December 13, 2018

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.

Allen Crabbe’s “match made in heaven” could become the roadblock in the Brooklyn Nets' rebuilding plan, if he doesn't find his Brooklyn Grit

Last night was a sad night at the Barclays Center. The Brooklyn Nets rising star, guard Caris LeVert, was not in the lineup as he is recuperating from a subtalar dislocation of his right foot, an injury he sustained on Monday while playing the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The good news is that at this point, he does not need surgery and hopefully, he will return before the season ends. Another Nets rising star, Jarrett Allen, was also out because of an illness. So with two of the Nets best players out, the Nets lost to the 5-8 Miami Heat, 120-107 and dropped to 6-9 overall and 3-3 at the Barclays Center, while Heat’s record improves to 6-8.

Not sure why Brooklyn Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson, gave guard Allen Crabbe his first start of the season in LeVert’s place instead of guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Comparing the two players prior to the game, Dinwiddie was averaging 13.9 points per game compared to Crabbe’s 6.5 ppg. There’s not much difference between Dinwiddie and Crabbe’s rebounds per game 2.4 vs. 3.3, but Dinwiddie leads Crabbe in the assist column, 4.1 vs. 1.2, as well as in the grit column.

At game’s end, Dinwiddie, who came off the bench, led all Nets scorers with 18 points (6-of-12 FG), three rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes. Looking at Dinwiddie’s numbers for the season, he has scored in double figures in 14 games, which marks the most games scored in double figures for a Nets reserve in the team's first 15 games of a season in franchise history (previously: 12 games for Armen Gilliam in the 1993-94 season). Dinwiddie also leads the NBA in double-digit scoring games off the bench this season (ahead of JJ Redick, Lou Williams, and Jordan Clarkson, who have all come off the bench in 13 games in the 2018-19 campaign).

Against the Miami Heat last night, Crabbe scored a measly six points and one rebound in 26 minutes of play. He also had six fouls, so you know what that means.

So, why did Coach Atkinson shuffle the deck to insert Crabbe in the starting lineup, which may have affected the team’s rhythm particularly when Crabbe doesn’t have the best track record?

“It’s just part of the NBA, it’s part of the deal,” Atkinson told the media postgame. “You are going to have injuries. We have to have guys that step up. I think that a lot of those units that we threw out there tonight hadn’t played a lot together, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. We know each other, we’ve been to training camp, but again I thought Miami was simply the better team. Sure it was the first quarter, but throughout the game, they were the better team.”

The fact that the Nets players and the coaching staff know each other and have watched players over the last 14 games of the season is enough reason to know that Crabbe should not have started to disrupt the team’s rhythm.

Nets forward Joe Harris in responding to reporters’ questions about whether there’s an issue finding a rhythm with the different lineups being thrown out there, particularly with LeVert unable to play, in effect makes the point.

“Yeah, I think it is definitely an issue, but that’s not an excuse for not playing good defense or making the effort plays, the hustle plays,” Harris responded. “A lot of that first quarter was just mental mistakes, lack of effort, and you can’t have that. We should still be able to have some continuity on the defensive end. Everyone’s familiar with what the philosophy is, what Kenny (Atkinson) expects out of us, what the coaching staff expects out of us. Obviously, we missed Caris (LeVert) a lot, and I think that’s reflective in the way that we played offensively tonight. But the defense has got to stay constant and that’s kind of where we lost our way.”

Missing Caris LeVert is natural, but in these situations, it needs to be not just the next man up, but the best next man up.

And, Jared Dudley, a veteran player the Nets acquired over the summer for a veteran voice in the locker room, makes my point on who needs to step up to the starting position after the loss of LeVert.

“I think Spencer (Dinwiddie) has to step up in a bigger role,” Dudley said. “I think you got to be more mentally locked in when it comes to attacking the basket when it comes to not settling, to getting guys involved. I think that’s where we need to take it from here. I think Allen Crabbe is someone who’s very more capable of coming in and boosting up his point scoring, so I think it’s by committee. Definitely, Spencer (Dinwiddie) should take up that role and that challenge of someone who is easily capable of upping his scoring five to six points and getting more shot attempts.

Nets scorers in double digits behind Dinwiddie were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who posted 14 points, nine rebounds, and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench. Hollis-Jefferson’s nine rebounds marked a season high for him. Shabazz Napier totaled 13 points (his third-most points in a game this season) with two rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 26 minutes off the bench. Starters D’Angelo Russell added 12 points; Harris registered 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists in 25 minutes, and; Dudley chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one blocked shot.

