December 13, 2018

Nets led for three quarters and in a reversal of fortunes, have lead snatched away in the fourth quarter

Oh, it was going so well for the Brooklyn Nets straight up until the fourth quarter when the proverbial floor fell out from under them. The Nets were leading the Clippers for the first three quarters, ending the third and starting the fourth quarter 97-92. The 97 points not only marked the most Brooklyn has scored through three quarters this season, but the most the Nets have scored through three quarters at Barclays Center since the 2015-16 season, when it scored 98 points against the Washington Wizards on April 11, 2016.

Now, back to the reality of Saturday, because although the numbers through the third quarter were great and perhaps, displaying the upward leap the team is making overall, the only number that matters is the number that is on the board when the clock strikes zero at the end of the fourth quarter. And in this case, when the clock hit zero, it was the Clippers 127 and the Nets 119. With the loss, Brooklyn is 7-10 overall and 3-4 at Barclays Center, while the Clippers improved to 10-5 overall and 3-4 on the road with the win.

When asked how the game slipped away, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson responded, “I thought their bench did a phenomenal job. Give them credit. I thought they brought the energy. We obviously missed some shots, but I thought (Montrezl) Harrell and Lou (Williams), obviously, those guys came in and changed the game.”

As Atkinson stated, coming off the bench for the Clippers with verve and vigor, Montrezl Harrell scored 16 points and 10 rebounds, and one blocked shot, while Lou Williams registered 16 points, five assists, and one steal. Meanwhile, Danilo Gallinari led all scorers with 28 points and three rebounds; Tobias Harris tallied 27 points, eight rebounds, and three assists; and Marcin Gortat chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

On the other side of the ledger, Atkinson did not throw his team under the bus.

“Listen, I thought we competed,” Atkinson said about the Nets. “I thought we played hard. We gave them a darn good game, we’re just not at that point where we could get over the hump.”

The Nets didn’t win, which is ultimately the objective of the game, but they did compete.

Nets center, Jarrett Allen, led all Nets scorers with 24 points and 11 rebounds, two assists, and one steal; D’Angelo Russell scored 23 points, 10 assists, three rebounds, and two steals; Joe Harris tallied 19 points and four assists, Allen Crabbe registered 15 points and four rebounds, and; Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 11 assists and four rebounds. Ed Davis pulled down a game-high-tying 11 rebounds tonight along with four points in 19 minutes off the bench.

“I like the way we competed,” Crabbe told reporters in the Nets locker room about how the Nets played the Clippers. “I think we gave ourselves a chance. First three quarters we played great. I just feel like that last quarter they out-competed us. They made more plays than us and they went home with the W.”

Okay, note to the team, play four quarters; as it isn’t over until it's over.

What’s next for Brooklyn? The Nets will hit the road and travel to Miami to play the Heat on Tuesday, November 20, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Then, they will travel to Dallas to play the Maverick on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The Nets will be back home at the Barclays Center, the day after Thanksgiving on Friday, November 23rd to play the Minnesota Timberwolves at 12 noon.

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.

Johnson hits 3-pointer at the buzzer; it stings the Nuggets and stuns the crowd

Instead of sending the Brooklyn faithful home with a comfortable win vs. the Denver Nuggets, Joe Johnson and co. elected to go the thrilling route. The savvy veteran coolly banked in a game-winning three with time expiring, on one leg, to defeat the Nuggets, 105-104. Prior to the shot, the Nets seemed to have shot themselves in the foot on their last possession.

With 45 seconds left in the 4th, Markel Brown turned the ball over looking for a cutting Johnson, who was moving towards the basket, on the baseline. The Nuggets intercepted and Kenneth Faried made the Nets pay by converting a tough layup defended by Shane Larkin, a mismatch, which gave the Nuggets a 104-102 lead, 1.3 secs left in the final quarter.

“I thought it was over,” Faried said regarding his go-ahead basket.

The Nets could've sulked, hung their heads and looked towards the next opponent but they didn't. They responded, and Johnson, like he's done for the majority of his career, hit another big shot.

“I didn’t think that thing had a chance when he (Joe Johnson) threw it up, but shooters are going to shoot and they’re going to make big shots,” said Faried who finished with a double-double, in 22 points and 13 rebounds. “I mean, he’s been an All-Star. He’s known for making big shots like that, and he did it tonight against us.”

The game had all the makings of what could've been a tough Nets home loss because they led and were in control in the first half. The Nets hit nine of their first 11 shots, up 19-11 with under six min left in the 1st quarter, led by Thaddeus Young who scored 10 points during the stretch.

They went up by as many as 16 in the second until Faried led a Denver comeback with eight points in the final four minutes of the second that closed the gap to six points, 49-55 at the break. In the second half of the game, the Nets and Nuggets traded baskets continuously and we all knew that at the pace both teams were competing at, an exciting finish was expected. Although the Nets won the game, execution down the stretch continued to hurt the Nets.

In the final seven minutes of the game, the Nets committed five costly turnovers which allowed the Nuggets to keep the game within distance and even take the lead to which Brown referenced turnovers.

“We tried to run a couple of plays and for whatever reason we still make poor decisions down the stretch, and we are still trying to work on that,” Brown said post-game.

Brooklyn’s interim head coach Tony Brown mentioned two plays down the stretch involving Brook Lopez (16 points) and Johnson (12 points) where the team tried to feed their best players the ball and on both occasions ended up in the visitor’s hands.

“So those situations hopefully we learn from because if we can get a shot, I like our chances in making them but we just can’t do it when we give away the ball like that, Coach Brown said.”

Off the bench, the Nets received healthy contributions from Markel Brown, the team’s 2nd leading scorer for this game, recording 19 points; and Bojan Bogdanovic who chipped in 12 points. The buzzer-beater won the headlines but so did Nets rookie forward Chris McCullough.

McCullough (2015 1st round draft pick), who hasn’t played since January of 2015 when he tore his ACL-16 games into his collegiate career-checked into the Nets win early in the second quarter and scored his first NBA basket on a mid-range jumper, according to ESPN.com.

“It just felt good to be out there, playing my game, doing what I do, block shots, rebound on the floor,” McCullough said who added two points, two rebounds one block and a steal. “Just to finally hear my name called, it felt great.”

Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver’s 2015 lottery pick was a little sloppy. He flashed brilliance dishing eight assists but struggled with his shot, and totaled just seven points and turned the ball over four times too many. Mudiay showed the New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon exactly what they are missing at the point, with 15 points and nine assists but against the Nets, couldn’t mirror his performance offensively.

“He was only 3-10 from the field,” said Nuggets head coach Michael Malone. “He had eight assists and four turnovers, so he did some good things.”

Gary Harris his backcourt mate, played well, totaling 17 points and former Knick, Danilo Gallinari led all Nuggets with 24 points. The Nets will have a day off to enjoy the win and then will get back to work hosting the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

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