The Brooklyn Nets opened their season and christened their new arena in the right fashion, with a 107-100 home victory over the division-rival Toronto Raptors. The win comes on the heels of the would-be opener against the New York Knicks being canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.
The win featured efficient performances from point guard Deron Williams (19 points and nine assists on 14 shots) and center Brook Lopez (27 points on 17 shots).
Nets new star shooting guard Joe Johnson praised the crowd and the environment:
Let's just start with the fact that we're in Brooklyn now and it's a big difference. You saw the crowd tonight, even under the circumstances. Not only did we have a sellout, they were into the game.
Johnson put up 14 points, five rebounds and four assists in his first game as a Net.
The one sour note on the night was the injury to veteran small forward Gerald Wallace in the fourth quarter. Wallace sprained his left ankle and is listed as day-to-day, according to ESPN. He suffered the injury with 27.7 seconds remaining in the game on an attempt to block a layup from Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.
Wallace will hopefully return to practices and games quickly. He will need time to learn to play with all of his new teammates. Acquired late in the 2011-12 season, he has only played 17 games in a Nets uniform. Moreover, he has never started a game alongside Brook Lopez prior to this season. In a lot of ways, Wallace is playing with a brand new team this season.
Despite being an All-Star and an All-NBA Defensive First Team member in 2010, Wallace does not get the kind of attention generally received by All-Stars. He had a fantastic 2009-10 season with the Charlotte Bobcats.
He led the Bobcats offensively and defensively to the only playoff berth in their franchise history. It is often overlooked how big the drop-off has been for the Bobcats in the two years since they traded away Wallace.
If the Nets are to be contenders in the East this year, Wallace will have to be a big part of that. He is their best defensive player—not only on the perimeter—and can be a strong facilitator on offense.
The Nets will host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night in what will likely be their first game without Gerald Wallace.