVert explained. “We put a lot of time in over the last couple of months, so it was kind of expected for me. I don’t want to make it about me because I wish we would have won the game for sure, but that’s expected. We didn’t come back to just be there. We wanted to be better than before.”

As for Coach Atkinson, LeVert’s return was the silver lining about last night’s game against the Bulls.

“If I had to take one positive from tonight that was a positive, I thought he looked good, looked athletic, he was athletic, came downhill like he does, make some passes,” Atkinson said. “Obviously there were a few bumps here and there, but for the most part I think he was a plus-five on the sheet, so he had some positives tonight and played well.”

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets’ with 23 points, six assists, and two steals; Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe each scored 19 points, and Harris added five assists to his total, and; Jarrett Allen chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds.

For the Bulls, Lauri Markkanen led all scorers with 31 points, 18 rebounds, and two blocked shots; Zach LaVine added 26 points, five assists, three rebounds, and two steals; Otto Porter Jr. accumulated 18 points and four rebounds; Kris Dunn tallied 14 points, nine assists, and five rebounds; Robin Lopez registered 12 points and five rebounds, and; Wayne Selden chipped in 11 points.

The Bulls will play the Washington Wizards today, February 9, 2019, in the nation’s capital. Meanwhile, the Nets have two road games before the NBA All-Star break. The Nets will travel to Toronto to play the Toronto Raptors on Monday, February 11, 2019, and then the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. The next time the Brooklyn Nets will be at home is on Thursday, February 21, 2019, to play the Portland Trail Blazers at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

Nets hit 19 3-pointers; D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 27 points and Shabazz Napier gets his first career double-double against the Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets may be No. 2 in the NBA Western Conference, but there is something about the Brooklyn Nets that the Nuggets just can’t shake. The Nets became the second team this season to sweep the Nuggets (2-0), the other being the Milwaukee Bucks. And, because teams only play teams outside their conference twice in a season, there won’t be an opportunity for the Nuggets to even the score, so see you next season.

Perhaps, the Nuggets got too comfortable with their 14-point lead in the first quarter. Or, perhaps it was Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson’s decision to pull starting forward Rodions Kurucs, who wasn’t as productive as he could have been, and slide in DeMarre Carroll in his place, but whatever the reason, in short order the momentum changed. The Nets ended the first quarter down five points, Nuggets 35 – Nets 30. Brooklyn turned up the heat in the second leading by as much as 14 points at 5.6 seconds before ending the half up by 12 with a score of 72-60. The Nets saw more gold in the third quarter ending it up by 21 with a score of 108-87. Now, the Denver Nuggets are No. 2 in the Western Conference for a reason, and in the fourth stanza, the Nuggets dug deep into their inner being and gave the Nets a run for the money. Fortunately for the Nets, the Nuggets couldn’t seal the deal and the Nets won 135-130.

With the win, the Nets improved to 29-27 overall and 17-12 at Barclays Center and besting last season’s win total of 28-54, a huge accomplishment.

“I think it’s a sign of real progress,” Coach Atkinson said about the Nets’ current standing in the NBA. “It’s a sign that we’re a little ahead of schedule – I don’t want to get too excited because I look at the schedule for the rest of the year, but this was one of those games I looked at the schedule and said this is gonna be a tough one to get. But, I’m proud of the guys, proud of the organization. We’ve reached this victory mark this early – it’s a sign of real progress.”

At the end of a game, there are some coaches that take a loss and don’t show their disgust or disappointment in their team’s performance. However, last night, Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone gave kudos to the Brooklyn Nets, and overall, he was not happy with his some of his starters.

“The 3-point line was a byproduct of the real difference in the game which was how hard Brooklyn played,” Coach Malone told the media. “I think it’s a shame I have to take five starters out in the third quarter because you’re not playing at the level you’re supposed to play. This is a game of mistakes, you’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to miss shots. Things are going to happen but when you’re out there and you’re going through the motion, that’s one thing I can’t stand to watch and will not stand to watch. I was really happy and proud of the guys who went into the game in that third quarter. They got us back in the game and gave us a little bit of life. Nineteen threes is an awful number, but alarming for me is back-to-back games when we have guys out there in our starting lineup and not playing as hard as they need to play.”

Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell explained how the Nets were able to take advantage of the Nuggets.

“I think it’s just us figuring out how to win,” Russell said. “Last year we were in this position a lot of the times and it came down to that – figuring out how to win situation. I think we were really putting our foot on that.”

And, on how good it felt as a group for the Nets to get their offensive groove going after Monday night’s shellacking by the Milwaukee Bucks, Russell said: “It’s special. To be honest, we got our guys coming back. We’ve been doing this without our guys so just to get our guys back in one at a time and keep that groove going, I think it’s really special.”

D’Angelo Russell was one of seven Nets players scoring in double-digits against the Denver Nuggets. Russell led the Nets with 27 points (6-of-9 3FG), six rebounds and 11 assists in 35 minutes and registered his single-season career-high sixth double-double in the process. And, he will now play in the NBA All-Star game replacing the Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo who is out with an injury. DeMarre Carroll, posting his third double-double of the season, recorded 18 points, 10 rebounds, a career-high-tying six assists and a season-high four steals (matching the most steals recorded in a game by any Net this season) in 28 minutes off the bench. Joe Harris scored 17 points (7-of-13 FG, 3-of-6 3FG) with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 32 minutes. Treveon Graham tallied 16 points (6-of-9 FG, 4-of-6 3FG) – marking his second-most points scored in a game in his career – with three rebounds, two steals and, an assist in 23 minutes. Both Jarrett Allen and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson logged 15 points and Allen added five rebounds to his total. Shabazz Napier, part of the Nets second unit last night, posted his first-career double-double with 10 points and a career-high 11 assists in 27 minutes.

For the Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic registered 25 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists; former Nets player, Mason Plumlee, posted 24 points, six rebounds, and three blocked shots; Jamal Murray accumulated 19 points, 11 assists, and three rebounds; Monte Harris, came off the bench and scored 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists; Malik Beasley, a starting guard, tallied 17 points, and; Trey Lyles, a member of Denver’s second unit chipped in 15 points and five rebounds.

With Plumlee being a former Nets player, of course, someone had to ask Coach Malone about Plumlee’s performance last night.

“He was everywhere,” Malone responded. “The guy was blocking shots on defense, running the floor and finishing around the basket. He was screening, rolling. What didn’t Mason Plumlee do to start that game? Literally, Mason was everywhere. Mason played hard. Mason cared. Mason left everything he had on the floor until he fouled out. You have to give a guy who plays that hard respect.”

Yes, you should.

So, what’s Denver’s next move?

The Denver Nuggets will be in Philadelphia tomorrow, Friday, January 8, 2019, to play the Philadelphia 76ers.

Meanwhile, the Nets will still be at home and will host the Chicago Bulls, also tomorrow, Friday, January 8, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

 

 

D’Angelo Russell leads all scorers with 30 points and Shabazz Napier adds 24 points off the bench to help Brooklyn Nets defeat the Chicago Bulls

On the heels of losing to the Boston Celtics on Monday night, the Brooklyn Nets had just enough energy to bounce back on the second night of a back-to-back to get their 9th-straight win at home by overtaking the Chicago Bulls 122-117. The Nets are now 28-24 overall and a testament to a popular saying, “believe in the system”. With the win last night, the Nets have matched their win total for all of last season.

“That’s good to hear,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I didn’t know that. I think that says we’re ahead of schedule, so happy about that, happy for our guys, happy for our organization. I think it’s a good accomplishment so far. We obviously want more.”

And, that wasn’t the only good news of the night. The Nets learned that the NBA selected Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs to play during the NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. Allen and Kurucs will play in the NBA All-Star Rising Stars game on February 15, 2019, which is a great opportunity for these young men to play on the world stage.

"It means a lot,” Allen said about his selection to be part of the NBA All-Star festivities. “Just showing how far Brooklyn's come and for me to represent them, it means a lot to me."

But, Allen and Kurucs won’t be on the same team. Kurucs, who is a native of Latvia, will play on the international team with other players from outside the U.S. and Allen will be on the American team.

So, what will that be like with Allen and Kurucs playing against each other?

"Me and Rodi were talking about it,” Allen added. “He's going to try to dunk on me, so I'm going to show him what happens if he tries."

Both Allen and Kurucs are NBA newbies; Allen came into the league in 2017 and this is Kurucs’ rookie season, and both have bought into Coach Atkinson’s system of teamwork, offense and defense, and grinding it out to the last buzzer sounds.

“Guys are saying in the locker room – grinding it out, we’re keeping our head above water,” Atkinson responded to a question about what it took to grind out the win against the Chicago Bulls last night. “Toward the (NBA) All-Star break, everybody’s fatigued. They’re fatigued, we’re fatigued. We just found a way. It wasn’t pretty at all. I thought our defense was good. We obviously did not shoot the ball well tonight, but credit to their defense. I thought their defense was really good.”

Atkinson is right, the Nets didn’t shoot well. They made 42 out of their 94 field goal attempts (44.7 percent) and only 10 of 35 of their 3-point attempts (28.6 percent).

D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with 30 points (10-of-22 FG) along with a game-high seven assists and three steals in 36 minutes. Russell has now recorded nine 30-point games this season alone. Shabazz Napier scored 24 points with three rebounds, four assists, and three steals in 25 minutes off the bench. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson recorded 18 points (7-of-10 FG) with four rebounds, and two assists in 21 minutes also as a reserve player. Joe Harris, a starter, tallied 17 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 32 minutes, and; DeMarre Carroll posted 11 points, three rebounds, and two steals in 26 minutes.

For the Chicago Bulls, Zach LaVine, scored 26 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals; Jabari Parker came off the bench for the Bulls and posted 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 23 minutes; Lauri Markkanen registered 18 points and 19 rebounds; Kris Dunn tallied 15 points, three rebounds, and two blocked shots, and Bobby Portis chipped in 12 points and five rebounds.

Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen summed up his team’s performance.

“I thought we battled,” Boylen said. “I thought we hung around and tried to put three stops together to take the lead, but we never got over the hump there. I thought we hung in there. I thought in the fourth quarter we had a few loose ball situations where we knocked it loose, but we couldn’t get it and I thought those were big plays down the stretch… I’ve got to give Brooklyn credit. I thought they made some plays off of the bounce and some three’s that were contested. Those were big plays for them.”

So, what's next for the Chicago Bulls? They will travel to Miami to face the Miami Heat tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Nets will also hit the road and travel to San Antonio to play the Spurs tomorrow, Thursday, January 31, 2019, at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Orlando Magic will get a visit from the Nets on Saturday, February 2nd, and then the Nets travel back home to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, February 4, 2019, at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

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.

On Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets held a 23-point lead against the Oklahoma City Thunder late (4:21) in the third quarter. And, things quickly began to unravel. Paul George became a one-man wrecking crew in the fourth quarter busting holes in the Nets sizeable lead to help the Thunder win 114-112. In the loss, the Nets fell to 8-18 overall and 3-10 at Barclays Center, while the Thunder improved to 16-7 overall and 6-4 on the road with the win.

Prior to being outscored 39-19 by the Thunder in last night’s fourth quarter, Brooklyn seemed to be clicking on all cylinders.

Allen Crabbe led the Nets 22 points (7-of-13 3FG) alongside four rebounds, two assists and one steal in 37 minutes tonight. Joe Harris, who returned to the starting lineup for this game, after missing the last three games due to left adductor tightness, tallied 19 points (6-of-12 FG, 3-of-4 3FG, 4-of-5 FT), a season-high seven rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes. D’Angelo Russell, also one of the Nets starters, scored 17 points and four assists; and Jarrett Allen, the Nets second-year center, registered 15 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Not to be outdone, the Nets’ bench outscored the Thunder’s bench 37-18 tonight, led by Spencer Dinwiddie with 17 points, and; DeMarre Carroll with 12 points.

