December 13, 2018

Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris lead Nets; as Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose shows flashes of brilliance leading all scorers with 25 points

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and the Brooklyn Nets are back home after playing back-to-back games against the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks on the road; getting a 104-92 win over the Heat and a 119-113 loss against the Mavericks. As fans piled into the Barclays Center, of course they were hoping that the home team would prevail against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but unfortunately, the Nets fell to the ‘Wolves 112-102.

With the loss to the Timberwolves, the Nets fell to 8-12 overall and 3-5 at Barclays Center, while the Timberwolves improved to 8-11 overall and 1-8 on the road with the win.

At the end of the first quarter, there was a glimmer of hope that the energetic-looking Nets just might pull off a win, as the Nets outscored the Timberwolves 26-22 in the first quarter. Although the Timberwolves took the lead in the second stanza, the differential was small enough at 54-49, that there was no real need to hit the panic button. In the third quarter where the Nets often struggle, there was cause for alarm as the T-Wolves continued to outpace Brooklyn, ending the third with a score of 89-72.

“I think we were searching for energy but we kind of just didn’t have the juice,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about the damage caused in the third quarter. “I don’t know how many turnovers we had in the third. I thought the turnovers hurt us overall. Thirty-one points off our turnovers I believe, that’s a huge number. That’s tough. We’ve done a fantastic job of taking care of it. Tonight we didn’t take care of it. I see (Karl-Anthony) Towns hurt us in the post there in the third quarter. We tried different things, tried different guys on him, we tried fronting him. We just couldn’t get the stops we needed. ”

The Nets did come roaring back in the fourth just enough to make it interesting, outscoring Minnesota 30-23, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome the gap that was built up in the third quarter.

“First of all, I like that group that had the energy to come back and make it a heck of a game,” Atkinson said regarding the Nets’ effort in the fourth quarter. “I thought we missed a couple open shots that could have really cut the lead. But like you said, we couldn’t get over the hump. Again, I think our turnovers were a big part of our inefficiencies tonight. ”

Those inefficiencies allowed Minnesota to score 31 points off of Brooklyn’s turnovers.

“That was big,” Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau told the media following the game. “And we then we didn’t turn it over either. I thought that was a big part of the game. I thought with Karl-Anthony Towns in foul trouble I thought our bench came in and did a really solid job. And then down the stretch, we made plays.”

This win for the Timberwolves was especially sweet, as it was the team’s first road win this season.

“It’s a start,” Thibodeau added. “We have a long way to go. It’s challenging to play a noon game and then turn right around and be ready to play again tomorrow night on a back-to-back. We have to play well at home.”

The Nets scorers in double digits this afternoon were Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, each scoring 18 points. Harris added six rebounds and four assists, while Dinwiddie, who came off the bench, supplemented his 18 points with eight assists, and three rebounds. DeMarre Carroll, scored 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while Shabazz Napier, another member of the second unit tallied 12 points and six rebounds; Jarrett Allen, now in his second year with the NBA, registered 12 points and four rebounds, and; Allen Crabbe chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.

The Timberwolves leading scorer was also from the second unit. Derrick Rose, the only Minnesota player to come off the bench and score in double digits, also led all scorers with 25 points and three assists leaving some media people to believe that we are witnessing the resurgence of NBA All-Star Derrick Rose.

However, Coach Thibodeau believes the qualities of Rose as an NBA All-Star didn’t vanish.

“I say this all of the time,” Thibodeau responded. “I’ve watched most of his games. I watched him the year he was in New York. The only time he hasn’t played well is when he was injured, so I’m not surprised.”

Other Minnesota leading scorers were Karl-Anthony Towns who attained 21 points and nine rebounds; Taj Gibson registered 16 points, 11 rebounds, and three steals, while; Jeff Teague chipped in 15 points and nine assists.

Next up, Minnesota will return home to host the Chicago Bulls tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. CT

Meanwhile, the Nets will host the Philadelphia 76ers at the Barclays Center on Sunday, November 25, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. ET

Nets Lose to the Bulls 92-90

With Derrick Rose still contemplating his return to the Chicago Bulls lineup and the Brooklyn Nets looking to solidify its playoff spot, both teams met for the last time in the regular season Thursday night at the Barclays Center. The Nets Joe Johnson returned to the starting lineup after missing the last five games (sore left heel) while the Bulls were without Rose, Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain), Taj Gibson (left knee), Richard Hamilton (lower back) and Joakim Noah (right foot) who were all listed day to day.

Riding the hot hand of Brooklyn's Brook Lopez (18 points on 8 of 9 shooting) and taking advantage of the absence of Noah, the Nets jumped all over Chicago right from the start getting out to a 13-point first period (26-13) lead. While Lopez sat for half of the second period, guard Deron Williams picked up the slack scoring 8 points as the defense stepped up limiting the Bulls to only 37% from the floor (0-5 from 3 point land) taking 9-point (47-36) halftime lead. Then Chicago's head coach Tom Thibodeau delivered a message to his team that was well received.

It began on the defensive end as Chicago allowed Brooklyn only 20 points clamping down on their perimeter shooting.

