If Lionel Hollins saw today as a warmup for the regular season, well… at least they won the game.
The Nets needed a late turnover from the 76ers and some free throw line heroics from Brook Lopez, who joined the rest of the team’s starters on the floor in crunch time, to take down the famously rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers, winning 92-91 at Barclays Center.
The 76ers had a chance to take the lead on what should have been a game-ending possession. Down 89-88, 76ers forward Hollis Thompson threw a pass beyond Nerlens Noel’s reach with 6.7 seconds left, and the ball bounced harmlessly out-of-bounds. It was Philadelphia’s 20th turnover on the night.
Lopez also hit the game-icing free throws, putting the Nets up 92-88 with five seconds left, and finished with a team-high 24 points. Thaddeus Young added a double-double, with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The team’s defense early on was… Not good. They gave up 30 first-quarter points to an athletic but underwhelming 76ers team, with early foul trouble to Jarrett Jack and Wayne Ellington.
But after erasing a nine-point first-quarter deficit, the Nets took the lead at halftime and widened the gap in the third quarter by getting out in transition. The highlight play came courtesy of Nets rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in the fourth quarter: Hollis-Jefferson deflected a 76ers pass to force a turnover, then ran the length of the floor to finish a pretty alley-oop feed from Shane Larkin.
The 76ers re-gained the lead in the fourth quarter, and Hollins decision kept the starters on the floor late to try to win the game.
The battle of the night was Nets veteran Brook Lopez versus 76ers rookie Jahlil Okafor: both big men with post moves and a soft touch inside. Lopez was the clear winner: the Nets fed Lopez early in the paint, trying to get him going with post-up looks and a couple pick-and-pops. He feasted. Okafor struggled with Lopez’s length in one-on-one situations, and at one point Lopez blocked him while barely jumping.
For the Nets, Andrea Bargnani (tight left hamstring) sat out again. He has yet to play in a game this postseason and has only participated in a handful of practices.
The Nets’ final preseason game comes tomorrow in Boston against the Celtics, followed by nine days off until the team’s opening night game against the Chicago Bulls.