June 26, 2019

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.

Crabbe leads all scorers with a game-high 41 points and; Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen makes the NBA record books

Oh, what a difference a season makes for the Brooklyn Nets! Last night, the Nets played their last home game of the season against the Chicago Bulls and to the delight of the fans and the team itself, the appreciation and excitement were palpable. As the clock ticked off its final seconds, a good number of Nets’ fans stood and applauded, as the Nets with aplomb etched a “W” with a score of 114-105 against the Bulls, bringing the Nets season to 28-53, and no longer in the NBA basement.

Nets players gave the jerseys that they were wearing right off their backs to fans as a show of appreciation for sticking with the team. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson in his postgame press conference with the media underscored his appreciation for the Brooklyn Nets’ fans.

“I thought the fans have been great all year and really want to thank them for their support,” Coach Atkinson started. “We’ve had some tough games, some good games, some not so good games, but they’ve been there. I think this is the unique thing about being in New York, no insult to other markets and all that, but we have true basketball fans here. You see it, you feel it. When you talk to them after the games or when you’re walking around Brooklyn, they really know the game and they appreciate the effort our guys put in and we appreciate their patience, their understanding, and their enthusiasm. I just think it’s awesome. I’m really hopeful down the line we can really reward them with something special, give them a gift.”

Obviously, as a team, a cohesive unit, the Nets gave the fans a gift, but on a night that capped off his birthday, Allen Crabbe gave and received the best birthday gift of all. Crabbe dropped 41 points on the Chicago Bulls, count ‘em, 41 points. Crabbe scored 20 points in the first quarter, which included five 3-pointers, a field goal and three points from the stripe and became just the second player in Nets’ franchise history to make five or more 3-pointers in three straight games. And, in case you’re wondering, Vince Carter was the first Nets player to make five or more 3-pointers in three straight games in the 2008-09 season.

But wait, there’s more! Crabbe went on to score 29 points in the first-half, which marked the most points he’s scored in any half in his career and the most points tallied by a Net in any half this season. For the night, Crabbe tallied 12-of-15 FG, 8-of-11 3FG, and 9-of-9 FT in 34 minutes. He also posted five rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block.

“The ball’s going in the hoop for me,” Crabbe modestly told reporters postgame about his hot shooting streak. “Like I’ve said from the jump, I’ve been capable of doing this all season. Just in the beginning I was missing shots, getting the same shots I was shooting earlier in the season but I just wasn’t making them. So I mean it’s starting to come around for me. I’m starting to find my rhythm, and you know just getting more comfortable within the flow of the offense. Tonight was just a night where, I’m glad I had a night on my birthday, and we got the win. It just puts the cherry on top.”

But Crabbe didn’t make it all about him; he gave plenty of credit to his teammates.

“They trapped the pick-and-roll, and then we played great team basketball,” Crabbe added. “The roll man finds us, or D’Angelo [Russell] found us, Spencer [Dinwiddie] found us, Rondae [Hollis-Jefferson] found me. I got everybody a couple assists tonight, so I think just our ball movement when the ball’s moving like that and everybody’s for it, it’s contagious. Everybody’s having a good time, so I think that was the key for us tonight, and it was a good night.”

The Allen Crabbe mutual admiration society was in full effect.

“I shook his hand after the game and it was still hot, still cooking,” Nets coach Atkinson said about Crabbe’s accomplishment. “I thought his overall game was good, obviously started out hot and kept it going… He’s really finishing the season the way we’re asking the team to finish, on a strong note. These games are important to us so the fact that he kept working on his game, kept improving, it’s really good for us.”

“Big time,” D’Angelo Russell said underscoring Crabbe’s performance. “Could easily come out, B.S. the game. For him, the player that he is to come out and put a performance like that on against anybody is big time.”

Other Brooklyn Nets leading point scorers were Russell with 21 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and two steals in 36 minutes. This makes Russell’s fifth double-double of the season after recording three in his first two NBA seasons combined. Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 20 points, seven assists, and three rebounds in 35 minutes. This was Dinwiddie’s 16th 20-point game of the season, matching Crabbe for the team lead in 20-point games this season.

Nets rookie center Jarrett Allen didn’t hit the double-digit points-scored mark, but he posted eight points, five rebounds and four blocks in 28 minutes. Allen is now in the record books becoming the fifth NBA rookie in the last 20 years (since 1997-98) to block four or more shots in three straight games. Jarrett Allen joins Yao Ming (2002-03), Kenyon Martin (2000-01), Lamar Odom (1999-00) and Tim Duncan (1997-98).

Nets rookie Milton Doyle, who shares his time between the Nets G-League team and the Nets on a two-way contract, showed a glimmer of who could be next. Doyle, a four-year student from Loyola University Chicago, bested the Nets second-unit players in points in the least amount of time by scoring a career-high eight points and one blocked shot in 16 minutes.

In their loss, seven of the Chicago Bulls’ players scored 10 or more points. Former Nets player, Sean Kilpatrick came off the bench for the Bulls and scored 16 points, three rebounds, one assist, and two steals. Bobby Portis, also part of the Bulls’ second unit, tallied 14 points, seven rebounds, and two assists; and Cameron Payne, led the Bulls’ starting five with 15 points, three rebounds, six assists, and two steals.

