February 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, you should.

So, what’s Denver’s next move?

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell were game scoring leaders for the Brooklyn Nets, perhaps, putting to rest that the two can’t be on the floor together

The Brooklyn Nets added another win to its list last night by beating the Orlando Magic 114-110. There was no scenario where it looked like it would be a blow-out on either side. The game was close all the way, just a back and forth, one team up, one team down, with the Nets pulling it out at the end.

“First of all, like I keep saying, I think they’re a really good team,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about the Orlando Magic postgame. “It’s a struggle to beat them. They have really good players. Nip and tuck, back and forth, we made mistakes and they made mistakes. I don’t think it was a perfectly played game by any means, especially on our part. I thought we were so-so overall. That’s a sign of a good team, to pull it out when you’re not at your top level.”

The Nets improved to 26-23 overall and 14-11 at Barclays Center with last night’s win against the Magic. Meanwhile, the Magic fell to 20-28 overall and 8-15 on the road with the loss. Additionally, the Nets have won five straight games, seven-straight at home, and 11 of their last 12 at Barclays Center with last night’s victory. And, if you’re wondering if the Nets are still in the NBA playoff hunt, yes, they are holding on to the sixth spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, if the NBA Playoffs were held today.

For the Brooklyn Nets, Spencer Dinwiddie led all players with a game-high 29 points (10-of-17 FG) with three rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 30 minutes off the bench. Meanwhile, D’Angelo Russell led all Nets starters with 25 points, a game-high 10 assists, seven rebounds, and two steals in 34 minutes.

Earlier in the season, there was some chatter that Dinwiddie and Russell couldn’t co-exist on the floor together, but with the passage of time, things are looking better for this duo.

“I see more as they are meshing,” Atkinson said about their progress. “More and more every time. I know advanced stuff says they don’t play well together, but they’re going to be in at the end of the game. They’re two of our top players. Having multiple ball handlers like that is huge. They really know how to play off of each other now. Especially the plays we run at the end of the game, they’re looking out for each other. D’Angelo called a play for Spencer with under two minutes there. It was a big play. That’s the kind of altruism we have right now. Guys are really playing for each other.”

D'Angelo Russell also commented on the chemistry between him and Spencer Dinwiddie, “I just think when we’re both aggressive it works out best for us. Like I said, as we’re getting games under our belts. I think we’re realizing how to play off each other and be aggressive and kind of playmaking and make things happen every time we get the ball.”

As for the other Nets players making it happen when they got the ball, DeMarre Carroll recorded 19 points (6-of-13 FG) and four rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench for the Nets. Rodions Kurucs, a starter for the Nets and an NBA rookie, posted 13 points, four rebounds, one steal and one block in 22 minutes. Joe Harris also scored 13 points and four rebounds, and; Jarrett Allen registered a team-high 11 rebounds with six points and two assists in 29 minutes.

Leading starting scorers for the Orlando Magic were, Nikola Vucevic, who scored 21 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and four blocked shots; D.J. Augustin registered 19 points, six assists, three rebounds, and two steals; Jonathan Isaac tallied 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, and three blocked shots, and; Aaron Gordon added 10 points and six rebounds.

Jonathon Simmons came off the bench for the Orlando Magic and chipped in 13 points and three assists.

Next up: the Orlando Magic head home to play the Washington Wizards on Friday, January 25, 2019. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will also be at home to host the New York Knicks at Barclays Center also on Friday, January 25, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

 

 

 

D’Angelo Russell leads all scorers with 31 points and is the NBA’s reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week

The Brooklyn Nets’ comeback is making noise!

Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, the Brooklyn Nets smoothly defeated the Sacramento Kings 123-94. Okay, so what’s all the hubbub about you ask? The Nets are now 17-5 since December 7th, which matches their best 22-game stretch in the Brooklyn era. The last time the Nets had a 22-game stretch this good was way back in the 2013-14 season. Still not convinced, the Nets are 8-2 this month, tied with Toronto for the second-best record in the East in January, trailing only Milwaukee (9-2). Oh, yeah, and if that isn’t enough, the Nets have now won six straight games against Western Conference opponents, including James Harden and his crew, the Houston Rockets, marking their longest winning streak against West teams within a season since the 2005-06 campaign when they won eight straight.

Now, last night’s game wasn’t a total walk in the park, the Kings had a 60-55 lead at the end of the first half, but the Nets turned up the heat in the third quarter outscoring the Kings 38-25, ending the third 93-85. In the fourth stanza, the Kings should have called the fire department to help because the Nets smoked them 30-9, which brings us back to the final score of 123-94.

