March 22, 2018

In final game of the season, Nets general manager gives strong signal that Tony Brown won’t be back

Today was the last game of the season for the Brooklyn Nets. They hosted the Toronto Raptors at the Barclays Center, a team the Nets bounced out of the playoffs in the first round in 2014.

I thought there was an outside chance that the Nets could close out the season with a win, particularly since Toronto head coach Dwane Casey told the media in a pregame press conference that the Raptors would be without DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Luis Scola and Jonas Valanciunas. And, adding to the missing key Toronto players, the Nets started the game with a 21-4 run, which made me hopeful.

However, the 17-point lead seemed to vanish in an instant. By the end of the half, Toronto led Brooklyn 49-47; at the end of the third stanza, Toronto had a 12-point lead 78-66. When the music stopped, the Nets had lost to the Raptors 103-96, and in so doing, finished the season with a 21-61 record, the 3rd-worst in the league.

In the loss, Bojan Bogdanovic came up big for the Nets, scoring 29 points on seven 3-pointers. Sean Kilpatrick, a fan favorite, as they are still calling his name when he steps on the hardwood, added 12 points and tied his three career assist record. Donald Sloan scored 11 points, and Henry Sims chipped in 10 points and tied his career-high three blocked shots.

Like the Nets, the Raptors also only had four players in double digits; but they scored more points. Norman Powell led all scorers with 30 points and nine rebounds; Terrence Ross scored 24 points and 10 boards off the bench; Delon Wright added 18 points and seven assists; and Jason Thompson chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds.

Anyone following the Nets this season knows that this season is the team’s worst season in Brooklyn. The downward spiral caused the reassignment of general manager Billy King and the firing of head coach Lionel Hollins on January 10, 2016. Anthony (Tony) Brown, an assistant coach under Hollins was named interim head coach and played caretaker to a team that seemed to be in disarray. As one who followed the team, I don’t think the 21-61 record really reflects the potential of the Brooklyn Nets’ team as it is presently constituted. The team needs a stronger point guard, a defender around the rim, and a coach that has experience developing young players, and particularly millennials. The salary cap is expected to go up to approximately $89 million and with Nets current salary obligations it could have between $42.1 and $48.2 million for free agents. Attracting good free agents to the Nets will depend in part on who becomes the next head coach.

Sean Marks, the Nets new general manager has been in evaluation mode of both players and interim coach Tony Brown. There is no doubt some of the players will not be back next season and certainly Tony Brown won’t be back.

Brown told the media that the Nets’ young players are still being evaluated and was asked if he still believed he was being evaluated by Marks.

“I can’t answer that. I really can’t,” Brown said before Monday’s game against the Wizards. “We’ve got two games left. I feel like the situation has been tough from the beginning, I’ve tried to make the best of it and I’m going to continue to do that the last two games and whatever happens, happens. I’m not worried about my fate with this organization.”

As I watched Brown hustle out the door after the Nets final game against Toronto and there were no final remarks by Nets General Manager Marks, I guess we all have our answer soon enough.

Nets struggled on both ends, but to their credit, held Cavs to 91 points

On Monday night, at primetime, the Golden State Warriors handed the Cleveland Cavaliers their worst home loss of the season, 132-98. Unfortunately for the Brooklyn Nets, the Cavs were their next opponent. It was fun for Brooklyn and all of the fans in attendance who paid to see the stars that Cleveland has to offer, but not for the home team expected to defend their home-court.

From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the Cavs came to Barclays Center on Wednesday night and handled their business, beating the Nets, 91-78. It was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Eastern Conference leaders and while the Nets were within striking distance for the majority of the first half, the Cavs made their statement late in the third and never looked back. After Thomas Robinson’s layup cut the Cavs lead to 10, 63-53 with 4:41 left in the 3rd, Cavs reserve Matthew Dellavedova answered with a two of his own. Moments later, LeBron James added a three with three minutes and a half left in the third.

