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Kenny Atkinson’s family gathering to take place at Nets’ home opener

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson calls to

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson calls to his players during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. Photo Credit: AP / Charles Krupa

Kenny Atkinson’s seven brothers are coming. In fact, more than 30 family members are coming to Barclays Center Friday night to see this son of Northport make his regular-season home debut as the coach of the Nets.

“My uncle is calling our business side and asking for more tickets,” Atkinson said Thursday at the HSS Training Center where the Nets were prepping for their game against Indiana. “It’s great. To me, that’s what it’s all about. It’s going to be special for me, special for my family. It’s unique. Very, very cool.”

The outside expectations are a different kind of cool for the rebuilding Nets. But they tipped off the season Wednesday night by throwing a scare into the Celtics in Boston with a furious fourth-quarter run from 23 down, slicing the deficit to three. They ultimately fell short, 122-117.

Now Atkinson and his Nets want to make a good first impression on their home crowd in a game that counts.

“I think it’s real important definitely for attendance-wise,” said rookie point guard Isaiah Whitehead, who became the first Brooklyn-born player to take the court for the Nets since they moved to the borough in 2012 and helped fuel the rally.

“If they see us go full force, win or lose, we go out there and give it our all, I think that they will really come to every game and really support us.”

Brook Lopez wasn’t a force against the Celtics in the motion offense. The ninth-year center, who averaged 20.6 points last season, played only 21 minutes and took only seven shots. He made one — a three — and scored seven points.

“It’s him learning a totally new system and us integrating him into a new system,” Atkinson said. “But I have complete confidence that as the season goes on, you’re going to see a better Brook.”

Atkinson indicated the minutes had to do with Lopez’s long-term health and said there’s a plan to increase them “pretty quick.” He spoke with Lopez Thursday.

“Just talking about patience, and ‘We’re going to build this thing, and we’re going to find a way to get you involved more but in the confines of the system,’ ” Atkinson said.

The Pacers scored 130 in their opening win in overtime over Dallas. So the Nets will have to try to build on the defensive effort they showed late against Boston.

“The last six, seven minutes, we played great defense,” swingman Bojan Bogdanovic said. “But on the other end, we have to play all 48 minutes.”

Notes & quotes: Guard Randy Foye missed the Boston game with a mild hamstring strain. Will he play in Game 2? “Still evaluating day to day,” Atkinson said. “Don’t know yet.”


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