BROOKLYN, N.Y. — How do you get people to stop talking about the off-court drama?
You beat a tough team on your home floor.
They’ll have another chance on Monday. The 38-6 Milwaukee Bucks came into Brooklyn and handed the Nets their third straight loss, 117-97, Saturday night at Barclays Center. The Nets are 1-3 since Kyrie Irving has returned to the lineup; 0-3 against above .500 teams.
At the midway point, the Nets are five games below .500. Last season they fell to as many as 10. They’re 2-10 in the last 12 contests,
“Credit to Milwaukee,” said Kenny Atkinson. “I think they are playing as good as anybody I’ve seen in a while in this league. So just have to give them credit, give Bud (Mike Budenholzer) credit. They’re playing great basketball.”
This was never really a game. Milwaukee had Brooklyn’s stars locked down with a focus on defending the perimeter, dropping in the pick-and-roll and forcing turnovers. And then, there was Giannis Antetokounmpo. He went off for 29 points and 12 rebounds, though he turned the ball over eight times — tying a career-high.
It was 23-22 in favor of the Bucks near the end of the first quarter. They closed out the quarter on a 7-0 run, 30-22 at the end of the first quarter, and never looked back. That same 7-0 run extended into a 16-2 run in the second quarter, bringing Milwaukee’s lead up to 15.
When Kyrie checked out, the Nets were down two. By time he checked back in, they were down 15.
And so, the rout continued all throughout the night. The fans were heard booing as the Nets lost their third straight and fell to 18-23 on the season. Granted, Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan were both out, but who knows how much that would have changed.
Kyrie Irving finished with a team-high 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting, while Caris LeVert was 3-of-13 and Spencer Dinwiddie was 3-of-12. The positive? Nicolas Claxton finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes.
“It was great defense,” said Giannis afterward. “He (Kyrie Irving) obviously wasn’t making the shot he usually makes, but I think they did a great job. Brook (Lopez) did a great job being up there making a tough finish. But we know he’s going to be a guy that makes 20 shots, but we’ve got to try to just make the stop as we can and that’s what we did tonight and why we were able to get this win so easily.”
The Nets turned the ball over 17 times leading to 16 points for Milwaukee. They shot 49 3-pointers and made 15 of them. That’s 30.6 percent. Compare that to Milwaukee, who dished out 30 assists and shot 17-of-37 from three.
“I’m going to give him a compliment, Brook Lopez is a great defender down there,” said Jarrett Allen. “On the pick-and-roll, he sits back and that kind of takes away my roll, and for me I was trying to stick to screens to get our guards shots.”
It won’t get any easier. They play Philadelphia on Monday and then the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
It is what it is.
HOW BAD THE NETS OFFENSE?
Really bad. Really, really bad. Nets fan Chris Lavinio compiled the awful stats following the Bucks game.
Over the last fifteen games, Brooklyn’s offense has been atrocious.— Christopher Lavinio (@ChrisLavinio) January 19, 2020
- 4-11 (same as Atlanta and New York)
- Last in ORTG
- 25th in Net Rating
- 29th in TS% (only NY is worse)
- 29th in EFG%
- 7th in 3PA but 30th in 3P%
- 4th in FTA but 28th in FT%
And you won’t find much hope in the next segment. Intrigue, yes, hope no.
ATKINSON TALKS KEVIN DURANT
Kenny Atkinson on Kevin Durant:— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) January 18, 2020
“He’s progressing, he’s working really hard... He’s a quiet personality but when he needs to say something he says it. He’s a guy who likes to work in the shadows.”
But, this, of course...
Kenny Atkinson essentially ruled out the idea of Kevin Durant returning this season.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) January 18, 2020
Despite Atkinson’s statements that Durant isn’t expected back this season, it’s worth noting that the star forward was in Barclays Center around 5 hours before tipoff, having a closed-door workout, doing agility work on the court with a trainer. #Nets #NBA— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) January 18, 2020
Durant has worked out before games before, but it’s usually at HSS Training Center, or on the practice court at Barclays. Today the #Nets closed off the bowl & let him go on the main court. When I asked him if he had a good workout, he just smiled & said “Yes, sir! Yes, sir!”— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) January 18, 2020
And about what he likes about the team through 41 games, Atkinson talked about the culture...
“I love our locker room. I love the team we have. We’re not where we want to be right now, but I have great confidence we’re going to get there.”— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) January 18, 2020
- Kenny Atkinson, when asked about what he likes about the team at the midway point
Listen to the full audio here:
THE BIG POSITIVE
Nicolas Claxton filled in for DeAndre Jordan, out for at least a week with a dislocated middle finger, and looked good, very good in fact.
In 19 minutes, the 6’11” rookie scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots. More importantly, Claxton looked confident on both ends of the court.
