March 02, 2024

Caris LeVert leads Brooklyn Nets to victory over the New York Knicks with 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists

There’s no party like a Brooklyn Nets party when the Brooklyn Nets party doesn’t stop! Now that’s a take on the saying about an old-school party. In this case, on Friday night, the party was at the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets didn’t stop even against adversity and kept it going until the end. It was a close call, but at the end of the night, the Brooklyn Nets dropped their crosstown rival, the New York Knicks, 107-105, improving their record to 1-1 and 1-0 at home.

Now, this was no walk in the park for the Nets, as they saw a comfortable 12-point lead rapidly diminish to seven in the second quarter ending the first-half 50-57. Overall, the lead changed 13 times and nine times the score was tied. The moral of this story, don’t lose faith when your lead evaporates, keep grinding until the end.

From 5:57 minutes in the third quarter until the end, the Nets found themselves in the hole seven times. Here’s where you can visualize everyone on their feet, at 15.9 seconds left in regulation, Knicks center Eric Kanter hits a free throw to tie the game at 105-105. The Nets call a timeout. The game resumes and Nets guard Caris LeVert hits a driving layup over Knicks forward Lance Thomas, which put the Nets up 107-105 with one-second left in regulation. The Knicks call a timeout and when the play is resumed, Knicks guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. hurls a 31-foot three-point jump shot with .4 seconds left on the clock, the ball bounces off the rim. The Knicks rebound with .1 seconds left. The horn blows before any action could be taken. The Brooklyn Nets eke out a win and Nets fans have a 107-105 home victory to celebrate.

Statistically speaking, to show the significance of the Nets’ start tonight, Brooklyn shot .700 (14-of-20) in tonight’s first quarter, leading the Knicks 33-24. The Nets’ .700 first-quarter field goal percentage was higher than any of their first quarter field goal percentages all of last season and marked Brooklyn's highest field goal percentage in an opening period since April 4, 2017, at Philadelphia (.714).

Additionally, the Nets edged out the Knicks 22-14 in assists.

The Nets also out-rebounded the Knicks 55-36 in tonight’s win led by double-digit rebound performances from center Jarrett Allen, who is a sophomore in the NBA and center Ed Davis. Allen posted 11 rebounds; while Ed Davis, who the Nets acquired from Portland over the summer, is known as an efficient rebounder and is already paying dividends. Davis came off the bench crashing the boards with 10 rebounds and five points in 14 minutes. Since entering the league (2010-11), no player has recorded more rebounds off the bench than Davis (2,949).

The Nets’ improved rebounding did not go unnoticed by Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

“Huge, I thought we did a really good job,” Atkinson stated in a way that Nets reporters don’t get to hear too often. “They had that one stretch in the fourth quarter where they grabbed five or six in a row, but besides that, guys were really helping us there. Jarrett Allen had 11 rebounds. That’s what we asked of him. We asked him to improve. I think against Detroit he had 10, so he’s heavy into 10, 11, 12, 13 rebounds to make another step as a defensive player.”

In contrast to the Knicks, the Nets had four starters scoring in double digits and two off the bench. Caris LeVert, whom most believe will have a transcendent season, barring injury, led the Nets with a career-high 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists.

Coach Atkinson could not have been more pleased about LeVert’s performance tonight.

“Heck of a job,” Atkinson stated in a way that reporters covering the Nets don’t get to hear too often. “Heck of a battle on both ends of the floor. I’ll tell you what, I thought he made, especially at the end, made (Tim) Hardaway (Jr.) work for his shots. He was our leader tonight, and he said after the game ‘Coach I owe you one from the Detroit game.’ So, great game, but that was a heck of a finish at the end.”

VIDEO: In His Own Words: Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson

 

As one could imagine, with seconds left on the clock and a win or lose play outcome on the line, LeVert was singularly focused on the victory when he saw Atkinson had drawn up the play for him.

“I just wanted to get the shot that I wanted,” LeVert told the media postgame in the locker room. “I wanted to get the last shot. Unfortunately, I think there was a second left, but I wanted to get the last shot. I wanted to get the shot that I wanted to get.”

LeVert's performance didn't go unnoticed by Knicks head coach David Fizdale.

"He's a good player," Fizdale stated. "He's an explosive athlete. He can really put the ball on the floor. His three-ball has improved tremendously. He's competitor. I know that he and Timmy (Tim Hardaway, Jr.), that old Michigan connection, that gets them going. That kid can play and I think he's going to have a breakout year this year."

VIDEO: In His Own Words: Brooklyn Nets Guard, Caris LeVert

LeVert’s tag-team partner, center Jarret Allen, contributed 15 points and four blocks in addition to his 11 rebounds. Allen’s four blocks tonight followed his four blocks in the season opener in Detroit on Wednesday, making him the first player in franchise history to record four blocks in each of the first two games of a season. He also became the first player since Tim Duncan (2003-04 season) to register a double-double and four blocks in each of the first two games of an NBA season. The last three NBA players to do so prior to Duncan were: Dikembe Mutombo (1999-00), David Robinson (1994-95) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1992-93). Can you say Hall of Fame greatness in the making!

Additionally, for the Nets, D’Angelo Russell scored 15 points and piled on six assists and five boards. Two players scoring 11 points each were Joe Harris and rookie Rodions Kurucs of the secondary unit. Kurucs also added five rebounds, while Harris added four boards. Spencer Dinwiddie, who was rumored to be a trade option for Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler, chipped in 10 points, six assists, and three rebounds off the bench.

