Saturday night’s loss in Detroit had all the twists and turns of the first 10 days of the season for the Brooklyn Nets, a 2-4 start that has included two overtime losses and a third in which they were within a point twice in the final minute.
The Nets were alternately down by 12, up by 14, and down by 13 before their late push came up short.
“We were up 15 and we couldn’t extend the lead,” said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. “They started chipping away. I told the guys we have to do it for longer. We’re doing it in stretches.”
The Nets allowed Detroit to take 29 free throws, and currently rank 21st in allowing 26.2 free throw attempts per game. One night earlier, they had held the league-leading Houston Rockets (32.4 free throw attempts per game) below their average with 27 attempts.
“It’s an issue,” said Atkinson. “Last year we were good at keeping teams off the line. I thoguht we bailed them out a bunch of times. It’s not only physical, it’s a mental part too.”
The Nets have one home left in their opening stretch of five out of seven at Barclays Center before they take off for a five-game road trip, their longest of the season. They’ll host the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night.
“I just think it takes time,” said Atkinson. “It’s going to take time to get together and get on the same page and close out a game. It’s a new team we have to have patience. I like the guys’ spirit and attitude and playing hard.��
TIGHTENING THE ROTATION
Prior to Friday night’s win, Kenny Atkinson acknowledged the Nets were still tinkering with their rotations, with changes still to come. After the Nets went 10 deep through the first four games, the rotation has been tighter over the last two.
The first change was the first DNP for David Nwaba on Friday night. Dzanan Musa got a first half opportunity, but he and Rodions Kurucs played a total of 14 minutes, with most of the minutes going to Brooklyn’s first eight.
Saturday night in Detroit, the Nets used nine players, with Nwaba and Musa both out, and all but Kurucs’ 15 minutes again going to the first eight players.
Kyrie Irving posted his third career triple-double on Saturday night with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He is second in the NBA with 30.5 points per game.
After leading the league in 3-point shooting last season, Joe Harris is off to another strong start. He’s made 20-of-35 attempts, a 57.1 percent rate. The Nets lead with league in shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range.
DeAndre Jordan had 10 rebounds on Saturday night, and has grabbed double-digit boards in four of Brooklyn’s six games. With Jordan averaging 10.0 rebounds and Jarrett Allen averaging 9.7, the Nets are second in the league with 50.7 rebounds per game.
Brooklyn is fifth in the league in effective field goal percentage (54.0).
ABOUT THE PELICANS
The Pelicans have gotten off to a 1-5 start after a radical refit in the offseason.
The centerpiece of the rebuild, No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, has yet to play due to knee surgery. But New Orleans was busy at the draft, adding Nickeil Alexander-Walker with a No. 17 pick that originally belonged to the Nets, plus No. 8 pick Jaxson Hayes.
New Orleans also added Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart in the blockbuster deal that sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers, then picked up vets JJ Redick and Derrick Favors.
Ingram is off to a strong start with 23.5 points per game, shooting 51.5 percent overall and 50 percent from 3-point range on 5.3 attempts per game, plus 7.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
New Orleans is ninth in pace (105.58) but first in field goal attempts (95.7). With Ball averaging 7.3 assists and Jrue Holiday 6.8, they lead the league with 29.7 assist per game. They’re fifth in offensive rating (110.4) but 28th in defensive rating (113.8).