“I thought we really went out and competed at a really high level,” Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said postgame. “I thought we reversed that from the last game that we played the other night against Brooklyn. It was really good effort for 48 minutes. I thought we moved the ball much better as well. We had a really good film session this morning. We’re still learning. We’re still teaching. I thought our guys responded by going out and playing with great effort tonight. That’s what it’s about. I thought each and every guy that stepped on the court tonight competed at a very high level. That’s what it’s all about for our group right now.”

The Bulls will play their last game of the 2017-18 season, on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, at home against the Detroit Pistons.

The Nets will play their last game of the 2017-18 season on the road in Boston against the Boston Celtics also on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

Tip in: The Chicago Bulls lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, April 7, 2018, 124-96

This might be the best bittersweet news of the entire year if you're an avid Knicks fan and supporter. Reported first by Stephen A. Smith, a journalist and NBA insider for ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, Phil Jackson was approached by New York Knicks management about a possible job offer that would give him the responsibilities as the next Head Coach of the Knicks.

Recent reports have been modified updating that report stating that the Knicks have offered Jackson a front office position as team president of basketball operations. I thought that was current GM Steve Mills' job to lose? What about Assistant GM Allan Houston? But this is how Jim Dolan, President and CEO, Cablevision Systems and Chairman, Madison Square Garden company orchestrates his business. The business that we are most concerned with is the New York Knicks.

As of today March 3, 2014, the New York Knicks are well on their way to a disappointing and deflating representation of an NBA regular season, positioned 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, a 25-40 overall record currently enjoying a 4-game winning streak. A new episode of Marvel Agents of Shield premiered tonight on ABC-TV. If you were unaware, it's a pretty good show.

Let's get this Knicks stuff out of the way because that's how hard it is to watch this team. That's how hard it is to fully invest your spirit into the Orange and Blue. Maybe the addition of Phil Jackson in a management arrangement could ease the pain and give us a substantial amount of faith even though it might not translate to wins on the court immediately. Maybe down the road, we will see the fingerprints of what 11-world championships won as a coach and two championships won as a player could transition into as a talent evaluator and trader.

Maybe down the road, we could see an entire franchise image make-over rivaling the San Antonio Spurs organization, minus the dynasty (it's too early) due to the insertion of one man. Maybe he could be exactly what we need. All of these predictions and future dreams could be a reality if Jackson indeed joins the Knicks organization and is given the space and opportunity to operate, only if Dolan keeps his hands to himself. Only if Dolan owns the team and does not get involved in basketball related ideas influencing management transactions and in that case, he has done enough.

Donnie Walsh, remember him? Presently a consultant for the Indiana Pacers was the former President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks. He only drafted a Hall-of-Famer in Reggie Miller in 1987 and aided the construction of a team in the 2013-2014 Pacers who are the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. As of today, the Pacers are 47-17, the best record in the NBA. What Walsh did for the Knicks made him our messiah, as long as he was employed by the Knicks. In 2008, Walsh cleared $27 million off the Knicks payroll in trading players with large contracts for cheaper and durable pieces. He cleared cap space for the Knicks to have a chance at signing a max player among the summer free agent class of 2010, in which Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Amar'e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson, were all available. He signed Stoudemire to a five-year $100-million dollar deal. The Knicks were back.

They were having a great season until some bumps in the road steered the Knicks off-track momentarily which prompted Dolan to don his basketball hat and command the pursuit of then Denver Nuggets star F Carmelo Anthony. Walsh obeyed his wishes sacrificing the punch of the team while mortgaging the future. Due to health, pride, and superior basketball knowledge Walsh resigned June 3, 2011.

As Walsh left, a man within the organization became his successor in Glen Grunwald, the former Vice President of the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors. He only orchestrated a trade to acquire Vince Carter and drafted Tracy McGrady, giving the Raptors three consecutive playoff berths from 2000-02, which included a trip to the conference semi-finals. In 2012, Grunwald was promoted to general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations for the Knicks. He gave us one of the best seasons to date. In the 2012-13 NBA season, Grunwald manufactured a Knicks team with veterans and role players built around the centerpiece in Anthony to achieve a 54-28 regular season, which clinched their first Atlantic Division crown since the 1994 season and a trip to the second round of the 2013 playoffs.

Like Walsh, Grunwald was let go also following his success. This is all while Dolan has maintained his basketball hat. These moves illustrate that Dolan doesn't allow room to grow or develop, but space to do nothing as your General Manager job will be in jeopardy if he doesn't approve. Now the Knicks General Manager responsibilities belong to a bright gentleman who has never operated Basketball Operations in his life, Steve Mills. The basketball hat is still on. This is the beautiful mind of Dolan at work. Those are his actions.

What does the potential arrival of Jackson mean?

Does it mean that Dolan will actually let the basketball people handle basketball related activities or, is it only a matter of time before he interferes and aides another exit of a great basketball mind?

The mere idea of pursuing Jackson while Mills, the man occupying the current GM position, which hasn't lasted an entire NBA season, says it all.

Dolan can't wait.

You would think he will leave his hands to himself because it is Jackson, the "Zen Master," a man inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach, but we don't know. I have faith in a coach who has won 11 world championships to have an idea in choosing the kind of players he suspects has the characteristics and skills that result in wins on the basketball court. Does Dolan believe so, or is this just to save face and throw someone else to the wolves of the general public and the media capital of the world.

It's interesting, isn't it?

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