The way the Brooklyn Nets turned up the heat on the Sacramento Kings in the second-half made Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson extremely proud and he pinpointed the x-factor that made all the difference.

“I think more our defense,” Atkinson told reporters. “We obviously made some shots, but I thought our defense was excellent. I thought TG’s (Treveon Graham) job on Buddy Hield was fantastic. I don’t think he scored in the second half. He was a real concern for us but great job on him and great defensive performance.”

Atkinson was right, Hield was held to zero points on 7:04 minutes of play in the third and zero in 4:39 minutes of play in the fourth. At the game’s conclusion, Hield only scored 11 points and 7 rebounds.

But defense is a general term and Atkinson has been preaching defense since day one, and he elaborated to be more specific.

“It was transition defense,” Atkinson added. “I thought they annihilated us in the first half with their transition buckets. We couldn’t get matched up. They were coming at you so fast, even off dead balls, makes. This is one of the most impressive transition offense teams I’ve seen. They’re fast and we had real trouble with it. We showed some clips, we talked about it. We said run back, it doesn’t matter your matchup, just pick up anybody. It’s a little bit like a pick-up game. You have to find somebody, you have to play them, and the guys did a much better job in the second of at least limiting their transitions.”

The only other Sacramento starter to score in double-digits was Willie Cauley-Stein with 12 points and six rebounds, which was not much more than Hield. If you’re wondering about De’Aaron Fox, he had an off-day, as he only scored nine points, six assists, and three rebounds. Consequently, Brooklyn’s starting backcourt of Russell and Joe Harris outscored Sacramento’s starting backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, 50-20. But more on Russell and Harris later.

The Kings’ bench did help. Bogdan Bogdanovic, who only has one year under his belt in the NBA, led the Kings in scoring with 22 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and two steals. Justin Jackson, who also has just one year with the NBA, added 14 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one blocked shot.

Sacramento Kings head coach Dave Joerger made a calculated decision to put Jackson in as a starter in the second-half.

“Yea, I thought (Rodions) Kurucs really hurt us and it was our first time seeing him,” Joerger explained. “But it was layup, layup, layup first half and then we switched the matchup in the second half and Justin (Jackson) – we did some other things and he’s a nice player. That was a very good pick up.”

And, Jackson saw his start for the Kings in the second half as a vote of confidence by Coach Joerger.

“Yeah, any basketball player would tell you it feels good whenever guys around you have confidence in you,” Jackson told the assembled media. “For him to feel confident enough to put me out there on the floor for one helps a lot, and for him to put me in different types of situations is definitely big because then I know I can just go out there and play because he has the confidence in me for me to go out there and do what I can do.”

D'Angelo Russell, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, led all scorers with 31 points, eight assists, four rebounds, 1 steal and one blocked shot.

When the Los Angeles Lakers dealt Russell to the Brooklyn Nets along with Timofey Mozgov in 2017, there were some media skeptics. However, Nets general manager Sean Marks and coach Atkinson saw Russell as an asset.

“Those pull-up threes are something,” Atkinson said about Russell’s performance last night and as of late. “Those are (James) Harden-esque. They switch and he gets in a couple moves, couple dribbles, and punishes the switch with the pull-up three. And then I thought, later, he mixed in the drive against the switches. So, to me, that was a growth area for him, handling switches better. But if he keeps making that pull-up three, it’s going to be tough to keep him in front. Impressive, impressive shots he hit tonight.”

Joe Harris, a Nets starting forward, tallied 19 points and seven boards, shooting 3-of-4 from distance and 8-of-14 overall. Rodions Kurucs, an NBA rookie, also started for the Nets and registered 16 points.

Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets second-unit with 11 points, six assists, and three rebounds, and; Shabazz Napier chipped in 10 points off the bench. Ed Davis led the Nets rebounding charge with 16 rebounds, and; starting center, Jarrett Allen, another player with just one-year NBA experience, posted 12 rebounds.

Up next, the Sacramento Kings will travel to Toronto to play the Toronto Raptors tonight, and the Nets will play the Orlando Magic tomorrow, Wednesday, January 23, 2018, at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m.

 

D’Angelo Russell scores 34 points to help the Nets defeat the Celtics; the victory also snaps the Nets’ 10-game losing streak against the Celtics

Is it too early to cue up the music, “Movin’ on Up,” the theme song from the 1970s – 1980s sitcom, The Jeffersons? Perhaps, but to Brooklyn Nets fans, it sure does feel good to be one game away from reaching the .500 mark and to still be in contention for an NBA playoff spot.

