Welcome back, Nets basketball! Welcome back, good starts, close finishes and falling just short!
Even with a largely new squad, the Nets started the 2018-19 season with shades of familiarity to past seasons. Brooklyn had a strong opening effort, with varying results as the game progressed. Yet, the failure to convert at the end of the fourth in a one-possession game was all too similar to last season.
Being outscored 32-25 in the third quarter was a tough hurdle for Brooklyn to overcome, but the night did not start with despair.
In fact, the game started with an 8-0 Nets run and a 29-point first quarter. Brooklyn was locked in defensively, distributed the ball well and worked a 20-12 advantage in the paint early on.
Nets fans have Jarrett Allen to thank for that early paint dominance. Not only did he put up 17 points on the night, but he had two three-pointers and four blocks.
Did we mention the four blocks?
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 17, 2018
Allen showed great promise in the game, but so did Caris LeVert, who finished with 27 points. Both LeVert and Allen showed immediately how they can be effective offensively and how they improved in the offseason.
The Nets, who led by as many as 12 points in the first half, allowed Detroit to go on an 11-0 run to make it a tie game at halftime.
Turnovers were an issue for the Nets, who committed 17 for the game. The Pistons capitalized on those mistakes, garnering a clear edge in points off turnovers with 26 compared to the Nets’ 14.
While the Nets have improved their depth this season, a handful of players were missing for the night. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (left adductor rehab), DeMarre Carroll (right ankle arthroscopy), Allen Crabbe (left ankle sprain), Shabazz Napier (right hamstring strain) and Alan Williams (right ankle sprain) were all out, leaving Brooklyn with a shorter rotation.
The Nets could have used some fresh bodies in a meager third quarter, during which the Nets were not as engaged and allowed Detroit to go on an early 9-0 run. The Pistons built a double-digit lead in that frame, while the Nets worked to bring the deficit down to seven before the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the Nets keep up with, and nearly overcome, the Pistons, but big buckets were tough to come by.
Above all, the struggle from distance hurt Brooklyn’s chances at a comeback. The Nets shot 5-of-27 from three on the night, good for 18.5 percent. New lumberjack Joe Harris had his struggles with a 1-of-7 performance from three.
But of course, in true Nets fashion, Harris made his only three of the game just when the Nets needed it, to bring Brooklyn within one point of the Pistons with one minute to go. While the Pistons dominated the paint down the stretch, Brooklyn continued to battle and finally got a shot from distance to go down.
The Nets had two chances at the end of the game to take the lead for good. First, Allen attacked the paint to take the lead, but he could not finish inside as he lost control on his drive. Then with a second chance, LeVert lost control and the ball went out of bounds off Brooklyn with eight seconds to go.
A one-possession game became insurmountable for a team that had luck in the paint all night (66 points scored inside).
Blake Griffin had a hand in shutting down the Nets down the stretch, finishing with 26 points. Meanwhile, Andre Drummond added 24 points and 20 rebounds. It was a good day for the big men, who feasted in the paint.
The positives: Brooklyn battled back from a double-digit deficit and arguably should have won this game. The negatives: Players like D’Angelo Russell struggled, and the Nets just did not have enough.
Still, the Nets can bring this momentum with them back at home in Barclays Center.
Now Brooklyn moves onto its home opener against the Knicks on Friday night. The Knicks put up 49 points in the second quarter alone in their home opener on Wednesday, so… welcome back, NBA.
Caris LeVert Shooting Guard
27 PTS (10-18 FG, 0-2 3FG), 4 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO
You could see the growth Caris had from the offseason in how effective he was offensively. Caris helped carry the team with his ability to create shots and get to the line.
It would have been great for the Nets if he got his shot to fall in crunch time, but he got caught in the trees of Detroit’s lineup. Still, an impressive first game from Caris.
Jarrett Allen Center
17 PTS (6-10, FG, 2-3 FG), 10 REB, 4 BLK, 2 TO
Nets fans could tell how excited Jarrett was not to be a rookie anymore from the first plays of the game. Big block? Check. Three-pointers? Check.
Jarrett was the only Net with multiple three-pointers on the night!
That may not become a common occurrence, but Jarrett impacts the game at a high level. Again, he could not get the timely shot down the stretch, but he looked very comfortable tonight.
Spencer Dinwiddie Point Guard
23 PTS (10-18 FG, 0-3 3FG), 6 AST, 4 REB, 1 STL, 4 TO
Spencer was relatively quiet throughout the night, but he was effective in penetrating the paint and running the two squad (and eventually taking D’Angelo’s place with the starters).
Dinwiddie may have been a good option to go to down the stretch, but he dished the ball well and gave his team a shot.
D’Angelo Russell Point Guard
8 PTS (3-9 FG, 1-4 EFG), 5 AST, 2 REB, 1 STL, 2 TO
It was an underwhelming night for D’Angelo, who eventually found himself sitting on the bench as the Nets made their final run. Brooklyn needs D’Angelo to be a factor for them to win close games like this, and he wasn’t there this time.