The Brooklyn Nets opened their 2022-23 season on Wednesday night with a 130-108 blowout loss against the New Orleans Pelicans, but Kyrie Irving didn't mind the team facing some early adversity.
"I'm upset that we lost, but I'm also glad that we got tested tonight by a great team, because we need these. It's not time to put our heads down or anything like that, but we have to show a strong resolve and show strong faces and not be swayed so much by our home crowd getting antsy. Because we were definitely very antsy."
Of course, Irving's tough night from the field (6-of-19 for 15 points, along with five assists and two turnovers) didn't help. Neither did Ben Simmons fouling out early in the fourth quarter after attempting just three shots and scoring four points in 23 minutes of action.
"I think I was just too excited," Simmons told reporters about his performance, the first time he's played a regular-season game since the 2020-21 season.
"But it was just great to be out there, as a first game, obviously, you wanna win, but we know the reasons we lost. [There were] multiple reasons we lost, and those are things we can fix. We know that's not us as a team. I think there were a lot of jitters out there early on. But it was good to get that one out of the way."
Of Brooklyn's big three, only Kevin Durant (32 points) looked like a star. That stood in stark contrast to the New Orleans' trio of Zion Williamson (25 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three assists), Brandon Ingram (28 points, seven boards, five assists) and CJ McCollum (21 points, six assists, three steals).
"Just one of those games where you just don't do the small things well, at all," Durant said after the loss. "Thirty-six to four, second-chance points. You're never gonna win like that."
In the grand scheme of an NBA season, one loss in an 82-game schedule doesn't matter much. A Nets team learning how to play with Simmons, in particular, would be wise to keep that perspective.
How you lose, however, can create poor habits and become a trend. The Nets sounded after the game as though they were aware of those potential pitfalls and would prioritize the necessary adjustments to avoid them going forward.
Given the tumultuous offseason surrounding the team and the futures of Durant and Irving, however, things could become very complicated, very quickly, if the Nets don't figure it out.