NBA Playoff Watch: The Brooklyn Nets are now in the seventh spot in the NBA Eastern Conference (The Boston Celtics are currently in the fifth spot).

“We don’t really talk about it as a team,” Jarrett Allen said about the Nets currently in an NBA Playoff spot. “It’s obviously something on all of our minds that we want to make it, but it’s never that ‘oh, let’s make it.’ It’s never spoken out loud, but we all know what we have to do.”

We hear you, Jarrett Allen, but people who follow the Nets, are talking about it and not necessarily in hush tones because the upward trajectory of the Nets so far this season has taken many by surprise.

Last night, the Nets defeated the Boston Celtics 109-102 at home at the Barclays Center and in so doing, the Nets improved to 22-23 overall and 12-11 at Barclays Center, while the Celtics fell to 25-18 overall and 10-13 on the road with this loss. The Nets have also won five straight home games, which is a big deal for the Nets since it is the first time since the 2014-15 season (March 27 – April 6, 2015) that the Nets have won five consecutive games at home more evidence that the Nets are turning a corner.

This victory also snapped the Nets’ 10-game losing streak against the Celtics, which had marked the team’s longest active losing streak against any opponent. The last time Nets won a game against the Celtics it was three years ago on January 2, 2016, in Boston, for those of you who may be keeping score.

Last night’s win was not without some bumps in the road. The Nets ended the third quarter with a 24-point lead (90-66) and that wasn’t the largest lead of the night. The Nets had a 27-point advantage over the Celtics at 9:33 in the fourth quarter on a Spencer Dinwiddie 26' 3-point pull-up shot, but over the course of the last stanza, the Nets lead started slipping eventually getting to only seven points at 1:28 on a Jaylen Brown driving finger roll layup. Over the course of the closing seconds, the Nets were up by nine, up by seven, up by nine, and eventually ending the game at 109-102.

Of course, the media wanted to get Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson’s take on the Nets defensive breakdown in the fourth quarter.

“It speaks to how good they are,” coach Atkinson said regarding the Boston Celtics’ surge in the fourth. “We know it is coming. You’re not beating that team by 30 – you could but considering we haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here. I also think we played eight guys and that’s part of it. I think there was some fatigue. Sure, there’s things we can get better at. I’m going to talk to our 22-year-old point guard about being a little more secure with the ball. But overall, we hung on and closed it out.”

The Nets’ 22-year-old point guard, D’Angelo Russell, posted a game-high-tying 34 points (13-of-26 FG, 7-of-13 3FG, 1-of-2 FT) with five rebounds, a game-high seven assists, one steal and one block in 37 minutes. Russell scored 18 of his 34 points in the third quarter.

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had his eye on Russell.

“…The (Celtics) third-quarter defense was awful,” Stevens said. “Obviously, Brooklyn scored 44 in the quarter and D’Angelo Russell got going. We didn’t get a stop or a rebound for the first four minutes of the quarter. You’re not going to win games when you start the quarter like that in what was a back-and-forth, tougher, more physical game that we just couldn’t make a shot in the first half. But for whatever reason, our third quarter defense was not there. We (Celtics) went on a drought and Brooklyn just blew us out of the water…”

Still feeling good about his accomplishment in last night’s game against the Celtics, Russell told the media what it took for him to go on his scoring roll in the third quarter.

In a word, “Confidence,” Russell said. “I mean, I trust my craft. My teammates like I said they put me in the position to do that. They’re finding me when we have the hot hand, but once again I trust my craft and I know what I’m capable of.”

So, those of you who doubted D’Angelo Russell’s abilities and belief in himself, take note.

Looking at other Nets starters who were scoring leaders last night, Rodions Kurucs, a Nets rookie who has surprised everyone with his skills, totaled 19 points, four rebounds, and two steals in 33 minutes. Jarrett Allen also recorded 19 points with 12 rebounds and four blocks in 33 minutes. Joe Harris tallied 13 points, eight rebounds, and three assists in 35 minutes.

Coming off the bench for the Nets, DeMarre Carroll posted his second double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in 33 minutes.