“Once he gets stronger, he’s going to be a heck of a player for us. He’s a competitor, a high-level competitor. We’re really bullish on him.”
“I just have to be ready when my name is called,” said Claxton. “That’s kind of the situation that I’m in. So wherever I am, if I’m in Long Island or if I’m here with the team, I just have to do my best and continue to develop.”
It was the first time the 21-year-old Allen and 20-year-old Claxton had combined for the Nets. Four years ago, they played against each other in the FIBA U18 tournament in Valdivia, Chile, Allen for Team USA and Claxton for the US Virgin Islands, a game the US dominated, considering their roster featured Trae Young, Kevin Porter Jr., Kevin Huerter and Markelle Fultz as well as Allen.
The USA won 107-63 in a blowout. Both Allen and Claxton scored seven points but Allen out rebounded Claxton 10 to six. If you’re really ambitious, here’s the video of the full game. Allen’s the guy with the Afro.
As he has in the past when the Bucks are in town, former President Clinton sat courtside Saturday with his friend and supporter Marc Lasry, the Milwaukee owner. This time, though, was joined by Joe Tsai and Oliver Weisberg, the Nets interim CEO who also runs Tsai’s Hong Kong-based investment vehicle.
4️⃣2️⃣ pic.twitter.com/mcMyaKVhkw— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 18, 2020
Later, Clinton and Tsai were seen in rapt conversation — we need a transcript. And when he posed with the Nets Hero of the Game, a retired US Army colonel, the crowd went wild. Clinton retreated from the court at halftime, then returned for the second half. While his teammates were warming up, Jarrett Allen took the opportunity to talk with the former president.
| Saturday Night Looks— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 19, 2020
NETS IN THE TOP-10 FOR JERSEY SALES
For the first time since 2014, the Brooklyn Nets are in the top-10 of NBA merchandise sales. Turns out, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are pretty popular guys in this league. Irving and Durant placed 10th and 12th in the NBA, respectively, in individual player jersey sales. We haven’t seen this since the Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson team.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s new Brooklyn Nets jerseys are the 10th and 12th best sellers, respectively, in the NBA.— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) January 17, 2020
Nets as a team sit 10th. pic.twitter.com/Dk5LEfIUWS
That’s WITH only 14 games being played between the two. Next year should be even higher.
KYRIE CLEARS THE AIR
Whether you agree with Kyrie Irving’s quote after Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia, he probably shouldn’t have went on camera to say it. The Nets like to handle things behind closed doors and if depending on how you read it, some might say he singled players out.
Whatever. He cleared up his comments at Friday’s practice.
Kyrie Irving told reporters that he explained to his team what he meant by his comments and didn’t mean to single anybody out. Admitted he probably could have added a few more names to his comments to avoid controversy.— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) January 17, 2020
Spotlight is on the Nets, microscope is on Kyrie Irving. People can agree or disagree whether he’s right or wrong but the only thing that matters is how they play on the court.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) January 17, 2020
Show leadership there, win games with the group on the floor and nobody will question what’s said.
Win games and nobody will question what’s said. Time to move forward...
Next up: 76ers at home on Monday, 3:00 PM ET.
For a different perspective, head on over to BrewHoop, our Bucks sister site on SB Nation.
- Box Score: Milwaukee Bucks 117, Brooklyn Nets 97 - NBA.com
- Recap: Milwaukee Bucks 117, Brooklyn Nets 97 (Video) - NBA.com
- MIL@BKN: Nets Postgame Plus (Video) - Nancy Newman & Frank Isola - YES Network
- Kustok and Ruocco on Brooklyn’s loss to Milwaukee (Video) - YES Network
- Atkinson on Nets’ loss to Bucks (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At? (Video) - YES Network
- Bucks win easily again, beat Nets 117-97 for 6th straight - Brian Mahoney - AP
- Giannis, Bucks easily dispatch of Nets - Larry Fleisher - Reuters
- Nets prove Kyrie Irving right in ugly loss to Bucks - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Kevin Durant’s eye-opening progress comes with somber Nets reminder - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets show why they can’t afford to face Bucks in first round of playoffs - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets reaffirm: Kevin Durant won’t be back this season - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Daily News’ Nets midterm report card: Spencer Dinwiddie is at the head of the class - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets’ offense struggles as Bucks romp in Brooklyn - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Durant inspires Nets as rehab progresses, Atkinson says - Greg Logan - Newsday
- BUCKS 117, NETS 97: BROOKLYN FALLS TO LEAGUE-LEADING MILWAUKEE - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- GALLERY: NETS VS. BUCKS - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS VS. BUCKS: JARRETT ALLEN, NIC CLAXTON, AND KENNY ATKINSON TOP QUOTES - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- Suffocating defense leads to another Bucks romp - Mike Velaquez - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel