December 13, 2018

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.

With two primary guards out with injuries, Dinwiddie scores a game-high and career-high 25 points to lead Nets over Jazz

There was a little bit of nervousness going into the Brooklyn Nets home game on Friday night against the Utah Jazz. When these two teams met less than a week ago in Utah, the Jazz defeated the Nets 114-106. But, the loss was not only in points, D’Angelo Russell, the Nets leading scorer suffered a left knee contusion during that session. Prior to last night’s game, Nets general manager Sean Marks gave the media the bad news that there is no timetable for Russell’s return.

With Jeremy Lin out with a season-ending right knee injury and D’Angelo Russell out indefinitely, to the surprise of many, there was a lot to like about the way the Nets played on Friday night. The next man up concept became more than a concept it was a concept in action.

Enter the Brooklyn Nets backup point guard, Spencer Dinwiddie.

Dinwiddie, making his fourth start of the season was the player of the game, hands down. Dinwiddie, the engine behind the Nets 118-107 victory over the Jazz, scored a game-high and career-high 25 points (9-of-14 FG, 6-of-10 3FG) with five rebounds, eight assists (no turnovers) and two steals in 31 minutes. Dinwiddie’s six made 3-pointers marked a career high and the most threes made by a Net in a game this season. He has recorded 78 assists with just 14 turnovers this season (5.57:1 assist-to-turnover ratio), which ranks second in the league behind Andre Iguodala’s 5.75:1 ratio.

Dinwiddie’s performance did not go unnoticed by his teammates, no hating on this team.

“He’s showing us consistency and he’s showing us that he’s capable of knocking down big shots,” Nets shooting guard Allen Crabbe said about Dinwiddie’s performance. “ Not only that, but he’s doing other things too. I mean, he had like, what, eight rebounds tonight? And dishing the ball out, so he’s playing great for us and, like I said, just another person like him – telling him, this is your opportunity, so go out there and take advantage.”

“I think as a starter and as a point guard in my position, you try to lead,” Dinwiddie said regarding the need to step up for the team and his career high of 25 points against the Jazz at home. “I didn’t do anything different because of his (D’Angelo Russell) surgery. I would like to think that we won for him though because our heart goes out to him, he is our teammate and our brother. We feel for him in this time. A lot of us have had injuries and surgeries and things of that nature. So, like I said, our heart goes out to him.”

Can anyone say, Spencer Dinwiddie for NBA Player of the Week?

Crabbe, who normally comes off the bench, but started last night, scored 18 points with five boards and three assists in 30 minutes in this game against Utah. In his last two games, Crabbe has recorded averages of 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 31.4 minutes per game while shooting .500 (12-of-24) from the field and .500 (8-of-16) from behind the arc.

Team ball was a factor in the Nets success and Crabbe liked the Nets ball movement.

“It makes life a little bit easier for all of us on the offensive end when the ball just moves like that – makes the defense break down as well when you’re not just playing on one side, pick-and-roll and putting up a shot, dropping off to the roller to shoot,” Crabbe explained. “We get other options out of our offense. Sometimes teams break down off of one, two, three passes and he (Kenny Atkinson) came in at halftime and told us we need to keep that up. You saw the lead that we had in the first half. So, like I said, it just makes life easier for all of us when we’re playing team basketball.”

Brooklyn scored 39 points in during the first quarter, which marked the most points the Nets have scored in any quarter this season and scored 65 points in the first half, which marked the most points the Nets have scored in a first half this season.

Other Nets players in double digits included DeMarre Carroll who totaled 17 points (5-of-10 FG, 3-of-5 3FG, 4-of-4 FT), tying his second-highest scoring output this season. In this meetup, Carroll recorded two rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 27 minutes. Trevor Booker added 14 points and Caris LeVert chipped in 10 points.

The Nets shot a season-high .506 (43-of-85) from the field in last night’s victory (previous high: .500 vs. Orlando on 10/20) and improved to 2-0 this season when shooting .500 or better from the field this season. Also, this win snapped Brooklyn’s three-game losing streak to the Jazz and split their season series with Utah 1-1.

