BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The All-Star break couldn’t have come soon enough for the Brooklyn Nets.
They lost their seventh straight game and 11th game in the last 12, 108-103, to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. They say you live and die by the three, but the Nets have proven - all season - that you live and die with your defense.
That’s why they’re 19-40.
“We couldn’t stop them. Defense again I think was our Achilles heel. Thirty-five points is just too many. I just felt like they got too many easy buckets, too many easy looks. There were too many breakdowns. Until we fix up our defense it’s going to be tough to get a W,” said Atkinson.
They led by six entering the fourth. They needed stops late but gave up 35 points on 9-of-20 shooting.
The Nets played well in the first half – the first time we’ve been able to say that in about six games or so. But then, the Pacers took a 71-63 lead in the third quarter.
The thought was simple: Here we go again.
Then, the Nets answered with a 16-2 of their own and took a six-point lead. D’Angelo Russell led the team on the 16-2 run, finishing with 18 points and eight assists as Spencer Dinwiddie sat due to foul trouble.
After starting the game 2-of-15 from deep, the Nets finished 11-of-20 from that point on. However, their first 3-point attempt in the fourth came eight minutes in. It was perhaps one of the biggest ones of the night from who other than Allen Crabbe.
It lifted Brooklyn to a 95-93 lead with four minutes left, but Indiana answered with an 8-2 run capped off by a layup from Victor Oladipo. That was the game. Oladipo finished the night with 25 points.
Allen Crabbe continued his hot shooting with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting. It’s his fourth straight game in double figures. DeMarre Carroll also stayed hot with 21 points and 10 rebounds – his ninth double double of the season. He has eight total in eight seasons prior.
“On the defensive side,” Crabbe said where his game has most improved. “Last year was definitely not a good defensive performance for me, looking at the numbers and stuff. I’ve put a lot of time and energy into [defense] this year, especially when offense hasn’t been clicking for me. I’m just trying to focus on doing it on both sides of the ball.“
As a whole, the Nets shot 42 percent and 37 percent from three.
Kenny Atkinson thinks the team needs that edge back.
“We have to come back with a bit of a chip on our shoulder,”said Atkinson after the seventh straight loss. “We’re struggling right now and see if we can make some money after the All-Star break, we see if we can come back focused. That’s frustrating I think for all of us. We have to turn it around. We have I think 24 games after the All-Star break, see if we can make a little money and play well going into that off-season. I said last year, it’s so important. We did that last year, we really improved after the All-Star break. We’re kind of stagnating right now.”
HEADING INTO ALL-STAR BREAK
The Nets will head into the All-Star break with very little to feel good about. They have developed individual players, but they haven’t meshed the way they hoped. They’re 19-40 at the break and have lost seven straight -- 11 of the last 12. They’re competing with teams, which is great and all, but that doesn’t cut the cake in this league.
If you’re trying to build a winning culture, it’s crucial to see improvement. Sure you can argue that they have just as many wins at All-Star break this year versus last, but they’ve also said since the beginning how they’re better equipped this season.
The Nets are 6-17 in January and February. Plenty of games have come down to the final seconds but they haven’t found ways to close it. The refs haven’t helped. Nor have injuries.
Maybe they’ll do what they did last year and finish the season on a high note. But this was certainly a tough first half.
CRABBE CONTINUES HOT ... AND AGGRESSIVE ... SHOOTING
Allen Crabbe —or A.C., as he’s known when he’s shooting well — continued his hot shooting on Wednesday, hitting 5-of-11 from three and 9-of-16 overall for 24 points. That gave Crabbe 101 points in the last four games or 24.1 points a game. Over that stretch, he’s hitting 42.9 percent from deep, 50 percent overall.
Compare that to the previous four games, when the $19 million man averaged only 9.7 ppg and shot only 31.8 percent from deep and 34.9 overall. Put another way, Crabbe has made 21 3-points in the past four games, compared to 7 in the previous four.
MAKE US PROUD, SPENCE
Although fans campaigned to get Spencer Dinwiddie in the All-Star Game, he didn’t quite make the cut. However, Dinwiddie will be the only Brooklyn Net in L.A. for All-Star weekend.
He will participate in the Skills Challenge and go up against the likes of Joel Embiid (76ers), Al Horford (Celtics), Lauri Markkanen (Bulls), Buddy Hield (Kings), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), Andre Drummond (Pistons), and Lou Williams (Clippers).
“It’s a great honor to go there and participate and represent the Nets organization,” Dinwiddie told BrooklynNets.com. “It’s been a crazy journey…Still, hopefully, a long way to go. Hopefully, one day a real, legitimate All-Star, and a champion and all of those things.”
The event is on Saturday, February 17 at 8 p.m. ET.
For a very different perspective, head on to Indy Cornrows.
- Game Report: Indiana Pacers 108, Brooklyn Nets 103 - NBA.com
- Highlights: Indiana Pacers 108, Brooklyn Nets 103 (Video) - NBA.com
- Crabbe switching hands (Video) - NBA.com
- Crabbe from deep (Video) - NBA.com
- Baseline dunk by Cunningham (Video) - NBA.com
- Russell pushes to Harris (Video) - NBA.com
- Russell passes for the corner three (Video) - NBA.com
- Nets Post Game Plus: IND@BKN (Video) - Chris Shearn - YES Network
- Atkinson on defensive breakdowns (Video) - YES Network
- Atkinson on lineup tinkering (Video) - YES Network
- Russell on loss to Pacers (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- Pacers win 3rd straight, hand Nets 7th straight loss - Adry Torres - AP
- Nets lose another late lead as skid hits seven - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- This is the Allen Crabbe the Nets were expecting - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets enter All-Star break on seven-game skid following loss to Pacers - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ Caris LeVert says he feels a lot better, but there’s no timetable for his return - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets fail to snap losing streak in down-to-the-wire game vs. Pacers (Game Grades) - Sandy Mui - The Brooklyn Game
- INDIANA PACERS 108-103 BROOKLYN NETS: THREE TAKEAWAYS - Alex Labidou - Brooklyn Nets
- Pacers hit All-Star Break at season-best eight games over .500 - Clifton Brown - Indianapolis Star