Brooklyn Boro

Nets flop in season-opening loss to Pelicans

Trail from start-to-finish as New Orleans routs Brooklyn

October 20, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Perhaps the Brooklyn Nets forgot that this was Opening Night.

Trailing from start-to-finish and trailing by as many as 26 points, the Nets were dominated throughout their season debut in a humbling 130-108 loss to Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans in front of a sellout crowd of 17,732 at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

After a turbulent offseason that saw the Nets actively shop Kevin Durant at his own behest and refuse to re-sign Kyrie Irving to a long-term deal, the Nets (0-1) were doubtlessly looking for a return to normalcy in their opener.

All they got was reminder of how last season ended, when they were swept out of the opening round of the playoffs by eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston.

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Williamson, returning from a year off following a broken foot, lit Brooklyn up for 25 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

“It’s like he didn’t miss a beat,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said of the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. “You just throw the ball to him and watch what he does.”

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 32 points, but the Nets were no match for visiting New Orleans Wednesday night in Downtown Brooklyn. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

Brandon Ingram scored a team-high 28 points and C.J. McCollum had 21 for the Pelicans (1-0), who raced out to a 32-14 lead after one quarter and never looked back.

Durant poured in a game-high 32 points and Irving finished with 15 as the Nets commited 16 turnovers and shot 30 percent from 3-point range and 41 percent overall in their first game here since a season-ending 116-112 loss to the Celtics on April 25.

“This is a grown man’s league and the most physical team wins and New Orleans came into this with an intent to show why they’re going to be in the hunt for championships over the next few years,” Irving said.

Simmons, playing his first game as a Net and back from missing a season due to mental-health issues and a herniated disk, fouled out after logging 23 minutes, finishing with four points, five assists and five boards.

“It takes time,” Simmons noted. “Having back surgery and being away from the game for a year, there are little things that your mind might tell you to do something, but your body’s not wanting to do that.”

Patty Mills had 16 points, Nic Claxton added 13 points and 10 rebounds and Royce O’Neale finished with 10 points for the Nets, who will try to give a better effort here Friday night against visiting Toronto.

Brooklyn was without its top sharp-shooters as Joe Harris (foot) and Seth Curry (ankle) sat out.

Nets head coach Steve Nash indicated last weekend that Harris, who only played in 14 games last season due to a pair of ankle procedures, was on a faster path to return to action.

Neither would have made a significant difference on a night the Nets were less than ready for prime time.

The Barclays Center was ready to rock Wednesday night, but the Nets hardly put up a fight in a season-opening loss to New Orleans. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

NOTHING BUT NET: After hosting Toronto here on Friday, the Nets will embark on a two-game road trip. Brooklyn will visit Memphis on Monday before stopping by Milwaukee Wednesday. The Nets will kick off a four-game homestand at Barclays on Oct. 27 vs. Dallas. … Irving went 6-of-19 from the field, including an 0-for-6 effort from 3-point range.


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