Kyle Lowry and Deron Williams
The Brooklyn Nets overcame a slow first quarter to win the first professional basketball game in Brooklyn over the Toronto Raptors, 107-100. The game was close throughout with the Nets always holding a small lead. In the first quarter, the Nets defense looked cavernous as they allowed Toronto to score 35 points. However, in the second quarter, the Nets second unit limited the Raptors to only 17 points, while the Nets scored 33. In the third quarter, the Nets jumped out to a lead as big as 14 points, but the Raptors came back and kept it close. It was a 2-point game with about 2 minutes left, but the Nets sealed the win with their clutch foul shooting in crunch time.
Even though the Nets did not play the Knicks, it was still important for them to win their first game in Brooklyn in front of a sold out crowd. Throughout the night, we heard chants of “Brook-lyn” and “Let’s go Nets”. We never heard those kinds of cheers last year in New Jersey. Aesthetically, the game looked very good. The Nets wore their sleek white uniforms for the first time and the court at the Barclays Center looks like a stage when basketball is played on it. Barclays Center has definitely become a destination for any basketball fan.
Let’s talk a little bit about each team, starting with the Raptors.
Even though they lost this game, this team is definitely better than it was last season. The biggest reason for this is Kyle Lowry. He is really good. He scored 28 points to go along with 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals. He is the real deal. He also made shots from way behind the 3-point line in this game and he is very talented. DeMar DeRozan also looked good in this game. He scored 25 points although those points were not nearly as loud as Lowry’s were. He is a solid NBA player. The Raptors “hung around” in this game much like the Nets had often “hung around” in the last couple of years. Toronto was always within striking distance but could never get over the hump. If they can improve how they play in crunch time situations, they could sneak into the playoffs this year.
For the Nets, this game was decided in the second quarter when the Nets destroyed Toronto. Despite all the hoopla surrounding the starters on this team, it was the bench that did most of the damage tonight, led by C.J. Watson. He was great in the second quarter, capping the quarter with a 3 at the buzzer. Reggie Evans also played very well and Marshon Brooks even had his moments.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Gerald Wallace: A-
Although Wallace’s stats are not eye-popping, it is undeniable how much he means to this team. In the fourth quarter, he kept the Nets afloat with multiple great defensive rebounds. These are things that go unnoticed, but are so important in terms of wins and losses. He is also fearless, which led towards Wallace taking a tumble towards the end of the game. He came out of the game and did not return, but he looked like he was ok. The Nets need Gerald Wallace on this team.
Brook Lopez: A
Brook only had 5 rebounds, but he was unstoppable on offense. He was 8-17 from the field and 11-15 from the foul line. Those fouls shots are great. Whenever your center makes over 10 foul shots in a game, you are in a great position to win. On defense he struggled at times with the Raptors’ more athletic players like Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, but he played well enough. The Nets will need Brook to play like this every night to win consistently.
Deron Williams: B+
There’s no doubt that Deron Williams struggled on defense tonight. Kyle Lowry outplayed him, but that is not to say that Deron played poorly. On offense, he played well, dishing out 9 assists. He also sealed the win with many foul shots in the final minute. Deron may not be the leading scorer on this team, but he is still the leader.
Joe Johnson: B
Joe Johnson led the Nets in minutes played tonight, but he sometimes looked invisible on the court. He scores a lot of unmemorable baskets, but they help the team nonetheless. His 4 assists and 5 rebounds helped tonight.
Reggie Evans: A-
Reggie Evans is the ultimate role player, and I already love him. In 16 minutes, Evans had 13 rebounds and only 2 points. He needs to teach Brook Lopez how to rebound because he is so good at it. The ball just always finds Reggie’s hands. He did exactly what Coach Avery expected out of him tonight.
C.J. Watson: A
When the second quarter started with the Nets down by 8, C.J. Watson took over the game. He was able to slow down Kyle Lowry on defense and then carry the team on offense. He shot 6-9 from the field and 3-4 from 3. He did not turn the ball over very often and he was able to run the team in Deron’s absence. We also saw a little bit of a 3-guard look from the Nets tonight with C.J., Deron, and Joe Johnson. It will be interesting to see how they use this lineup in the future.
The Nets will now have one day off and return to Barclays Center on Monday to face the Minnesota Timberwolves who will be without Kevin Love. Expect full coverage of that game from FRWD.