The preseason turned out to be a crystal ball for the Brooklyn Nets’ first game of the season. The team swung the ball in their new motion offense, heaved three-pointers at will, and ultimately played some pretty dismal defense on the way to a 122– 117 loss to the division rival Boston Celtics.
Unfortunately, the game wasn’t as close as the score infers as the Nets fell behind by 20 points in the fourth quarter. In fact, it was only when head coach Kenny Atkinson cleared the bench in the fourth quarter that the trajectory of the game changed. Quarterbacked by tremendous effort from Trevor Booker and the Olympic version of Bojan Bogdanovic, the end of the bench brought the game down to one possession before falling just short.
Down by just three points miraculously, the Nets got good looks for Bogdanovic and Justin Hamilton to tie things up — but it just wasn’t meant to be. However, the Nets did set one record tonight as they fired up 44 three-point attempts, a new franchise record.
But if the Nets want to remain competitive, they’ll need to figure out that defense or just play Chris McCullough, Isaiah Whitehead, Joe Harris, Bogdanovic, and Booker all 48 minutes, I guess.
18 PTS, 43 FG%, 40 3PT%, 3 AST, 3 RBS, 2 TOV
The Nets’ prized free agent just didn’t look like himself all night. The ball seemed to be slipping from his hands on several possessions and he didn’t display the same confidence he’s had since donning a Nets uniform.
After a pristine preseason, maybe an off-night is to be expected. Despite good fantasy numbers, the Nets will need more from their point guard as the season progresses.
19 PTS, 58 FG%, 50 3PT%, 2 AST, 10 RBS, 1 TOV
It wasn’t all perfect, let’s make that clear. Hamilton’s defense leaves a lot to be desired, and he fails to attack pretty clear mismatches on the offensive end, but you have to respect the effort. He worked the offensive boards, shot with confidence from three, and set a NBA career-high in points. And despite the numerous defensive miscues, the Nets were clearly better with him on the court tonight.
Plus, if you didn’t think his corner three to tie the game was going in, you’re clairvoyant, because it looked like a tie ball game.
21 PTS, 53 FG%, 5 RBS, 1 STL, 2 TOV
Bogdanovic got the start tonight after Randy Foye was ruled out and the team allowed him to take advantage of the serious discrepancy in size over Isaiah Thomas. Wonderfully, we saw the Olympics version of Bogdanovic in all his glory early on.
However, then he went quiet for a bit, as Jonas Jerebko’s aggressive defense slowed him down. Same old inconsistent Bogdanovic. . . or so we thought, until Olympics Bogie helped key a frantic fourth quarter run and nearly tied the game with less than a minute left.
The Olympics’ leading scorer was also the Nets’ leading scorer tonight.
8 PTS, 80 FG%, 5 AST, 7 RBS, 3 STLS, 1 TOV
It would have been real easy — and understandable — to take the night off when Atkinson cleared the bench midway through the fourth quarter, but that’s just not Booker’s style. Playing alongside Harris, Bogdanovic, and the very end of the bench, Booker keyed an extended run that brought the Nets within one possession.
Brooklyn is going to absolutely love him.
16 PTS, 40 FG%, 44 3PT%, 3 ASTS, 4 RBS, 2 STLS, 2 BLKS, 3 TOV
The Nets’ generic, off-brand Kyle Korver built off an impressive preseason — in which he shot 65% from downtown — by opening up the regular season by hitting for 40% from three and scoring 16 points. Although he can have bouts of defensive lapses — but who on the Nets doesn’t? — it didn’t hurt that he was on the court when the team went on its only extended run.
It’s early, but the Nets may have found something.
2 PTS, 50 FG%, 2 RBS
Chris McCullough with a wild +/- for the Nets:
+14 in just 3:39.
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) October 27, 2016
That’s one way to get more playing time.
7 PTS, 14 FG%, 50 3PT%, 5 RBS, 2 TOV
The Nets called his number early, trying to take advantage of their star center’s size, but it just wouldn’t fall. The surprise of the night saw Lopez sitting on the bench as the second half tipped, a story line we’re sure to hear more of.
He was frustrated all night, complaining about missed calls and struggling to handle the pick and roll on defense. It was more than a new offense that got Lopez off his game tonight and, all of a sudden, a poor preseason is in danger of becoming an early season trend.
Lopez’s 21 minutes were only more than Greivis Vasquez, Isaiah Whitehead, and Chris McCullough — so, yeah. . .