Nets Rally Late To Win For New Russian Owner
Updated: 10/28/10 7:26 a.m.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — This certainly wasn’t the same old New Jersey Nets.
New owner, new coach, new building, new roster and something totally different, a win to kick off the season.
Anthony Morrow hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 26 seconds to play and the Nets gave Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov a win in his first game as their owner, 101-98 over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
“Nothing is really perfect but this was a beautiful ending,” new coach Avery Johnson said. “If this was a movie, for a team coming out of a situation we were coming out of, for a new team coming together, it’s a beautiful ending.”
It certainly was a far cry from last season, when the Nets won a franchise-worst 12 games and started the season with an NBA-record 18 consecutive losses.
With 11 new faces on their 15-man roster, the new Nets showed heart in their first game at the Prudential Center. They outscored the Pistons 13-3 in the final 1:40 to win a game they never would have a year ago.
“We’re moving forward,” said point guard Devin Harris, who had 22 points and nine assists, including one on Morrow’s go-ahead basket. “I don’t like references to last year. It’s forgotten about. This is about this team showing what we can do when we do things right.”
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 25 points and nine rebounds. Morrow, who was signed a free agent in the offseason, added 13 points, and Jordan Farmar and Terrence Williams each had 10.
Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva had 14 points apiece for the Pistons, who had seven players in double figures.
The Pistons had two chances to tie in the closing seconds. Villanueva missed a 3-pointer with 2 seconds to go and Stuckey missed a desperation heave from the corner at the buzzer after Williams missed two free throws at the other end.
“This is definitely one of those games we just couldn’t finish,” Villanueva said. “We were up seven with 1:40 to go and we pretty much had the game won. We had to win that game. We just didn’t do the things down the stretch to win that game.”
The Nets seemed headed for another opening-night loss when Richard Hamilton (13 points) hit a 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:40 remaining for a 95-88 lead.
Farmar cut the gap to 95-91 with a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:31 to play, then stripped Ben Gordon on the other end. Harris created contact with Gordon at the other end and converted a three-point play with 57 seconds left to cut the lead to 95-94.
After Stuckey missed a shot under pressure from Farmar, Morrow put the Nets ahead 97-95 after Harris nearly lost the ball and flipped it back to him.
“I had no doubt I was going to make that,” said Morrow, who was 3 of 6 from long range. “I knew Devin penetrating was going to draw attention. I’m used to standing down in the corner that last couple of years. Now with Devin, I’ve trained myself to come up. It worked out perfectly. I knew he wasn’t going to turn that over. I made sure I was the first person he saw when he brought his head up.”
Villanueva missed a 3-pointer on the Pistons’ next possession with 18 seconds to go and Harris pushed the lead to 99-95 with two free throws with 16 seconds left.
Villanueva cut the deficit to a point with a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to go but Farmar made two free throws for the Nets’ final points a second later.
Down 70-67 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Pistons outscored New Jersey 20-7 in the opening six-plus minutes to take an 87-77 lead.
Gordon was the catalyst, hitting a jumper, a 3-pointer and setting up Will Bynum for a three-point play on a fast break in the opening two minutes.
The Nets rallied from a 10-point deficit early in the third quarter behind two of the four leftovers from last year — Lopez and Harris. The combined to score 15 of 17 points in a 17-6 spurt that gave them a 62-61 lead.
NOTES: Commissioner David Stern announced before the game that the NBA draft would be held at the Prudential Center in 2011 and stayed to watch the game. … With the league cutting down on player dissent, referee Joe Crawford showed patience early in the third quarter when Williams raised his hands after a call against a teammate. … The game drew 15,178 fans. …The Nets shot nearly 49 percent from the field. …Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick overall in the draft, had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Nets coming off the bench.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)