Just as the Brooklyn Nets seem to be defining themselves, taking the initial steps needed to separate themselves from the muck that covers the basement floor of the NBA’s standings, where they’ve been the last few years, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Eastern Conference champions, are on Brooklyn’s schedule, an early challenge for this newly revamped Nets team, their fifth game of the regular NBA season.
Brooklyn hosted Cleveland, now featuring Dwayne Wade, last night (Wednesday) at Barclays on Flatbush and Atlantic after a close road loss to the Orlando Magic Tuesday night, a back to back, their first of the season.
The Nets, who had beaten Orlando here at home Friday, 126-121, “two teams struggling to push up in this league, and struggling to make strides,” as they’re described by Brooklyn’s head coach, Kenny Atkinson, had chances to win again Tuesday night. Brooklyn led late in the game. Tied at halftime, 61 up, they entered the fourth quarter nine points ahead, but eventually gave up the lead, losing the game 125-121.
“We had our opportunities,” said Atkinson. “We had a lot of open looks.”
In their first four games, winning two, losing two, Brooklyn has given up an average of 128 points per game.
Cleveland, in town also on a back to back, having played in Chicago the night before, a Cleveland victory, 119-112 over the Bulls, was led by 34 points from LeBron James, who was listed in Tuesday night’s game stats as the team’s point guard. James added 13 assists at this position. Kevin Love contributed with 20 points and 12 rebounds. James, also known as King James and recognized in some circles as the best player in basketball, has been averaging 27 points, approximately 7 rebounds and 8 assists since the season began. Love has averaged close to 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Brooklyn has been getting strong, consistent play from DeMarre Carroll, an excellent offseason acquisition by this team from the Atlanta Hawks. In their first four games, Carroll, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward drafted in the first round in 2009 by the Memphis Grizzlies, has dropped 17 points in three of their four games, averaging 6.5 rebounds.
Brooklyn plays across the bridges in Manhattan tomorrow night against the Knicks, and then hosts the Denver Nuggets Sunday and the Phoenix Suns Tuesday before embarking on a five-game Western Conference road trip beginning next week Friday.