New-look Nets fall to Sixers in nail-biter 101-98 – The Mercury News

New-look Nets fall to Sixers in nail-biter 101-98 – The Mercury News

Length, athleticism, defense, and a whole lot of three-point shooting, but who’s going to take the last shot?

Welcome to the second rendition of the 2022-23 Brooklyn Nets, where the outcome of a game is no longer solely dependent on a superstar’s availability — unless that game comes down to the final possession.

Down one with the game on the line, Jacque Vaughn drew up a play for Mikal Bridges, the highlight of the deal that sent Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns. Bridges came off a screen to catch an inbounds pass and had a free lane to the rack, but missed an easy layup with 0.9 seconds left in regulation.

After a fun game full of defense, made threes and energetic fans, the Nets lost to the 76ers, 101-98.

It was an impressive effort against a Philadelphia 76ers — especially given Spencer Dinwiddie’s futile heroics.

Dinwiddie made a shot from halfcourt at the buzzer that sent Barclays Center into a frenzy, but the ball was still in his hands when the buzzer sounded. The shot was ultimately ruled no good.

Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris were each available for the Sixers Saturday evening, yet the new-look Nets played to their newfound strengths, the chief of which comes as a byproduct of an influx of size in the starting lineup.

Head coach Jacque Vaughn moved Ben Simmons and Royce O’Neale to the bench. The Nets started all four newcomers alongside Nic Claxton: Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, the pair who came to Brooklyn in the Irving trade to the Dallas Mavericks; and both Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, the “twins” who arrived from Phoenix in the Durant deal.

All five starters are at least 6-foot-5. Four of the five starters are capable three-point shooters. All five starters can guard multiple positions.

And all five play hard every minute they’re on the floor.

That much was evident as a newly-formed Nets team outworked the Sixers on both ends of the floor, starting with their effort on the defensive end. The Nets used their newfound length to crowd the paint and make decisions difficult for Embiid, the superstar albatross of a big man who torched the Nets for 37 points and 13 rebounds. James Harden added 29 points, six rebounds and six assists and was subject to boos from the same Barclays Center fans who once cheered him before he forced a trade to Philadelphia last season.

Tyrese Maxey came off the bench and scored 12 points. No other Sixer scored more than six points, a testament to the length and defensive chops now on display from the Nets’ new lineup.

The stars, of course, shine brightest in the fourth quarter. That’s where the Nets project to miss Irving and Durant the most.

Bridges led the Nets with 23 points and six rebounds in his Nets debut. Dinwiddie shot just 2-of-10 from the field for 9 points, six rebounds and six assists. Joe Harris came off the bench to hit six threes and Cam Thomas scored 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field.

The Nets played an almost perfect basketball game but have become used to Durant or Irving winning games for them in crunch time. How do they win these games down the stretch now? More importantly, who do they turn to as the new closer?


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