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Lopez drops 34, Nets improve to 2-3 with 109-101 victory over Detroit

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The crowd loudly chanted, “Brooook-lyn” (or was it “Brooook-Lin?) in the final seconds as their home team once again surprised everybody and came away with a gritty victory, 109-101, over the Pistons Wednesday at Barclays Center. They improved to 2-3 on the season and 2-1 at the Barclays Center.

“Our pace was excellent, quick open shot and a good job by our guys running out and getting to our space and good spots,” Atkinson said after the game.

The Nets knew they were in for a good night when they hit their first nine shots.

Everybody else (including Stan Van Gundy) knew the Nets were in for a good night when they started the game by running the offense through Brook Lopez.

An incredible first half propelled the Nets to some of the best basketball they’ve played so far in the young season. Coming off a 30-point loss to Chicago, the Nets took advantage of the lethargic Pistons.

Especially in the first half.

The Pistons, playing the second night of a back-to-back, allowed the Nets to drop 38 points in the first quarter and 71 points in the half. The Nets, who finished with a total of 14 assists Monday, totaled 16 assists in the first 24 minutes of action.

It was a 16-point lead behind a hefty performance from Brook Lopez. Later in the third, the Nets led by 21.

Lopez dropped 24 of his 34 points (five short of his career high) in the first half after nailing a total of four 3-pointers in the half. He’s never had multiple 3-pointers in a game. And to be precise, that’s just as many as he’s hit throughout his entire career! He also grabbed 11 rebounds on the night

Still, it always seems to be a tale of two halves.

Late in the second quarter, Jeremy Lin was deemed out for the rest of the game with a hamstring injury. The Nets already have backups Greivis Vasquez, Randy Foye and Caris LeVert out due to injury and cannot afford to lose Lin at this moment. As of right now, there is no update according to Coach Atkinson.

This left Whitehead on an island alone, while Sean Kilpatrick stepped up and picked up the point guard duties, and did it well.

“I noticed as soon as Jeremy went out,” Sean Kilpatrick said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to have to play the point’ because that was something I did throughout Summer League and Coach did a great job during the summer, making sure that I played the point because you never know when that time is going to come.”

As the second half progressed, the Nets missed Jeremy Lin more and more. They led by 11 heading into the fourth quarter, but Detroit cut the deficit down to four with less than 33 seconds remaining.

The Nets needed to answer somehow, someway. It wasn’t coming on the offense end, but rather off the hustle from Trevor Booker. As the Nets led late in the game, Booker swatted a transition bucket that would’ve put Detroit down one possession.

And then finally as the Nets led by four with 30 seconds left, they missed another bucket, but who else came up with the big play: Trevor Booker. The big forward came away with the offensive rebound and passed it out, forcing the Pistons to foul. Booker is a gritty, gutsy player. He epitomizes everything Brooklyn basketball is about, said Atkinson after the game.

“That is why we brought him here,” Kenny Atkinson told reporters when asked about Booker’s block.

The Nets only scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, but they prevailed thanks to tough play down the stretch and the 71-point first half. Not to mention, they also shot 54 percent and 13-of-27 from deep.

The bench, which ranks second in the league thus far for points per game, scored 50 of 109.

A major component off the bench: Sean Kilpatrick. SK helped carry the Nets offense with 24 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-13 shooting and 4-of-4 from 3-point. Joe Harris came off the bench and chipped in 13 points, while Bojan Bogdanovic had 11.

For Detroit, Long Island native Tobias Harris led the way with 23 points, along with Marcus Morris who also had 23.

“Isaiah Whitehead, what can I say?” the Nets coach added. “That’s the beauty of sport, that’s the beauty of the NBA — that you get another chance to do it and you get another opportunity. I’m really proud of how he stepped up in front of his home crowd. Good stuff.”

Expectations aren’t high, but five games into the season and this team does have an expectation and an identity: fight every night.

Next up: Friday vs. the Hornets in Brooklyn.