The Nets made sure they brought plenty of energy, and while the result was much different from their previous game, it may have come at a costly price.
Brook Lopez scored a game-high 34 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead Brooklyn to a 109-101 win over the Detroit Pistons, Wednesday night at Barclays Center.
Sean Kilpatrick, off the bench, added 24 points. The Nets improved to 2-3 on the young season and snapped Detroit’s three-game winning streak.
Halfway through the third quarter, word began to leak around the arena that Jeremy Lin had left the game with a reported strained left hamstring. It is unclear as to win exactly Lin suffered the injury, fans must now wait and hold their collective breaths that it is nothing more than what’s been reported.
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was also unsure of when exactly his star point guard was injured, however did seem to allude to Lin attempting to drive the lane on a play as possibly what led to the hamstring strain.
“Quite honestly, I don’t know,” Atkinson said.”I thought it was him bumping into somebody. I know Jeremy was going full speed into the lane. You guys might know better than me. I thought there was a collision, but I’m not really sure.”
As for the game, it was a complete role reversal for much of the night.
When the Nets were run off their home court by the Chicago Bulls earlier in the week, everything pointed towards the lack of energy. There was poor ball movement, bad shot selection, and an alarming lack of pressure on defense. These are three key components for the Nets because their margin of error is much thinner than most teams in the league.
Fast forward forty-eight hours later and the Nets were clearly ready to show everyone they indeed got the message.
This time it was Brooklyn’s opponents which played with little to no energy. The Pistons looked every bit the team on the second night of a back-to-back and the Nets raced out to an 11-5 lead on 5 of 5 shooting from the field. Lopez set the tone early for Brooklyn, scoring 14 of his 34 points in the first quarter, including two of his four three-pointers on the night.
“I just wanted to come out with a better mindset and better energy, Lopez said afterwards in the Nets locker room. “I wanted for each of us to do the same and we were all disappointed in ourselves after Chicago, so we just tried to step up on the floor right from the first minute and be different.”
Brooklyn went into halftime with a 71-55 lead, they shot a scorching 70.7% from the field.
Another key to this game for the Nets was their rebounding. Brooklyn came into this game near the bottom of the league in rebounding, the Pistons feature the NBA’s leading rebounder in Andre Drummond.
Atkinson, before the game, emphasized the need for a team effort on the boards. He set a similar goal before the Nets were smoked by the Bulls.
This time, however, the Nets responded by out-rebounding Detroit 45-38. They also kept Drummond in check by limiting him to just six points and six rebounds.
“We didn’t guard anybody, said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. “We came with no energy. We couldn’t keep up with their pace. We couldn’t guard them on pick and roll. Brooklyn played very well, moved the ball, shot the ball very well.”
The Nets did struggle initially in the second half, adjusting to going extended minutes without Lin. Kilpatrick, however, came up big down the stretch running the point guard position for Atkinson.
When Kilpatrick wasn’t knocking down long-range jumpers, he was effectively getting the Nets into their offense. Detroit cut Brooklyn’s lead down to five in the final minutes, when Kilpatrick drained a three-pointer. He finished the night 4 of 4 from deep.
“Those guys (the Pistons) did a great job of making runs,” Kilpatrick said afterwards. ” And one thing that we were trying to keep in our minds was that they were going to continue to try and make runs, but we still had to keep the play within the game.”
It also shouldn’t be ignored the key minutes rookie Isaiah Whitehead continues to receive off the bench, this is only going to help further his development and confidence.
Trevor Booker all but sealed the win for the Nets when he blocked a driving layup by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with just under a minute left to play.
On a night where their star point guard went down, the Nets stepped their energy back up and came away with a big win. It now remains to be seen what the extent of Lin’s injury is while Lopez and his young squad prepare for their next game, at Barclays Center against Charlotte.
“Obviously it is tough to be without Jeremy Lin,” Lopez said when assessing his team’s current frame of mind. “But we are confident he will be alright and we already want him back.”
“It is great to see the guys stick together, play within each other and just trust each other,” Lopez added. “Like I’ve been saying every day, that’s where we will find our true strength, and that is what is going to make is a great team, so we need to trust in that right now and continue to improve.”