Sure, the Thunder were missing two of the five best players on the planet, including the reigning MVP. Sure, they have about as much healthy talent as the current Philadelphia 76ers, who are less a basketball team than a traveling improv troupe. But the Nets could’ve still laid an egg against a bad team, which wasn’t uncommon last season. They could’ve lapsed in the second half and sweat out an underwhelming effort against an underwhelming team.
They didn’t. In front of a good home crowd and with owner Mikhail Prokhorov , the Nets flat-out dominated a beaten-up team from start to finish, never letting up on the gas pedal. Open shots? Yup. Tough rim defense? You got it. Communication loud enough to be heard from the back of Section 115? Didn’t let up for 48 minutes.
This isn’t the type of win that convinces you the Nets could be contenders, but it’s the kind that bolsters the idea that they could be really, really good, and under Lionel Hollins, similarly motivated.
Clear rust early — picked up two quick fouls in the first three minutes, then a third early in the second quarter. But then he killed Perry Jones, and all was well.
If not an inspiring debut from Lopez, who hasn’t played in professional game in nearly a full year, certainly a successful one. Lopez got through the game unscathed by injury and piled on some points inside in the third quarter, and even had one enormous block to stuff a dunk.