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Same story, different year: Nets drop the ball late and lose to Detroit, 103-100

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Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The hyped-up Caris LeVert finished with a career-high tying 27 points in Brooklyn’s first game of the season, but failed to hit the clutch shot that would’ve given Brooklyn a lead with less than eight seconds remaining.

It was the same story, just a different year as the Pistons defeated the Nets, 103-100, Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena.

“I would call the same [play] tomorrow and the next day, then the next day,” Kenny Atkinson said of the play call that would have given the Nets the lead.

And so in the end, the Nets lost 103-100 in Detroit. They’re now 0-1 in 2018-19.

“We had our opportunities with some open shots that didn’t go down,” said Atkinson. “We had our chances. That’s all you can ask for on the road. Tough team. Just didn’t close it out.”

The Nets were without five players, including starters Allen Crabbe, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll along with reserves Shabazz Napier and Alan Williams.

After a sterling first quarter, and a Detroit comeback in the second, the Nets and Pistons were tied at the half.

The two teams were tied at 51 apiece at half when Detroit shifted their game plan. They began pounding the ball inside the paint and taking it to Brooklyn’s undersized bigs, namely Andre Drummond who finished with 24 points and 20 rebounds.

But, Brooklyn didn’t go away.

Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert led the comeback charge as the Nets regained the lead with 4:22 remaining.

They eventually found themselves down by one with 15 seconds remaining.

LeVert drove the lane, pump faked about three times and then turned the ball over with 7.8 seconds left. Reggie Jackson drained both free throws and Joe Harris missed the potential game-tying three, finishing his night 1-of-7 from deep.

Jarrett Allen was a big bright spot during the loss. The 20-year-old scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half to go along with 10 rebounds and four blocks on the night — none more emphatic than his first block of the season on Blake Griffin (see below).

With that stat line, Allen became fourth player in franchise history to register 15+ points, 10+ boards, 4+ blocks and make multiple 3-pointers in a game, joining Keith Van Horn, Derrick Coleman and Chris Morris.

Allen led the Nets in 3-pointers on the night with two — an area where the Nets really struggled. They hit 5-of-27 from deep on the night and committed 17 costly turnovers.

Dinwiddie finished the night with 23 points and six assists in 32 minutes off the bench. While Dinwiddie brought the Nets back, D’Angelo Russell watched from the sidelines. He sat the final 18:24 of the game.

“The other guys were playing great,” said Atkinson when asked about Russell sitting most of the second half.

Blake Griffin led the way for Detroit with 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Reggie Jackson chipped in 19.

The Nets could’ve used some physicality against the tough frontcourt duo of Drummond and Griffin. Kenneth Faried, known for his physicality and tenacity, didn’t even crack a single minute despite the issue. Jared Dudley, meanwhile, logged 36 minutes and finished with one point. Rodions Kurucs also got playing time over Faried, contributing three points, on his first three as a pro, in 10 minutes.

The Nets played particularly well when the offense was driving the lines and creating down low. The scored 66 points in the paint, matching the team’s highest total from all of last season on November 24 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

“Really pleased we put so much pressure on the rim all night,” said Atkinson.

Brooklyn scored 28 of its first 37 points in the paint, but made just 3-of-13 three-point attempts in the first half and finished 5-of-27 from beyond the arc for the game.

***

BLAKE VS. JARRETT ALLEN PT. 2

INJURIES ALREADY?!

Five Nets’ players sat out of this one — yes FIVE players. DeMarre Carroll is out and will be out for an undisclosed amount of time after receiving ankle surgery on Tuesday. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (hip), Allen Crabbe (ankle), Shabazz Napier (hamstring) and Alan Williams (ankle) were all out and their return is to be determined.

“Oklahoma City was without Russell Westbrook last night. That’s just how it goes,” Atkinson said before the game.

RICHARD JEFFERSON IN THE STUDIO!

Longtime Net and NBA champ Richard Jefferson made his debut in the studio for the YES Network on Wednesday. RJ played seven seasons with the Nets and made two Finals appearances with the team.

Beat writers among many others around the league have always found him to be one of the most personable players and it showed in his debut. He will go back and forth from the studios to color commentary throughout the season.

Here’s what he had to say about the team prior to 6:30 tip on the Michael Kay Show:

CARRINO AND CAPSTRAW BEGIN 17TH SEASON

What would a Nets game be without long-time radio hosts Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw? Hats off to them as they begin their 17th year calling Nets’ games.

***

Welcome to year three of the Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson era, where judgment of this team is no longer (just) based on development of players, but rather the results we see in the win column.

The Nets will make their home debut against the Knicks on Friday at 7:30 PM.

Welcome back, everybody.