The Brooklyn Nets won their first game in their “new era”, with Jeremy Lin leading the way on an almost-triple double but more importantly, actually playing the playmaker and not observer, with Sean Kilpatrick showing his capabilties and Brook Lopez actually showing up.
Lopez led the Nets with 25 points in 26 minutes. He had a kinda of mixed game, taking too many 3-pointer (0-for-4) and spending too many times hovering around the perimeter instead of doing what he does best. But he and Lin were almost automatic whenever they went for the pick & roll, helping Lopez score 8 of his points. The Pacers couldn’t stop Lin when he took off towards the paint, and they had no one to handle Lopez when he got the ball inside. It might not be part of the motion offense Kenny Atkinson dreams of, but it’s the best play the Nets have, and there’s no reason to hide away from it as long as teams don’t have an answer for it.
Lin finished with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, and for some reason the box score didn’t show any steals, but he had a couple of them. Monta Ellis and Jeff Teague both struggled to contain him whenever he tried attacking the rim, which helped Lin get to the line 8 times, making 7 of his shots. It was a lot easier with screens being set up for him. When the Nets have players rolling to the basket while Lin is moving in that direction as well, they’re very difficult to stop. Trevor Booker scored 4 points off of that, and the Nets final points of the game displayed what kind of confusion a defense has when Lin comes off a screen and enters the paint. Too many options, but it’s up to his teammates to keep up.
Maybe more impressive on in the Lin aspect of the game was his shooting. He finished with 6-of-12 from the field and 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. Good, but not mind blowing. So what’s the big deal? His form and confidence when going up for jumpers, even the difficult ones, seems fluid, smooth. It’s something best seen, not imagined through words written on a screen.
Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 points off the bench. He emerged as a terrific player last season from the Nets almost out of nowhere, and from the looks of things, they’d do much better with him in the lineup instead of Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic gives a team close to nothing when his shot isn’t dropping. For an only-offense guy, a bench role is a much better slot, while Kilpatrick could do a lot better next to Lin in the lineup, without really taking away anything offensively, maybe adding to it.
The Nets won one game. Doom and gloom wasn’t advised after one loss. Heaping too much praise and letting the imagination run wild after a win doesn’t make too much sense either. But against a good (but stupid) team like the Pacers, the Nets showed they have the quality to be a lot better than people give them credit for. We might continue to see ups & downs, including in the next game in Milwaukee (back-toback), but playing to their strengths of their best player, Jeremy Lin, as a scorer and a passer, will do them a world of good.