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Nets blown out by Bulls in season opener

Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets is fouled

Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets is fouled by Taj Gibson of the Chicago Bulls in the second half at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015 in Brooklyn, New York. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Their first possession of the season resulted in a turnover, they clanked their initial four shots, yielded the game's first seven points and coach Lionel Hollins burned a pair of timeouts to quell the craziness.

Sure didn't take long to figure out it wasn't going to be the Nets' night.

They showed brief flashes at times. But the Nets were no match for the Bulls Wednesday night, dropping their season opener, 115-100, in front of a sellout crowd of 17,732 at Barclays Center.

Brook Lopez led the Nets with 26 points and seven rebounds. Andrea Bargnani, making his debut after sitting out the preseason with a tight hamstring, had 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Jimmy Butler paced the Bulls with 24 points. Nikola Mirotic had 18 points and nine rebounds, Pau Gasol chipped in 16 points and Derrick Rose posted 15 for Chicago.

The Nets went 0-for-9 from three-point range, failing to connect beyond the arc in a game for the first time since 2009. They shot 41.9 percent overall, a number that won't get it done against high-octane teams like the Bulls.

With Jarrett Jack sitting out because of a sore hamstring, Hollins inserted Shane Larkin into the point guard spot, placing him alongside Wayne Ellington, Joe Johnson, Young and Lopez.

Larkin was criticized in the offseason by Knicks team president Phil Jackson, who said Larkin's "tiny" hands negatively affect his ball\handling ability and suggested he didn't utilize his quickness and speed correctly. So this was his chance to reward the Nets' faith in him that had general manager Billy King dialing him up as soon as free agency opened July 1.

But Larkin struggled so badly that he was yanked for Donald Sloan early in the third quarter, when the game was still within reach. Although his eight assists matched a career high, he shot just 3-for-8 from the floor and was outplayed by Rose.

Nearly blown out of the building long before many in the late-arriving crowd were perched in their seats, the Nets stormed back to make things somewhat interesting heading into halftime. Trailing 30-19 after the first quarter, the Nets posted a 36-point second quarter fueled by a 16-for-23 showing from the field, and in part by the hustle and defensive tenacity of rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

The Nets cut the deficit to a point twice, the second occasion coming on a pair of Lopez free throws with 48.7 seconds left. But that's as close as the Nets clawed.

The Nets misfired on 25 of 31 attempts in the third quarter, allowing Chicago to put a stranglehold on them with a 23-6 run that gave them a 86-71 deficit. Still, they managed to hang around just enough but Chicago answered every time. Lopez sank a pair of free throws with 3:41 left to pull the Nets within 100-94, but Rose answered by banking in a tough runner to push Chicago's edge back to eight.

Things certainly won't get any easier for the Nets. They are embarking on a stretch in which they will play 11 of their next 15 games on the road, including matchups against the Spurs and Grizzlies on consecutive nights beginning Friday in San Antonio.


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