Said Thibodeau, "I thought our intensity picked up. and we had more energy on offense."

The Nets missed 11 out of 16 shots (31%) while the Bulls made 50% of their own (13-26) putting 29 points on the scoreboard. Brooklyn, who at one point enjoyed a 16 (36-20) point lead, entered the final quarter leading only by 2 (67-65) after 2 Williams free throws.

Neither team would lead by no more than 4 points (4 ties) as both squads intensified their defense. The last tie coming with 1:55 left (84-84) when Williams was fouled on a drive to the basket. After converting the free throw, he scored on a short jumper extending the lead to 3 (90-87) the last lead his team would see.

Chicago began its winning 5-0 run with Luol Deng hitting a long jump shot to get them within 1 point (90-89) before ex-Knicks and perennial pest Nate Robinson made his presence known. Robinson began by forcing a Lopez turnover and after a 20 second Bulls timeout, he dribbled right past the free throw line floating up a soft jump shot that gave Chicago the lead (91-90).

"Coach said get it and go if we got a turnover or rebound," said Robinson describing the play.

Brooklyn had plenty of time left (22.7) with a chance to at least send the game into overtime. It did not happen.

Williams broke down the Bulls defense and shuffled the ball off to Lopez who looked like he had a clear layup or dunk but did not have total control of the ball on the way up. It allowed the Bulls veteran Nzar Mohammed to fully extend, cleanly blocking the shot. He then had the composure to grab the rebound. A Chicago free throw pushed the lead to 2 (92-90) giving Brooklyn yet another shot at tying or outright winning the game.

Inbounding the ball with 5.5 seconds, Williams once again penetrated to below the foul line and shuffles the pass to Lopez again. His 17' fadeaway rolled around the rim before falling out as Chicago escaped with the 92-90 victory.

Brooklyn's interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo had no problem with the decisions Williams made down the stretch.

"Deron made a very good decision both times. He found Brook going to the basket the first time and he found him wide open the second time," he said.

Unfortunately, neither resulted in a basket.

The Chicago Bulls took 3 out of 4 games from the Brooklyn Nets which may be a factor in the playoff seedings if they end up with the same record at the end of the year.

"We're trying to get better each game," said Robinson. "It's something that the coach always harps on. Play your best basketball towards the end of the season."

VIDEO: Tom Thibodeau shares with the media his secret sauce for a winning culture

As a basketball coach, Tom Thibodeau, head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, is highly respected and one of the lucky ones. Thibodeau graduated from Salem State in 1981 and started his coaching career as an assistant coach at Salem State the same year. Thibodeau was an assistant coach at Harvard, Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets. He was an associate head coach with the Boston Celtics from 2007 – 2010, head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 2010 – 2015, and his current position with the T-wolves since 2016.

As head coach of the Chicago Bulls, somehow Tom Thibodeau developed a reputation of being a taskmaster. Although the Bulls were in the NBA playoffs for several years, stories of Thibodeau working his team so hard that players didn’t want to play for him started circulating in the media. And, even though Thibodeau was an NBA Coach of the Year with the Bulls and received numerous other accolades, on May 28, 2015, the Chicago Bulls management fired Thibodeau.

However, the cream always rises to the top, and in 2016, Thibodeau got a better job. The Minnesota Timberwolves named Thibodeau Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations.

It’s important to note that Jimmy Butler, one of the Chicago Bulls’ best players under Thibodeau, joined Thibodeau in Minnesota at his first opportunity, as did Taj Gibson.

And, when the media assembled at the Barclays Center had an opportunity for a Q&A with Thibodeau prior to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ game against the Brooklyn Nets, the conversation was very instructive. Thibodeau most salient points were:

• The importance of building good habits
• Jimmy Butler’s work habits and his impact on the Timberwolves’ players
• Underscoring that Timberwolves are Top 5 in Offensive Categories that matter
• Understanding the need for balance

Now, in case you don’t know, the T-wolves are currently making a push in the NBA Western Conference playoff run and are upsetting the order in NBA Western Conference standings. We’ll be keeping an eye on them.

Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo, Dwayne Wade team up to push back Nets 118-88

The Chicago Bulls came into the Barclays Center on Halloween night to play the Brooklyn Nets with an undefeated 2-0 record; and it was apparent from the start, that the Bulls were determined to leave with its undefeated record intact.

Although Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez won the tip over his brother Robin, the Bulls set the tone early, running roughshod over the Nets, taking the First Quarter 38-20. Bulls forward Jimmy Butler wasted no time making his presence felt early. Butler knocked down 13 of his 22 points in the first quarter.

“I think they are playing with more pace,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson stated. “I think (Bulls point guard Rajon) Rondo helps with that. He pushed the ball up the court. They’re versatile off the bench so they can give you different looks with (Nikola) Mirotic coming off shooting. I think they set the tone, they set the pace, they really made their imprint on the game and we definitely did not have it tonight.”

“They were the more aggressive team,” Atkinson continued. “I thought they really came out and really got into us. I thought, for some reason, we were back on our heels a little bit and they took advantage of that. Give them credit. I thought they played really well. They played a great game.”

There’s no question the Bulls played really well. The numbers tell the story.

