The Brooklyn Nets certainly looked like a team that hasn’t played in over four months.
In their first game back, the New Orleans Pelicans destroyed them, 99-68, Wednesday night at Walt Disney World Resort (officially) in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Playing a 40-minute scrimmage, the Nets had nine active players with Jamal Crawford, Joe Harris, Tyler Johnson, Justin Anderson sitting out and Donta Hall still in quarantine.
Jacque Vaughn said nothing was wrong with Harris. He was just being rested. Vaughn added that he expects he’ll do the same thing with other players during the next two scrimmages, both 48 minute games.
“We’ll continue to strategically get guys minutes going forward,” said Vaughn. “I think [there is] overall excitement to play the game of basketball competitively again.”
Safe to say this will be a work in progress for the Nets, no matter how depleted roster was on Wednesday night. There’s no sense in overreacting to a scrimmage, but it was still an ugly game of basketball.
The Nets lost control of this game right from the start. They went the final 5:50 of the first quarter without scoring a single point, leaving the quarter having missed 14 of their first 19 shots. The Pelicans went on a 7-0 run and trickled over into the second quarter where the Nets were on the wrong side of a 29-11 run, falling by as many as 20.
The Pelicans outscored the Nets 33-21 in the second quarter, which put the Nets down 21 at half — 32 percent from the field with 11 turnovers. They finished the game shooting 35 percent from the field, 25 percent from three with 21 turnovers. New Orleans beat the Nets in virtually every statistical category possible.
Then, nothing really changed in the second half. The Nets couldn’t hit a shot and couldn't defend the paint due to their lack of size. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot started at the 4 and picked up three fouls within the first seven minutes of the game.
Others were forced to step up, but it never happened. They went down by 25 with five minutes left in the fourth and head coach Jacque Vaughn emptied the bench, of course one with only four players on it.
Here’s how the guys turned out:
Dzanan Musa: 11 points on 2-of-4 shooting, 7-of-7 from the line
Caris LeVert: 10 points on 5-of-18 shooting, 0-for-6 from three
Jarrett Allen: 10 points and 10 rebounds on 4-of-5 shooting
Garrett Temple: 8 points on 3-of-7 shooting
Chris Chiozza: 6 points on 2-of-9 shooting
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot: 7 points on 3-of-10 shooting
Rodions Kurucs: 10 points and five rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting
Lance Thomas: 3 points on 1-of-5 shooting
Jeremiah Martin: 3 points on 1-of-3 shooting
Kurucs probably showed the most of the rotation players. Vaughn said the Nets wanted to look at Rodions Kurucs at center tonight. Right now, the Nets have three players 6’9” or taller: Allen, Kurucs and Hall.
At one point in the third quarter, Kurucs hit five straight points with a dunk off a steal and a three from the top of the key. He also successfully fed Allen with a neat pocket pass in the paint.
“Rodi looked really good for us. He’s gonna be good for us,” said Temple. “I really like the way Rodi played tonight and the way he’s played in practice.”
Vaughn also spoke positively about Allen and suggested he’ll benefit from a full roster.
“We actually talked about trying to reward JA (Jarrett Allen) because we’re going to ask him to do a lot as far as screening, playing get game, defend the rim for us. That first half, we got some good looks and a lot of that was because of him,” said Vaughn.
“His ability to put pressure on the rim allowed for some skip passes, some shake passes to get guys open. The game will produce some opportunities more for Jarrett as he gets more comfortable and other guys that didn’t play tonight help him get baskets.”
On the other side of the ledger, LeVert looked the most rusty, shooting 5-of-18, including 0-of-6 from deep. Still, LeVert was happy to be on the court.
“It felt good. It felt good, man. That’s the first time since March with us getting up and down. We’ve gotten up and down a little bit in practice, but you know, nothing’s like a game. It was good to get out there.”
Temple may have best described the game’s atmosphere.
“It felt like a 2K video game... it was very different. I’m glad we have three games to get used to it,” said the Nets veteran.
The Pelicans were led by E’Twuan Moore and Nickel Alexander-Walker, who both chipped in 14 points apiece. Brandon Ingram, Jahlil Okafor and Jrue Holiday all finished in double figures.
Take it with a grain of salt. The next scrimmage will be played against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.
JAMAL CRAWFORD FEELING AT HOME
POOCH’S 60 SECOND NETS PREVIEW
Insert your unnecessary panic below! The Nets will play again at 4:30 p.m. ET vs. the Spurs. YES will televise the game.
- Box Score: New Orleans Pelicans 99, Brooklyn Nets 68 - NBA.com
- Recap: New Orleans Pelicans 99, Brooklyn Nets 68 (Video) - NBA.com
- Nets players not with the team (Video) - YES Network
- Live [Scrimmage] Thread: Brooklyn Nets vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 7:00 PM
- Nets ripped by Zion Williamson-less Pelicans in NBA bubble - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Hodgepodge Nets finally return to court against another team - Steve Popper - Newsday
- Nets show major signs of rust in first Orlando scrimmage - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Five thoughts from the Nets’ first scrimmage in the NBA’s Orlando bubble - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- Zion Williamson getting tested, but return to bubble unknown - Tim Reynolds - AP
- PELICANS 99, NETS 68: BROOKLYN BACK TO WORK WITH OPENING SCRIMMAGE - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets