Lin blows out knee in gruesome Nets opener
Point Guard to Miss Rest of Season Following Humbling Loss to Pacers
Eighteen points, four assists and three turnovers in 25 minutes.
Those will be the statistics on the back of Jeremy Lin’s basketball card next year after the Brooklyn point guard went down for the season with a devastating rupture of his right patella tendon during the Nets’ disastrous 140-131 season-opening loss to the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night.
“Jeremy worked tremendously hard during the offseason and in training camp and was excited for the prospects of the team this season,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a team-issued statement Thursday morning.
Lin, who missed 46 of league-worst Brooklyn’s 82 games last season after inking a three-year, $36-million pact in the summer of 2016, saw what he was hoping would be his bounce-back season go up in flames with just under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter in front of 15,008 fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The 29-year-old Harvard alum drove and soared toward the hoop between a pair of defenders with the Nets trailing Indiana by 10 points at the 4:53 mark, only to crumple to the ground beneath the basket clutching at his right knee.
At first Lin seemed shocked, then reached for the ailing joint, mouthed the words, “I’m done,” to the Nets bench and began weeping in anguish while lowering his head to the hardwood.
The Nets’ medical staff and players all gathered around the team’s floor leader and eventually helped him limp back toward the locker room. After Lin underwent tests on the knee Thursday morning, Marks was forced to announce what many had already assumed, Lin truly was “done” for the year.
“We feel awful that the injury will cost him the season,” Marks added. “However, our entire organization will be there to support Jeremy in every way possible throughout his recovery. Jeremy remains an important part of this team and will continue to contribute in a leadership role.”
After entering this campaign with such high hopes following a summer of spartan-like team workouts at the HSS Training Center in Sunset Park, the Nets (0-1) appeared to play as if they were strangers to the concept of team basketball.
Second-year head coach Kenny Atkinson watched helplessly from the bench as Brooklyn committed 20 turnovers, got outrebounded, 57-51, was outscored, 28-13, on the fast break and allowed the Pacers to shoot 52 percent from the floor.
D’Angelo Russell scored a game-high 30 points on 12-of-22 shooting to go with five assists in a strong debut for Brooklyn following his acquisition from the Los Angeles Lakers this summer for all-time Net Brook Lopez.
But that was the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal and uninspiring effort that was punctuated by Lin’s hard-to-watch injury.
“Not a good night for the Nets,” lamented the normally ultra-optimistic Atkinson, who couldn’t put a positive spin on the Opening Night debacle.
Trevor Booker had 20 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Brooklyn, which will try to begin shaking this loss off Friday night at Barclays Center against the Orlando Magic.
However, Atkinson will have to find a way to fill the void left by Lin in the backcourt, likely turning to Caris LeVert, who had 12 points against the Pacers, and Spencer Dinwiddie, at the shooting guard spot while Russell slides into the point man’s role for the foreseeable future.
The Nets led the contest, 30-29, after the first 12 minutes, and were only down by two points at the half. But the sharp-shooting Pacers, spearheaded by points guard Darren Collison’s 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting took control thereafter.
Victor Oladipo scored a team-high 22 points and Myles Turner dominated the interior against the undersized Nets with 21 points and 14 boards as Indiana ran up and down the floor without much resistance from the Brooklyn defense.
“I thought we completely broke down defensively,” said Atkinson. “I wish I could sit here and say it was one area. It was a multitude of things. It started with our transition defense. Our pick-and-roll defense wasn’t very good.”
DeMarre Carroll had 10 points and nine rebounds in his Nets debut, and fellow new addition Allen Crabbe added 12 points in a reserve role for Brooklyn, which was already predicted to finish at or near the bottom of the league standings again with a healthy Lin on the roster.
“Obviously not playing well here on the road. And then an injury on top of it,” Atkinson said of the morbid night in Indiana. “[But] these are the kinds of situations that make you stronger, and I think we have a strong locker room.
“We’re going to have to piece it together and figure out how we can improve and get ready for the Orlando game.”
Nothing But Net: Former Nets Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic enjoyed strong performances against Brooklyn in Wednesday’s opener. Young finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Bogdanovic added 14 points. … Following Friday night’s home opener against Orlando, the Nets will host Atlanta at Barclays Center on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.
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