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Nets have miles to go before opener

Drop First Preseason Contest to Visiting Fenerbahce at Barclays

October 6, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Power forward Thomas Robinson soars in for two of his 12 points during Brooklyn’s exhibition loss to Turkey’s Fenerbahce Ulker at the Barclays Center on Monday night.
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The Brooklyn Nets got schooled in their own backyard by a team from Istanbul Monday night, dropping their exhibition opener, 101-96, to European basketball powerhouse Fenerbahce Ulker in front of 6,857 at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

“I want to give Fenerbahce credit for earning the win,” said Nets second-year head coach Lionel Hollins after watching his squad adjust on the fly to their new playing style while coping with what looked like a much tighter, well-organized unit from Turkey.

“We fought and battled and played hard but you can’t turn the ball over 19 times, you can’t give up [20] second-chance shots and you can’t miss 19 shots in the paint,” Hollins added in his club’s return to Brooklyn following an intense five-day training camp on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, that was attended by team owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

The Nets, who were without newly acquired forward and former Knick Andrea Bargnani (tight left hamstring), looked out of sorts for most of the contest despite solid performances from starting center Brook Lopez and forward Thomas Robinson. 

Lopez finished with 18 points and four rebounds and Robinson added 12 points and a game-high 16 boards for the Nets, who have plenty of time to get things right before their regular-season opener here on Oct. 28 against the Chicago Bulls.

“It was exciting to be out there,” said Lopez, who logged 23 minutes of playing time as the Nets continually fed him in the paint, resulting in a 6-for-12 shooting effort that could have been much better if not for a few balls that bounded around and off the rim.

“We obviously learned what we do well, what we need to work on tomorrow at practice and going forward,” added Lopez, who is the new face of the Brooklyn franchise after receiving a three-year, $60 million pact this summer following the departure of point guard Deron Williams to Dallas via an expensive buyout.

Joe Johnson, the only remnant of what general manager Billy King called the NBA’s best backcourt back in 2012, had only five points on 1-of-4 shooting in 24 minutes as the Nets focused on getting the ball inside to their big men.

“I don’t think it will be a big adjustment,” Johnson said of the Nets’ get-the-ball-to-Brook strategy. “I think, mainly, with us playing a lot through Brook, just pushing the basketball and trying to make plays, we just have to continue that.”

Jan Vesely scored 18 points and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 17 for Fenerbahce, which had a large contingent of Turkish-American fans in the stands for Monday’s exhibition, the first of six preseason games on the Nets’ slate.

“It’s just a matter of taking advantage of what strengths we have, and we happen to be young, athletic and a high-energy group,” Lopez said after the Nets shot 43 percent from the floor in a contest that featured eight ties and eight lead changes before Fenerbahce took control for good in the final period. “So we’ve got to learn to play that way.”

Thaddeus Young, who was given a $50 million, four-year pact by King in the offseason, finished with 12 points and six rebounds off the bench as Hollins indicated that he wanted to take a look at how Robinson would play alongside Lopez in the preseason opener.

Wayne Ellington added 16 points in a team-high 30 minutes off the pine and Jarrett Jack, Williams’ successor at the point guard spot, added 11 points but only one assist in 18 minutes while Fenerbahce playmaker Kostas Sloukas piled up 11 points and 11 assists at Brooklyn’s expense.

The Nets will return to preseason action Thursday night in Detroit before hosting Boston here next Wednesday.

Nothing But Net: Brooklyn’s first-round pick in June’s NBA Draft here at Barclays, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, had six points, two steals, one rebound and picked up three personal fouls in 24 minutes of action in his Downtown debut. The former University of Arizona defensive standout was the main player the Nets acquired from Portland in a draft-day deal that sent center Mason Plumlee to the Trail Blazers. … Projected back-up point guard Shane Larkin, another former Knick who has switched sides of the Hudson, had a rough shooting night in his Nets debut, missing all but one of his seven attempts en route to four points. The son of Major League Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin did accumulate five assists, three steals and three rebounds in 23 minutes. 

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