Nets Beat Back Thunder 116-85
Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are out for the Oklahoma City Thunder which means the Brooklyn Nets will catch a break in their home opener right?
"It's another NBA game and a game that counts," rookie forward Cory Jefferson said to What's The 411TV prior to the tip-off. "They are missing some of their key players but we still have to go out there and handle business."
He's absolutely right.
The Nets can't take anybody for granted. It doesn't matter what the current roster of their opponents reflect. In their regular season home opener, the Nets did the right thing. They took care of the hobbled Thunder 116-85 in front of a sellout crowd of 17,732 at the Barclays Center.
That's what they were supposed to do.
It was also a star-studded home opener which included Grammy award-winning R&B recording artist Ashanti, who sang the national anthem and hip hop artist Fabolous was also present announcing the starting lineups for the Brooklyn Nets.
Regarding the contest tonight, this wasn't a break for the Nets, it was a vacation, target practice, whatever "easy street" activity you would like to call it.
What's significant for the Nets and their personnel was the fact that this was the regular season debut for Nets center Brook Lopez, who sat out the first two games of the season with a sprain in his right mid-foot. Lopez contributed 18 points and six rebounds, an encouraging performance.
The Nets scored early and often and reminded the Thunder what the presence of stars like Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are capable of producing, when healthy.
In the first half, Williams and Johnson combined for 20 points.
Lopez in his first action of the season added seven points and four rebounds while rookie guard Bojan Bogdanovic provided some marksmanship from deep, connecting on two three-pointers scoring 8.
Eight of the ten available players for the Nets all scored as the Nets entered the intermission period up by a comfortable 19 points, 59-40.
Yes, almost 60 in 24 minutes of play.
When it's not your night, it shows and the Thunder made it very obvious that Durant and Westbrook are desperately needed if this team is to have any shot of competing in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
"We did a lot of good things in the first three games, and we didn't do that tonight," said Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks following tonight's game.
In the last two deciding quarters, more of the same continued.
The Nets were the favorites in this match-up and they played like it.
In the third quarter alone, the Nets enjoyed leads of +14, +18 and +23.
With 42.8 remaining in the third quarter, Deron WIlliams participated in a defense to offense sequence that just displayed the dominance the Nets enjoyed on both ends of the floor.
Off of a Williams missed three-point shot attempt, the Thunder's Kendrick Perkins collected the rebound and one bad pass later was intercepted by Williams who converted an uncontested layup which put the Nets up 85-62.
It was that kind of night, and with the offensive success the Nets enjoyed, the starters were able to rest for the majority of the 4th quarter as the bench finished off the remains of what was left of the Thunder.
Williams finished with 17 points and nine assists while Joe Johnson supplied 13 points and six rebounds.
Reggie Jackson was the lone high scorer for the Thunder recording 23 points.
Look, the Thunder are a shell of themselves right now and although this outcome was expected there are some legitimate positives that the Nets can take from this performance and apply it to the future games they will confront.
Positives like Brook Lopez exiting this game among the top two overall scorers for the Nets tonight along with reserve guard Alan Anderson, who also chipped in with an efficient 7-8 shooting from the field for 18 points.
"It was great seeing him out there," Nets forward Joe Johnson said about Lopez to the media following the game. "I think his presence alone opens up the floor a lot more for guys like myself and Deron, and he looked great tonight."
Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets Shooting guard/Small Forward
Positives like the bench scoring 50 points to compliment the starting five in a rout.
"Our bench was amazing for us tonight," Williams said in the post-game media sessions. "To come out of the game and get a lift from our bench, that's what we need."
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets Point Guard
Positives like shooting 52.4% from the floor, 47.8% from behind the arc and connecting for 89.5% from the charity strike.
"We shot the ball extremely well," said Head Coach Lionel Hollins during his post-game press conference. "We moved the ball, we attacked and they just couldn't stay up with us."
Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins
And, one more positive was the exploits of rookie starting guard Bojan Bogdanovic, hailing from Croatia.
"He played well and he was much more aggressive tonight" said Head Coach Lionel Hollins about Bogdanovic. "I have confidence in him and I want him to play his game."
The Thunder coming to town also meant the return of Brooklyn's own, Sebastian Telfair now starting for the Thunder due to injuries of Durant and Westbrook.
"It felt good before the game started," Telfair told the media during the post-game sessions. "It is always good to come back to my roots, playing in front of my family and for some of my fans."
The biggest takeaway the Nets can use from this game and apply to their future opponents is confidence.
The offense flourished.
The defense denied any offensive consistency.
Tonight was evidence of what the Nets are capable of when they are clicking on all cylinders.
The challenge is to do their due diligence when playing a team that shares the same aspirations in team goals that they promote.
The Nets will host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, November 5, the New York Knicks on Friday November 7th and the Orlando Magic on Sunday, November 9th. Following this home stand is a west-coast road-trip featuring the Phoenix Suns, the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers.
How will the Nets respond to the teams on its West Coast swing?
That will be an important stretch to see how these Nets measure up against some of the best teams the NBA has to offer.
The Nets won this game because it was what they were supposed to do. However, the games scheduled in the coming weeks will be telling.
Only then will we see what the Nets are really made of.
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