Brooklyn Nets show speed in OT win over 76ers
The Nets' inaugural preseason game as a Brooklyn franchise was in the books and Williams was in a jovial mood, thoroughly pleased with what he saw from his team in its matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers at Boardwalk Hall Saturday night. After an offseason filled with tons of chatter and questions about the new-look Nets, Williams & Co. finally got down to work, and the results were encouraging.
"It was definitely great," the All-Star point guard said after the Nets' 108-105 overtime win. "We've been waiting to play a game for a while. Practice has been fun, training camp has been great. But we wanted to see how we did against an opponent, against somebody that hasn't seen our plays and hasn't scouted us."
Consider their initial game against someone else a success, then.
"It was great seeing them for the first time," Avery Johnson said. "We had a really good first quarter, first unit [leading] 30-17. We had a high rating on defense, so it was good to see them out there."
The Nets came out roaring, displaying an up-tempo pace from their first possession. Williams seemed to make a conscious effort to call for the ball as soon as one of his teammates grabbed it on the defensive end, trying to get out quickly and push the ball up the court. They scored eight fast-break points in the first quarter alone compared to none for Philadelphia.
"That's what we talked about," Williams said. "Coach wants us to play faster. If we get steals or we get offensive rebounds, we have guys that can run the floor and finish, and that's tough to guard."
Williams' backcourt mate, Joe Johnson, showed off his versatility, posting up and handling the ball. He even assisted on the Nets' first basket of the game, collecting a steal, racing downcourt and throwing a nice feed to Kris Humphries for a two-handed throw-down.
Johnson, plagued by foul trouble, scored 13 points and had three assists in his Nets debut. Brook Lopez pumped in 19 points, collected nine rebounds and blocked three shots. Gerald Wallace had 18 points and seven rebounds, and Williams added 14 points and six assists.
The only starter who failed to crack double digits was Humphries. C.J. Watson was a spark plug off the bench with 19 points.
"We have so many mismatches on the court," Johnson said. "With Deron being a big point guard, he's not going to play against a lot of guys his size. Vice versa for me and Gerald. So we have a lot of guys who can post up and make plays, and tonight the ball moved great. It don't stick. We've got guys who can knock down shots.
"It was great to get out there, get up and down the court and get into the flow."
For Lopez, who played in just five games last season because of foot injuries, it was his first game action since March 4 in Charlotte. He had to knock some of the cobwebs off his game at first, struggling to get into the flow. But once he found his rhythm, he showed just how key he'll be to the Nets' success this season.
"I just tried to go out there with energy," Lopez said, "play defense, rebound, do the things that wouldn't be as rusty. I just tried to go out there and be a beast on defense, just go out there and play strong."
"This could be a special year for us," Johnson said. "If everybody keeps their heads on straight and does their jobs, everything else will fall into place."