December 13, 2018

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets win with 29 points against the NBA leader, the Toronto Raptors

For the Brooklyn Nets, the end to the long drought of wins came yesterday against the No. 1 team in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors. It took an overtime session to clinch the win, a third overtime game this season for the Nets by the way, but the Nets beat the Raptors 106-105.

This win, took down a number of demons, the first of which, the Nets ended a 12-game losing streak against the Raptors and the team’s season-worst eight-game losing streak. The win improved Brooklyn’s overall win-loss record so far this season to 9-18, and 4-10 at the Barclays Center.

The last time the Brooklyn Nets won a game this season was way back on November 20, 2018, against the Miami Heat on the road in Miami. The journey to get here was a bit tumultuous, as Brooklyn led so many games in the closing minutes only to drop the ball and allow the other team to win. Watching them give up double-digit leads and lose games in the closing minutes this season, gave many the feeling that perhaps, the team felt they were not worthy of winning. However, Friday night, Brooklyn pushed that monkey off its back and was justly rewarded by the basketball gods. Beating the Raptors should be a sign that this is a win they can build upon. And, don’t cry for the Raptors, they still hold the best record in the NBA.

“Obviously, it’s a great win for us just to get off of the losing streak, the skid that we were on,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about finally getting a game in the win column after a long drought. “We’ve been playing great basketball, and we just haven’t been able to execute and finish down the stretch. Tonight it was with our defense. Big plays. Big possessions. Winning plays all the way around. Obviously, Rondae did a hell of a job individually, defensively, but it was a collective effort for sure.”

Harris also felt this Nets win against the Toronto Raptors is better than other wins this season because the Raptors are number one in the league.

“Yeah, I think it just kind of validates what we were already feeling,” Harris continued. “We’ve obviously been able to compete night in night out with everybody that we’ve played against. Toronto up to this point, even now, has been record-wise the best team in the NBA, and they really have been playing the best basketball. For us to come in and get some validation that our process, we’ve been sticking with it, staying consistent, and we were finally able to execute and finish one off.”

To say that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was elated with this win would be an understatement.

“I think that stop at the end of the game was indicative of who we were all night,” Atkinson said about his guys. “We fought, we clawed and the basketball gods shined on guys that have been playing good basketball and guys of high character and guys that are together and spirited. So it’s just nice to see those guys in that locker room rewarded for their efforts.”

Leading the way in points for the Brooklyn Nets were D’Angelo Russell with a team-high 29 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and registered 17 points and eight assists; Jarrett Allen scored a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and added two steals and two blocked shots; both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Allen Crabbe tallied 11 points and four rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

Nets forward Ed Davis led the way in rebounding with 15 rebounds, of which 13 were defensive rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 32 points for the Raptors; teammates Jonas Valanciunas added 24 points and eight rebounds, while Pascal Siakam contributed 16 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots.

Toronto returns home to host the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow, Sunday, December 9, 2018, at 6 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Nets will travel across the East River to Manhattan to play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden tonight, Saturday, December 8, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

Can the Nets make it a two-game winning streak?

Only time will tell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could Kurucs be playing himself into the rotation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Caris LeVert leads Brooklyn Nets to victory over the New York Knicks with 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists

There’s no party like a Brooklyn Nets party when the Brooklyn Nets party doesn’t stop! Now that’s a take on the saying about an old-school party. In this case, on Friday night, the party was at the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets didn’t stop even against adversity and kept it going until the end. It was a close call, but at the end of the night, the Brooklyn Nets dropped their crosstown rival, the New York Knicks, 107-105, improving their record to 1-1 and 1-0 at home.

Now, this was no walk in the park for the Nets, as they saw a comfortable 12-point lead rapidly diminish to seven in the second quarter ending the first-half 50-57. Overall, the lead changed 13 times and nine times the score was tied. The moral of this story, don’t lose faith when your lead evaporates, keep grinding until the end.

From 5:57 minutes in the third quarter until the end, the Nets found themselves in the hole seven times. Here’s where you can visualize everyone on their feet, at 15.9 seconds left in regulation, Knicks center Eric Kanter hits a free throw to tie the game at 105-105. The Nets call a timeout. The game resumes and Nets guard Caris LeVert hits a driving layup over Knicks forward Lance Thomas, which put the Nets up 107-105 with one-second left in regulation. The Knicks call a timeout and when the play is resumed, Knicks guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. hurls a 31-foot three-point jump shot with .4 seconds left on the clock, the ball bounces off the rim. The Knicks rebound with .1 seconds left. The horn blows before any action could be taken. The Brooklyn Nets eke out a win and Nets fans have a 107-105 home victory to celebrate.