Dellavedova’s jumper kick-started a 10-2 run, increasing what was a harmless 10-point lead to an 18-point uphill climb for the Nets. To begin the 4th, the only Cavs starter in the game was J.R. Smith. For Lebron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, their night was over. After scoring just three points against the Warriors, Love found his footing and rebounded in a big way.

He scored 17 points like Lebron and also grabbed 18 boards for the second time this season.

“I was just happy with Kevin going out there with a great mindset and getting back to his normal self,” Cavs head coach David Blatt said regarding Love’s bounce-back game. “Those are the kind of games he’s been giving us since the beginning of the year and for me, that is normal Kevin Love.”

He also assisted Lebron on his first two points of the game; a breakaway tomahawk slam. And the highlight play was the result of the vexing Cavs defense the Nets dealt with all night long. The Cavs scored 16 fast-break points and 19 off of turnovers they caused.

“Well, Coach has been pushing us about pushing the tempo, pushing our pace, getting up the floor, and I think we did that tonight,” Lebron said who also had five assists, just under his regular season average of six.

From the start, you could sense the urgency from the opposing team who looked like they were out to prove something and it would be difficult not crediting Golden State’s loss as inspiration.

“I’m sure it had something to do with it, but mostly it had to do with our guys reaching down and recognizing we had to get back on track right away,” said Blatt post-game. “It’s painful to get knocked down but it’s shameful to not get back up if you get knocked down. To the guys’ credit, they got back up and played a terrific basketball game.”

The Nets wish they could say the same. They only allowed 91 points to clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference but the offense wasn’t there.

Outside of Brook Lopez’s 16 points, Thaddeus Young chipped in 14 and Donald Sloan added 12 and nine assists. Wednesday’s loss signaled the Nets fourth straight and interim Head Coach Tony Brown continues to look for answers.

“I didn’t think it was our best effort since I have taken over,” Brown said post-game. “I don’t know if it was just because it was Cleveland, I don’t know, but clearly we can do better on both ends of the floor.”

If playing the best team in the Eastern Conference doesn’t rev you up to play, then what will?

Since Lionel Hollins was dismissed as the Brooklyn Nets head coach, the Nets have shown fight but against the Cavs they did not put forth the kind of effort they displayed against the Toronto Raptors, their previous game. As the offense went, the Nets went and the inability to get a rhythm going in the first half sealed the Nets fate for the remainder of the game.

After Cleveland, the road gets tougher. The Nets will host the Utah Jazz on Friday night who are fresh off of a tough OT loss to the New York Knicks and will then welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat. Nets’ fans expect wins, but more than wins, they expect a fight. It’s up to the Nets to decide whether that will be the norm going forward no matter how rough their season continues to be.

Despite Nets’ loss to Trailblazers, Donald Sloan and Thomas Robinson injected much-needed energy

On Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets caught a break when Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony didn’t suit up. They took advantage of the Knicks lacking their star player and defeated their surging rivals, 110-104, their second game since general manager Billy King and head coach Lionel Hollins were relieved of their duties. On Friday night against the Portland Trailblazers, the Nets weren’t afforded the same luck.

Damian Lillard, a star in his own right, suited up and showed the Nets exactly how a star manages his game. Lillard poured in a game-high 33 points, with 10 assists leading the Blazers to an 116-104 win over the lowly Nets. Lillard scored throughout the game but did most of his best work when it counted the most.

In the 4th quarter, Lillard scored more points than he scored in any other quarter with 14 points and made big plays down the stretch that inevitably sealed the Nets to their fate. With just under eight minutes left in the 4th, Lillard drained a jump shot that cut, what was a brief four-point Nets lead, 92-88 to 92-90. Minutes later, Lillard hit a three to give the Blazers a one-point, 93-92 advantage with a little over seven minutes left till the end of regulation.

“I’m just in one of those grooves where the game is just in flow,” Lillard said. “I just feel good out there and the way we’re playing as a team only makes it easier.”