The Nets led by as many as 22 points in this game, which marked the team's largest lead at any point in a game this season (previous high: 16-point lead on 10/22 vs. Atlanta). It also recorded a season-high-tying 27 assists (also achieved on 10/22 vs. Atlanta) and edged the Jazz 27-21.

Even with the Nets’ season-high-tying 27 assists, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was a bit tempered in his assessment.

“I thought the first half was fantastic. I thought we were flying around. I told the guys the second half we really regressed and we can’t afford to do that. I thought we really got into isolation ball, that’s not our game. So first half I give us an A and second half I’d probably give us a C in terms of ball movement. Something we can work on before the Golden State game.”

There’s not much time, the Nets meet Golden State Warriors tomorrow, Sunday, November 19, 2017, at the Barclays Center at 6:00 p.m.

Trevor Booker lifts Nets through loss; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson shows his efficiency

A 101-89 loss is not a way for the Brooklyn Nets to ring in the New Year. But, that is exactly what happened at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Monday night. At the end of the night, it was the Jazz 101, the Nets 89.

And, this was coming off a huge 118-95 loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday and with two days’ rest, one would think that the Nets would have played harder to protect their home turf. No such luck, the Jazz was just a bit too overpowering. Nets center Brook Lopez, stifled by Rudy Gobert, only managed a 6-of-16 shooting night. Before the evening’s end, Lopez was a step away from fouling out picking up five fouls.

But there was hope, the Nets were able to build a 65-57 lead deep in the third quarter something this team doesn’t do too often. However, team Black and White could not sustain the momentum. Going into the fourth quarter, it was a totally different story. With the score tied at 70-70, it was downhill from there for the Nets.

“I thought it started in the end of the third,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “We were plus eight. Then plus eight went to even and they got the momentum and carried it into the fourth quarter. Listen, I am proud of our team’s defensive effort. I thought we really got after it. We were physical like we asked the players to be. I thought they really responded. Our offense wasn’t great; obviously, we were one-for-fifteen from three in the second half. I think it is hard to beat a team like that especially with Gobert in there. You have to make some of those and we got some decent looks, but they are an excellent defensive team. They’re a top five defensive team and Gobert, he changes things when you are diving to the rim. I am sure we will look at it and say, ‘Man we could’ve shared it a little better. We could’ve made the extra pass.’ I was proud of their defensive effort tonight. ”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, with only two years in the NBA, felt similarly about Gobert.

“I would say it’s definitely tough when you’ve got a guy that big and his wingspan is like 7’7” or whatever,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “That’s definitely in the back of your mind, but it’s about being aggressive and trying to create for your teammates is the best thing to do when you’ve got a guy like that in the middle.”

At game’s end, Trevor Booker had a great night. With a double-double, Booker led the Nets with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

“Trevor (Booker) had great energy tonight,” Atkinson added. “I thought he led us with his rebounding. Typical Trevor.”

Other Nets players in double figures were Lopez with 14 points and six rebounds. Isaiah Whitehead, who is starting at the point for the injured Jeremy Lin, scored 12 points and six rebounds and Hollis-Jefferson added 11 points in 14:19 minutes.

“I think Rondae is getting more in his comfort zone,” Atkinson said. “You know we are playing him at the four a lot more and he gets mismatches on his drives and can use his speed and quickness that way.”

And, what does Atkinson think of Whitehead’s performance?

“Isaiah is a heck of a competitor,” Atkinson continued. “Even at the end there we put him on (Gordon) Hayward. I was like, ‘Well let’s put him on Hayward.’ He has got a big body and I thought his defense was excellent tonight. I thought at the end of the third quarter we lost Hayward a few times on screens that was big. He kind of got going but again, good defensive effort by us.”

For the Jazz, Gordon Hayward was extremely efficient. He led the way with 30 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block in 35 minutes. Gobert added 15 points, 16 rebounds, and three blocks. Rodney Hood also contributed 15 points, and Shelvin Mack chipped in 15 points and three steals.

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