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Nets blow out Brazil’s Franca, 137-89, in first preseason game

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

The rumors about Taurean Prince are indeed true. The 6’8” forward acquired in June from the Hawks was the star of the Nets first preseason game, scoring 22 points in 23 minutes as Brooklyn defeated Sesi Franca of Brazil, 137-89, in Brooklyn. Each of Prince’s baskets was rewarded with a “Welcome Prince” chant from the Brooklyn Brigade.

The four-year veteran was 6-of-8 from three and 6-of-10 overall.

In fact, Prince was one of several possible Kevin Durant replacements to have solid games. Rodions Kurucs, who played a team-high 24 minutes, had an efficient game, scoring nine points on 3-of-6 shooting including 2-of-5 from deep. Rookie Nicolas Claxton came on late and put on a show, scoring 13 points while blocking two shots — both jumpers— in eight minutes.

“At the end of the day, whatever level it is, it’s basketball,” said the 20-year-old Claxton. “I just wanted to come out there and affect the game in any way that I could, and I think I did a pretty good job of that. Just using the minutes that I had and making something happen. My teammates helped me out a lot, too — just finding me in my spots and everything.”

His coach was impressed.

“I get excited. He’s got something dynamic,” said Kenny Atkinson. “He’s fast. I was really impressed with his IQ. Some of those switches we were talking about with their big guys he figured it out, then made a nice pass with his right hand. That’s one of the things that impressed us in college, how good a passer he was. His IQ. He gets his shot down, he’s gonna be a pretty good player in this league.”

Overall, the Nets divided the minutes at the 5 this way: Jarrett Allen started and played 19:45 minutes, DeAndre Jordan 19:23 minutes and Claxton 8:52. All three scored in double figures.

David Nwaba who Atkinson suggested could play the 4 in a small ball lineup finished with 18 points and five boards in 23 minutes, hitting 7-of-8 shots in a high-energy performance that saw him play multiple positions.

“Swiss army knife,” Atkinson summed up. “He’s gonna have to plug holes, play 4, play 3, play 2s, sometimes guard their best player. A great utility guy.”

Prince, however, looked like the regular season starter, playing a smooth, almost effortless, game in the Nets wide-open offense.

There had been reports the last couple of weeks that the 25-year-old was impressing first in workouts, then in practice. Now, he did it in a game.

Post-game, Prince put it simply.

Prior to the game, Atkinson talked about the Nets expectations for Prince.

“He’s a guy we liked for a long time,” Atkinson said. “I liked him in Atlanta. He’s a great system fit. He’s been playing really well. I love his versatility; guard 4, 3, 2, 1. One of those guys that fits in a lot of places.

“[I’ve] been really impressed with his shooting. The ball goes in, [he’s a] 38 percent career 3-point shooter. Push him to get playing winning basketball on the defensive end. That’s going to be key for him. But been very pleased.”

Neither Kyrie Irving (facial fracture) nor Joe Harris (rest) played. Both should be ready to go next week in Shanghai when the Nets take on the Lakers, Atkinson said. Wilson Chandler, facing a 25-game suspension to start the season, was a DNP-CD.

In addition to Prince, Claxton and Nwaba, five other Nets finished in double figures: Caris LeVert (13 and nine assists); Allen (12); Jordan (11 and eight rebounds); Garrett Temple (12) and Dzanan Musa (18 points and seven boards). Musa, still the youngest Net, played 23 minutes much of it in a playmaking role. Spencer Dinwiddie had a tough night shooting but led all rebounders with 12.

Franca tried to make a game of it early, relying on the 3-point shooting of its 6’10” stretch 5, Rafael Hettsheimeir who racked up 20 points in the first half, hitting his first eight threes. He tallied with 26.

The Nets finished the half up 21, then went on a 23-0 run to put the game well out of reach. Franca simply couldn’t compete with the Nets athleticism and efficiency. Brooklyn hit 60 percent of their shots, including 35 percent from deep. More importantly, the Nets racked up 40 assists on 51 field goals.

Prior to the game, Atkinson announced that Durant will not travel to China Sunday but will instead continue his rehab in Brooklyn.

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The Nets also unveiled their new locker room.