Lillard’s three would spark a 10-2 Blazers run over the next three minutes featuring five points by Lillard and a three by Allen Crabbe who finished with 19 points. The Blazers laid down the ground work to coast till the buzzer sounded and once again, the Nets tasted defeat. Under interim head coach Tony Brown, the Nets have played inspiring basketball, so far, and tonight was no different.

The Nets competed and were in this game. They gave themselves an opportunity to win but like the majority of their games this year, late game execution, whether it’s defending or scoring, continues to be the Nets biggest issue.

“Down the stretch, we just struggled defending.” Brown said post-game.

And the evidence is proven by the Blazers shooting 42 percent from three (15-35) and 50 percent from the field (47-93).

The Nets actually shot the same percentage from deep but only made eight threes and from the field, the Nets shot 44 percent. On a night where every starter for the Nets reached double-figures including two bench players, the Nets still came up short. Brook Lopez led all Nets players with 25 points and seven rebounds and Joe Johnson scored 15 points with four assists. The most encouraging performances came from Thomas Robinson and Donald Sloan.

Robinson gave the Nets the much-needed energy and fire the team lacked. He made the hustle plays on the boards and had some great moments, especially early in the fourth when Robinson scored five straight points which put the Nets up by four, 90-86, forcing a Blazers timeout with 9:18 left in the 4th.

“Thomas Robinson had a wonderful night,” Brown said. “His energy really helped us get back in the ballgame.”

Sloan on the other hand, gave the Nets great play from the lead guard position. The former Aggie almost posted a triple-double, 15 points, nine rebounds and nine assists and seemed to be the answer as the Nets starter going forward opposed to Shane Larkin who struggled all night long, finishing with two points.

There are a lot of things the Nets need after losing their G.M. and head coach all in the same week and recent reports state that the Nets are looking to fill the void. The Nets are linked to Bryan Colangelo and coach, Tom Thibodeau, known for running his players into the ground. In Thib, the Nets will have one of the best coaches in the NBA. They would have an identity, and that’s something worth investing in.

General Manager Billy King Reassigned

The Brooklyn Nets today reassigned General Manager Billy King within the organization and have parted ways with Head Coach Lionel Hollins.

For the remainder of this season, Assistant Coach Tony Brown will serve as interim head coach. The GM position will remain open until a replacement is named.

Surprised? Not really. Anyone who has been paying close attention to the Brooklyn Nets knew the hammer was going to fall. In fact, many wondered what took so long. Hollins is the Nets fourth and longest serving head coach since the team came to Brooklyn in 2012.

During the 2012-13 inaugural season at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Nets fired Avery Johnson on December 27, 2012, 28 games into the season and Johnson had just won the NBA’s Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for November just weeks prior.

P.J. Carlesimo took over on an interim basis and the Nets made it into the NBA playoffs, but lost Game 7 in Round 1 on May 4, 2013, to the Chicago Bulls 99-93. On Sunday, May 5, 2013, the Nets fired Carlesimo who had a 35-19 regular season record with the Nets.

On June 12, 2013, Nets General manager announced that newly retired New York Knicks player Jason Kidd would be the new head coach for the Brooklyn Nets. Now, to be fair, Kidd was an all-star, NBA champion, an Olympic Gold medalist and known to be a coach on the floor, but that didn’t stop the haters from complaining about Kidd’s selection. Kidd’s tenure with the Nets was no walk in the park.

After a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day, Kidd’s record with the Nets dropped to a disappointing 9-19. At the time, Kidd was sharing coaching duties with Lawrence Frank, and at the start of 2014, Kidd took full control of the coaching duties creating an acrimonious relationship with Frank. On February 3, 2014, Kidd was named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for January. On April 1, 2014, he was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month a second time for the month of March. Kidd also took the Nets to the second round of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs.

On July 1, 2014, the Milwaukee Bucks secured Kidd's coaching rights from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for two second-round draft picks in 2015 and 2019. Unlike the two previous coaches, Kidd wasn’t fired; he left for the Milwaukee Bucks because the Nets would not give him more managerial control.

