January 19, 2019

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.

 

A bright spot, rookie Isaiah Whitehead led all Brooklyn Nets scorers with his career-high 19 points in 29 minutes

The San Antonio Spurs arrived in Brooklyn for Monday evening’s matchup with the Nets as a banged up group. Pau Gasol (left hand), Manu Ginobili (back spasms), and Tony Parker (foot) are all on the mend right now. Even Kawhi Leonard (hand), who will be starting his second straight All-Star game in February, is resting for precautionary reasons. One would think that the Nets would be getting a break not having to deal with Leonard’s many talents, but this is the Spurs, and for this storied franchise, drafting and finding quality talent across the globe is a significant part of their fabric.

Without their stars, the Spurs displayed that global talent through their depth as Patty Mill’s big second quarter set the stage for an 112-86 rout over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. The Nets were competitive in the first half for the most part but with three minutes left until the half, Brooklyn had a melt-down defensively and the Aussie had a lot to do with it. With the Spurs nursing a slim one-point lead, 39-38, Kyle Anderson would find Mills at the top of the key, wide-open, for a three that improved their lead to 42-38 with 2:41 remaining in the quarter.

After Trevor Booker’s one-handed dunk brought the Nets to within three, 43-40, Mills slipped around a screen to drain a mid-range jumper assisted by former New York Knick David Lee, which put the Spurs up five, 45-40 with 1:30 left until halftime. A couple plays later, following two Nets turnovers, Mills would be involved, contributing to three straight Spurs baskets, finding Dewayne Dedmon off a pick-n-roll, draining a 20-foot jumper and another three. He scored nine points in the final three minutes of the quarter, helping the Spurs to build a ten-point 52-42 lead heading into halftime.

“The game plan is still the same,” Mills said post-game in regards to not having their stars. “What’s expected of us is the same. So it’s just that opportunity.”

And I am assuming what is expected is excellence. Midway through the third, the Spurs defense buckled down and frustrated the Nets into bad shots, which included Booker attempting a three at the 6:33 mark, which is not what the Nets want on offense.

Prior to Booker’s miss, Jonathan Simmons 19-foot jumper which put the Spurs up 68-54 with 6:43 left till the fourth jumpstarted an 11-2 run that signaled the end of any competitiveness this game displayed earlier during the first half.

The Nets average 105.8 points per game and the Spurs held them to 86 points total. They also forced the Nets to shoot a horrendous 5-25 from three-point range equivalent to 20 percent. Despite the defensive turnaround favoring his teams’ effort in the second, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich still wants more from his team early in games.

“I think it’s been our pattern really,” Popovich said post-game. “The first half we usually play pretty mediocre defense for some reason, I haven’t figured it out yet. Second half we turned it up defensively and that’s usually the key for us because it fuels the offense, so it’s just a matter of trying to make stops.”

Brook Lopez, the Nets leading scorer (20.3 ppg) scored eight first quarter points and two points each in the second and third quarters, finishing with 12 points and four rebounds for the game. He would go scoreless in the fourth but by that time the game was already decided. The Spurs frustrated Lopez down on the block, so much so that the big collected a technical foul within the first minute of the second quarter.

The Nets, collectively, had a tough shooting night (39 percent) and Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson believes that their recent stretch of playing three games in four nights could have something to do with it.

“I think we fought in New Orleans, Charlotte, but tonight we just didn’t have the requisite energy,” Atkinson said during his post-game press conference. “…I just think their energy level was at a much higher level than ours.”

As far as positives for the young group, Isaiah Whitehead led all Nets scorers with 19 points in 29 minutes but was a minus 20 on the floor which needs to be better. The steady Sean Kilpatrick scored 17 points and Spencer Dinwiddie, who started chipped in 13.

What’s missing in all of this is the play of Caris LeVert. The rookie’s play of late has been inspiring and in their ninth win of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans last Friday, the former Wolverine scored 17 points. The Net’s could’ve used his length and size against someone like Mills on the perimeter who finished with 20 points on the evening.

“We can’t blame it on (LeVert) and Joe Harris for that matter being out,” Atkinson said post-game. “We have a roster of 15 and we expect the same type of energy from our guys that are going to take those minutes.”

It’s pretty clear that the Nets are not the Spurs. The Spurs can afford to have as many stars out and still play at a top-tier level. Even without, Gasol, Parker, Leonard and Ginobili, Lamarcus Aldridge still played and Mills is a champion.

Aldridge (16 pts 9 rebs), Anderson (14 pts), Dedmon (10 pts), Lee (15 pts), Davis Bertans (11 pts) and Jonathan Simmons (11 pts) would all join Mills in double figures which illustrate a luxury that the Nets just don’t have.

Against the Miami Heat (15-30), who will invade Barclays on Wednesday night, the Nets will need all the help they can get.

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