Kyrie Irving scored a team-high 19 points and added four assists in his Nets home debut Friday night at Barclays Center, but the Nets’ defense was torched by the defending NBA champion Raptors in a 123-107 preseason loss.
The Nets (3-1) got 13 points apiece from Taurean Prince and Spencer Dinwiddie, but they shot only 13 of 40 from three-point range (32.5 percent). They allowed 24-for-47 three-point shooting (51.1 percent) by the Raptors (2-2), who got 18 points from OG Anunoby and 15 points and 11 rebounds from Serge Ibaka.
As far as coach Kenny Atkinson was concerned, the final preseason game was an important dress rehearsal for Wednesday’s regular-season opener at home against the Timberwolves because Irving had played only 1:06 of the first three wins because of facial injuries.
“That’s the first time Kyrie was with that group in a live game, so I think there will be some adjustments there,” Atkinson said. “He was winded a little bit, trying to catch his breath and get the rhythm of the game. For a guy who hasn’t played, it was decent.”
Irving got a great cheer when he was introduced and then opened the game with a spin move in the key that freed him to hit a 15-foot jumper to start the scoring. But the rest of the first half was an exercise in frustration as he made just 4 of 13 shots and committed three turnovers.
“I haven’t played a game since May,” Irving said. “It just felt good to be out there with my teammates and compete at a very high level and just try to get in game shape as best I could, try to get some game shots, catch my rhythm.
“It’s still new on the fly for us. We’ve got time to build.”
The Raptors opened the second quarter by making four straight threes in a 12-3 run against the Nets’ second unit for a 40-31 lead. Facing a Nets backcourt that included Irving, Caris LeVert and Dinwiddie for the last three-plus minutes of the first half, the Raptors went on a 16-5 run for a 74-53 lead. They finished the second quarter with a whopping 46 points, which was a terrible indictment of the Nets’ defense.
Notes and quotes: A group of protestors wearing “Free Hong Kong” shirts was seated at the end of the court nearest to the Nets’ bench and engaged in chants during the game. Atkinson declined political comment, but Irving said, “As individuals, it’s our job to stand up for what we believe in. Now, I understand that Hong Kong and China are dealing with their issues, respectively…When I think about Hong Kong and China, the people are in an uproar. For us as Americans, as African-Americans, as American Indians to comment on that, you’re connected, especially when it impacts freedoms or world peace.”