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ELECTRIFYING! Kyrie Irving’s 50-point Nets debut ruined by Timberwolves, 127-126 (OT)

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Minnesota Timberwolves v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Kyrie Irving dropped 50 points in his Brooklyn Nets debut, setting team and NBA records along the way, but it wasn’t enough for the Nets to get an opening night victory, falling to Minnesota 127-126, in overtime at Barclays Center, Wednesday, his final shot falling off the rim as time expired

Irving became the first Nets player since Deron Williams in 2012 to score 50 or more points in a game — and only the seventh in Nets’ franchise history. He also added eight rebounds and seven assists to his impressive stat line as he finished 17-of-33 overall and 7-of-14 from deep. And he didn’t turn the ball over. Not once.

In fact, he became the first player in NBA history to rack up a 50/7/7 line without a turnover since turnovers became an official NBA stat in 1977. It was also the most points scored by a player in his debut with a new team, besting the old record set in 1984 by Kiki Vandeweghe playing for Portland.

And his point total was seven shy of his individual career high, set in March 2015 when he was still with Cleveland. In short, it was the greatest performance by a Nets player since the Barclays Center opened seven years. On that, there can be no debate.

But the only thing that mattered was the end result.

“He was outstanding. Obviously, a great debut for him. Just disappointing we made such a big hole for us,” Kenny Atkinson said. “The first half we were completely out of sync.”

And the final minutes were more than disappointing.

Following a pair of free throws from Irving, the Nets trailed by one with 37 seconds left. They forced a miss from Karl-Anthony Towns with 20 seconds left and the door was left wide open.

The building was ready to erupt, ball in Kyrie’s hands.

Nets fans wanted the moment to happen, but Kyrie slipped as time winded down, got up and missed an open look as time expired.

“None of that matters unless you get the win. The race is to get as many wins as you can,” said Irving, “I fell. I was in the process of making another move and just lost my footing, lost my balance. Somehow I got it back and just got to get my elbow pointed at the rim,” said Irving,

The Nets, meanwhile now have not won a season opener since 2012. Towns, who typically goes off against the Nets, finished with 36 points and 14 rebounds, while Andrew Wiggins, who sealed the deal for Minnesota, finished with 21.

But before that final miss, there was a missed opportunity ... or two.

With the crowd on its feet and Irving putting on a show, the Nets looked to be in good hands with 1:12 left. Tied at 112 apiece, Irving stepped back and nailed a three, giving Brooklyn its last lead.

But then, Towns tied it up at 115 apiece with a three of his own.

Down trotted Kyrie and the Nets. He drove, got the the hole on the baseline and dished it off to Jarrett Allen who was fouled with 5.7 seconds left. He missed both free throws. Taurean Prince came swarming in for the offensive board, but missed on the follow-up attempt.

Irving did all he could — scoring the final nine points in the fourth, but the Nets simply didn’t execute when they needed to.

As Atkinson said, it started poorly.

The Nets trailed by as many as 18 in the first half with Irving and Caris LeVert (20 points) handling most of the work, perhaps too much of it. Prince was held scoreless in first half, as was Joe Harris The league’s leading 3-point shooter didn’t even attempt a three at the half.

Then, with the crowd wondering what was wrong, the Nets jumped out on a 15-2 run to start the second half, taking a one-point lead then increasing it to eight as the fourth quarter came along. It was a no-look pass from Kyrie Irving to Joe Harris for his first three of the night that caused Barclays Center to explode.

They were up 98-90, but committed more turnovers in the first couple of minutes of the fourth (seven) than they did through the first three quarters (six), thus leading to an 11-2 run for Minnesota.

The rest was history. The Nets are 0-1 to start the season and simply couldn’t fully overcome Minnesota’s 68-point first half.

Prince scored all 15 of his points in the third quarter, while Spencer Dinwiddie and Harris chipped in 14 apiece. Dinwiddie struggled, though, with five turnovers on the night.

Ultimately, Brooklyn’s poor defense and sloppy play allowed Minnesota back into the game in the fourth quarter. They committed just six turnovers the first three quarter and then committed 10 total in the fourth and overtime.

It was fun. It was good to be back, but a loss is a loss and this was one the Nets should’ve had.

HOMECOMING

Homecoming Kyrie is the best Kyrie.

Kyrie Irving addressed Nets fans prior to the game and stopped in his tracks, saying: “Man, it’s just hitting me now.”

Post game, he offered both gratitude and hope.

“It felt incredible – been waiting to get started for a month now and kind of test our system against some other guys. It was good to start the journey and our goal of getting through 82 games healthy, so, it’s a great starting point. Obviously you wanted to come out and get a win in front of our home crowd, but we’ve got another chance on Friday,” he told the media.

“We will watch film tomorrow and see where we can get better. It’s still a new developing group for us and we missed some assignments tonight, gave up 33 and 35 in the first and second quarters, respectively, and when you’re playing like that against a team that plays off rhythm like KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns) and Andrew (Wiggins). And then they get going down the stretch and running the same play over and over again – just gotta figure out a way to make adjustments and as a team do that.”

His welcome, as was that of Kevin Durant —through what looked like a time portal no less, ended the Nets summer of promise and initiated what the building wanted to be the beginning of a championship window.

The game was a sellout, the Nets eighth straight after five to close out last season’s playoff run and two in the first round. Friday night’s game, against the Knicks, will make it nine.

FIVE NETS IN DOUBLE FIGURES

In addition to Irving’s 50, the Nets had four other players in double figures. Caris LeVert finished with 20 points along with five rebounds and four assists. Taurean Prince, who did not score in the first half, had his first double-double in two years, 15 points and 11 rebounds. Both Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris finished with 14. Harris hit 4-of-6 from three, all of them in the second half.

However, the Nets two 5’s — Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan combined for only eight points and 11 rebounds while letting Karl-Anthony Towns lead the Timberwolves with 36 and 14. The two ex-Nets, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham, who wound up in Minny as part of the Kevin Durant sign-and-trade, wound up with 14 points and 11 assists.

The often-criticized Andrew Wiggins finished strong for the T-Wolves, ending up with 21 points and eight boards.

Next up: Friday, 7:30 PM vs. the New York Knicks