Paul George led the Oklahoma City Thunder scoring leaders with 47 points, 15 rebound, and four assists. George scored 25 points in the fourth quarter alone. Russell Westbrook grabbed a triple-double with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists; Steven Adams registered 15 points and eight rebounds, and; Dennis Schroder scored 12 points off the bench.

“Paul George really got going,” stated Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought their offensive rebounding hurt us. Obviously, Paul was fantastic. We had some defensive breakdowns, not picking them up in transition before Paul really got going.”

“..You can’t let a big shot like Paul George deflate you in the offensive end and allow you to discourage you from executing offensively,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about needing to be mentally tough. “You’ve got to still be able to come down, be mentally tough enough, execute whatever plays Kenny’s drawn up or whatever plays D-Lo (D’Angelo Russell) calls. That’s just a hurdle that mentally we need to mature in that regard and get better, and I think that’s ultimately what it is. That’s why we’ve been limited in closing out tough games.”

Next up for the Oklahoma City Thunder will be the Chicago Bulls on Friday, December 7, 2018, in Chicago at 7:00 p.m. CT.

The Nets will host the Toronto Raptors tomorrow, Friday, December 7, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

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

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.

Dinwiddie hits game-winning 3-pointer, and Nets crush Pistons’ hopes of getting a win on the road

Let’s set the scene. The Brooklyn Nets are at home at the Barclays Center. Spencer Dinwiddie knocks down a three-pointer to pull the Nets ahead by one point with 7.1 seconds left in overtime. And then after a timeout, Blake Griffin misses a 19-foot turnaround fadeaway shot at the 1.3-second mark that could have pulled the Detroit Pistons ahead. Nets guard Caris LeVert grabs the rebound, and the horn sounds to seal a Brooklyn Nets 120-119 win over the Pistons and pandemonium sets in. Well, pandemonium may be hyperbole, but it was close, as the last Nets win at home was on October 19, 2018, against the New York Knicks. Now, the Nets home record at the Barclays Center for the season is 2-1, and their record overall for this young season is 3-5, while the Pistons fell to 4-3 overall and 1-2 on the road with the loss.

The player of the game, Dinwiddie, scored a season-high 25 points (8-of-15 FG, 5-of-9 3FG, 4-of-4 FT) with four rebounds and four assists in 32 minutes off the bench. With 21 seconds left in the fourth stanza, Dinwiddie also tied the game (110-110) to send the game into overtime, scoring 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime period combined. Dinwiddie has now tallied 20-plus points twice this season. Ironically, his previous season-high 23-point performance came against the Pistons in the season opener at Detroit on October 17th, but the Nets lost 103-100.

But last night, a three-pointer nearly at the buzzer from Dinwiddie, a missed shot from Griffin and a rebound from LeVert sealed the win. 

The irony here is that the Detroit Pistons selected Dinwiddie with the 38th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Dinwiddie spent two years with the Pistons going back and forth between the Pistons and its G-League Team the Grand Rapids Drive and in October 2016, the Pistons traded Dinwiddie to the Windy City Bulls, the Chicago Bulls developmental team. After all that development, the Brooklyn Nets acquired Dinwiddie on December 8, 2016. 

So, did Dinwiddie want to prove a point?

“At this point, no,” Dinwiddie said. “Players have changed. Coaching staff has changed. I was just able to hit a couple shots and help my team win. That’s about it.”

What was really important to Dinwiddie was ending the Nets losing streak.

“That was the thing that made this win really big for us – because of the losing streak,” Dinwiddie added. “Because of what we’re fighting for. We’re trying to be a good team and trying to change the tide of Nets teams of the past. You’ve got to learn how to get out of a rut quickly. They can string together and it can affect morale and all that other stuff.”

Now, before you start thinking that this article is all about the Spencer Dinwiddie Show, other Nets players made significant contributions as well.

Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris scored a season-high 23 points (8-of-14 FG, 4-of-7 3FG, 3-of-3 FT) with five rebounds in 41 minutes.

Harris commented on the magnitude of the Nets improving in clutch situations.

