Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — To ensure their consistent success, there are several things that the Brooklyn Nets need to accomplish. They include limiting the opposition’s points in the paint, rotating smoothly on the defensive end, and not going crazy from 3-point range.
In the first quarter of its Saturday night season opener versus the Toronto Raptors, the Nets accomplished none of those things and trailed, 35-27.
In the second quarter, however, the Nets turned things around, corrected their mistakes, and completely turned the game around en route to securing a 107-100 victory.
After allowing the Raptors to score 12 points in the paint in the first quarter, the Nets held them to just two in the second. The Raptors shot 62.5 percent from the field in the first quarter, but only managed to shoot 33.3 percent in the second. And after the Nets hoisted eight 3-pointers in the first quarter, they attempted only three in the second.
All of it added up to a 33-17 second quarter that gave control to the Nets a 60-52 lead and control for good.
“We scored the ball and fortunately we did, but getting back to reality, the defense you saw in the first quarter, we’re not gonna beat anybody,” Nets head coach Avery Johnson said. “We got work to do, we’re not a finished product. But fortunately, I’ll take 107 points. That’s even more than our goal. Where we are defensively right now, we’re not going to be able to beat many teams consistently.”
Afterwards, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey cited poor defense and turnovers as reasons for the loss. “It’s hard to win the game when you’re not getting stops,” he said. “Turning it over and they’re coming at you… that was our problem. We had a good tempo going and we had a good pace going.”
Game Ball to Deron
It’s no secret that Deron Williams re-signing with the club altered the immediate future of the Brooklyn Nets. If not for him accepting the Nets five year, $98.7 million offer last summer, this franchise would almost certainly not be in a position to contend in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
That fact was not lost on Johnson Saturday night when it came time to give out a proverbial game ball after the win.
“Usually, we give out something to who we consider the most valuable player,” Johnson said. “Tonight, I don’t care if Deron didn’t score, he was getting the game ball because a lot of what is happening with this team is because he decided to re-sign.”
Though Williams didn’t shoot the ball particularly well—going just 6-for-14 from the field—Williams finished the game with 19 points to go along with a game-high nine assists.
A Strong Night, Offensively, for Lopez
Brook Lopez has always been able to score, but his poor rebounding has been a point of emphasis.
His rebounding was a major sticking point during preseason and it’s just not quite there yet. Although Lopez went for a team-high 27 points on 8-for-17 from the field and 11-for-15 from the foul line, but just five rebounds.
For his career, Lopez is averaging 7.5 rebounds per-game. His highest single season average came back in 2009-10, when he pulled down 8.6 rebounds per-game. Averaging closer to nine rebounds per-game is what Johnson wants from Lopez.
After the game,Lopez expressed some frustration. “I’m a little disappointed in my rebounding, it’s something I worked on, I thought I was there,” he said. “I just didn’t get a few to go my way. I’m still happy I focused on it, I just didn’t get the actual numbers tonight [but] The team’s game was fantastic and that’s the most important thing.”
Gerald Wallace Injured
With 27.6 seconds left in the game, Gerald Wallace took a hard spill and injured his ankle. He got up and walked off under his own power, but the severity of the injury was unknown. When he went to the Nets locker room, he underwent x-rays, which were negative.
Officially, Wallace is listed as day-to-day with a sprained left ankle. Avery Johnson is giving his team Sunday off, so Wallace will have an opportunity to rest before the Nets host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
Landry Fields Booed in New York Return
Former New York Knick Landry Fields returned to New York City for the first time as a member of the Toronto Raptors. In July, the Raptors signed Fields to a 3-year offer sheet worth about $20 million and the Knicks opted to not match the deal. Thus far, Fields’ Raptors tenure is off to a rough. After two games, he’s averaging just one point, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per-game and has only converted one of his 10 total field goal attempts.
Fields spent two seasons with the Knicks and made a name for himself the 2010-2011 season—his rookie year. Fields finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting behind Blake Griffin, John Wall, and DeMarcus Cousins, respectively. In his two seasons as a Knick, Fields averaged 9.3 points per-game and 5.3 rebounds per-game. He will make his first appearance as a Raptor at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 13.
Saturday was the Nets third consecutive season-opening victory. They defeated the Washington Wizards, 90-84, to open last season’s 66-game, lockout-shortened season and beat the Detroit Pistons, 101-98, to open the 2010-11 season….The all-time series between the Nets and Raptors is now tied, 33-33….While Barclays Center looked to be about 80-85 percent filled, the Nets announced the game as a sellout of 17,732.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA.