The first glimpse of the 2017-18 Brooklyn Nets offered some new faces, but a familiar look.
Pushing the pace, going deep into the bench and putting up 32 3-pointers — right on target with last year’s average of 31.6 per game — the Nets hit for 50 percent from behind the arc.
Down by as many as 10 points in the early going, the Nets edged back into a two-point halftime lead and took control of things to start the third quarter on the way to a 115-107 win over the New York Knicks in their preseason opener at Madison Square Garden.
Three of the summer’s acquisitions — D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll and Timofey Mozgov — were in the starting lineup along with Jeremy Lin and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
“We came out the gate, started off a little shaky, but once we settled down and got comfortable with each other and we started playing off each other, you see when we make shots we can be a deadly team,” said Carroll.
Leading 59-57 at halftime, the Nets outscored the Knicks 23-7 over the first 6:07 of the second half to go up 82-64.
“I thought our defense was better in the second half,” said coach Kenny Atkinson. “First half we were really struggling in transition, but I think that started with our turnovers in the first half and we were having a tough time getting back. In the second half I think we cleaned up our turnovers a little bit, not perfect, and we did a better job defending.”
In his first game action as a Net, Russell led all scorers with 19 points. The third-year guard had 12 at the half and teamed with Hollis-Jefferson to score Brooklyn’s first 11 points of the second half. He finished the game shooting 7-of-14 from the field.
“It was fun,” said Russell. “Just to get to compete. A new group of guys. We’ve been going at it all summer, so that was good for a change.”
Russell played 16 minutes and Lin 20 as the pair opened the game together in the backcourt before each took a turn at the point while the other took a break.
Spencer Dinwiddie closed the game out at the point, finishing with 12 points — eight in the fourth quarter — and knocking down a 3-pointer with 2:09 to go after the Knicks had closed within five.
“I’d like to have one of those guys at the point the whole game,” Atkinson said of Lin and Russell. “That would be be pretty nice. It’s nice we’ve got Spencer Dinwiddie too. We can do that. We can even play three guards together. I think Spencer’s really taken another step up in his development.”
CARIS AND CRABBE OUT
The Nets were without two significant pieces in Caris LeVert and Allen Crabbe, both sidelined with ankle sprains. Before the game, Atkinson said he was “really excited about the year (LeVert is) going to have” after an impressive summer.
“Caris is like the A student in class,” said Atkinson. “He’s just got a maturity beyond his years. He’s well-spoken, he does it with his actions, he does it with his work. He’s really a guy that, he led our offseason. The guy was 100 percent participation. Just always around.”
Forward Quincy Acy was one of the first Nets off the bench and delivered 12 points in 13 minutes, making 2 of 4 3-pointers.
Last season Acy made 43 percent of his 3-point attempts in 32 games. With the trade of Brook Lopez, the Nets are looking for shooting range from the frontcourt, and the 6-foot-7 forward may be able to claim a bigger role than a year ago.
“His shooting’s going to be huge for us,” said Atkinson. “He’s our big that can really stretch the floor. He came in the game, right away you could see the difference. It just gives us more space.”
Rookie Jarrett Allen made his first appearance midway through the second quarter and ended up playing 13 minutes and grabbing five rebounds. The most impressive moment came just a few minutes in when the 6-11 Allen, flatfooted and backpedaling, reached out to block a shot from 6-11 Willy Hernangomez.
Before the game, Atkinson said he was looking forward to seeing the 19-year-old in action after a strong training camp.
“I’m pleasantly surprised,” said the Nets coach. “For a guy that didn’t play Summer League, he’s further along than I thought he’d be. I thought he’d be way behind. But he’s been a pleasant surprise. My gut, he’s gonna contribute sooner rather than later. I can’t give you the, it’s December or Januar or the first game. This will be good seeing him against somebody else. Get a good feel what it looks like against another team.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Russell was one of seven Nets to score in double figures. Sean Kilpatrick had 15 points and Joe Harris scored 13 while making 4-of-7 3-pointers. Hollis-Jefferson had 13 points and Trevor Booker grabbed 13 rebounds. The Nets shot 8-for-13 from 3-point range in the second half.