The Nets battled (shout out Avery Johnson), but ultimately came up short against a team they could be competing for a playoff spot with in April. The Nets got off to a rousing start, leading by as much as twelve in the first quarter, but the lack of depth without four key rotation players (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll, Shabazz Napier, Allen Crabbe) was evident as Detroit battled back to tie the game going into the half. Then, the infamous third quarter woes made a return, with Detroit using their bulk inside to power their way to a 32-25 advantage through the first twelve minutes of the second half. Andre Drummond (24 points and 20 rebounds) and Blake Griffin (26 points, eight rebounds, six assists) were too much to handle for the shorthanded Nets. Not to mention, it’s tough to win when you shoot 18.5 percent (!) from three (5/27). As Kenny Atkinson said, the Nets had their chances, but ultimately couldn’t close the game down the stretch – without D’Angelo Russell.
D’ANGELO RUSSELL (8 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds – 3/9 in 25 minutes)
D’Angelo gets a passing grade this time around, but there’s no doubt the Nets need a better effort out of him next time out. On the first offensive possession of the game, Russell found Jarrett Allen for a pretty finish. He continued the first half similarly, playing in control, even if deferring to others. Russell seemed to be feeling his way through the game for much of the night. In the third quarter, defensive lapses began to show as he didn’t seem as locked in as he initially was in the first half. Questionably, Russell didn’t see the floor in the fourth quarter as Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie ran the show. Subpar performance from DLo in Game 1.
CARIS LEVERT (27 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds – 10/18 in 34 minutes)
Maybe all the hype we’ve been hearing about Caris LeVert is real after all. LeVert looked confident all night, slashing his way to the rim at will. With Russell missing in action, LeVert ran the show beautifully, tying a career-high in points (set last year @ LAC). Like the rest of the Nets, his outside shot wasn’t falling (0-2 from three), but he still proved to be effective. Great start for CLV.
SPENCER DINWIDDIE (23 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds –10/18 in 32 minutes)
Spencer Dinwiddie isn’t playing around; he’s out to prove he has more room to grow. For a shorthanded bench, Dinwiddie provided the jolt the Nets needed. In the third quarter specifically, Dinwiddie got to the rim at will, showcasing his acrobatic finishing ability. Kenny Atkinson decided to roll with Dinwiddie over Russell down the stretch, and rightfully so. Dinwiddie looks to be in store for a big season as a high-usage guard, leading the second unit.
JARRETT ALLEN (17 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks – 6/10 in 30 minutes)
Efficient and explosive. Jarrett Allen is making a habit of highlight reel plays on both ends of the floor. In the first quarter, he stuffed Blake Griffin at the rim for the second time in a week, sending Twitter into a frenzy. Allen looks to be another Net poised to take a big leap this season, showcasing his newly developed shooting stroke with two threes on the night (5/15 last season). He also tested his summer gains against Andre Drummond. Allen was arguably the best player on the floor in the first half, dominating the Pistons to the tune of 15 points and five rebounds. The second half was a different story, where Allen contributed only two points and five rebounds and Drummond and the Pistons began to take control. Drummond once again registered a 20/20 game for Detroit, but Allen’s performance was a step in the right direction.
JOE HARRIS (13 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds – 6/14 in 37 minutes)
Credit Joe Harris for salvaging his performance when his shot wasn’t falling. Just 1/7 from three on the night, in the second half, Harris found other ways to contribute. Leading the Nets in minutes, Harris had the opportunity to show off his all-around game, shooting 5/7 from two-point range and aiding the big men in rebounding.
ED DAVIS (8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists – 4/4 in 18 minutes)
Ed Davis was as exactly as advertised. Tough screener, rugged rebounder, knows his role. In just eighteen minutes tonight, he was as active as could be, contributing a highly efficient eight points and seven rebounds. He’ll be a big help behind Jarrett Allen this season.
JARED DUDLEY (1 point, 3 assists, 3 rebounds – 0/5 in 36 minutes)
Without forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll, Brooklyn was forced to start veteran Jared Dudley. For much of the night, Dudley was tasked with defending All-Star Blake Griffin, which went pretty much how you would predict it would. In small spurts, Dudley’s high IQ, floor spacing, and veteran leadership could prove to be valuable, but tonight he was outmatched against one of the best frontlines in the Eastern Conference.