On July 2, 2014, in walks veteran NBA coach Lionel Hollins. The Brooklyn Nets announced a four-year deal with Hollins and with the Nets announcement of his departure today, Hollins is the longest serving Brooklyn Nets coach thus far.

“After careful consideration, I’ve concluded that it’s time for a fresh start and a new vision for the direction of the team,” said Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov. “By making this decision now, it enables our organization to use the rest of the season to diligently evaluate candidates with proven track records. It’s clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership. With the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching. We have learned a great deal during the past six years and our experiences will guide us for the future. Following the consolidation of team ownership last month, I can assure you that I’m more determined and committed than ever to build a winner.”

Hopefully, going forward Prokhorov will be more pragmatic with his future moves because his previous strategy of “win at all cost” has not proven to be a winning formula.

Brook Lopez won the battle of the brothers; Thaddeus Young had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and the ghost of Joe Johnson returned

The Brooklyn Nets took advantage of New York Knicks minus forward Carmelo “Melo” Anthony on Wednesday night and beat the Knicks 110-104, snapping a season-high 10-game home losing streak. It was the Nets’ third straight home victory over the Knicks.

In a game with lots of story lines, first is Nets’ interim coach Tony Brown’s first victory overall. Brown inherited the interim coach position on Sunday when former Nets head coach Lionel Hollins lost his position.

Perhaps, the Nets going into this game believed that they could win, Melo or no Melo, considering they have won five of the last six games against the Knicks. Perhaps, it was a new head coach with a new philosophy and new demeanor, but the Nets seemed to play with more energy and more swagger.

Bojan Bogdanovic came off the bench in the first quarter on three-point fire; knocking down 3 three-pointers in three minutes 11 seconds of play. Overall, Bogdanovic scored 14 points and four rebounds in just under 23 minutes of playing time.

Nets center Brook Lopez won the battle of the brothers, as he was more productive than his brother Robin Lopez. In 29:32 minutes of play, Brook scored 20 points, five assists, and eight rebounds to Robin’s nine points and 12 rebounds in 30:40 minutes of play.

Brooklyn Nets forward Thaddeus Young had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Shane Larkin, who didn’t start in place of injured Jarrett Jack, put up 17 points, five assists, and two rebounds. Joe Johnson, who is still the subject of trade rumors and looked like the Joe Johnson of previous seasons, he made two key jumpers in the final 2 minutes and finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Point guard Wayne Ellington chipped in 10 points, two assists, and two rebounds.

The electricity in the air at the Barclays Center was palpable. Celebrity row actually had celebrities. R&B singer Maxwell was in the house promoting his upcoming concert with rapper Nas. New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who was cheered at the opening of the Barclays Center, was roundly booed; probably by disappointed Giants fans. Even former Knicks player Andrea Bargnani got booed, but surprisingly, not Shane Larkin another former Knick. At times, there was a battle of the fans, as Knicks fans made their presence known. Nets fans may have been outnumbered, but most of the evening, they were not shrinking violets.

"Games like this, it's going to help turn our fan base around," Brown said. "If we continue to play in this kind of fashion, we'll fill the seats, but we've got to show them first. It'll take time, but tonight was a good start."

In defeat, Knicks forward Derrick Williams came off the bench and led all scorers and tied his career high 31 points. Other Knicks players scoring in double digits were Arron Afflalo with 18 points; Jose Calderon added 16 points and wonder-kid Kristaps Porzingis, who shot just 5 for 17, chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds.

"On nights like this when we don't have (Anthony), I can't have a shooting night like this," Porzingis said. "I've got to step up. I've got to score the ball more."

Looks like the stars aligned for the Nets.

Next up for the Nets will be the Portland Trailblazers on Friday.

Nets loss to Spurs comes one day after organizational shake-up

The San Antonio Spurs entered the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Monday night to take on the Brooklyn Nets with a seven-game winning streak since December 26th. On the other hand, the Nets, already without injured starting point guard Jarret Jack for the rest of the season and injured defensive player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who is not scheduled to return until March, were now playing for the first time without Lionel Hollins as their head coach.

Hollins parted ways with the Nets organization yesterday and assistant coach Anthony Brown took the reigns as head coach for this contest and for the remainder of the season. One of Brown’s first decisions as head coach was to insert Wayne Ellington and Donald Sloan into the starting lineup.

Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge got off to a hot start by scoring ten straight points at the open of the contest, but the Nets limited the Spurs’ scoring opportunities by rebounding and capitalizing on fast break opportunities. Newly minted point guard Shane Larkin used his quickness to penetrate the defense to score points or to create scoring opportunities for open teammates. By being effective on both sides of the ball, the Nets kept the score close, trailing by seven points at halftime.

San Antonio extended its lead to 21 points by the end of the third quarter with a balanced attack aided by five offensive rebounds and allowing none for the Nets. The Spurs never relinquished the lead winning the game 106-79.

Brook Lopez won the battle of the centers, holding Tim Duncan to eight points for the evening while scoring a team-high 18 points. LaMarcus Aldridge led all scorers with 25 points.

The Nets fell to 10-28 and Coach Brown offered this perspective for the rest of the season by stating “I think our guys’ mentality right now is pretty good, they want to get in, they want to work and you know try to use that to my advantage.”

Kobe Bryant leads in NBA All-Star voting; Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza Get Nod for Baseball Hall of Fame; LRMR Dumps Johnny Manziel; and Beyonce set to take the stage at the 2016 NFL Super Bowl

In Episode 56 of What's The 411Sports, there is a discussion about the NFL Wild Card playoffs: Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans; Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals; Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings; and Green Bay Packers and Washington.

The Brooklyn Nets fired its head coach Lionel Hollins and reassigned General Manager Billy King.

in baseball news, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza are elected into the 2016 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired head coach Lovie Smith by telephone.

Alabama beats Clemson in the College Football Championship game.

Reportedly, the UFC will announce that Holly Holm will defend her bantamweight championship against Miesha Tate on March 5, 2016, in Las Vegas.

Maverick Carter, CEO, LRMR announced that the company dropped its representation of Cleveland Browns quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel.

In the Dog-House this week are three Ooltewah High School basketball players that raped a fellow teammate.

The Nets drop 8th straight at home with 91-74 loss to Raptors

It’s a bit unsettling, but it appears that the Brooklyn Nets are in free-fall motion, losing their eighth straight home game against the Toronto Raptors. 91-74.

The Nets haven’t won at home since they played the 76ers on December 10; which is quite troubling. Also, the team’s 74 points are the lowest points scored all season. Somebody ring the alarm bells.

Toronto came into this game, having lost two games, but are still first in the Atlantic Division and tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta. The game started off decently enough for the Nets, considering they are playing without Jarrett Jack and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. They ended the first quarter with only a seven-point deficit (24-17) and 4 of 7 shooting from behind the arc in the first half.

In a game that was tied three times and with three lead changes, it became increasingly clear that the Nets just didn’t have the firepower to keep it close even in defeat. Three Nets players scored in double digits, Brook Lopez led all scorers with 24 points and 13 boards; Bojan Bogdanovic, who is rumored to be on the trading block, scored 12 points, and Thaddeus Young chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds. Newly-minted starting point guard Shane Larkin put up nine points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Four bench players scored a total of 13 points.

Joe Johnson’s level of production has been dismal this season. He seems to have been missing in action in far too many games. At least this game, he had a stated reason for only scoring five points and two rebounds – a bruised left quad. Johnson was scoreless until hitting a 3-pointer in the third quarter.

