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Nets close out inaugural season in Brooklyn with 103-99 win over Detroit

Brook Lopez scores 20, grabs nine boards in helping Nets to 49th win
04/17/2013 11:10 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Andray Blatche had 15 points in the Nets' 103-99 win over Detroit. (AP)
BROOKLYN – The Brooklyn Nets put an emphatic cap on their inaugural season in the borough Wednesday night, leading by as many as 21 at one point and holding on for a schedule-closing 103-99 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

In a game that saw the starters all play less than 30 minutes and all 13 active players enter the game just within the first half, All-Star Brook Lopez led the way with 20 points and nine rebounds, Kris Humphries added 11 points and seven boards, and Reggie Evans continued his double-digit rebounding streak, snagging 11 boards to mark 18 consecutive games with 10 or more.

For Detroit, Will Bynum had 23 points to lead four Pistons in double figures, and Greg Monroe added a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds.

In essence, the regular season finale meant little for Brooklyn and even less for Detroit, who were finishing out their sixth consecutive losing season and second under former Nets boss Lawrence Frank. The Nets had been locked into No. 4 seed in the playoffs since Sunday, and interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said that after sitting his starters completely on Monday, they would only play limited minutes in the finale.

Gerald Wallace, who needed even more playing time after missing two of the last three games, led the team with 26:33 of court time, and Carlesimo was happy with the results, even after Detroit’s late run that cut what was a 15-point lead with 3:52 to go down to the final four-point advantage with just under a minute to go.

“The guys that didn’t play the other night got good run, and the most important thing is that we looked like we got out of it healthy,” Carlesimo said. “We needed to get a win – I think this is the most we’ve been over .500 all year, so that’s encouraging – but the main thing is to get a good run for the guys who didn’t play. They all got good minutes, they all got 20-plus and we stretched Gerald out a little bit.”

Wallace didn’t quite fill out the stat sheet, going for just five points, three assists, and one rebound, but Carlesimo was also happy about what he saw out of his small forward.

(Wallace was) very good. I thought he played really well tonight, made a bunch of good defensive plays, and filled the lane well,” Carlesimo said.

And, as the interim boss – who, by the way, is now the most successful coach in Nets franchise history through his first 54 games – said, coming out healthy was the biggest positive in the win.

“I’m anxious to see what (trainer) Timmy (Walsh) says tomorrow, but if everyone is healthy and able to practice, we’re the best we’ve been in the long time,” Carlesimo said. “I’m always waiting to see how the few guys who have been dicey lately feel the next day, but I didn’t see anything to make me think they’re not okay.”

With their inaugural season over, the Nets can officially look ahead to the playoffs, which will start Saturday at Barclays Center against the Chicago Bulls at a time yet to be determined by the NBA. Chicago beat Brooklyn in three out of four meetings, and Carlesimo said the first-round series will be a “hell of a challenge.” Center Brook Lopez, however, put it in softer terms.

“It’s going to be fun; they’re a physical team and we’ll have to try to match their intensity, but I think we’ve got the right group of guys, the right passion, and the right drive,” Lopez told Sarah Kustok after the game.

And, no matter what happens, a postseason appearance is, at least for first-timer Lopez, just another high in what has already been an excellent first season in Kings County.

“I can’t really put it into words; it’s been so great and it’s exceeded all of my expectations,” Lopez said of the Nets’ year. “I really have to attribute most of it to the fan support, and I’m just so excited for that first playoff game.”

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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