Irving scores 50 in Nets debut, but misses final shot.
Fifty-point Brooklyn debut goes to waste against Timberwolves
Kyrie Irving had the highest-scoring debut for any team in NBA history Wednesday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
And in his own words, it all went for naught.
Irving’s record-setting 50-point performance wasn’t enough to prevent the Brooklyn Nets from suffering a heartbreaking season-opening 127-126 overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in front of a sellout crowd of 17,732 fans on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.
“Job wasn’t done,” ceded Irving after his bid for a game-winning jumper as time expired in overtime fell harmlessly off the rim.
“That 50 [points] just goes into just another few numbers that, it holds value, but not really when you don’t get a win.”
Irvin eclipsed Kiki Vandeweghe’s 47-point debut for the Portland Trail Blazers in 1984.
He also became just the seventh Net in franchise history to put up at least 50 points in any game, and the first since Deron Williams poured in a franchise-record 57 in 2012.
But a fateful slip on his approach to what would have been a fitting exclamation point to a brilliant effort on opening night forced him to rise from the newly designed floor at Barclays and hoist up a quick shot that just missed, leaving him with a handful of historic accomplishments but no win.
“I fell,” said Irving. “I was in the process of making another move and just lost my footing, lost my balance. Somehow I got it back. Just got to get my elbow pointed at the rim. I had a better chance of making it, was a right a little bit. Just got to tuck in the elbow a little bit have a better chance.”
Scoring wasn’t all that Irving did in this ill-fated but memorable opener.
The 27-year-old South Orange, N.J., native and life-long Nets fan dished out eight assists, three of which came during a 15-2 run to open the third quarter that helped the Nets overcome a 10-point halftime deficit.
Irving also pulled down seven boards, blocked a shot and didn’t commit a single turnover in 38 scintillating minutes.
It was the type of effort that proved Irving could perform as a superstar virtuoso without Kevin Durant, who is likely to miss the entire season while recovering from an Achilles injury after arriving here in Brooklyn alongside Irving during General Manager Sean Marks’ offseason windfall.
“None of that stuff matters unless you get a win,” said Irving. “The race is to get as many wins as you can in an 82-game span and put yourself in position down the strertch, We’ve got 81 more to go and we’ll just take it day-by-day.”
Stretched out on the hardwood with his hands over his eyes following the last-second miss, Irving was lifted back to his feet by teammates and received congratulations from those who had witnessed his eye-popping debut, which saw him hit 17-of-33 shots, including 7-of-14 3-pointers.
“He was outstanding. Obviously, a great debut for him,” Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson said of Irving. “Just disappointing we made such a big hole for us. The first half we were completely out of sync. The second half we did a little better, got in sync.”
“It’s amazing to watch,” added Nets center Jarrett Allen, who started at the pivot and had six points, nine rebounds and five blocks. “[Irving] can do almost anything with the ball. He can hit almost any shot, so it’s just amazing to watch.”
It will be even more amazing to watch Irving and Durant light up the Barclays Center next season, if not by February or March, when some are wistfully predicting Durant could return.
But in the meantime, Irving and his new teammates will continue to build bonds and get to know one another’s habits on the court.
They will get their next shot at their first win of this new era of Nets basketball Friday night against the visiting New York Knicks.
“It was good to start the journey and our goal of getting through 82 games healthy, so, it’s a great starting point,” Irving said.
“Obviously you wanted to come out and get a win in front of our home crowd, but we’ve got another chance on Friday.”
Nothing But Net: Though Irving clearly stole the show Wednesday night, there were some other significant performances in the Nets’ heartbreaking opening night loss. Caris LeVert, who started in the backcourt with Irving, scored 20 points and Spencer Dinwiddie added 14 off the bench in only 18 minutes as Brooklyn’s triumvirate of shooting guards strutted their stuff. … Newly signed power forward Taurean Prince had 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds and Joe Harris hit all but one of his five 3-point attempts en route to 14 points.
Following the completion of their season-opening two-game homestand Friday, the Nets will visit Memphis on Sunday evening.
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