Kevin Knox, a rookie that the Knicks selected in the 2018 NBA Draft, whom Knicks Nation is watching like a hawk, showed flashes of brilliance again in his second NBA game. Knox was one of three Knicks players that scored in double digits, scoring 17 points and six rebounds off the bench. The other two Knicks scoring leaders were starters Enes Kanter, as expected, with 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. also with 29 points. It’s important to note that Hardaway Jr. had no assists.

And, if you’re keeping Nets vs. Knicks overall scoring records, the Knicks only have four wins over the Nets at 98-94.

Nets fans revel in this victory because your team will be on the road tomorrow for Game Three of this NBA season and the first of its 14 back-to-back games for the 2018-19 Season. The Nets will take on the Indiana Pacers, a team that many prognosticators believe, based on last season’s performance, will be an NBA Eastern Conference playoff contender.

See you at the Barclays Center on Sunday, October 28, 2018, at 5:00 p.m., the next time the Nets play at home when they take on the NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.

Raptors Backcourt, Minus Lowry, Sends Nets To 11th Straight Loss

The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Toronto Raptors, Tuesday evening, for the second time in less than a week. In the last contest, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan would combine to score 48 points, leading Toronto to a 19-point win, 132-113. Unfortunately for the Nets, they would endure the same fate, this time around, losing 119-109, but instead of DeRozan teaming up with his usual backcourt mate in Lowry, and unlikely hero came off the bench to start and torched the Nets perimeter defense.

Corey Joseph, who started in Lowry’s place (rest), scored a career-high 33 points, supplemented with DeRozan’s monster performance of 36 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to lead the Raptors to their third straight victory over the Nets for the season.

At halftime, Joseph scored nearly half of his game total, with 18 points, but in the third quarter, the Raptors, thanks to their fifth year guard, would start to pull away after a competitive first half.

Toronto (28-13) would trade baskets with the Nets for the first six minutes of the third, and after Jonas Valanciunas’s layup, which put the Raptors up by two, 73-71, Joseph went on a mini-scoring run all by himself. He would score five straight points, including a desperation three, at the top of the key, with the shot-clock expiring.

“(Kyle) provides a lot of scoring for us,” Joseph said post-game. “I knew that slot would be missing today, so I took it upon myself to try to be more aggressive, try to be aggressive and take what the defense gave me.”

It was only five points and put the Raptors up 78-73 at the five-minute mark, but following that make, Toronto would get into a groove defensively, forcing three turnovers in the next two and a half minutes. Their five-point lead became nine, as the Raptors would transform those turnovers into points, capped off by a breakaway fast-break dunk by Valanciunas, off of a Randy Foye turnover.

In the final period, Joseph would continue terrorizing the Nets, scoring 13 points, blowing by his defenders, making them look silly. But this particular fourth quarter, where games are decided, belonged to DeRozan.

Joseph scored more than his All-Star teammate’s 10 points but the difference is, it seemed like DeRozan made shots exactly when Toronto needed them. When Sean Kilpatrick cut the deficit to six points on two made free-throws, 99-93, DeRozan answered on the other end converting a floater, spinning off of his defender, to put the Raptors back up by eight for the second time in the quarter, with 7:54 remaining.

With the Nets threatening to cut into the lead, once again, down nine at the 6:50 minute mark, 103-94, DeRozan would hush the crowd again. He drained a 10-foot jumper at the free-throw line increasing the Raptors lead to 11 and on their next offensive possession, DeRozan struck again, hitting a floater over the defense, which put Toronto up 13, 107-94 with six minutes left in the quarter.

Prior to DeRozan’s big second half, he struggled early, shooting three of 14 from the field for 16 points heading into the half.

“I just kept playing the same way,” DeRozan said post-game. “You know, getting good looks and just going out there and I know it’s going to come, it’s just more so being patient, not really worrying about the misses.”

For the Nets, Brook Lopez led all scorers with 28 points and Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert, all scored in double-figures chipping in 11 and 14 each respectively.

In the first half, the Nets were clicking on both sides of the ball, led by Lopez and Jefferson. Lopez scored 19 of his 28 points in the first half, highlighted by a couple of spin, step-through layups in the post that were Hakeem Olajuwon-esque on Valanciunas. Jefferson had some nice moments, taking his defender off the dribble, scoring 10 points at the half and as a group the Nets were looking good up 61-58.

In the third and fourth quarters, things went downhill for the Nets on offense due to the Raptors increased defensive pressure on Lopez. Toronto keyed in on the big-man, sending extra defenders and made sure to get the ball out of his hands. On several occasions, turnovers ensued and the Nets, collectively, just couldn’t find a rhythm on offense to prevent their 11th straight loss.

Despite their issues, the Nets know the season is far from over and can only do one thing: keep playing.

“You got to keep going,” Lopez said post-game. “We have a young group and we’re learning a lot on the fly so you got to just stay positive. We’re doing a lot well, just has not translated in the win column. I think we’re definitely going to break through soon. We just got to give ourselves a chance every night.”

One of the bright spots on the Nets has been LeVert’s play as of late. The rookie who missed most of training camp, scored 14 points with four assists and took the challenge of going up against DeRozan, at times, on both ends. His play has sparked the debate of whether he should be taking teammate, Joe Harris’s minutes and head coach Kenny Atkinson acknowledged that it is something that he has to mull over going forward.

“He’s getting more confidence,” Atkinson said regarding LeVert’s play. “He’s got the athleticism at that position that we need and the size and the quickness. I think, again, once the game slows down a little more, he’s even going to get better.”

The Nets are now 8-33 on the season, and haven’t won since last year in late December against the Charlotte Hornets.

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