The goodwill the Nets harbored going into the home opener quickly dissipated as New Jersey laid an egg against the Atlanta Hawks.
The rousing applause turned into boos as the Hawks dominated their first game of the season, discarding the Nets, 106-70.
“We deserved it,” Deron Williams said of the crowd’s boos. “We got beat by 40 in our building on opening night. There’s not much you can say. They paid money for their seats and they expected to see a little bit better basketball tonight.”
Williams shot 3-of-11 from the field, adding one assist to six turnovers. The Nets shot 31 percent from the field. Undrafted free agent and Linwood native Dennis Horner (four points) outscored three Nets starters… combined.
The only life the sellout crowd mustered after the opening minutes came when the fans erupted in a “We want Howard” chant with 2:40 left in the third quarter and the Nets trailing by 25 points.
Blame the lockout. Blame rust. Blame the players’ sense of unfamiliarity with each other. The one certainty was woeful basketball.
With 10:16 left in the game and the Nets down, 84-55, Zaza Pachulia muscled his way through the Nets’ defense, missed a tip-in, then went up and got his own miss, uncontested.
That was the Nets’ night.
“It’s very disappointing that we came out and put up a stinker like that in our first (home game),” Williams said. “It was just one of those games where nothing seemed to go right, and definitely we have a lot of work to do.”
The only positive Tuesday night came from rookie MarShon Brooks, who scored a game-high 17 points.
“He was hustling,” Avery Johnson said. “He is what he is. He makes plays for us off the dribble, he has a lot of energy… We’re glad to have him.”
The same could not be said for most of the other players. Johnson admitted the team is currently in poor physical condition.
“We need to get in shape,” Johnson said. “Their game legs are not there yet.”
Radmanovic was the high man from six Hawks to score in double figures. Pachulia added a double-double from the bench with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Nets’ fate was never in doubt as the Hawks started the game on an 8-0 run and led 28-11 after the first quarter.
The Nets shot 31 percent from the field in the first half and did not even attempt a free-throw until the 6:17 mark of the second quarter.
Jeff Teague ended the first half with a long three-pointer that left the fans serenading the Nets with jeers.
As the Nets entered the third quarter trailing, 52-30, the Hawks jumped out to a 57-30 lead. Atlanta extended its second quarter run to 11-0 in the third quarter.
The Nets recorded a sellout in their last home opener in New Jersey. The Prudential Center filled with 18,711 fans.
“It was great,” Anthony Morrow said. “It was just unfortunate that we came out and didn’t play well at all. We just had a lot of unfortunate situations at the end of the day, couldn’t make a shot really.”
Bernie Williams performs
Another Williams took part in the Nets game Tuesday night at The Rock.
Former New York Yankee center fielder Bernie Williams performed the national anthem and halftime show on electric guitar.
Williams is an accomplished musician. In addition to his four World Series titles with the Yankees, he has been nominated for a Grammy and completed two albums.