The Miami Heat’s leading scorers were Tyler Johnson, who came off the bench to score 24 points and five rebounds. Goran Dragic put up 21 points, four assists, and three rebounds; Josh Richardson registered 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists; Hassan Whiteside tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals; Bam Adebayo, part of Miami’s second unit, accumulated 12 points and three rebounds, and; Rodney McGruder chipped in 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists.

Next up for the Miami Heat are the Indiana Pacers on Friday, November 16, 2018.

The Brooklyn Nets will play the first of a back-to-back against the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital also on Friday, November 16, 2018. They will return home to play the Los Angeles Clippers at the Barclays Center on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.

Hopefully, Allen Crabbe will find his heart in Washington, DC.

What's The 411Sports uses NBCSports Boston's photo, Most Useless Cavaliers, for its Photo of the Week.

The NBC Sports Boston's photo of the Most Useless Cavaliers includes:

  • Jeff Green
  • George Hill
  • Jordan Clarkson
  • JR Smith
  • Tyronn Lue

Hit us up on YouTube with your picks of the Cleveland Cavaliers' Most Useless Cavaliers.

And, if you think the whole idea is pointless, let us know that as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie posts game-high 23 points and rookie center Jarrett Allen scored a career-high 20 points with five rebounds in the loss

The Barclays Center was a sea of Purple and Gold when the Los Angeles Lakers came to town for its match-up with the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. The crowd was boisterous but respectful as they over-powered Nets fans in cheering the Lakers on to a 102-99 victory. Although the Nets lost, all was not lost for Nets fans as they got to see former stalwart Nets center Brook Lopez for the first time since he was traded to the Lakers. Lopez was the Nets’ rock, the solid foundation that helped keep the team together during the lowest points of the rebuilding years. On Friday night, the Nets management showed its respect for and gratitude to Brook Lopez with a video tribute.

So, on this night, Lopez belonged to both Nets and Lakers’ fans, and he was appreciative.

“It was great,” Lopez said about being embraced by the Lakers and Nets fans. “It was such an awesome moment. That’s the kind of stuff you dream about as a kid and to see that kind of support from both Laker and Nets fans it’s really awe-inspiring. It’s such a fantastic moment. I can’t thank them enough for the continued support.”

It’s easy for an organization to celebrate a solid player like Lopez, particularly when he can take it up a notch to help pull his team over the finish line.

“Brook (Lopez) was great, Lakers head coach Luke Walton told reporters about how Lopez impacted the outcome of the game. “He had a huge block down the stretch. Jarrett Allen was killing us tonight on his rolling. Brook recognized, he got there late and had a big block. He hit those big three’s obviously. When Brooklyn is out there and they have Quincy Acy playing at the center and four shooters running around, it’s challenging to not change your lineup as well. Brook was great tonight. He did a good job. We don’t win that game without him, obviously. He hits some big buckets for us, and like I said he had that big block for us.”

“The second unit did a great job of setting the tone in that fourth quarter,” Walton continued. “Our two biggest keys coming into tonight’s game were taking pride in our individual defense and rebounding. In the first half, our individual defense was awful, which is why Brooklyn had so many points. Second half we started to turn that up a little bit (individual defense). Our rebounding was pretty darn good all night. In the third quarter, we started playing some better defense and to start the fourth quarter our second unit was really engaged and communicating and being aggressive on that end of the court. It set the tone for being able to keep Brooklyn to a low scoring quarter.”

“Credit to Luke and his group, I thought they played a heck of a game,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media. “I thought we competed. I thought it was a great basketball game for the fans, for everybody to see and unfortunately we came out on the losing end.”

“I thought they made some shots,” Atkinson continued, as he explained the turning point in the game. “I think our offense got stagnant, really in that fourth. You love the pick-and-roll and I love it and Spencer’s (Dinwiddie) good at it and D’Angelo (Russell), but there are times we’ve got to get off it and move it a little more. So I thought our shot selection was iffy at best, I thought that hurt us and bad shots lead to what they do best, is transition, and they were coming at us in waves. But again, I think they played a heck of a game. ”

“I think they did a great job on the glass and we didn’t match their physicality in the rebounding game,” Dinwiddie said postgame. “They got extra shots and also limited us to one possession a lot of the time.”

