BROOKLYN — The Nets deserved to win Friday’s game at Barclay’s Center. The team might not have the talent to match up with the Raptors, but the fight, commitment to attacking the boards and the rim and simple desire to keep at it was something Toronto struggled to deal with all evening.
Brooklyn had a players-only film session after blowing a big lead and losing for the eighth straight time and it appeared to work out. “I thought our spirit was off the charts,” said head coach Kenny Atkinson. “Maybe we’ll have them do the film session the rest of the year. That’ll make my life easier,” Atkinson cracked.
Toronto was also contending with math: The Raptors had won 12 straight against the Nets, who had lost eight in a row overall, so, Brooklyn’s finest were due.
With the bottom of the East a mess, there’s a tiny chance these teams would meet in the first round. Brooklyn would definitely make Toronto work hard, especially if Caris LeVert gets back this season.
Caught up with ex-Raptor Ed Davis pre-game. We discussed how different it is without his close friend DeMar DeRozan around anymore and the deal that sent away fellow UNC alum John Henson after eight years in Milwaukee. Davis was a force for the Nets against his old squad, doing the Dennis Rodman/Ben Wallace act by making a huge impact without even getting buckets. Davis had only a single point, but collected 15 rebounds. No Toronto player had more than seven and the team was outrebounded 60-41. It was a season-high for defensive and total rebounds for Brooklyn.
Boss Davis is now second in the NBA in rebounds per game by a reserve (8.1). He’s such a useful player, despite his limitation. Portland hated to lose him.
Another ex-Raptor, DeMarre Carroll, had a big game, especially at the start.
Kyle Lowry’s game has cratered and the Nets held Danny Green to only two shots, so it’s little wonder Toronto struggled again from beyond the arc (once again other than Leonard, who as Nick Nurse said pre-game, now appears to have his legs into his shots).
Lowry looked stunned and unhappy after his latest rough night at the office. He’s not taking enough shots, he’s not making enough shots and it’s something that needs to be corrected.
“We need to play a little bit harder,” Lowry said.
I asked Fred VanVleet whether a lack of practice time has anything to do with the team-wide shooting and rebounding woes. There was no practice on Thursday, no shootaround on Friday following a busy stretch and Nurse had talked earlier in the week about how practice time is way down league-wide. VanVleet said no practice had no impact on shooting, because “guys get up maybe even more shots when there is no practice,” but said not having the time to work on rebounding might be a factor. Still, Nurse had said in the morning that when they have been in the gym working on things, rebounding has been a major focus of emphasis. Apparently they just aren’t getting the message (or aren’t a capable rebounding team).
It’s funny to see the attention Pascal Siakam now draws in any road venue. Media, whether French or English-speaking, is all over him, jockeying for time with him either before or after games. Siakam appears to be handling it well and is enjoying the spotlight.
Leonard drew a crowd too (for those who waited for him to talk).
Some of the stuff Leonard can do on the court is just so ridiculous and unique. Like when he just suction cups a ball up off of the court for a steal, or makes an absurd save that few other players could make. The only small negative we’ve seen so far might be some of the wobbles he’s shown dribbling late in games, resulting in key turnovers. Hopefully that cleans up, but even if it doesn’t, it won’t stop Leonard from being an MVP front-runner.
1 – D’Angelo Russell
2 – Kawhi Leonard
3 – Ed Davis
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies