Brooklyn Nets

Blazers edge Nets in offensive shootout

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Blazers edge Nets in offensive shootout

The Blazers offense came to play in Brooklyn, but so did the offense of the Nets.  So needless to say, this game wasn’t without its fireworks.  Portland shot 50% from the floor, the Nets shot 50.4% from the floor, but in the end it was big plays from Jusuf Nurkic and the Blazers defense that sealed the deal. Nurkic missed a layup late, but immediately stole the ball from Caris Levert and was fouled as he scored on the layup. It was that play that gave the Blazers the inch they needed to leave Brooklyn with a win.

Final Score: Trail Blazers 127 – Nets 125

The Blazers have a quick turnaround as they head to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Wizards tomorrow afternoon. Coverage starts at 3:00 PM on NBCS Northwest and the NBC Sports App.

Jusuf Nurkic's fourth quarter benching is perplexing

Jusuf Nurkic's fourth quarter benching is perplexing

Of all the head-scratching things that happened on Friday during the Blazers’ 101-97 loss to Brooklyn – and there were plenty of them – none is more perplexing than the fourth-quarter benching of Jusuf Nurkic.

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Just a few reasons why the Trail Blazers lost to the Brooklyn Nets

Just a few reasons why the Trail Blazers lost to the Brooklyn Nets

Throughout the game Friday night, even while the Trail Blazers were suffering through a rough third quarter, my feeling was that Portland still had control of the game. No matter how poorly the Trail Blazers played, I couldn't envision them actually losing on their home floor to the Brooklyn Nets.

But they did.

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How does such a thing happen? Let me count the ways:

  • The most obvious thing first: Jusuf Nurkic didn't play during the final 11 minutes of the game. The Nets went with a small lineup so Portland obliged them by going small, too. In other words, the Nets dictated Portland's lineup throughout the fourth quarter. Nurkic was having a big game and that's the way the Nets lose -- by allowing the other team's big man to score virtually at will. This madness has got to stop. The league's fascination with "going small" is at epidemic proportions and it's fine if you have Draymond Green to defend small men or even Al-Farouq Aminu. But Aminu is out injured -- again -- and not available. And Green doesn't play for Portland. Yet, there the Blazers are, struggling on offense with less than their best lineup on the floor down the stretch of the game. Portland doesn't -- even on a platoon basis in the final minute -- turn the tables and make a little man try to defend Nurkic.
  • All of this happens, of course, because the Trail Blazers are so predictable on defense that teams just go to a high pick-and-roll late in games and wait for Portland;s inevitable switch on the pick. It happens every time and the opposing offense can get that big-on-small matchup whenever it wants. Heck, Portland even switches when there is no pick -- just players changing places. The Nets wanted it virtually every time down the court late in the game, leaving poor Davis, the lone big, to try to keep up with Russell. What would be wrong with changing coverages once in a while? Why not blitz the pick and roll and take the ball out of Russell's hands? I have no idea. But if you're going to just switch that pick-and-roll every time, you might as well leave Nurkic in the game because he'd be just as ineffective as Davis at guarding Russell.
  • Portland's starting guards were just 13-for-32 from the field. The Blazers, as a team, were only 7-for-20 from three-point range. That won't cut it. This team's ball and player movement continues to hit lulls during games. If that cannot be corrected, it's going to be a long season. The last thing I thought we'd be worried about this season with this team is the offense.
  • I'm getting a bit tired of mentioning this, but the Trail Blazers are last in the NBA in fast-break points per game. The only real reason for this to happen is that this team's coaching staff doesn't want it to run. Fast breaks don't happen by accident -- they have to be practiced. Obviously, a decision has been made that the risk (turnovers and rushed shots) is not worth the reward (easy, uncontested baskets). I just don't see how you survive in the NBA without at least an average number of fast breaks. Portland averages 4.6 points per game off the break. Golden State gets 27.2.

The Trail Blazers are better than a 6-6 team, given the schedule they've played so far. I expected much more than this and I think everyone connected with the team did, too

Blazers have become exercise in stress management

Blazers have become exercise in stress management

The Trail Blazers play again tonight, which likely means another exercise in stress management for the fan base.

Eight times in the Blazers’ 11 games, the score has been within three points in the final 90 seconds of the game. Portland is 4-4 in those games, having beaten New Orleans, Phoenix, the Lakers and Oklahoma City, while losing at Milwaukee, at Utah, and at home against the Clippers and Memphis.

It reminds me of what I’ve often heard NBA coaches say over the years, that sometimes the results aren’t as important as how the team is playing. And right now, although the Blazers’ 6-5 record might seem pedestrian or even disappointing, I think it’s important to note how the team is playing.

The defense has been solid. Steady. The Blazers enter tonight with the NBA’s fourth best defensive rating, ranking behind Boston, Oklahoma City and Memphis. They are the NBA’s top rebounding team. And they rank sixth in net rating behind Golden State, Boston, Houston, Toronto and Oklahoma City.

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All of those are strong indicators that the Blazers are playing the right way.

And people are taking notice. I spoke with Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson on Thursday and he brought up Portland’s defense.

“Their defense has really improved this year – credit to Terry (Stotts) and his staff,’’ Atkinson said. “I know I go through it, ‘Man, we are really bad on defense and let’s work on that’ then your offense suffers. But they look like a strong team again.’’

The improved defense of Blazers’ guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum has been magnified locally, and I wondered if it resonated to Atkinson on film.

“I feel it. I feel the thrust. I feel the intensity,’’ Atkinson said of the guards’ defense. “The competitiveness, especially in pick and roll defense. We have a saying: ‘Make them feel you on defense’ …  and you feel them. They are definitely more physical. That’s one of the big differences I see.’’

The Nets (4-7) are playing their fourth game in a five-game trip – they lost at the Lakers, won at Phoenix, then lost at Denver --  but they are coming off two days rest since playing in Denver.

Today's Blazers' links:

How and where to watch tonight's Blazers-Nets game.

Former Blazers guard Allen Crabbe returns with Brooklyn, still searching for consistency.

Dwight Jaynes asks, Who is Jusuf Nurkic?

Trailblazers.com has reaction from Blazers' players about Crabbe's return.

Mike Richman points out the Blazers have been better with Nurkic on the bench.

Allen Crabbe returns to Portland, still searching for consistency

Allen Crabbe returns to Portland, still searching for consistency

When the NBA schedule was announced in August, Allen Crabbe said the first thing he did was look for when Brooklyn was playing at Portland.

Crabbe was traded from Portland to Brooklyn in July, and as it turns out, Friday’s game at the Moda Center hasn’t been the only time Portland has been on Crabbe’s mind.

“I remember them just like yesterday,’’ the former Blazers guard said Thursday on the eve of his return to Portland. “After my games I go home and turn on League Pass and see if I can catch the rest of their games. I’m still checking in on them, still watching them play, watching the guys.’’

He said it was “weird” to arrive in Portland and head to a hotel, and not his former home, and he said it was hard not to reflect on his four seasons in Portland, during which he developed from second-round bench warmer to a $75-million asset.

“I mean, I miss it, I’m not going to lie,’’ Crabbe said. “Coach (Nate Tibbets) did a good job developing me, teaching me how to be a professional … how to stick with it. No negatives in me being here at all.’’

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In Brooklyn, Crabbe has become the Nets’ starting shooting guard the last four games after being eased back into major minutes following offseason foot surgery and a sprained ankle on the same foot in training camp.

“He is what we call a system fit: he fits everything we are trying to do ,’’ Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He’s a super-efficient player … he’s doing great. Love him.’’

Crabbe is averaging 11.1 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range in 24.7 minutes a game.

Being back in Portland for Friday’s game isn’t the only sense of familiarity Crabbe has been experiencing. His old bugaboo – consistency – has been haunting him in Brooklyn as well.

His production has been all over the board, scoring as high as 25 points at the Lakers, to going scoreless and taking only two shots in 20 minutes against the Knicks. His last game, Tuesday at Denver, he had three points on 1-of-8 shooting.

“That’s one of the biggest things I’ve been trying to change is the inconsistency part,’’ Crabbe said. “Having 20 one night, then the next night having three or four. So that’s just something I’ve been really trying to focus on … having a mindset of being aggressive. I think when I’m aggressive and get shot attempts up, good things happen.’’

The Nets (4-7) are prepared to give him the opportunity. Atkinson said “the sky is the limit” for Crabbe and that the franchise is “really high on him” and wants him to pursue becoming an elite player. Crabbe says he feels their confidence and realizes he has what he once longed for – a starting role where he is a focal point of the offense.

“It’s everything an NBA player would want – to be a key piece to a team,’’ Crabbe said. “I don’t think it was going to happen (in Portland).’’

The biggest adjustment he says is playing without looking over his shoulder, and not worrying about mistakes. The coaching staff in Brooklyn, Crabbe says, tells him to take risks.

“They are always telling me I’m the type of player who plays not to make any mistakes, but here that’s the only way you are going to grow – take risks, get out of your comfort zone, do things you normally wouldn’t. They are giving me the freedom to do that.’’

