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Nets win the game ... but lose two starters ... in Shanghai

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2019 NBA Global Games - Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets and Lakers finally got to play basketball on Thursday night in Shanghai. Brooklyn came away with the win, but lost two starters early

In the end, it was David Nwaba, the former Laker, who singlehandedly sealed the game in the last 15 seconds.

With the Nets up by one with 13.9 seconds left, Nwaba forced a turnover then drove to the rim and dunked the ball, giving the Nets a three-point advantage. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Final Score: Nets 114, Lakers 111. The Nets are now 2-0 in preseason and move on to Shenzhen for Saturday’s game vs. L.A.

The big news —other than that the game was played— was that both Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert went down in the first two minutes of the game, both with facial injuries.

Irving, who suffered facial fractures two weeks ago, had trouble getting his face mask ready before tip off, then within a minute, got hit in the face by Rajon Rondo and went to the bench in pain, uttering an expletive as he sat down. Irving’s face apparently made contact with Rondo’s upper arm. Not long afterwards, LeVert got poked in the eye on a drive to the basket and he left the game as well. Neither returned.

No word yet on the severity of the injury or whether they would be ready to play Saturday night in Shenzhen, right across the border from Hong Kong. Information about the injuries was limited because of Chinese restrictions on post-game availability.

Brian Lewis tweeted that Irving suffered a “facial contusion” and that the Nets don’t appear to be that worried about any long-term effects. Keeping LeVert out was more precautionary, Lewis noted.

A number of Nets stepped up with Irving and LeVert out. Spencer Dinwiddie finished with 20 points and seven assists. Dzanan Musa, playing in the backcourt, had 16, hitting 4-of-6 from deep while Taurean Prince once again took advantage of his 3-point prowess finishing with 18 points in 24 minutes.

Nwaba ended the game with six points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 18 minutes.

The Nets two bigs again split minutes almost evenly with DeAndre Jordan starting this game and playing 24:40 while Jarrett Allen was on the court for slightly less, at 23:20. The two combined for seven blocks with Allen again swatting LeBron James, 14 rebounds and 11 points.

The Nets played a sloppy offensive game with two starters down, racking up 26 turnovers, five each by Dinwiddie, Nwaba and Theo Pinson. The also tallied 26 assists.

LeBron James, easily the most popular player in the game, finished with 20 points. Anthony Davis had 16, Rondo 18.

The game was still up in the air Thursday afternoon following six days of controversy that started with a Friday night tweet from Rockets GM Daryl Morey offering support for Hong Kong protests.

China’s first reaction was to punish the Rockets, but as the week went on, the NBA as a whole became the target.

New Nets owner Joe Tsai penned a Facebook note trying to explain China’s side of the story but he was roundly criticized in the US for taking Beijing’s side in the dispute.

The game, which some had thought would be the most watched game in NBA history, was removed from both the state media schedule and the digital media. NBA Cares events for both the Nets and Lakers were canceled by Education Ministry and a fan night was dropped by the Shanghai city government. Media availability was denied and then on Wednesday, promotional banners for the game were removed around the city.

The NBA has made no commitment on what will happen Saturday.

ON FIRE

Nets finished with 20 3-pointers, shooting just under 50 percent. Five Nets had three or more: Musa and Prince had four each; Dinwiddie, Rodions Kurucs and Garrett Temple had three each.

ON HAND

No surprise but Joe Tsai and his wife, Clara Wu Tsai, sat courtside. Big surprise was that Mikhail Prokhorov also attended the game.

Brian Lewis caught a glimpse of him...

He said he’d continue to have front row seat.