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Preseason Game 1: Knicks beat Nets 107-102 in Brooklyn

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NBA: Preseason-New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Welcome back, Nets fans. This night was long awaited even though it’s only preseason. Unfortunately it didn’t end the way Kenny Atkinson and the Nets anticipated.

The Nets led by 15 in the second quarter, but the Knicks finished the half on a 27-8 run and never looked back, finishing the game with a 107-102 victory in Brooklyn’s first preseason game. Rodions Kurucs brought the Nets within two with 37 seconds left, but Damyean Dotson hit a step-back jumper to go up four with 18 seconds left.

Back to the drawing board...

It was fun for about 16 minutes and then it all went down the drain. Caris LeVert scored nine of his 15 points in the first half, while D’Angelo Russell scored seven of his 11 points in the first. After that, Spencer Dinwiddie was basically the only consistent player for the Nets.

Enes Kanter (22 points and 20 rebounds) and undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier (25 points) anchored New York’s run.

“We took a lot of contested ones, especially contested ones off the dribble. The contested 3 off the dribble is a tough shot, too many of those. Our offense has a long way to go, we struggled to execute,” said Atkinson. “[Kanter] is a very good player. He’s a load. When we play him in the first game of the regular season we’re going to have to do a better job.”

The Nets were out-rebounded and couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean if they tried. They finished the night 8-of-41 from deep —that’s a brutally cold 19.5 percent from a team whose offense is predicated on the greenlight from three. Overall, it wasn’t any better, at 39 percent overall.

The biggest issue, one unresolved from last season, is how a big man can dominate the Nets ... and particularly Jarrett Allen. Last season, On 40 separate occasions last season, the Nets allowed opposing bigs to score 20 or more points on their frontline, with 27 going for 20 and at least 10 boards.

And also as happened last year, a player got hot and the Nets couldn’t find a way to thwart him. But in this case, it the 6’6”undrafted Trier, who has a two-way deal with New York.

“Allonzo Trier drove the heck out of the ball. In the first half we couldn’t keep him in front of us,” Atkinson said. “[LeVert] was up and down. He did some good things. He gets to the rim well. Some of those contested 3s were on his plate, so he needs to clean up his shot selection a little. It was up and down. He did some good things. Shot selection was one of those things that concerned me a bit.”

Since wins and losses don’t count in preseason, let’s go player by player and talk about what we saw...

ANTICIPATED PLAYERS

  • Caris LeVert (21 minutes) looked okay and handled the rock for a decent portion of the first quarter. He finished the day with 15 points but shot just 1-of-5 from three and Kenny Atkinson criticized his shot selection post-game
  • D’Angelo Russell (20 minutes) finished with 11 points and three assists but looked better than his stats indicated. He made some very impressive passes, two in which Allen failed to capitalize on down low.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie (19 minutes) was probably the best all-around player for the Nets, finishing with 13 points, six assists and zero turnovers. Sounds like Dinwiddie.
  • Jarrett Allen (18 minutes) came up with two blocks in the first quarter and that was about it. He grabbed seven boards but also allowed Enes Kanter to do basically whatever he wanted inside the paint. Kanter’s 20-20 game was reminiscent of last year when the Nets allowed opposing bigs to go for 20 and 10 a total of 40 times.

NEW GUYS:

  • Jared Dudley did what was expected of him. He played 16 minutes and showed that he can indeed help stretch the floor at the four. Furthermore, he brought a little toughness to the table. In the second quarter, Dudley knocked Hardaway Jr. to the ground and tried to help him up. Hardaway angrily swiped his hand away. It may not seem all that significant, but you can tell he’s got that edge to him. The Nets could use it.
  • Ed Davis also did Ed Davis things: He sets good picks and grabbed seven boards. Otherwise, nothing spectacular. Good example for Jarrett Allen.
  • Treveon Graham looked a little flustered early and finished the night 4-of-12 from the floor and 0-for-5 from three. He was, however, very aggressive on the boards with eight rebounds.
  • Rodions “Hot Rod” Kurucs,Brooklyn’s second-round pick, got some burn and finished with 13 points, four rebounds and four steals (!) in 12 minutes. He short, the 20-year-old from Latvia looked like a basketball player with good hands, high BBIQ and a lot of confidence. As Atkinson said, he’s been a bit of a surprise. He didn’t look like Long Island Wednesday. He looked very much Brooklyn.
  • Kenneth Faried, Dzanan Musa and Shabazz Napier did not play.

***

TALKING WITH MUSA

NetsDaily caught up with Dzanan Musa briefly before the game and asked him how he’s like Brooklyn. His eyes lit up, “Oh I love it,” he said. “Everything about it.”

Good to hear. The kid has swagger and it’ll be awfully fun to see him catch fire in a packed out arena this season. Why didn’t he play? Well, he’s only had one practice.

THE BLOCK IS HOT

Making their “debut” was “The Block” — Brooklyn’s loud and proud in section 114. As our Bryan Fonseca says: The block is hot! Congratulations to all who auditioned and made the final cut. Maybe it will be the start of something special.

Next up: Monday, the Nets travel to Detroit to play the Pistons. They’ll face another aggressive big man, Andre Drummond.