To drive Dinwiddie’s point home, the Lakers out-rebounded the Nets 56 – 38.

Although, the Nets bench outscored the Lakers bench 41 – 30, it was Los Angeles’ starters that out-worked the Nets’ starters. Four of the five Lakers starters scored more than 15 points while only two Nets starters scored in double digits. For the Lakers, both Lopez and Julius Randle scored 19 points, while Randle added 12 rebounds to his tally. Brandon Ingram had a triple-double with 16 points, eight boards, and 10 assists; Josh Hart added 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Jordan Clarkson chipped in 11 points off the bench.

For the Nets, Dinwiddie posted a game-high 23 points, a team-high-tying seven rebounds, and a team-high nine assists in 32 minutes. Russell recorded 15 points, four rebounds and, three assists in 24 minutes off the bench. Joe Harris posted 11 points and a team-high-tying seven rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. Harris has now scored in double figures in 25 games off the bench this season.

Nets rookie Jarrett Allen started and scored a career-high 20 points with five rebounds and a career-high-tying two steals in 24 minutes.

“It’s good to see that I’m progressing at a good level but it’s sad to see us lose,” Allen said regarding his career-high scoring accomplishment.

When asked about battling with former Nets center Brook Lopez, Allen said, “face of the franchise, now I’m here trying to become the face, too, so just going back and forth. It was a good challenge.”

Allen made some inroads, as he outscored and outrebounded Lopez, but time will tell if he will become the face of the Nets franchise.

We’re rooting for you, Jarrett Allen, we’re rooting for you.

Turnovers and a lackluster 2nd Quarter seal Brooklyn Nets loss to Lakers

It’s been tradition that when the Los Angeles Lakers come to town, there’s always a bit of that “show-time” excitement. And, even though the Lakers have a losing record (0-4), Lakers fans came to the Barclays Center Friday night in droves to see their favorite player, Kobe Bryant.

For both the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers, last night was the battle for the “W,” as neither team had a win so far this season.

Unfortunately for the Brooklyn Nets, a win would prove once again to be elusive, the Lakers defeated the Nets 104-98. As you can see from the score, it was not a blowout. In fact, the Nets led the Lakers at the end of the first quarter 27-18, but for the Nets, things went awry in the second.

“I thought we had our moments,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins. “We started off really well 27 - 18, but then we went into a slump in the second quarter, which really cost us the game. We played so well early, but we didn't do such a good job in the second quarter.”

The Nets tried to dig itself out of the proverbial hole it created for itself in the second quarter, by ending the third quarter 25-27 and then the fourth quarter 26-25. But, the deficit created in the second quarter when the Lakers outscored the Nets 34-20 was too much to overcome.

“In the end we got down, we battled back, and we had our chances,” Coach Hollins continued. “We had an open look for that 3:40 that would have made it 100 - 98 and it just didn't go down. But our team is playing harder and trying to play more together. We just have to cut down the turnovers. We had 12 at halftime and we only had four in the second half which allowed us to play better.”

When a prideful team is chasing a win with a 0-5 record, and then loses, it does take its toll on the players.

“We need everyone at this point, you know, so it’s tough, Brook Lopez said regarding the disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. “We came out so strong, and we just stalled many times. You know, you can see what it’s like. Obviously they were fighting just as hard to get their first win. It’s tough.”

“We allowed them back into the game,” Nets point guard Jarrett Jack said. “We didn’t take care of the basketball, as well as we did in the first half and allowed them to get some momentum. They took the lead at halftime, and you know, they kind of just carried on from there.”

As for Kobe Bryant, he led all Lakers scorers with 18 points, followed by Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell with 16 points apiece. Roy Hibbert only put up two points for the Lakers, but he did come through with seven rebounds and one assist.

Unlike the performance against the Bulls, the Nets reserves were not clicking on all cylinders. Metta World Peace and the rest of the Lakers bench outscored the Nets reserves 38-16.

If the loss wasn’t bad enough on Nets players, they had to put up with loud cheers from Lakers fans.

“...We understand what it is. It’s a guy who’s a first ballot hall of famer. We understand what it is,” Jarrett Jack said regarding the cheers for Kobe Bryant.

At the end of the day, Kobe Bryant’s fans and their cheers are butts in the seats and ca-ching for the Nets and the Barclays Center.

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