Nets win home opener 126-121 over Magic

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 20: D'Angelo Russell
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 20: D'Angelo Russell /

An energized Brooklyn crowd enjoyed a hard-fought, back and forth home opener between the Nets and Magic Friday night at the Barclays Center.

The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Orlando Magic 126-121 in their home opener Friday night.

The Nets scored 37 points in the fourth quarter to pick up their first win of the season. D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, and Trevor Booker led the way for Brooklyn with 17 points apiece. Spencer Dinwiddie posted 16 points and 5 assists in an elevated role with Jeremy Lin injured.

Nikola Vucevic played brilliantly. The 26-year-old scored a career-high 41 points while shooting 17-22 from the field and 6-8 from three. However, Vucavic’s performance was not enough as the Magic broke down defensively.

D’Angelo Russell came up big in crunch time.

Russell scored a beautiful left-handed layup over Vucevic to give Brooklyn a seven-point lead with 2:25 remaining. However, Vucevic and Evan Fournier drained consecutive three-pointers to cut the Nets lead to one with 1:43 left.

Brooklyn put the ball in Russell’s hands the following possession and the 21-year-old came up clutch. Russell drove, pulled up, and banked in a foul line jumper over Evan Fournier plus the foul.

The Nets remained in control from that point on.

Russell shot 8-16 from the field while posting six assists and three steals. However, he did struggle to take care of the ball committing eight turnovers. The Nets will need their new point guard to improve his decision making if they want to play a more controlled game on both ends of the floor.

Despite the win, there are still clear problems on the defensive end for Brooklyn. The Nets were incompetent in their coverage of a talented stretch big in Nikola Vucevic. Timofey Mozgov lacked the foot speed and athleticism to cover Vucevic on the three-point line while Trevor Booker and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gave up too much size. Enter Jarrett Allen.

The 19-year-old rookie made his NBA debut Friday night and played a solid game for Brooklyn. Allen scored 9 points, pulled down 2 rebounds, and blocked a shot. Allen showed off his athleticism with an emphatic slam over Vucevic off of a Spencer Dinwiddie pass in the fourth quarter.

Allen gives the Nets something every NBA team needs in this era of basketball: a big man who can cover on the outside. The rookie has the foot speed and wingspan to stay in front of other bigs and contest outside shots.

The Nets are an undersized team and Allen certainly showed Kenny Atkinson enough Friday night to earn minutes in upcoming games.

Brooklyn will face off with the Atlanta Hawks Sunday in a matinee matchup at the Barclays Center. Tip-off is set for 3:30.