“Yeah, that’s huge for us in terms of the maturation of everyone,” Harris stated. “We’ve been in this experience a lot. A lot of close games last year, a lot of close games to start this season. For us to close one out – execute down the stretch – take care of the ball. Execute defensively. This is huge in terms of confidence for us and just a big morale boost whenever you get a win like this.”

LeVert, in addition to grabbing the rebound at the end of the game, also had a big night for the Nets, tallying 19 points with six rebounds, six assists, and two steals. LeVert gets the vote for “most-improved” Nets player this season, as he has averaged a team-leading 18.9 points per game through eight games this season. Ed Davis, a Nets pick-up this summer from the Portland Trail Blazers for his rebounding abilities, did not disappoint. Davis posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards (five offensive rebounds) in 18 minutes off the bench. Last night, Davis registered his second double-double off the bench this season through eight games.

Jarrett Allen, in his second season as an NBA player, contributed 14 points (6-of-8 FG) and nine rebounds in 22 minutes, while Jared Dudley, who is in his 11th year with the NBA and his first playing for the Nets, chipped in 11 points, six rebounds and three assists in 38 minutes.

A big win for Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, as he can see the words and actions of the coaching staff are not falling on deaf ears.

“We were just resilient,” Atkinson told the media postgame. “We’re the resilient team. We fought through a lot of missed opportunities. I thought that we had a bunch of opportunities to close it out and we just kept fighting. The last defensive stop was kind of indicative of our toughness tonight. Caris (LeVert) comes up with the huge rebound at the end, Spencer (Dinwiddie) gets caught in the switch against one of the best players in the league and does a heck of a job. So that was kind of the picture I leave from this game. But they’re (Pistons) a heck of a team. I think that they’re an excellent team. It’s a really good win for us, especially in front of our home crowd. ”

Of course, Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey was disappointed that his team did not get the W.

“You live by the sword and you die by the sword,” Casey said. “…the first few games were close and we were winning them and now we’re losing them. It’s on ourselves, myself, everybody in this locker room. It’s mental things, leave the strong side corner and they knock down a three, miscommunicate on switches and they knock down a three. This team, made us pay for every mental mistake we made. They’re a good 3-point shooting team, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t execute our switches properly.”

Blake Griffin led the Detroit Pistons with the most points at 25 along with nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

Griffin told the assembled media that he, too, believes his team’s performance came down to mental mistakes and a collection of little things.

“Yeah, I think so,” Griffin said. “Little mistakes down the stretch, mostly defensively. Like I said earlier on those little things, they come back to bite you, and each game was decided by such a small margin that we got to be better.”

Griffin could have blamed the Pistons’ lack of focus on playing back-to-back games, as they had just played the Boston Celtics the night before in Boston. But, he didn’t.

And, yes, even though Griffin’s last shot to go-ahead for the win didn’t go in, he still relishes the opportunity to have the ball with the game on the line.

“I’ll gladly take that (shot) every single time – try to make the right play,” Griffin said after the game. “I don’t think forcing a shot is very good, but our play kind of got a little mangled. I just tried to get the ball up on the rim, early enough, and unfortunately, it didn’t go in.”

Although, a good deal of the focus was on Griffin because he had the most points of all Pistons’ players. However, truth be told, the real Pistons scoring-player of the game honors should go to Andre Drummond, who tallied 24 points, 23 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Reggie Jackson added 21 points and four rebounds.

Next up, the Pistons play the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, November 3, 2018, in Philadelphia.

The Nets play the Houston Rockets at home at the Barclays Center on Friday, November 2, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Tip-ins:

Ed Davis’ ninth rebound of the game was his 3,000th career rebound off the bench. He's one of just seven players since 1983-84 to grab 3,000+ boards off the bench, joining Detlef Schrempf, Thurl Bailey, Nick Collison, Chris Andersen, Chris Gatling, and Dennis Rodman.

