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Nets struggle through a rough third quarter, fight back, but fall to the Cavs, 98-94

Jason Miller

"The journey begins," Ian Eagle noted as the new-look Brooklyn Nets tipped off the 2013 NBA season tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. We finally got a chance to see the starting five suit up alongside each other, and boy was it a sight -- at least early on.

Over the first five minutes of the game you would have thought that the Nets were going to run away with this one, but things took a mediocre turn, and Brooklyn struggled through a tough third quarter, allowing Cleveland to build enough momentum and, eventually, knocking off the Nets in their season opener, 98-94.

One of the "new" Nets, Paul Pierce, got off to a hot start, scoring the team's first six points. You could see early on how having five offensive options on the floor at the same time would work in the Nets favor. Early floor spacing put the Nets up by double-digits within the first 3-plus minutes of the game.

Kyrie Irving got into early foul trouble, picking up two quick ones in the first and sending him to the bench just four minutes into the game, but the Cavs made a run when the starters went to the bench at the 5-minute mark and actually took the lead at the end of the first quarter.

Joe Prunty, who was filling in for Jason Kidd, opted to run out the Brook Lopez-Andray Blatche big-man combo to speak the offense, something P.J. Carlesimo wasn't too fond of doing. It helped, somewhat, but while the Nets were trying to find an offensive spark, they failed to stop the Cavs on the defensive side of the ball. And that hot start turned into a 49-48 deficit.

The third quarter was just filled with poor defensive sets, too many turnovers and offensive struggles from the Nets' second unit. You just didn't see any rhythm, and it almost was too typical of 2012-13 Nets basketball. They were outscored 33-20 in the third.

Finally, in the fourth quarter, the bench decided to show up, starting a 13-2 run, capped off by Jason Terry hitting back-to-back threes. The game was tied late in the fourth, even after it seemed like the Nets couldn't get anything to "go their way."  Kyrie Irving, though, did some magical things, dribbling into and the out of a double, almost losing the ball, before hitting Varejao for a "I can't believe he made that" jumper to put the Cavs ahead by two

In the end, the Nets fell to the Cavs by a final score of 98-94.

Brook Lopez was very good, finishing with a team-high 21 points five rebounds and four blocks, while Deron Williams had his moments, playing 22 minutes and scoring seven points with nine dimes. Joe Johnson finished with 13 points, Pierce had 17.

Andrew Bynum played eight minutes, finishing with three points, three rebounds and two blocks. Irving finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and nine assists.

One quick note, Kevin Garnett passed Reggie Miller for 14th all-time in points score. Congrats to Mr. Garnett.

For more on the Cavs, see: Fear The Sword