Nets rookies Noah Clowney and Dariq Whitehead speak during a fan...

Nets rookies Noah Clowney and Dariq Whitehead speak during a fan event on Aug. 20 at Barclays Center. Credit: Newsday / Evan Barnes

Dariq Whitehead was the first of the Nets’ two first-round picks to walk to the scorer’s table Saturday. Moments later, Noah Clowney jogged behind him.

As the Nets closed out their win over the Heat at Barclays Center, Whitehead and Clowney checked in with 2:35 remaining. They received an ovation as public address announcer Olivier Sedra informed the crowd both were making their NBA debuts.

“I didn't expect it if I'm being honest,” Whitehead said. “Just coming in they told me to be ready, so before the game is when I really kind of got in that right mindset of this just might be your first NBA game.”

Clowney, who was drafted one pick before Whitehead at No. 21, tried to take it in stride. He wasn’t nervous because the game’s outcome had long been decided and with each possession, he felt more confident about getting his first taste of NBA action.

“It’s fun, it’s exciting to be out there for the first time,” said Clowney, who didn’t score but grabbed his first rebound. “But I’m patient so I ain’t really trippin'. Just do what I’m asked.”

Both 19-year-olds, who have spent time in the G League, made history as two of the youngest players to debut for the franchise. Whitehead, at 19 years, 116 days, is the second youngest just behind Derrick Favors, who made his debut in 2010 at 19 years, 104 days.

Clowney is the third youngest, born 18 days after Whitehead. Both appreciated the ovation, especially Clowney, who assumed fans had different opinions of him after a slow start in Summer League.

“I don't think they was really rocking with me now,” Clowney said. “But now, you know? Yeah, that was great. Great reactions. I was really happy.”

For Whitehead, who was raised in New Jersey, the game was another sign of how he’s healed since having right foot surgery in June to repair a fifth metatarsal Jones fracture. He had a previous foot surgery in August that delayed his freshman season at Duke.

The injury is behind him now as he scored his first point on a free throw after missing his first attempt. He also recorded a block.

“The foot is no longer a problem,” Whitehead said. “It’s more so the other things when you're sitting out for seven months, just being able to get over shin splints, calf pains and stuff like that.”

“I feel like a healthy Dariq Whitehead can be very special. So just knowing that if I get my feet under me, get everything right in terms of the other problems that come with it . . . then I think I'll be 100% fine, ready to go.”

Whitehead and Clowney will likely shuffle between the Nets and the G League most of the season. The Nets drafted both — along with Jalen Wilson in the second round — with an eye on their long-term development.

Clowney projects to develop as a rebounder and rim protector while Whitehead’s shooting makes him a threat on the perimeter.

For now, Saturday crossed one step off their journeys and coach Jacque Vaughn said it reflected the work they’ve put in with Long Island to get comfortable being pros.

“To be able to celebrate that with them, the beginning of their careers. A lot of growth to be had from them, but they're putting in the work,” Vaughn said.

Whitehead was already thinking about what he can do to get more playing time. He’s still dealing with shin splints so he knows he’ll have to be patient.

But for he and Clowney, Saturday night was something they’ll remember, including the ovation neither one expected for their debut.

“Me and him talked about it before the game if the opportunity would come, and it actually came,” Whitehead said. “So me and him, just like we said, we're honored just to have that opportunity.”

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