The Brooklyn Nets offered up a season-opening performance that lived up to some best-case, worst-case scenarios.
The tantalizing offensive potential, with optimism fueled by summer acquisitions and sharp preseason performances, was on display. But coaches always see the cracks, and Kenny Atkinson’s concerns about turnovers and defensive consistency were borne out.
The Indiana Pacers shot 52 percent from the field and the Nets turned it over 20 times — 13 in the first half to help fuel some Pacer run-outs for easy baskets — in a 140-131 loss.
“I thought we completely broke down defensively,” said Atkinson. “I wish I could sit here and say it was one area. It was a multitude of things. It started with our transition defense. Our pick and roll defense wasn’t very good.”
But the primary concern was the status of guard Jeremy Lin, who left the game with just under five minutes remaining after landing awkwardly on a drive down the lane and reaching for his right knee after landing on the deck and turning toward the Brooklyn bench.
“Not a good night for the Nets,” said Atkinson. “Obviously not playing well here on the road. And then an injury on top of it. These are the kinds of situations that make you stronger, and I think we have a strong locker room.”
In his Brooklyn debut, Lin’s backcourt partner D’Angelo Russell displayed the range of his offensive game, with 30 points in 30 minutes. Russell shot 12-of-22 overall and 4-of-8 from 3-point range. The 6-foot-5 guard busted to the rim and whipped passes to set up teammates and register five assists.
Trevor Booker followed with a 20-10 double-double, Lin had 18 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 14 and Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert had 12 each. The Nets made 29-of-32 free throws and shot 40 percent from 3-point range (12-30).
The opening night rotation went 10 deep, with each of the 10 seeing action by the end of the first quarter. Atkinson stuck with his preseason starting lineup: Lin, Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Hollis-Jefferson and Timofey Mozgov. Crabbe, Quincy Acy and Booker came in as a group midway through the first quarter, followed by LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie. Russell was the only Net to play 30 minutes, and seven players played between 25 and 30 minutes.
Down 57-48 under the five-minute mark in the second quarter, the Nets evened the game with a 9-0 run capped by a Crabbe 3-pointer. LeVert and Lin knocked down triples in the final minutes of the half to keep Brooklyn within 65-63 at halftime.
But Indiana jumped out to a 77-67 lead early in the third quarter, and Brooklyn trailed throughout the second half. Carroll’s 3-pointer with 2:37 to go brought Brooklyn within 128-124 and Carroll put back a rebound with 1:36 to go to make it 132-128. But Indiana followed with six straight points to seal the game.
The Pacers had two former Nets in their starting lineup, and Thaddeus Young had 17 points and Bojan Bogdanovic had 14. Victor Oladipo led Indiana with 22 points and Darren Collison and Myles Turner had 21 apiece.