The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers are viewed as the favorites to represent their respective conferences in the 2022 NBA Finals. Most of the stars for both teams were in street clothes for their first preseason game. The Nets ‘big 3’ of James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant did not suit up. For the Lakers Anthony Davis was their lone star to suit up as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook did not play in the exhibition.
Despite not playing, many of the stars were still in the building, on the bench of their respective teams. In the end, the Nets reserves showed a lot of promise during their 123-97 route over the Lakers. Nets rookie Cameron Thomas shined brightly as he led all scorers with 21 points in the blowout win.
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James Harden Baits Dwight Howard Into a Technical Foul
Although it is just the first matchup between the two juggernauts this season, the Nets and Lakers preseason matchup provided plenty of theater. The most notable moment occurred in the second half between Harden and his former Houston Rockets teammate Dwight Howard.
Referees were reviewing a flagrant foul committed by Howard, which enticed Harden to meet Howard at center court for what seemed to be a harmless discussion. Although it is not clear what Howard said to Harden during that discussion it was unruly enough to prompt the referee to hit him with a technical foul.
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David Duke Jr. Already Learning From Nets Vets
Another rookie that stood out during the Nets win was David Duke Jr. who finished the game with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. For Duke Jr. and the other Nets rookies, this year will be a unique experience. They will have an opportunity to soak up game from some of the league’s best.
“One thing that’s pretty unique about is really just about how all of the veteran guys come up to you and coach you,” Duke Jr. said per NetsDaily.
“It’s genuine. They’re giving you pointers from Kyrie, KD, James Harden, and even James Johnson. Blake Griffin. A bunch of the guys. Whenever you need help with something or they see you might be confused, they’ll come over and say “do this, do that.” Today, I was talking to James Johnson. He was always on me, telling me to “stay aggressive, stay aggressive. Keep going. Keep doing what you’re doing.” It’s been a nice balance between all the vets leading me and the young guys.”
Paul Millsap Applauds Nets Rookies
With Harden, Irving, Durant, and Blake Griffin out of Brooklyn’s first preseason game it gave the Nets’ younger players a chance to prove their worth. Nets veteran Paul Millsap notes that although it was the younger players’ first time under the bright lights, they didn’t play like it was.
“I’ve seen these guys all week. I’ve seen the work they’ve put in. They’ve been putting in the work all week.,” Millsap said to reporters after the win per NetsDaily. “They were a little eager for this moment and them going out there and doing what they do. It was impressive, especially for young guys to come in, the first preseason game, you didn’t see any nerves. They went out there and did the job.”
The Nets’ reserves as young as they may be, showed that they have the ability to hold their own during their blowout victory over the Lakers. The two will meet again hopefully fully-loaded on Christmas Day.