For the Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum had a game-high-tying 34 points, five rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots, and one steal. Jaylen Brown scored 22 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Brad Wanamaker, who came off the bench for Boston, chipped in 13 points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

Both teams are really going to have to put on their big boy pants tomorrow as they both face formidable teams. The Celtics square off against the Toronto Raptors at home at the Boston Garden. The Brooklyn Nets travel to Houston to play the Rockets, also tomorrow, and then on to Orlando to play the Magic on Friday, January 18, 2019. The Nets will then return home to play the Sacramento Kings on Monday, January 21, 2019, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at 3:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

D’Angelo Russell leads Brooklyn Nets with 23 points; Vince Carter gets a video tribute, and; Jeremy Lin says he feels good

Last night was evidence that the Brooklyn Nets are working hard to turn a corner and a page on losing seasons of the recent past. Early on in last night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn dug itself into an 18-point hole at the 38.3-second mark in the first quarter and minus 19 points with a score of Hawks 46 and Nets 27 at the 9:02 mark in the second quarter. But, by the end of the first half, the Nets whittled the Hawks lead to six at 57-51. The reversal of fortunes for the Hawks occurred in the third quarter as the Nets ended the third stanza up by six points with the score 86-80. In the fourth is where the Nets kicked things into high gear leading by 20 points at the 2:38 mark on a Shabazz Napier running layup, and then ultimately defeating the Atlanta Hawks 116-100.

With this win, the Nets improved to 21-22 overall and 11-11 at Barclays Center, while the Hawks fell to 12-29 overall and 5-19 on the road with the loss. The Nets are now 13-4 in their last 17 games, which marks their best 17-game stretch since the 2013-14 season when the Nets had a 13-4 stretch from March 9, 2014, through April 8, 2014. Wow, that seems like eons ago. But hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen because right now, the Brooklyn Nets are now the sixth seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference, which would make them playoff bound. If the NBA playoffs were held today, the Nets would be playing the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Not my favorite choice, I think they would have a better chance emerging from the first round if they were to play the Philadelphia 76ers. Just saying.

Die-hard Nets fans know that 2014 was the last time the Brooklyn Nets were in the NBA Playoffs. They also know during the Nets’ “Dark Ages” starting with the 2014-15 NBA season through 2017-18, that if the Nets got behind by more than 10 points, most likely, it would be a wrap because they lacked the strategic basketball acumen to climb back to the top. In many cases, the individual talent was there but collectively, they just didn’t know how to mix all of the strategic elements to survive as winners. And, last night, it was if someone hit a switch and pulled them out of a losing trance. Perhaps, it’s the influence of the respected new veteran players, or, hungrier new younger players, their own growth and maturity as a team, listening to the coaches, or, just tired of losing, or, any combination of the listed reasons and more.

But somehow, last night, the Nets figured out a way to climb out of a 20-point deficit to win by 16 points.

“First of all, no easy games in the NBA, that’s for sure,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about how his team turned around a losing game to a winning one. “They blitzed us in the first quarter. I think a lot of that was them and some of it was us. And 38 points in the first quarter, it’s like you’re playing with fire when you dig a hole like that. Then I think 19 points in the second quarter we gave up and then 43 points in the second half, so we turned our defense around. I think the zone helped us, just got them out of rhythm a little bit, wasn’t our main kind of slice, but it was helpful. I thought it got them out of rhythm a little bit, helped us.”

Nets guard Joe Harris also chimed in on how this comeback showed the maturity and growth of the team.

“Yeah, obviously not the start that we wanted,” Harris said. “We talk about it a lot, trying to be consistent over four quarters, and if you’re not, you have a blimp. Say you have a quarter like today, 38-23, a little sluggish, especially on the defensive end – that’s where the veteran leadership comes in. Guys like J.D. (Jared Dudley) and DeMarre (Carroll) and Ed (Davis), they’re the ones who are vocalizing. They’re talking about aspirations that we have for this team. We can’t have these lapses if we want to get where we’re trying to go. I think considering where we’ve been, where we’re at now says a lot about the team. A lot of it rests with those veteran guys.”

What’s really amazing is that the Brooklyn Nets have found their way to win even without Caris LeVert, who was scoring 18 points per game and seemed destined to be the team’s rising star before his injury on November 12, 2018, when the Nets were playing the Minnesota Timberwolves. So, right now, we are witnessing “next man up” in action.

Obviously, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce was disappointed in the game’s outcome and he pinpoints where things went awry for his team.

