The Brooklyn Nets dropped their season opener Wednesday, falling 115-100 to the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center.
A lopsided third quarter proved to be the difference Wednesday, counteracting a strong, feisty comeback in the second. The Nets used a 36-28 second quarter rally to get within three points at the half, but a 28-16 third allowed the Bulls to pull ahead. Brooklyn closed the gap to six with just over three minutes to play, but that was as close as they came.
“They got out on us in the first and third quarter. In the second quarter we handled it better. In the second half we tried to do it ourselves too much,” head coach Lionel Hollins said.
Brook Lopez scored a game-high 26 points, with seven rebounds, while Joe Johnson led Brooklyn with 10 grabs off the glass. The Nets out-rebounded the Bulls 45-39, including a 16-5 advantage offensively, so Hollins said there were some positives to take out of Wednesday, though the biggest priority is to defend better.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we showed some good things,” Hollins said. “Not enough consistency with those good things.
The Nets got a solid effort from their bench Wednesday, as the second unit outscored the Bulls bench 46-32. The second unit helped spark the second quarter comeback, through Lopez’s presence on a 9-2 run helped.
“The second unit was great for us,” Lopez said. “They came in twice and saved the game for us with their energy and effort.”
Coach Hollins liked what he saw from the second group as well.
“Their athleticism was good. We had some blocks, some steals, we got some loose balls and we were more aggressive as a group,” Hollins said.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made his NBA debut Wednesday, playing 24:15 with eight points, five defensive rebounds, two steals, a blocked shot and a team-high +16 rating. Hollis-Jefferson, a high-energy, high-character guy off the court, was the spark the Nets needed in the second quarter. Thomas Robinson (5R, 2A, 2ST, +5) and Andrea Bargnani (17 pts., 7R, +2) each had positive ratings in their first game with the Nets.
With the win, the Bulls improve to 2-0 on the season. Jimmy Butler had a team-high 24 points, while Derrick Rose posted 16.
“We want to use this one as a building block,” Thaddeus Young said.
The Nets head out on a two-game road trip starting in San Antonio on Friday night. Tip off against the Spurs is at 8:30 p.m. eastern time.