Statistically speaking, to show the significance of the Nets’ start tonight, Brooklyn shot .700 (14-of-20) in tonight’s first quarter, leading the Knicks 33-24. The Nets’ .700 first-quarter field goal percentage was higher than any of their first quarter field goal percentages all of last season and marked Brooklyn's highest field goal percentage in an opening period since April 4, 2017, at Philadelphia (.714).

Additionally, the Nets edged out the Knicks 22-14 in assists.

The Nets also out-rebounded the Knicks 55-36 in tonight’s win led by double-digit rebound performances from center Jarrett Allen, who is a sophomore in the NBA and center Ed Davis. Allen posted 11 rebounds; while Ed Davis, who the Nets acquired from Portland over the summer, is known as an efficient rebounder and is already paying dividends. Davis came off the bench crashing the boards with 10 rebounds and five points in 14 minutes. Since entering the league (2010-11), no player has recorded more rebounds off the bench than Davis (2,949).

The Nets’ improved rebounding did not go unnoticed by Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“Huge, I thought we did a really good job,” Atkinson stated in a way that Nets reporters don’t get to hear too often. “They had that one stretch in the fourth quarter where they grabbed five or six in a row, but besides that, guys were really helping us there. Jarrett Allen had 11 rebounds. That’s what we asked of him. We asked him to improve. I think against Detroit he had 10, so he’s heavy into 10, 11, 12, 13 rebounds to make another step as a defensive player.”

In contrast to the Knicks, the Nets had four starters scoring in double digits and two off the bench. Caris LeVert, whom most believe will have a transcendent season, barring injury, led the Nets with a career-high 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists.

Coach Atkinson could not have been more pleased about LeVert’s performance tonight.

“Heck of a job,” Atkinson stated in a way that reporters covering the Nets don’t get to hear too often. “Heck of a battle on both ends of the floor. I’ll tell you what, I thought he made, especially at the end, made (Tim) Hardaway (Jr.) work for his shots. He was our leader tonight, and he said after the game ‘Coach I owe you one from the Detroit game.’ So, great game, but that was a heck of a finish at the end.”

VIDEO: In His Own Words: Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson

 

As one could imagine, with seconds left on the clock and a win or lose play outcome on the line, LeVert was singularly focused on the victory when he saw Atkinson had drawn up the play for him.

“I just wanted to get the shot that I wanted,” LeVert told the media postgame in the locker room. “I wanted to get the last shot. Unfortunately, I think there was a second left, but I wanted to get the last shot. I wanted to get the shot that I wanted to get.”

LeVert's performance didn't go unnoticed by Knicks head coach David Fizdale.

"He's a good player," Fizdale stated. "He's an explosive athlete. He can really put the ball on the floor. His three-ball has improved tremendously. He's competitor. I know that he and Timmy (Tim Hardaway, Jr.), that old Michigan connection, that gets them going. That kid can play and I think he's going to have a breakout year this year."

VIDEO: In His Own Words: Brooklyn Nets Guard, Caris LeVert

LeVert’s tag-team partner, center Jarret Allen, contributed 15 points and four blocks in addition to his 11 rebounds. Allen’s four blocks tonight followed his four blocks in the season opener in Detroit on Wednesday, making him the first player in franchise history to record four blocks in each of the first two games of a season. He also became the first player since Tim Duncan (2003-04 season) to register a double-double and four blocks in each of the first two games of an NBA season. The last three NBA players to do so prior to Duncan were: Dikembe Mutombo (1999-00), David Robinson (1994-95) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1992-93). Can you say Hall of Fame greatness in the making!

Additionally, for the Nets, D’Angelo Russell scored 15 points and piled on six assists and five boards. Two players scoring 11 points each were Joe Harris and rookie Rodions Kurucs of the secondary unit. Kurucs also added five rebounds, while Harris added four boards. Spencer Dinwiddie, who was rumored to be a trade option for Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, chipped in 10 points, six assists, and three rebounds off the bench.

Kevin Knox, a rookie that the Knicks selected in the 2018 NBA Draft, whom Knicks Nation is watching like a hawk, showed flashes of brilliance again in his second NBA game. Knox was one of three Knicks players that scored in double digits, scoring 17 points and six rebounds off the bench. The other two Knicks scoring leaders were starters Enes Kanter, as expected, with 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. also with 29 points. It’s important to note that Hardaway Jr. had no assists.

And, if you’re keeping Nets vs. Knicks overall scoring records, the Knicks only have four wins over the Nets at 98-94.