“I think we came out with the momentum from last night’s game, Atlanta Hawks coach Pierce told reporters. “A lot of energy, a lot of ball movement, a lot of pace, attacking downhill, and we just ran out of gas in the second quarter is where it started. It looks like the second half, but it really started in the second quarter. I don’t think we had a turnover in the first quarter, I could be wrong, it may have been at the end. But to end up with 22 turnovers basically over three quarters and just being flat. Tough, tough.”

Nets starting point guard, D’Angelo Russell, scored a team-high 23 points (11-of-20 FG) with three rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 26 minutes. Joe Harris registered 16 points and eight rebounds, and; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen, also starters, each contributed 11 points, Allen added five rebounds, while Kurucs, a rookie, added four rebounds.

Brooklyn’s bench outscored the Hawks’ reserves 55-31, led by DeMarre Carroll’s 17 points and four rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie added 16 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals, and; Shabazz Napier chipped in 11 points, and three rebounds, assists, and steals respectively.

Veteran player, Ed Davis, who Nets center Jarrett Allen credits with helping him to up his game, crashed the boards with 16 rebounds to go along with his eight points.

John Collins led the Atlanta Hawks and all scorers in points last night against the Brooklyn Nets with 30 points and 14 rebounds; Trae Young registered 17 points and seven assists, and; Kevin Huerter rounded out the Hawks starters in double digits with 14points, 10 rebounds, and three assists.

The Hawks’ bench players in double digits were Jeremy Lin with 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals, and; Alex Len who contributed 10 points, and four assists.

This is Jeremy Lin’s second time at the Barclays Center since being traded from the Nets to the Atlanta Hawks. Lin was plagued with injuries the two seasons he was on the Nets roster. He spoke with reporters about how feels about his game right now.

“I feel good,” Lin told reporters. “I know tonight shots didn’t fall the way I wanted to. But for me, it’s not about makes or misses, it’s about the quality of the shot. I felt like I got really high-quality shots tonight and honestly, a ton of them felt great. That’s how it is sometimes. As many of those nights as I have, where they feel great and don’t fall, I’ll have many where they do. So I’m not too worried about it, I’m more just concerned with making sure I take great shots that I know I can hit and continuing to ride this momentum of trying to be aggressive, trying to make plays for my teammates as well, just trying to be disruptive on both ends of the floor.”

Veteran NBA player Vince Carter who was a Net from 2004 -2009, when the team was in New Jersey, received a video tribute to commemorate his 21st year in the NBA, as he had the night before in Toronto. No one really knows if this is Carter’s last season in the NBA, however, Carter was grateful.

“It’s a great trip – stressful sometimes, a lot of people to see,” Carter said about the reception from both teams. “But the appreciation, I’m very thankful for and I’ll never forget. The video – yes, it could be premature or not –they’re thinking about me and I’m very thankful.”

And, what’s up for the Atlanta Hawks’ immediate future, the Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, the Hawks will travel to Philadelphia to play the 76ers tomorrow, Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will have their own test as they travel to another country to face the Toronto Raptors, the team with the most wins in the NBA at 31, also on Friday, January 11, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Nets then play the Boston Celtics at home at the Barclays Center on Monday, January 14, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

D’Angelo Russell leads Nets scorers with 22 points; Nets Sitting Right Outside 8th Seed in NBA Eastern Conference

It's January 2nd and it's supposed to be cold, but it's not. Today, the Brooklyn Nets fought off the New Orleans Pelicans, with one of the best players in the league in the name of Anthony Davis and sent them home in defeat to the Nets 126-121.

The Nets playing with poise and skill improved to 18-21 overall and 10-11 at the Barclays Center, while the Pelicans fell to 17-22 overall and 4-16 on the road with the loss.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers and starters with a team-high 22 points, a career-high-tying (and Nets season-high-tying) 13 assists, five rebounds, and two steals. Other Nets starting players scoring in double-digits were Joe Harris who scored 21 points (9-of-16 FG, 3-of-4 3FG) with two rebounds, one assist and one steal in 29 minutes; Rodions Kurucs and Jarrett Allen each scored 10 points, while Allen added 11 rebounds.

DeMarre Carroll led the Nets bench with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 points, and four assists, and; Shabbazz Napier chipped in 12 points and four assists.

Ed Davis, not a prolific scorer, led all Nets rebounders with 12 rebounds.

When asked about the effort from the Nets’ bench, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson responded: “It’s a heck of a win against a very good team, so great job all around. I thought everybody contributed – big play from all the guys. I thought we were very balanced, and the bench was great.”

Brooklyn’s bench is legendary; it outscored New Orleans’ reserves 55-5, yep 55-5. Entering tonight’s game, the Nets bench ranked second in the NBA with 46.3 points per game.

