Ben Simmons a non-factor as the Nets are routed by the Pelicans in the opening

Ben Simmons was far from the only one at Barclays Center looking nervous on Wednesday night.

Nearly every Nets fan in the sold-out crowd of 18,003 must have been a little worried about the lack of offense they witnessed in the season opener, an ugly 130-108 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I think they beat us in every category tonight,” Nets coach Steve Nash said after the game. “We were a bit shaken to start the year.”

Simmons was expected to be a little shaken, given that the game was Simmons’ first regular season contest in a Nets uniform and also his first game in over a year as he missed the entire season. last after suffering mental health and back issues. . Simmons, whom Nash wants to “drive” the Nets’ offense, finished the game with four points, five assists, five rebounds, three turnovers and one foul with 9:01 remaining.

“I just think he’s rusty,” Nash said. “The guy hasn’t played for over a year. It is not easy. We are here to support and push it.

Says Simmons: “I think I was just too excited honestly.”

Simmons wasn’t the only Net to struggle as the team never had the lead and trailed in double digits for the majority of the match. The Nets were outshot, 61-39, and outscored 36-4 on second chance points.

Kyrie Irving, who sat out Game 1 of the season last year because he wasn’t vaccinated, missed numerous early shots as the Pelicans took a 20-point lead. He finished the game with 15 points on 6-for-19 shooting, including an 0-for-3 from three-point range.

“We have to constantly play competitively and not talk about it all the time,” Irving said. “…..I’m upset that we lost, but I’m also happy that we were tested by a great team.”

The Nets offense was as one-dimensional as it was for most of last season with Kevin Durant carrying the charge. Durant finished with 32 points and four blocks. Patty Mills added 16 points.

The game was also the first in over a year for Zion Williamson, who missed the entire 2021-22 season with a broken foot. He was one of three Pelicans to score 20+ points, scoring 25 points and grabbing nine rebounds. New Orleans was led by Brandon Ingram’s 28 points; CJ McCollum added 21.

Considering how excited the Nets had been to start the season, the start of the game was shockingly lousy. It took less than four minutes for Nash to call his first timeout of the season as the Pelicans took an 11-2 lead.

The Nets trailed by as much as 18 points in the first quarter as they struggled to find a rhythm on offense. The Pelicans made Durant work for every point while Irving struggled to hit open shots, finishing the first half with just four points on a 2-for-9 shot.

It was Durant who finally pulled the Nets out of their malaise late in the second quarter, making jaw-dropping plays at both ends of the court.

In the final 2:24 of the half, Durant had eight points, two blocks and a steal. He finished the half with 21 points, many of them on tough shots where he was dealing with multiple defenders. His most stunning play, however, was when he came out of nowhere for a massive block of Ingram’s two-handed dunk attempt with 8.6 seconds left.

Still, the Nets couldn’t keep their momentum going in the second half and now have to figure out how to put things right quickly.

“Just one of those games where you don’t do the little things well at all; 36-4 second chance points. I will never win like this,” Durant said. “You have three of their best players – three of the best players in the league – get 20 points each. I mean, it’s hard to win…..I have to come more locked up. I felt locked in, but I just need to be better.

About Ronda Reed

Check Also

TCU men’s basketball: Mike Miles scores 26 points in 77-66 win over Lamar

After a narrow victory over Arkansas Pine Bluff Monday, TCU took care of business Friday …