November 22, 2019

Kyrie Irving scores 50 points during opening night performance, but the Minnesota Timberwolves get the win over Brooklyn Nets 127-126 in overtime

Yes, opening night for the Brooklyn Nets was the Kyrie Irving Show! Irving posted 50 points (17-of-33 FG, 7-of-14 3FG, 9-of-10 FT) in his debut for Brooklyn last night with eight rebounds, a team-high seven assists, and one block in 38 minutes. Irving scored half of his points by halftime.

However, let’s not shortchange the contributions of the rest of the team. Caris LeVert, a member of the Nets young core, accumulated 20 points with five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Keep an eye out for LeVert. Last season, LeVert posted nine games with 20+ points. LeVert was averaging 19 points a game last season just before suffering a gruesome subtalar dislocation of the right foot in the 14th game of the season against the Minnesota Timberwolves. When LeVert returned in February from his injury, he averaged 13.7 points in 40 games played. And, in the postseason LeVert showed out, averaging 21 points per game in three of the team’s five playoff games against the Philadelphia 76ers. And during the 2018 off-season, he worked out Kyrie Irving. As they say, if you want to be the best, then you need to run with the best.

Taurean Prince, who just received a contract extension from the Nets, tallied a double-double in his Nets debut, totaling 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds with two steals in a game-high 41 minutes against Minnesota. Joe Harris, aka “Joey Buckets,” and Spencer Dinwiddie each scored 14 points with Dinwiddie scoring his 14 points off the bench in just under 19 minutes.

Kyrie Irving scored 23 points before the 3-minute mark in the 2nd quarter.

“He was outstanding,” remarked Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson about Irving’s performance. “Obviously, a great debut for him. Just disappointing we made such a big hole for us. The first half we were completely out of sync.”

Definitely out of sync. At the end of the first quarter, the Nets were behind by 11 points, with the score being 33-22, and the first half ended with the Timberwolves up by 12 points, 68-56.

“The second half we did a little better, got in sync,” Atkinson added. “We definitely saw the effects of guys not playing together. We’ve got to figure out our rotations. Credit to the Timberwolves, obviously (Karl-Anthony) Towns was huge. His threes were huge. I thought a lot of them were contested. Just credit to them.”

Remember the days when the Nets would get lost in the third quarter, digging a hole too deep to resurface? Not last night. The Nets picked up some energy and wrote a different story, outscoring the Timberwolves 37-20 in the third stanza and started the fourth quarter with a five-point lead over the Timberwolves (93-88).

With several lead changes in the fourth quarter, including when at 9:51, the Nets were up by eight points, it seemed like the Timberwolves were running out of steam. But then started chipping away at the Nets’ lead and tied the game at 6:53. The T-Wolves chipped away some more and took the lead from the Nets (101-98) at 6:47. The Nets fought back, tying the game 110-110 at 1:41 on Irving’s first of three free throws. With all free throws made, the Nets are now ahead by two, 112-110, but Anthony Wiggins ties the game at 112-112 with a finger-roll layup. Irving then hits a three-pointer with 1:16 remaining pulling the Nets to 115-112. Minnesota calls a time out, Towns hits a 25-foot three and ties the score at 115-115 at 1:06.

The Nets had opportunities to pull ahead. Irving missed a fadeaway bank shot and a three-pointer and Jarrett Allen missed two free throws, which may have been done on purpose to set up an overtime scenario considering there were 5.7 seconds left in regulation.

During overtime, the Nets were down three points with 36.8 seconds remaining. Irving goes to the free-throw line and makes two shots bringing the Nets within one point. At 20.5 seconds, Karl-Anthony Towns misses a 3-point jump shot, Irving rebounds and calls a time out. With 14.5 seconds left, Irving dribbles, falls, gets up, shoots the ball at the buzzer, and misses. Minnesota survives and the Nets lose 127-126.

Irving’s mishap on the last play of the game in OT was on everyone’s mind; was the floor slippery, did he trip on something, etc.?

“I fell,” Irving told the media during a postgame briefing in the locker room. “I was in the process of making another move and just lost my footing, lost my balance. Somehow, I got it back and just got to get my elbow pointed at the rim. I had a better chance at making it. It was right a little bit, so, just gotta tuck the elbow in a little bit and I’ll have a better chance. But when you lose balance like that, you try to get your bearings really quickly and I give credit to them. Obviously just losing my balance made the big difference there.”

Regarding the Nets’ slow start out the gate?

“This is one game, Irving said. “One of 82. So, don’t need to get nervous. Just keep knocking them down.”

Game 1 is in the books, and Game 2 is tomorrow, Friday, October 25, 2019, against the New York Knicks, who is also 0-1. This game will be home game for the Nets at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m.

 

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