As good as the Nets scoring leaders were, Pelicans’ Anthony Davis led all scorers with 34 points and 26 rebounds. In fact, all of the New Orleans Pelicans scored in double digits. Elfrid Payton had 25 points and seven assists; Julius Randle registered 21 points, four rebounds, and two blocked shots; Jrue Holiday posted 20 points and four assists, and; E'Twaun Moore chipped in 16 points and two steals.

Even with the firepower from the Pelicans starters, it just wasn’t enough.

“Brooklyn started out shooting the ball extremely well,” New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry told the media postgame. “We got behind and you’re playing uphill. We know the story. We’ve seen the story before. We’re playing uphill – it’s extremely hard against a team with that talent level that has the ability to score. Once again, you’re talking about a perfect storm to get back and we almost got there but we just didn’t. You can’t start the game and get that type of separation and think that against a team with that kind of firepower that you’re going to be able to get all the way back.”

“We weren’t playing good defense,” Pelicans forward Anthony Davis echoed. “The whole first half they did what they wanted. They didn’t feel us on the defensive end. We weren’t physical. We weren’t talking. They had a lot of layups, a lot of open threes. They shot the ball well in the first half.”

Each team will have another opportunity to gain a win this weekend. The Nets will travel to Memphis to play the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, January 4, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET. The Pelicans will be in Cleveland to face off against the Cavaliers on Saturday, January 5, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Joe Harris hits the game-winning shot to help Nets edge the Hornets, and Spencer Dinwiddie records his first double-double of the season

It was the night after Christmas, and all through the Barclays Center arena, the fans were on their feet as the Brooklyn Nets tried to close out the Charlotte Hornets in the regular session, then the first overtime, and finally the second. It was thrilling to watch the Nets battle to the end, as well as, watching the fans applaud, cheer, and jump up and down spontaneously. At 29.1 seconds in the second overtime, you could feel the tension in the air with the score tied at 132-132 and Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie misses a 26' 3-point pull-up shot, then at 25.6 seconds, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker rebounds and calls a timeout. When the game resumes, the Hornets have possession, there’s ball movement with seconds ticking away. At 6.7 seconds left on the clock, Charlotte’s Malik Monk turns the ball over, Nets forward Joe Harris aka “Joey Buckets” steals the ball and at 3.4 seconds, goes for a driving layup and puts the Nets ahead 134-132. Monk tries to redeem his earlier turnover by hurling a 40-foot 3-point shot, but to no avail.

And, the Brooklyn Nets get the “W” defeating the Charlotte Hornets 134-132. Inching closer to the .500 mark, with this victory the Nets improved to 17-19 overall and have won nine of their last 10 games, while the Hornets fell to 16-17 overall and 4-10 on the road with the loss.

“Great fight,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about the Nets win against the Hornets. “We lost the game three or four times and we just kept coming back. They hit tough shots, we came back and hit tough shots. Just a great basketball game. It was just a fun game to be a part of. Give a lot of credit to them, (the) same thing they didn’t give up, that’s why they’re a good team. That’s why they’re a playoff team and it was a good test for us tonight and we made some big plays to pull it through.”

Coming off the bench, Dinwiddie led all scorers with 37 points, which is two points shy of his career-high set on December 12th at Philadelphia. Dinwiddie also had a season-high 11 assists in 41 minutes off the bench, recording his first double-double of the season in the victory and a career-high seven 3-pointers tonight.

On where this win stands with the rest, Dinwiddie gave his assessment to the media.

“I mean, obviously we didn’t lose a lead, so it is not disappointing or anything like that in terms of close games we’ve had in the past,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s a dogfight, they’re a good ball club, obviously, they’re sixth in the East I believe before this game. They have a phenomenal player who is probably going to be an (NBA) All-Star in Kemba (Walker) and we made just enough plays, just enough shots, just enough stops. So, it’s a credit to our group in terms of maturing.”

Leading the Nets starters, Joe Harris scored a season-high 27 points, six rebounds, two assists, and the one steal that mattered in this game. Both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and D’Angelo Russell recorded 16 points. Hollis-Jefferson added a season-high 15 rebounds, a season-high-tying six assists, and a season-high three blocks. Hollis-Jefferson also registered his second double-double of the season. Russell, who only played 27 minutes, added four assists to his 16 points. Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs never ceases to amaze, he recorded his second-career double-double with 13 points, a career-high 12 rebounds, three assists, and a career-high-tying three steals in a career-high 39 minutes.

