Nets return to Long Island roots
The Nets returned to their old Long Island roots Wednesday night, hosting their crosstown rivals at Nassau Coliseum on the very day the arena's main tenant announced it is moving to the Nets' new $1 billion Brooklyn home.
They were even sporting red, white and blue throwback uniforms, though that was mostly because the Knicks didn't want to wear their white home uniforms as the Nets requested, so they could play in their road black Brooklyn uniforms.
But it certainly didn't feel like the Nets were the home team, not with the way the sellout crowd of 15,957 was pro Knicks, cheering wildly as MarShon Brooks' layup rimmed out, sending the Nets to a 97-95 overtime loss in the preseason finale.
"I thought it was a good crowd," Deron Williams said, "a little more Knicks fans than Nets fans, even though it was our home game. That's to be expected on Long Island, probably. But I thought the crowd was great. I thought we had a lot of fans that were in there cheering and just as loud as Knicks fans sometimes."
The Nets' starters played the bulk of the minutes in the first and third quarters, with Joe Johnson seeing additional time on the court in the fourth quarter, helping run the second unit. Their starting five of Williams, Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez each had their moments, but weren't completely in sync. Williams had 22 points, three rebounds and a pair of assists in 27:22 and Johnson, who looked good in the low post, netted eight points in 32:04 in the Nets' final tuneup before their season opener against the Knicks a week from Thursday at the Barclays Center.
"We played a lot better," Williams said. "I think we came out pretty well. The first quarter was solid. We did some good things defensively, we executed our game plan pretty well. Then the second quarter, things changed, especially at the beginning, and then they hurt us a lot with pick-and-rolls with Raymond Felton and the five man.
"So there are some good things we can look at and try to clean up for the next time we see them."
Avery Johnson was hopeful of seeing a vastly improved showing on defense by the Nets after a pair of disappointing performances in their previous two preseason games.
The Knicks, with Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni at point guard, ran the pick-and-roll a lot, giving the Nets a chance to work closely to correct one of their more notable issues that's crept up in their five preseason contests coming in. Apparently, there's still work to do in that department.
"Guys were getting to the basket pretty easy," Williams said. "Ray Felton came off and was able to kind of walk in for easy layups and those kind of things can't happen."
Certainly not in a supercharged environment like the one the capacity crowd provided last night.
"Good atmosphere," Johnson said. "Crowd was into the game. I think it's going to be that way all year whenever we play the Knicks."