Nets fans revel in this victory because your team will be on the road tomorrow for Game Three of this NBA season and the first of its 14 back-to-back games for the 2018-19 Season. The Nets will take on the Indiana Pacers, a team that many prognosticators believe, based on last season’s performance, will be an NBA Eastern Conference playoff contender.

See you at the Barclays Center on Sunday, October 28, 2018, at 5:00 p.m., the next time the Nets play at home when they take on the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.

VIDEO: Coach Kenny Atkinson summarizes his thoughts about the Nets performance during their first preseason game playing the New York Knicks

REPORTER 1: Obviously, you guys put a lot of emphasis in getting shooting out on the floor. But when you see those, when you see those numbers what jumps out at you? Is it shooting or, is it something else?

COACH ATKINSON: I think it's, yes it’s the shooting Brian, that we missed a lot of open shots. But still, I thought we took some contested shots especially the contested ones off the dribble. You know the contested threes off the dribble is a tough shot. I felt like we took too many of those. But I do think our offense has a long way to go. We struggled to execute. You know give, give the Knicks credit that they pressured, put pressure on our guards, did a good job of getting into the ball and we struggled, struggled executing.

REPORTER 2: You know that (Enes) Kanter had his way with you on the inside again deep you 22 points 20 rebounds. What do you think the problem was there? It's the undersized or just poor defense?

COACH ATKINSON: First of all, he’s a very good player and he's a load. So when we play in the first game of the regular season, we’re going to need to do a better job. I thought he caught the ball too easily in the post, so a guy like that so good with the ball post, you better keep it from him or push him off the blocks. He caught it too deep. You know that we let him get to the middle too much I thought. And then, in offensive rebounding, we just we can't box him out with one guy, you know. We need two guys. We need three guys and I’m going to say this all year, we need five guys, five guys coming back to rebound. So that's kind of his strength, but we have to do a much better job. You're correct on that.

REPORTER 2: Caris (LeVert) kind of showed us I think what you might have been seeing in all this preseason and training camp. How would you evaluate his performance?

COACH ATKINSON: I thought he was up and down, you know, I thought he did some good things and obviously he gets to the rim well. I thought some of those contested threes were on his plate. He needs to clean up his shot selection a little. I would say it was up and down, some good things mixed in and like I said, shot selection was one, one of the things that concerned me a little bit.

REPORTER 1: With Caris(LeVert) specifically, is one of those things defense on (Allonzo) Trier who obviously had a heck of a night? And I guess, you know somewhat to a lesser extent, you know, you talked about how if you had everybody healthy you would be able to go big and be able to use a lot of different lineups and take a look at a lot of different things. Did the fact you had so many forwards that were out they kind of prevent you from experimenting you can see how those people are?

COACH ATKINSON: Yeah, and yeah, I think, I think we were obviously we had a few guys out and so that too. You know the first game Brian, we’re really, you know focused on understanding the minutes where guys gotta play, so it’s tough to mix and match a little bit at that first preseason game because you know guys were on a set number of minutes and that’s, that's on me. So didn’t maybe have a chance playing Ed (Davis) and Jarrett (Allen) together like I said we might. But yes, I thought Allonzo Trier he drove the heck out of the ball and especially in the first half, we couldn’t keep him in front of us and that was, that was collectively, everybody got beat by him and credit to him he was very aggressive driving the ball.

REPORTER 3: Kenny, Rodi (Rodions Kurucs) had some good numbers and good moments in the fourth, what did you see there?

COACH ATKINSON: Yeah, I was very pleased with Rodi, I loved was his energy. I think he, he's a talented guy and he’s got nice length. I like how he drove it. You know, he showed some good things defensively. Listen, I think at training camp, he's been, talk about Caris and the other guys, but I thought he's been a little bit of a surprise, you know. He's a multi-position player. I think his speed is better than I thought. I was, I was really pleased with how well he played, love his energy he came out with.

REPORTER 3: Did you kind of go into it thinking you really want to give an opportunity to look at?

ATKINSON: Yeah, no doubt. We had him right up there. We want to see these guys play right off the bat. And then secondly, he's earned it. He earned it in training camp. You know every time he stepped on the floor when we scrimmaged, or in our breakdowns, he's been, he's been, he's been impressive and confirmed tonight that he's a talented, talented player.

REPORTER 2: And, you talked about him (Rodions Kurucs) the other day, as a stretch five. Even though it was garbage time and it was scrubs against scrubs.
Did you like the instincts he showed, as far as, being in the right place you know kind of showing a basketball IQ, showing passing ability, good hands?

ATKINSON: Yes, I loved, though, I liked all that. I think he showed good instincts passing the ball. And again, maybe the thing I liked about him, he doesn't have any fear that keeps, you know, he's going to, he's barreling in there and he's hitting guys.