DeMarre Carroll came off the bench for the Nets and scored 12 points and four rebounds.

Brooklyn’s bench outscored Charlotte’s bench 55-35. The Nets’ bench is moving up the ladder on NBA bench scoring, entering last night’s game against Charlotte ranking third in the NBA in bench points per game (45.4). The Nets’ reserves have averaged 48.0 bench points per game in their last 10 games. The Nets also edged the Hornets 31-26 in assists, recording their third game of 30-plus assists this season.

For the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker scored a team-high 35 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Jeremy Lamb registered 31 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals; Marvin Williams recorded 14 points and 12 rebounds; Nicolas Batum tallied 13 points and three assists, and; Tony Parker, yes that Tony Parker formerly of the San Antonio Spurs, chipped in 10 points and five assists in 21 minutes.

Time to get your popcorn, as the Nets and Hornets will face off again, this time in Charlotte, on tomorrow, Friday, December 28, at 7 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on the YES network or listen via radio on WFAN.

 

TIP-INS:

Spencer Dinwiddie recorded his eighth game of 25+ points this season last night against the Charlotte Hornets, which marks the most for any NBA player off the bench this season and the second-most in a single-season in franchise history (most: 10 for Bubbles Hawkins in 1976-77).

Rodions Kurucs is the first Nets rookie to record a double-double in consecutive games since Terrence Williams in the 2009-10 season. Kurucs has scored in double figures in six of his last eight, averaging 12.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in 28.0 minutes per contest in those eight games.

 

Nets defeat weary Suns 111-103 and get back on the winning trail with eight wins in nine games

The Brooklyn Nets came out of the gate last night a bit sluggish but managed to snatch a 111-103 win from the Phoenix Suns who had just lost a 149-146 triple-overtime game against the Washington Wizards the night before.

With the win, the Nets get their eighth win in nine games and improved to 16-19 overall and 8-11 at Barclays Center, while the Suns fell to 8-26 overall and 3-15 on the road with the loss.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead Brooklyn with 24 points (7-of-14 FG), seven assists, and two rebounds in 26 minutes. Ed Davis, also part of the Nets second unit, totaled 15 points (7-of-8 FG), nine rebounds and a career-high-tying three steals (done 14 times previously) in 24 minutes.

Although last night’s victory marked Brooklyn’s eighth win in the team’s last nine games. It was not a walk in the park.

“We had to grind it,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said regarding what it took to pull away in the second half. “First of all, I want to give them (Phoenix Suns) a ton of credit. They came off a triple-overtime game and they fought us tooth and nail. That was not an easy victory at all, excellent job by them. I think they’re playing much better. They gave us a tussle; it was a tough game for us.”

D’Angelo Russell, who led Brooklyn Nets starters with 18 points (6-of-18 FG), a team-high eight assists, six rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes, underscored Coach Atkinson’s assessment of the work needed to get some separation from the Phoenix Suns.

“We just had to make winning plays in order to get a little separation,” Russell explained. “We had to get stops and it took a lot.”

“Just locking in,” Russell added on what changed defensively in the third quarter. “Definitely the game plan with what we’re supposed to do with each individual guy, but just locking in.”

Rodions Kurucs recorded his first-career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 10 rebounds in 33 minutes. He also recorded two assists and a steal in the win. Kurucs, an NBA rookie, has scored in double figures in five of his last seven games, averaging 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per contest during that stretch. Joe Harris tallied 13 points, three rebounds, and two assists in 32 minutes. Jarrett Allen posted 11 points with nine rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 24 minutes.

Leading scorers for the Phoenix Suns were Deandre Ayton with 26 points, 18 rebounds, three blocked shots, and two steals. Devin Booker registered 25 points and nine assists, and; Josh Jackson chipped in 11 points and three rebounds.

Phoenix Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov summed up his team’s loss: “We knew it was going to be a tough game. (A) tough game when it came to finding fresh legs and energy. Overall, I think the energy was there. We tried and competed to the end of the game. We were looking for our chance. Brooklyn was ready. They came prepared and fresh with the understanding that we played last night and you could feel they were putting pressure on us with the hope we’re going to collapse at some point.”

One person who is not losing any sleep over the Suns’ loss is the Nets elder statesman and forward, Jared Dudley, who was unceremoniously traded to the Nets. Dudley had a lot to say about the Nets win over the Suns.

