Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert keyed the Brooklyn Nets' comeback from a 13-point second half deficit, but the Nets dropped their 2018-19 season opener in Detroit against the Pistons, 103-100.
LeVert's drive capped a 12-3 run that put the Nets up 92-91 for their first lead of the second half before Detroit responded with an 8-2 run behind Andre Drummond. A Joe Harris 3-pointer brought Brooklyn within 101-100 in the final minute before Detroit held on for the win.
"We had our opportunities with some open shots that didn't go down," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. "We had our chances. That's all you can ask for on the road. Tough team. Just didn't close it out."
Dinwiddie scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half, finishing 10-of-18 from the field with a team-high six assists.
LEVERT PLUS ALLEN
In the young players, next step category, count opening night as a positive for LeVert and Jarrett Allen.
LeVert looked like the guy his teammates were hyping during the preseason, putting up a team-high 27 points largely on aggressive forays to the rim, shooting 10-for-18 and getting to the line for eight free throw attempts, making seven. He added four rebounds and four assists.
Allen's night was a little more mixed, with an outrageous start that included a highlight-reel block of Blake Griffin followed by a quiet second half. The young center opened up his second season with 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks in the first half, even knocking down two 3-pointers. But he was scoreless for the first 20 minutes of the second half before finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth career double-double.
TOUGH DEALING WITH DRUMMOND
Sometimes the obvious concerns ring true. Andre Drummond put up two 20-rebound games against the Nets last season, averaging 18.5 boards in four games. The Detroit center went for 24 points and 20 rebounds and teamed with Blake Griffin to muscle the Nets in the third quarter, leading a 20-4 run that put Brooklyn in a 13-point hole. Griffin finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
"I thought the third quarter, that's where we kind of lost it," said Atkinson. "I thought we turned the ball over a bunch and they got out and ran. That's kind of where they got their separation."
With the Nets having reclaimed the lead midway through the fourth quarter, 92-91, Drummond scored six of Detroit's next eight points, with two of the baskets coming off offensive rebounds.
The Nets' new spread offense showed off early, sparking Brooklyn to an 8-0 run to start the game and eventually a 12-point lead late in the first quarter, 29-17. Moving the ball sharply on the perimeter and connecting with cutters in the lane, the Nets shot 13-for-25 in the first quarter and eventually put up 51 points in forging a halftime tie.
"Really pleased we put so much pressure on the rim all night," said Atkinson.
Brooklyn scored 28 of its first 37 points in the paint, finding open driving lanes or a rolling Allen with easy consistency. But they made just 3-of-13 3-point attempts in the first half and finished 5-of-27 from beyond the arc for the game.
The Nets were without Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll, all regular starters last season, as well as offseason acquisitions Shabazz Napier and Alan Williams.
The Nets play the Knicks in their home opener on Friday, then visit Indiana on Saturday.