And you know, I just like how aggressive he was, that his overall energy, it was like just a real bright spot, really. I thought it really helped that third unit, you know play pretty well.

 

 

Expectations for the Nets are heightened with the addition of new players chief among them, defensive players, Ed Davis, and Kenneth Faried

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

KEISHA: Welcome back to What's The 411Sports. We're in a New York state of mind with our “New York Sports Report” and we are going to talk about our Brooklyn Nets. It was media day across the NBA and the Brooklyn Nets had their own, and there were a good number of (Nets) players who really think that they have enough pieces to do significantly better this year than last, playoffs even.

While there is some that are a little more cautious and just believing that they'll get more wins without going so far as to say that they would make the playoffs. Mike, are the players right to be cautiously optimistic, or should they be more aggressive in their thinking and their beliefs on how they're going to do this season?

MIKE: No, I think that they're right to be cautious here because yeah, I think the over-under is something like 31 or maybe even thirty-two wins for the Nets for the wins for the upcoming season. They won 27 or 28 games last year. So, and I know that doesn't seem like much improvement, but I think that there's no question in my mind that this team will wind up winning more games than they did last season. They know that people can look at that and say well, you know, it's not much of an improvement. But when your win column is really that depleted and you don't have much it's good to pick up on something.

I think Kenny (Atkinson), he's gotten comfortable here. Now. I saw him in an interview on the Yes Network about a week or two ago. And the guy just seems like he's very upbeat. I like his energy. I think that the big focus for this team, of course, is going to be defense right? Because they know that without a doubt that that's one of the things that really hurt them over the last couple of seasons.

That first quarter, like sometimes the first five, ten minutes of the game they’re in it and then all of a sudden everything just seems to fall apart and then by the end of the first quarter, they're down by 15 points. And, I think that those collapses are something that they're really going to try to look to avoid.

You can't knock this team's heart. I can't tell you how many Net games we've seen over the last several years, a couple of years, and they're in it, right even back when Lionel Hollins was coaching. Yeah, they were not winning many games but there were times where they'd be playing tight games against the Cleveland Cavaliers or even when the Knicks were somewhat competitive and they would keep games close.

You mentioned off air I know you might want to speak about it. But Ed Davis, I think is really someone that people are going to want to keep an eye on this year. This guy's tough-minded, no question about it. And I think the rebounding is something that he's going to lead a big focus on for them.

KEISHA: Yeah and Kenneth Faried, I actually like him too. I think he's going to be a really nice piece for the Brooklyn Nets and I think that you know, I think that aiming for more wins than last year is attainable. So, I'm, just quick, I have decided that for the remaining quarter of this year. I'm going to set goals for myself.

I've never done it really in a formalized, formalized manner and I'm going to do it because that is one of the keys for highly successful people and if it works for them why not try it. So you set smart goals and S.M.A.R.T is an acronym and the "A" stands for attainable, and I think that saying that you're going to win more games than last year is attainable.

So I looked at last year's playoff standings and the Wizards had the eighth spot. They were the last team to make the playoffs and they won 43 games. Last year, the Nets won 28. So that's a differential of 15 games. Now, the Nets had an increase of eight games from the year prior to last year. So in order to kind of ...I guess if they can make the playoff that means they have to make, they have to double. Now, it may not be impossible, but because it's like, all right, you won eight games last year why not win eight more. But you've got a lot of new pieces coming in. So I think it might be a little too aggressive to say that you can win 16 games with new pieces. But I definitely, I definitely see more wins for the team. I say about, I'll say 38.

MIKE: All right, okay.

Sean Marks, Nets GM, retains Joe Harris with a two-year deal and deals Nik Stauskas to Portland Trail Blazers

While NBA fans were focused on what LeBron James would ultimately do during the NBA Free Agency period—stay in Cleveland or go to the Los Angeles Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers-- the Brooklyn Nets were quietly handling their business. The Nets re-signed shooting guard Joe Harris to a two-year, $16 million deal, and a surprise to most, they sent Nik Stauskas to the Portland Trail Blazers in return for its power forward/center Ed Davis for a one-year contract for $4.4 million.

The deal with Portland wasn’t so much a surprise that the Nets would unload Nik Stauskas, but that they would seemingly make out like bandits in the process. Davis, who is known for his great rebounding and defensive skills, fills a hole for the Nets for a one-year veteran’s minimum contract.

Tweets from Trail Blazers’ fans say it all.

 Tweets about Portland trading Ed Davis to Brooklyn Nets

Even Portland players and reporters who cover the Trail Blazers were not shy about expressing their feelings about this deal.

Nets' fans, Portland's loss is hopefully your gain.

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