The Nets came within two points of the Golden State Warriors with less than two minutes on the clock, but could not pull through

Oh, the complicated Nets we weave! The Brooklyn Nets that is. It’s Sunday and the Nets faced off against the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors in their first and only meeting at the Barclays Center this season. The Nets started off strong in the first quarter with x lead changes and ended the first quarter on the heels of the Warriors at 32-29. And, then losing their grip on the Warriors in the second quarter, ending the first-half 63-49. Then came the proverbial third quarter when the Nets dug themselves into a 93-78 hole. Trying to dig themselves out in the fourth stanza, the Nets edged the Warriors 37-27 in tonight’s fourth quarter and came within 2 points, at the 1:55 mark on a driving layup by D’Angelo Russell. But the talent of the Golden State Warriors came shining through and when the horn sounded to signal the end of the game, the Warriors walked off as victors 120-114. Meanwhile, the Nets fell to 2-4 this season and 1-1 at Barclays Center with tonight’s loss, while the Warriors improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 on the road with the win.

“I felt like we did get stronger as the game went on,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said regarding the Nets’ fourth-quarter rally. “I thought that the guys really made a second push. I thought it was a good effort in the second half. Listen, I don’t think the crowd was pleased with our first half, the coach wasn’t pleased, the players weren’t pleased, so we were – at halftime, it wasn’t pleasant in there because I don’t think we played up to our capabilities. So, just to see us play Nets basketball in the second half that gives us some encouragement going into tomorrow night’s game.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Brooklyn Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson

“I felt like the effort – the defensive effort – especially on the boards,” Atkinson explained about what changed in the second half. “This team you can’t give multiple shots. I know they didn’t have a ton of offensive rebounds but I thought they had three or four that they just outhustled us and you’re just not going to have a chance – you’re going to be down 20 – against a talented team like that. I thought we did a much better job on the 50-50 balls. Our rebounding – it was just a much better effort and that’s why we’re in the game and had a chance.”

“The Nets battled the whole way,” Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “We had them on the ropes several times. We were up 19 late in the third quarter, Brooklyn hit a big 3-pointer to end the third and two to start the fourth quarter got them right back into the game. That was really the story. We were able to hold them off but they made 20 3-pointers.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr

“…In this league you compete and bring it to give yourself a chance at the end of the game,” D’Angelo Russell said responding to a reporter in the locker room after the game about the effort the Nets showed late in the game. “That’s all we can really ask for. Our competitive nature wasn’t there in the first half, so in the second half we turned it up.”

Russell led the Nets with a season-high 25 points (9-of-14 FG, 5-of-8 3FG, 2-of-3 FT), six rebounds, six assists and one block in 30 minutes tonight vs. the Warriors. Caris LeVert scored 23 points, seven assists, and three rebounds for the Nets. Allen Crabbe contributed 14 points, five rebounds, and two assists 28 minutes off the bench tonight. Spencer Dinwiddie added 12 points (4-of-9 FG, 4-of-7 3FG) in 24 minutes off the bench, while Jarrett Allen chipped in 11 points, four assists, and three rebounds.

Ed Davis led the Nets in rebounding with a total of seven, of which six were defensive rebounds.

For the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry led all scorers with 35 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Kevin Durant tallied 34 points, eight rebounds, and six assists; while Klay Thompson recorded 18 points and five rebounds.

“I don't think we’re ever satisfied,” Kevin Durant said about the Warriors’ performance tonight. “I think we had some good spurts. Obviously, we wanted to play a great game, but we know that we are still learning and getting better. I like how we kind of controlled the game up until the fourth, then they made threes. I think the 3-pointer kept them in the game, kept the crowd in the game as well. Some of them were contested; a couple of them were open. I think the 3-pointer got them back in the game and then we had to play a little bit and execute down the stretch. It was a solid outing for us.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Kevin Durant

Stephen Curry commented on why the team is more focused this year than last year, “Because we went through what we went through last year, and it’s kind of fresh in your memory in terms of how terrible a feeling it was night in night out, nothing clicking, not having any energy, or juice or just making things harder than they should be. We’ve talked about it. We’ve been open about it as a team. We kind of set mini goals to start off the season better. Obviously, you’re not going to blow people out every night. It’s going to be tough. It’s the NBA. There’s talent everywhere. I think looking at the eye test, just how we feel walking up the court, we’re playing with a lot more focus and more discipline and better than we did last year starting off the year. That’s a good kinda vibe to have as you go through the 82.”