Nets shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic led all Nets players with 15 points. Other Nets players in double digits were Jeremy Lin with 14 points, four assists, and four steals. Sean Kilpatrick and Brook Lopez each scored 13 points. A telling stat regarding Lopez, he only had two boards and both were offensive rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Bulls had seven players in double digits. Two of the top three Bulls scorers came off the bench. Butler led all players with 22 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Mirotic posted 16 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists off the bench. Isaiah Canaan, another backup player, scored 15 points and six assists. Bulls starting forward Taj Gibson contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds. Dwyane Wade, against a backdrop of cheers, showed the crowd he still has it, tallying 12 points, four assists, and three each in the rebound and steals columns.

It’s early in the season, but the Nets have to get the fire in the belly and stand up to the better teams, or it’s going to be a painful season.

Joe Johnson Bewildered Over Nets Loss to Chicago

After losing in pitiful fashion to the Milwaukee Bucks, 96-73, Sunday afternoon, you would think that the Brooklyn Nets would rebound tonight against the Chicago Bulls with the playoffs on the line right?

But they didn't.

Their struggles against the young and energetic Bucks, presented itself once again hosting the Chicago Bulls, and they without a doubt paid for it.

The Nets fate was sealed early and the Bulls had their way, all game long embarrassing the basketball pride of Brooklyn, 113-86.

The Bulls improved to (49-32) on the season while the Nets dropped their second straight game, now 37-44.

With this loss, the Nets find themselves in a must-win situation on Wednesday night, hosting the lowly Orlando Magic, a team fuming off of a 100-93 loss to the Miami Heat-tonight as well.

You know Orlando will be inspired.

They are young, rebuilding and probably won't mind playing the role of spoiler in their last game of the regular season before they begin their off-season/vacation early.

As for the Nets, that inspiration seems to be lacking.

They know what's at stake.

They know what they have to do, and instead of following through on their goals they seemed destined to reach-just a few days ago- they now resemble a team questioning themselves and unsure of where they are going.

"We lost, plain and simple," Joe Johnson said post-game finishing with 12 points. "I really, honestly can't explain it. I don't even know how that's possible with this being a very important game. So, I really don't know."

A 27-point loss will do that to you, and after competing for the majority of the first half, the Nets crumbled under the defensive pressure that makes the Bulls a title contender, if Derrick Rose is well-of course, and they delivered.

The Bulls registered eight total blocks in this game. Four of those blocks occurred in the 3rd quarter.

And not only did the Bulls defend, they also provided the nail in the coffin that came a quarter early.

With the Nets down by 15, 78-63, and over two-minutes remaining in the 3rd, Bulls rookie Forward, Nikola Mirotic, exploded for three treys in the last minute and 20 seconds to improve what once was a 15-point lead to 22, entering the fourth with a very comfortable 87-65 advantage.

The Bulls never looked back from that point. It was smooth sailing and because of that, Rose, who finished with 13 points was awarded the final quarter off.

"I wanted to play, but at the same time there is nothing wrong with resting," Rose said post-game.

"Not tomorrow I'm going to shoot a little bit more to make up for the five or six minutes that I was supposed to play in the fourth quarter."

This game isn't about what the Nets failed to do, it’s a clear example of who they are not.

They're not the Bulls.

They were not picked in the pre-season as one of the favorites to win it all stemming from the Eastern Conference.

Heck they're not even the Washington Wizards.

They are a team with talent that has struggled to find a healthy level of consistency this entire season, and in the end, that might doom the Nets.

On their best days, they will tell you that they can play and hang with anybody in the league and this is true.

They have recorded wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, the San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks.

And then they have head scratching nights like tonight.

What was working for the Nets the last month and a half did not show up today.

Brook Lopez only scored 13 points on 5-11 shooting.

Brook Lopez 600x591Brooklyn Nets center, Brook Lopez talking with the media

The Nets, as a team, compiled just 12 assists, compared to the Bulls 26 and the Nets shot 36.8% from the field opposed to the Bulls 50% from the field.

It does not sound like a recipe for success and because of that, here we are.

"We really don't have control," Johnson said post-game.

"It's in Indiana's control. We just got to look forward to Wednesday and come out and play."

And that's all they can do.

The Indiana Pacers have two games left to their season hosting the Washington Wizards on Tuesday and at the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

Upon hearing those final two games, you the Nets fan are already thinking loss, but here are the facts: the Wizards have already clinched their playoff berth as the fifth seed as well as the Grizzlies positioned 6th in the Western Conference.

Both of these teams don't have to play hard, but the Pacers do, aiming to make their fifth straight postseason appearance, fueled by the return of their franchise player, Paul George, now PG13.

The Nets are a half-game out of 8th place and now have to resort to prayer.

The Nets cannot look back at the fact that five Bulls scored in double-figures tonight, including Pau Gasol (22 points), Taj Gibson (15 points), Jimmy Butler (17 points), Rose (13 points) and Mirotic (26 points).

The Nets have to look towards Wednesday night as the end-all be-all and handle their business against a team nowhere near contending.

It's their Game 7, unfortunately but honestly, the Nets made it this way.

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