“I would say for me personally, every time you get to play the Suns…a team that traded me basically for nothing, a player they didn’t even want,” Dudley told the media. “So, for that franchise – to be able to come out there and get two dubs (wins) on those guys and keep it moving, it feels good.”

Next up for the Phoenix Suns is a road game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, December 26, 2018. The Nets will remain home to play the Charlotte Hornets also on Wednesday, December 26th at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

In the Nets’ game loss, a phenom in the making emerges, Nets rookie Rodions Kurucs leads all Nets players with a career-high 24 points

Seven.

Seven was the number of consecutive wins the Brooklyn Nets had heading into their game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Unfortunately, the Nets could not keep pace with the Pacers (pun intended) starting in the first quarter and lost 114-106.

In addition to snapping their season-high seven-game winning streak, the Nets fell to 15-19 overall and 7-11 at home, while the Pacers improved to 21-12 overall and 10-7 on the road with the victory.

With the Nets experiencing so many losses, sometimes it’s easy to forget that the team has had win streaks in the past. This current win streak matched the team’s longest winning streak since relocating to Brooklyn for the start of the 2012-13 season. The Nets winning back-to-back games in this fashion and at this time had many sports reporters talking about the Nets who wouldn’t have otherwise because the Nets win streak marked the longest active winning streak in the NBA.

Yesterday's breakdown for the Brooklyn Nets came in the first quarter when they ended the quarter with a 10-point deficit 37-27 and didn’t gain much in the second, ending that stanza 59-49. Brooklyn closed in on Indiana in the third, but still fell short by four points, finishing the third 84-80, and similarly, in the fourth, the Nets just couldn’t make up enough ground. The Pacers outscored the Nets in the final quarter by four points 30-26 and ultimately winning the game 114-106.

“We could really never stop them,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters after the game. “We didn’t stop them all night. I think we got in a big hole – 37-point first quarter and then (in the) fourth quarter we couldn’t stop them either. We tried some different things. We tried mucking up the game a little, some different defenses, and never found that key to stopping them.”

Despite the outcome of tonight’s game, there were several bright spots for the Brooklyn: a season-high .516 (16-of-31) from 3-point range including .647 (11-of-17) from 3-point range in the second half, which also marked a season-high for 3-point shooting percentage by the Nets in a half this season, which also included 7-of-8 from 3-point range in the third quarter, matching the team's highest 3FGM total in any quarter this season.

Additionally, the Nets edged the Pacers 28-24 in assists and also outrebounded Indiana 41-29, including an 11-6 edge on the offensive glass. Actually, when it comes to rebounding, the Nets have been on a roll, they have outrebounded their opponents 353-292 (+61) in their last eight games. The Nets’ bench also outscored the Pacers’ reserves last night 43-29. Entering the game against the Pacers, the Nets’ bench ranked fifth in the NBA with 45.4 points per game.

It was a special night for Nets rookie forward Rodions Kurucs, he led all Nets scorers with a career-high 24 points; he also registered three rebounds, one blocked shot and one steal in 34 minutes.

Last night’s game also marked Kurucs’ first-career 20-point game and the first time Kurucs has led the Nets in scoring; all the while proving each game with attitude and performance that he belongs in the NBA and perhaps in the Nets starting line-up. His four made 3-pointers marked a career high, while his six made field goals matched his career high. Kurucs has scored in double figures in four of his last six games and has averaged 12.3 points per game in those six outings.

When asked about his role and continued growth, Kurucs responded, “I mean, it’s been good. I’m enjoying it every day. I don’t really have much to say. Like before I said, I’m enjoying it every day. I enjoy the team, the guys, the staff, everyone. I just love to be here. I just love to help the team.”

Other Nets starters in double digits were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris who scored 13 points each, along with five and four rebounds respectively, and; Jarrett Allen tallied 10 points and five rebounds. D’Angelo Russell who had a rough scoring night with only three points contributed nine assists.

DeMarre Carroll led the Nets’ second unit with 16 points and four rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie contributed 15 points and nine assists, and; Jared Dudley chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one blocked shot.

For Indiana, Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Former Nets players, Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 and 17 points respectively; Myles Turner registered 15 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and five blocked shots, and; Domantas Sabonis came off the bench and chipped in 17 points and three steals.

Next up, the Indiana Pacers will return home to host the Washington Wizards on Sunday, December 23rd at 5:00 p.m. ET. The Brooklyn Nets will host the Phoenix Suns at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn also on Sunday, December 23, 2018, at 6 p.m. ET.

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