The Morning After: Nets Bottle Thunder

Mirza Teletovic
Mirza Teletovic (AP)
Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant was all exasperation as he watched his Oklahoma City Thunder get blown out. (AP)

Good morning, Kevin. You look like you fit in well in Brooklyn. Here’s a roundup of last night’s Nets festivities:

What happened: After a strong down-the-stretch performance against the Detroit Pistons Saturday night, the Nets built on their success by dominating the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder from start to finish, winning in blowout fashion 116-85. It was the largest margin of victory in a home opener in the team’s NBA history.

The Nets raced out to an early 32-19 lead behind a humming offense, led by Joe “Overpaid and Underrated” Johnson, who dropped nine points and four dimes playing the full first frame, and kept the train rolling throughout. Johnson finished with 13 points on the night.

Where they stand: At 2-1, it’s too early to say anything about where they stand.

That was… Utter, and expected, all-out domination. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both out, and the Thunder suiting just nine players, the Nets had every opportunity to dominate and didn’t pull any punches, outscoring the Thunder in every quarter and putting up 31 points in the fourth quarter even with the game well in hand.

This could’ve been a trap game for Brooklyn, particularly considering how well Perry Jones III has played in Kevin Durant’s absence. But the Nets spread the ball all around the floor, getting open shots both in the paint and above the break, and a depleted Thunder defense couldn’t do anything to contain them.

Undefeated update: The Nets are undefeated at home.

Brook Back: Brook Lopez hasn’t played in a professional basketball game since December 20th, 2013, when he ended his season with a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot. After a shaky start, Lopez dominated in the third quarter, scoring with ease at the rim and finishing through contact. Lopez finished with a team-high 18 points in just under 24 minutes, adding six rebounds, two blocks, and one Perry Jones III-harming slam dunk.

Game Grades: Read ’em here.

Get Defensive: For all their offensive domination — seriously, check out the numbers — Lionel Hollins, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez all preached about the team’s defense. They held the admittedly hampered Thunder to just 85 points, forcing 50 missed shots and 18 turnovers. That’s a lot of possessions that don’t end well. The Nets looked more disruptive than you might expect given their personnel, and had some strong defensive performances from their interior players. Pick-and-rolls were stopped, shots in the paint were contested, and the Thunder couldn’t get into the rhythm that led them to victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Prokhorov in Town: Mikhail Prokhorov spoke with the media for the first time in almost a year. I’ll just let you read what he said about Jason Kidd yourself.

Also, Prokhorov is not particularly content with a 31-point victory:

Mr. Prokhorov, what’s it like to lose $144 million on basketball-related operations in a single year? “It’s not a big deal.”

Kick it off: The Nets opened the season with a pretty play, a Kevin Garnett screen for Deron Williams that led to a wide-open Williams 3 at the top of the key. Williams shot 46 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers last season. Smart call.

My thoughts at the half: BEST ENDING TO A HALF EVER.

This play above (courtesy of GFYCat) was how the Nets closed their first-half run — with a fast-break alley-oop slam from rookie Bojan Bogdanovic to sophomore Mason Plumlee. Hard to imagine that happening much last year.

Fast 5-Hundred: At 2-1, the Nets are above .500. Last season, it took them until March to get above .500.

Balance, Thy Name Is Brooklyn: Every Nets starter took at least eight field goals, and no player took more than ten. Six Nets scored in double figures.

Celebrity Watch: Ashanti (your national anthem singer), Jay-Z and Beyonce, Mikhail Prokhorov, Fabolous. No confirmation on if they’re all recording an album together.


Milestones: With two blocks on the night, Brook Lopez moved past Mike Gminski for third all-time on the Nets franchise block leaderboard, with an even 600 for his Nets career. The only two ahead of him: Buck Williams (696) and George Johnson (893). Kevin Garnett also moved into a tie with Cliff Robinson for the eighth-most games played in NBA history, with 1,380.

You Gotta Play All 36 Minutes: The Nets finished the third quarter with 85 points. The Thunder finished the game with 85 points.

Don’t sleep: Alan Anderson: 18 points on eight shots, and one scuffle in the fourth quarter. Alan Anderson will scuffle with anyone.

Next up: The Nets have Tuesday off from competition, before they host the youthful Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night at Barclays Center.