|Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce only played 12 minutes apiece in their Nets' debuts, but it was what they did while not in tonight's game that was more impressive|
Deron Williams (ankle), Jason Terry (knee), and even Gary Forbes (illness) weren't available tonight for the Nets in their preseason opener vs the Washington Wizards, but that didn't stop Brooklyn from garnering an overtime win on Tuesday.
The starting lineup, with Shaun Livingston in for the injured Williams, was basically intact yet–other than Brook Lopez, who scored 15 points–didn't impact this game greatly, as the four reminaing players (Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett, and Brook) were held to strict 12-minute limits by Jason Kidd, coaching his first NBA game. Joe didn't score, Pierce looked a little rusty, KG pounded the boards and hit a few trademark 18-footer, and Brook dominated a weak Washington frontcourt.
The real story of this game, other than the fact that it had a rare preseason overtime finish, was how the Nets' bench players took advantage of significant playing time and outplayed the Wizards' starters for much of the second half.
Up 51-47 at half, Brooklyn went with just reserves (and Livingston) for the final 53 minutes of the game and was pretty successful, as five Nets scored 11 or more points off the bench. The flirted with a blowout win for awhile but every time they went up by double-digits, the Wizards–led by Nene's 19 points and John Wall's 16–climbed right back, eventually tying up the game with just .5 seconds left in regulation on a monstrous Glen Rice Jr. put-back jam. The refs reviewed the hoop for offensive interference, found none, and then the Nets missed a final scoring chance before the game clock hit :00.
Brooklyn took control in the overtime period after a series of nice plays by Jorge Gutierrez (a long jumper and then a key offensive rebound on the next possession) which led to two made (!) free throws by Mason Plumlee that gave the Nets a two-point lead they wouldn't relinquish. Then, Tyshawn Taylor and Plumlee hooked up for back-to-back alley-oop lay-ins that cemented the lead and exhibited the playmaking ability of Taylor and the interior strength of the Nets' 2013 1st-round pick.
Overall, looking at the Nets' box score, no specific stat–maybe other than FG% (49%) and assists (29)–stands out in a positive way, especially since Brooklyn couldn't break 65% from the free-throw line, 30% from three, and committed a whooping 24 turnovers (that's six per quarter). Clearly, 24 turnovers and that subpar shooting won't fly in the regular season, but it is acceptable for the preseason. I'm sure Kidd will get on his team for playing sloppily even though it played well considering that it was the players' first game in months.
Some other observations I had from the game: #ReggieEvansReboundCount: a measly seven in 18 minutes. It's early for the rest of the Nets, and the same applies to Reggie. He did have one of his patented "miss three layups, get three offensive rebounds, and then get fouled" trick. I'm not worried about him in the slightest; soon, he'll be grabbing a rebound a minute like he did for parts of last season……One person whose rebounding I am concerned about is Brook Lopez. Brook, although he hit six-of-seven from the field, didn't nab a single board in his 12 minutes of play which hearkens back to his mighty struggles with rebounding in recent years. This year's incarnation of the Nets doesn't have rebounding stalwart Kris Humphries anymore, so Lopez needs to step it up on the glass……The culture change that the Nets-Celtics trade and hiring of Kidd initiated was present even in tonight's game. Garnett was giving his teammates pep talks in huddles during the (ultimately meaningless) fourth quarter while D-Will was joking around while supporting the five guys on the floor. It looks like the Nets are having fun again, which is something that couldn't be completely said about the team last year under Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo……After a dreadful 2012-13 campaign, Mirza Teletovic was incredible against the Wizards. He drilled three three-pointers in his 20 minutes of play and ended up with 15 points in addition to six rebounds. He looked confident in his stroke, finally, which bodes well for his upcoming season. If the Nets can get him to be the lights-out shooter that he was in Europe, then defending them will be much harder, as Mirza can stretch the floor greatly when coming off the bench….Two of the new guys, Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko, played very well too and displayed how they can benefit the Nets goiward. AK47 was a pest on defense, forcing three turnovers via the steal and collected a bunch of key rebounds. He also hit a bunch of shots, including a three. Anderson did what he does best–shoot–and scored 13 on eight field goal attempts.
The Nets come home to the Barclays Center to face the revamped Detroit Pistons on Saturday night for their preseason home opener.