Blazers: Crabbe deal is a gain... but is another trade on the way?

Blazers: Crabbe deal is a gain... but is another trade on the way?

According to ESPN, the Trail Blazers have traded Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn for forward Andrew Nicholson, then plan to waive Nicholson and will stretch Nicholson's contract.

The move lowers Portland's luxury tax bill by about $44 million, according to sources, and creates a $12.9 million trade exception that will be available for one year.

But the money side of this is only half the story. Portland parts ways with Crabbe and I can't say that's a bad move.

To me, Crabbe was the epitome of a good shooter but not a good player. For the most part, he disappeared in key times, had trouble defensively and was not a good passer. His contract was too large and it's ironic Portland traded him to the team that gave him that deal in the first place.

I believe this trade is a precursor to some other move or moves. The Blazers now have more flexibility. As I said earlier today, I still do not see any three-way deal with Houston on the horizon. Whatever is going on doesn't have anything to do with that proposed trade.

 

Blazers trade Allen Crabbe to the Nets

Blazers trade Allen Crabbe to the Nets

The Portland Trail Blazers have agreed to a trade with the Brooklyn Nets, swapping Allen Crabbe for Andrew Nicholson, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

According to Wojnarowski, the Blazers intend to waive Nicholson and stretch his salary to help create some cap relief.

In waiving Nicholson and stretching his contract, the Blazers will take just a $2.8 million cap hit over the next seven seasons.

For Brooklyn, they finally got their man. The Nets offered Crabbe a 4-year, $75-million offer last off-season, only to see the Blazers match the deal. 

Crabbe had been speculated in many trade scenarios, but a trade kicker in his contract made him hard to offload. However, Crabbe intends to waive his kicker, worth an extra $5.7 million, for the Nets. 

For the Blazers, they finally get to shed one of their bloated contracts and move closer to creating some cap flexibility. According to Bobby Marks, the Blazers luxury tax bill drops from $48.3 million to just $4.4 million with Crabbe off the books.

The Blazers need to create as much cap space as possible if they hope to retain 2018 free agent Jusuf Nurkic, and this move helps them do just that. The trade also creates a $12.9 million trade exception for the Blazers that expires next summer.

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OFFICIAL RELEASE FROM TEAM: 

The Portland Trail Blazers have acquired forward Andrew Nicholson from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for guard Allen Crabbe, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.  

“Allen has been a model teammate on the court and ambassador for the organization off the court,” said Olshey.  “He will be missed by all of us who shared the last four seasons with him. We wish him the best of luck as he continues his career in Brooklyn.”

Nicholson, 27, has averages of 6.0 points (46.7% FG, 32.1% 3-PT, 77.3% FT), 3.0 rebounds and 0.4 rebounds in 285 games (36 starts) over five seasons with Orlando, Washington and Brooklyn.

Selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft out of St. Bonaventure, Nicholson (6-9, 250) split the 2016-17 season with Washington and Brooklyn, posting averages of 2.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 9.0 minutes in 38 games.

Crabbe holds career averages of 8.3 points (45.6% FG, 41.1% 3-PT, 84.8% FT), 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 226 games (24 starts) over four seasons with the Trail Blazers. Acquired in a 2013 NBA Draft day trade with Cleveland, Crabbe ranks third among all-time franchise leaders with a career 41.1% mark from three-point range (minimum 100 3-pointers).

Follow us on Twitter and stay tuned to CSNNW for all the latest information. 

 

No room for error: Blazers lead Nets by one at halftime

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USA TODAY

No room for error: Blazers lead Nets by one at halftime

The Portland Trail Blazers are looking to win their second game in a row, while the Brooklyn Nets are looking to not lose their second in a row.

The first quarter was all Portland, with the Blazers holding the 37-27 lead at quarter's end. But the story of the game at that point wasn’t the effectiveness of the offense, it was the health of Allen Crabbe.

With 1:46 remaining in the first quarter Crabbe fell to the floor with an apparent left leg injury and had to be assisted off the court. The Blazers announced he was questionable to return with a left leg contusion. Much to the delight of Trail Blazers fans he returned to action in the second quarter.

The second quarter saw the Blazers’ offense stall, scoring just 21 points. The Nets took advantage. As the first half came to an end the Nets had trimmed the deficit to just a single point, and made a ball game of it.

Through two quarters the Nets are shooting 54.8% from the field, 53.3% from deep, and 100% from the free throw line. Portland, on the other hand, is shooting 59% from the field and 60% from deep, but just 54.5% (6 for 11) from the free throw line.