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Stephen Curry

Tomorrow, the Golden State Warriors travel to Chicago to take on the Chicago Bulls.

The next time the Nets will have an opportunity to redeem themselves against the Golden State Warriors will be in Oakland on November 11, 2018. In the meantime, next up for the Brooklyn Nets are the New York Knicks tomorrow at Madison Square Garden and then the Detroit Pistons at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Nets Lose to the Bulls 92-90

With Derrick Rose still contemplating his return to the Chicago Bulls lineup and the Brooklyn Nets looking to solidify its playoff spot, both teams met for the last time in the regular season Thursday night at the Barclays Center. The Nets Joe Johnson returned to the starting lineup after missing the last five games (sore left heel) while the Bulls were without Rose, Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain), Taj Gibson (left knee), Richard Hamilton (lower back) and Joakim Noah (right foot) who were all listed day to day.

Riding the hot hand of Brooklyn's Brook Lopez (18 points on 8 of 9 shooting) and taking advantage of the absence of Noah, the Nets jumped all over Chicago right from the start getting out to a 13-point first period (26-13) lead. While Lopez sat for half of the second period, guard Deron Williams picked up the slack scoring 8 points as the defense stepped up limiting the Bulls to only 37% from the floor (0-5 from 3 point land) taking 9-point (47-36) halftime lead. Then Chicago's head coach Tom Thibodeau delivered a message to his team that was well received.

It began on the defensive end as Chicago allowed Brooklyn only 20 points clamping down on their perimeter shooting.

Said Thibodeau, "I thought our intensity picked up. and we had more energy on offense."

The Nets missed 11 out of 16 shots (31%) while the Bulls made 50% of their own (13-26) putting 29 points on the scoreboard. Brooklyn, who at one point enjoyed a 16 (36-20) point lead, entered the final quarter leading only by 2 (67-65) after 2 Williams free throws.

Neither team would lead by no more than 4 points (4 ties) as both squads intensified their defense. The last tie coming with 1:55 left (84-84) when Williams was fouled on a drive to the basket. After converting the free throw, he scored on a short jumper extending the lead to 3 (90-87) the last lead his team would see.

Chicago began its winning 5-0 run with Luol Deng hitting a long jump shot to get them within 1 point (90-89) before ex-Knicks and perennial pest Nate Robinson made his presence known. Robinson began by forcing a Lopez turnover and after a 20 second Bulls timeout, he dribbled right past the free throw line floating up a soft jump shot that gave Chicago the lead (91-90).

"Coach said get it and go if we got a turnover or rebound," said Robinson describing the play.

Brooklyn had plenty of time left (22.7) with a chance to at least send the game into overtime. It did not happen.

Williams broke down the Bulls defense and shuffled the ball off to Lopez who looked like he had a clear layup or dunk but did not have total control of the ball on the way up. It allowed the Bulls veteran Nzar Mohammed to fully extend, cleanly blocking the shot. He then had the composure to grab the rebound. A Chicago free throw pushed the lead to 2 (92-90) giving Brooklyn yet another shot at tying or outright winning the game.

Inbounding the ball with 5.5 seconds, Williams once again penetrated to below the foul line and shuffles the pass to Lopez again. His 17' fadeaway rolled around the rim before falling out as Chicago escaped with the 92-90 victory.

Brooklyn's interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo had no problem with the decisions Williams made down the stretch.

"Deron made a very good decision both times. He found Brook going to the basket the first time and he found him wide open the second time," he said.

Unfortunately, neither resulted in a basket.

The Chicago Bulls took 3 out of 4 games from the Brooklyn Nets which may be a factor in the playoff seedings if they end up with the same record at the end of the year.

"We're trying to get better each game," said Robinson. "It's something that the coach always harps on. Play your best basketball towards the end of the season."

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