On the other hand, the Raptors, a team that the Nets have matched pretty evenly in the last several years, bounced back from its two losses rather convincingly. Jonas Valanciunas returning from a broken finger lifted Toronto with his 22 points, 11 rebounds. Kyle Lowry added 17 points from field goal range, along with eight rebounds and six assists, and DeMar DeRozan appended 15.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins summed up the Nets loss this way, “Their quickness just dominated. We couldn’t move the ball from side to side; they took away a lot of our ball movement. We had spurts where we were able to do it, but we weren’t able to do it consistently. We missed a lot of easy shots and it got us in a hole and then we battled back and in the second half they just kept grinding us out.”

With Jack out for the season, Hollis-Jefferson out until March, and Johnson providing minimal production, it’s going to be an ugly season for Brooklyn.

The Nets play Orlando on Friday.

Nets Offense Fails in the 4th Quarter; Johnson and Larkin Miss Key Shots

In the 4th quarter, with a little over a minute left until the end of regulation, Brooklyn Nets Joe Johnson and Shane Larkin missed back-to-back threes that would have cut what was a nine-point, 83-74 deficit to six. Even with a made shot, the Nets would still have had an uphill climb in capturing the win. However, the missed shots put a spotlight on the struggles the Nets have had this season in late-game offensive execution.

On Friday night, Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic each scored 20 points and handed the Nets an 83-77 loss, their ninth straight loss at home and 3rd straight to the Magic.

It was the Nets 3rd straight loss (10-26), losing seven of their last ten games while the Magic (20-17) snapped a four-game losing streak. Once again, making plays late when they matter the most, has doomed the Nets. With 6:48 left in the 4th quarter, Brook Lopez shot a floater off of a penetration feed from Larkin.

He missed, received his own rebound, fought against Vucevic and got a hook-shot to go, tying the contest at 68 all, two of his team-high 17 points. Following the bucket, the Nets were held scoreless from the field for the next five minutes. At the most critical juncture of the game, the Nets would miss their next three shots, commit two turnovers and worst of all, fail to stop Orlando’s youth movement.

Aaron Gordon and Oladipo took turns nailing the coffin, featuring two threes’ from Oladipo and four points from Gordon. Evan Fournier who scored 13 points also added a three in the midst of a 13-2 run until Thaddeus Young stopped the bleeding with the Nets second FG in 5 minutes. During the Magic’s run, Lopez connected on two free-throws while the Nets offense fell flat.

“…In the last quarter, we just couldn’t make a play, couldn’t make a shot and again we come away with a loss,” Nets head coach Lionel Hollins said post-game also claiming that he sounds like a broken record.

To begin the game, the Nets looked like the team that would eventually lose, falling to an early double-digit lead in the first quarter. In the second and third, the Nets found better results. They battled back by increasing their defensive pressure, got out in transition and shot 80 percent from the free-throw line.

They even led by five towards the end of the third and early in the fourth. But they couldn’t hold onto it and the credit goes to the Magic’s defense for not allowing the Nets to build a substantial advantage.

“Our defense got a little bit tighter,” Magic head coach Scott Skiles said following the win. “We were playing so hard on the defensive end that I felt it took a little juice out of our offense. We were getting it up the court a little too slow. The clock winding down on us, but we were able to make a couple of shots and you need to make those.”

According to Young who scored 11 points and nine rebounds, the Nets just have to make plays.

“We just have to execute. Execute, make shots,” Young said post-game. “We had great opportunities at the basket.”

Unfortunately, the Nets had trouble finishing their opportunities at the basket. Another reason why the Nets had trouble stopping Orlando was their 3-point percentages for this game. Oladipo, who led the Magic in made threes with four, and the rest of his team drained 13 threes of 27 attempts, good for 48 percent while the Nets could not match, shooting 31 percent from long-range and 39 percent in field goals.

After another game, another loss, the Nets are stuck asking about the same problems, and in the end, have nothing to show for it.

“It gets frustrating, but you have to keep continuing to push it, keep continuing to push it, keep continuing to play and keep trying take positives from these games, Young added.”

Until the Nets win the fourth quarter, nights like Friday night will continue to occur and it gets even tougher on Monday night when they host the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs.

Celtics’ Crowder's Big Night Dooms Nets; Shane Larkin Stumbles in Starting Role in Jarrett Jack’s Absence

As the temperature drops in Brooklyn so has the climate surrounding the Brooklyn Nets. On Saturday in a win against the Boston Celtics, 100-97, the Nets lost their starting point guard Jarrett Jack for the remainder of the season, to a torn ACL which he suffered late in the third quarter. On a freezing Monday night in Brooklyn, the Boston Celtics took advantage of Jack’s absence and just added to what has become a miserable season for the Barclays Center’s only professional basketball club.

The Celtics' Jae Crowder and all of his dreads scored a team-high 25 points and six rebounds, leading the C’s to a 103-94 victory over the Nets, winning the other half of the home-and-home series. Crowder started his big night as early as the first quarter, scoring 14 points which helped facilitate the Celtics (19-15) in creating distance, ending the first 12 mins of the game with a 37-22 lead. Despite his strong start, the play’s Crowder made towards the end of the game hurt the Nets (10-24) the most and proved to be the deciding factor in the games result.

When the Nets made their attempts to threaten the Celtics dominance in this game, as well as their chance at winning, Crowder answered the bell. Joe Johnson, who did a little bit of everything scoring 21 points with six rebounds and four assists, drained a big eight-foot jump shot with three mins left in the 4th which cut the Celtics lead to five, 90-85. In response, Crowder sinks a long-range bomb, increasing the C’s lead to eight, 93-85 with a little under three mins left in the final quarter.

“He’s hit big shots for us all year,” Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens said reflecting on Crowder. “He’s not afraid of the moment and he stepped up.”

A minute later, the Nets would find themselves needing a stop, trailing by six, 95-89 and there was Crowder again, making the Nets pay-converting a driving layup and an and-1 to put the C’s up for good 98-89. And for the exclamation point, the Celtics next two points highlighted Marcus Smart, who drove to the rim with a minute left in the 4th and added a beautiful-acrobatic-reverse layup, avoiding Brook Lopez, which put the C’s up by nine, 100-91.

Late game execution continues to be a problem for the Nets but there is no doubt that Lionel Hollins and co. did not get off to the start that they would have hoped to. In the 1st quarter alone, the Nets committed eight turnovers which led to 10 Celtics points.

“We turned the ball over a lot, and that got them out on the open court kind of playing the game at their pace and so, obviously, it’s tough to put yourself in that position and come back from it,” Brook Lopez said post-game, scoring 19 points to the Nets cause.

Fortunately for the Celtics, their strong start was enough to propel them to the win, as their first quarter alone was more points than the Nets could ever rival throughout their entire game. To their credit, the Nets did outscore the C’s in every quarter following the 1st, but the damage was done.

“We just couldn’t make enough plays to get all the way back,” a disappointed Hollins said post-game. Hollins also does not want to associate the Nets lack of ball-control to the loss of Jack, stating that “there is always a rationalization for anything bad that happens” and simply, “we have to keep working and get better.”

In Jack’s place, Shane Larkin assumed the starting role and didn’t have the most dazzling performance like his counterpart, Isaiah Thomas, who added 19 points and seven assists, the second leading scorer on the C’s.

Larkin struggled to create for himself and for his teammates, ending his night with four points, two assists while criticizing his lack of aggressiveness to his low production.

“I’ve just got to go out there and play my game and stop thinking so much and just play,” Larkin said post-game. “I’ve shown I can do it. I’ve had great games this year, I’ve had not so good games this year. I’ve just got to stay being aggressive and just be consistent for my team and it’ll be better for sure.”

Larkin’s comments could be the theme of the Nets profile as a team this year. One of the few bright spots on the Nets continues to be the play of Thaddeus Young who chipped in a double-double, 23 and 15 rebounds to lead all Nets scorers. Jack's injury will force the Nets to take turns being the playmaker, especially in the backcourt, which could result in Johnson handling the ball a little more and tonight was a perfect example of that.

The Nets will host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at 7:30 pm.

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