Halftime score: Blazers 58 – Nets 57


Top performers of the first half:

Trail Blazers

Points:
  CJ McCollum, 12

Rebounds:  Jusuf Nurkić, McCollum, Lillard, & Crabbe, 2 each

Assist:  Damian Lillard, 4


Nets:

Points: Sean Kilpatrick, 14

Rebounds:  Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, 5

Assist:  Caris LeVert and Sean Kilpatrick, 3 each

CJ McCollum gets hot, helps Trail Blazers beat Brooklyn and end losing streak

CJ McCollum gets hot, helps Trail Blazers beat Brooklyn and end losing streak

BROOKLYN -- Damian Lillard on Friday said he could sense the Trail Blazers were close to clicking, and on Sunday the Blazers did just that against the Brooklyn Nets. 

Behind a breakaway third quarter that mixed a blend of hot shooting and active defense, the Blazers beat Brooklyn 129-109 at the Barclays Center to end a three game losing streak. 

CJ McCollum had 33 points, including a third-quarter stretch when he hit three three-pointers in a row, and Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard led a productive bench that helped the Blazers (8-7) score a season high.

Brooklyn (4-9) lost its fourth straight despite 21 points from center Brook Lopez.  

Part of the Blazers' third-quarter run was fueled by its much-maligned defense, which entered the game with the NBA's worst defensive rating. Portland had seven consecutive stops in the third, which helped push an 89-78 lead to 97-78.

The Blazers scored a season-high 70 points in the first half, thanks in large part to a prolific effort from the bench. Turner hit 7-of-9 shots and scored 14 and Allen Crabbe (11 points) and Meyers Leonard (9 points, five rebounds). All told, the bench combined to shoot 11 of 15 in the second quarter, when the Blazers scored 38 points and extended their 32-29 lead after the first quarter by three points.

Turner finished with 19 points -- his most since joining Portland in the offseason -- while Leonard added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Both Leonard and Crabbe hit four three pointers and the bench rotation went 18-for-30 from the field before the end of the bench played the final four minutes. 

But it was the offensive excellence of McCollum, who made 12-of-19 shots -- including 6-of-10 from three-point range -- that fueled Portland. It was McCollum's fourth game this season scoring 30 or more points.  His third quarter push allowed Lillard to sit out the fourth quarter after scoring 18 points in 28 minutes. 

Ed Davis started his second consecutive game at power forward, and for the second straight game the Blazers outrebounded their opponent, which hadn't happened since opening night. Davis had three points, six rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes. The Blazers' defense also held Brooklyn to 39.8 percent shooting

Next up: Blazers at New York, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday (CSN)

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So should Blazers match the Crabbe deal or not?

So should Blazers match the Crabbe deal or not?

This may not be as simple as it seems. The Brooklyn Nets have offered Allen Crabbe a $75 million, four-year contract that could, with bonuses, creep up to $83 million. The Nets have also apparently promised Crabbe a starting job, which would seem to almost always come attached with that sort of salary.

The promise of being a starter complicates this a bit. But there are several considerations here for the Trail Blazers as they make a decision whether to match that offer:

  • What's it going to take, dollar-wise, to keep Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless on the roster? Portland's other two restricted free agents may also get sizeable offers and decisions may have to be made about perhaps allowing one of the three players to leave. I do know one thing -- of the three, Crabbe seems to be the one the team most wants to retain.
  • The idea of Crabbe wanting to become a starting player could complicate this thing. Can he be convinced that the minutes he'll get in Portland will be close to starters' minutes? Does he really know what he's getting himself into with a franchise like Brooklyn -- which figures to be a very poor team? If the money is the same, isn't it better to be a reserve on a good team than a starter on the worst team in basketball? Can Crabbe be convinced of that?
  • Do you take a chance on bringing back a player who would rather be somewhere else?
  • What does Paul Allen think? Don't think for a moment this isn't a factor. He's writing the checks and he needs to sign off on the big deals -- particularly one that would guarantee a bench player nearly $20 million a year for four seasons.
  • It's also important to remember that if Crabbe is retained, he becomes just another big asset for a deal sometime down the road. Yes, he probably has a trade kicker in that contract, but it would still be possible to get a player for him at some point. Acquiring and retaining assets is very important in attempting to rebuild a franchise.
  • I just have to say this: Man, Brooklyn is a little crazy. Crabbe has value at both ends of the court, but this is a player who has never been a starting player over an extended period of time. I cannot imagine offering him this kind of coin without a little more evidence that he can handle the responsibility.

I will wrap this up with my own hunch here: I think they will match. Crabbe has become an integral part of the roster and I don't think they will let him walk.