Mistakes in details proved costly in Nets season opener

New Orleans Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram (14) drives past Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving (11) and Kevin Durant during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin I

Were they first make mistakes or a sign of more glaring issues for the Nets? That appeared the question on everyone’s minds after the Nets’ humbling 130-108 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on opening night. 

The Nets were outclassed in every category of the game on Wednesday night. They were outrebounded 61-39, which included being outworked on the offensive glass by a 21-9 margin, and were outscored 36-4 in second-chance points. 

 Making matters worse they were dominated in the paint and outscored 62-46. 

All of that’s to say the Nets made it easy for New Orleans in the season opener, a trait that too often became the case last season for the team. And one they had been looking to shake this year. 

“This is a grown man’s league and the most physical team wins, and New Orleans came in with intent to show us why they’re going to be in the hunt for championships in the next few years,” Kyrie Irving said. “They did everything. So this is one of those things where I’m upset that we lost but I’m also glad that we got tested tonight by a great team because we need these. It’s not time to put our heads down or anything, but we have to show a strong resolve and show strong faces. Not be swayed so much by our home crowd getting antsy, because we were definitely very antsy tonight.”

Part of the Nets’ issues last season had been their size, or lack thereof. Brooklyn didn’t go out and get much bigger during the offseason, which showed with Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas dominating the boards. Between the two they pulled down 22 rebounds on Wednesday. 

That was more than half the team total for the Nets. 

“We’re never going to be the biggest team, we’re not going to lead the league in rebounds but there’s still a level of understanding that that’s a weakness for us,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We’ve talked about it every day. We have to come back and double-team on the glass and flood it. That’s a part of just being competitive and being aware and understanding where are weaknesses are and trying to combat them from the start.”

New Orleans Pelicans’ Larry Nance Jr. (22) shoots over Brooklyn Nets’ Ben Simmons (10) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in New York.AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

While the Nets’ size issues are no secret, the fact that Brooklyn struggled in various areas from their ball movement to even their shooting. Irving shot just 6-of-19 from the field and the team shot 44.9% from the field. Beyond the arc, the Nets knocked down just 10 of their 33 attempts on Wednesday. 

“I don’t think we shot any terrible ones. We got a couple, tried a few but they only made two more 3s than us. So that wasn’t the game,” Durant said. Brooklyn was without sharpshooters Joe Harris and Seth Curry, which likely played into the struggles from three-point range. 

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However, it wasn’t lost on the Nets that things need to change before they face Toronto on Friday. 

“We have to improve on these areas that are considered weaknesses right now and that’s boxing out and doing the little things,” Irving said.  “Those details are really going to dictate our season. It’s how often and how consistent are we going to be dedicated to doing the little things which is boxing out as you saw. The same plays that demoralize the fans at home demoralize us as players on the court when they consistently get second-chance points and offensive rebounds and they’re doing the little things that really decide a game at times.”