Nets drop preseason finale 123-107 to Raptors as Kyrie Irving drops 19 in Barclays debut

Rick Laughland

Kyrie Irving made a stellar first impression in front of the Barclays Center crowd as he netted a game-high 19 points and dished out four dime enroute to Brooklyn's 16 point defeat at the hands of Toronto. 

The Nets were victimized defensively as the Raptors whipped the ball around the court and notched 46 points in the second quarter alone. 

Spencer Dinwiddie added 13 points as did Taurean Prince, but Toronto cruised to an easy victory as the team held a 20-point lead midway through the third quarter and emptied its bench for the majority of the fourth. 

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The Nets lack of defensive communication and intensity was evident as they seemed a step slow closing out on shooters all night long. Irving has never been known as a defensive presence and the Nets failed to defend on a consistent basis last year and those same deficiencies reared their ugly head again on Friday night. 

While this was the final dress rehearsal for the team before Wednesday night's season opener, Irving's minutes were productive, but he shot just 4 of 13 from the floor and didn't provide much punch on the defensive side. 

Toronto, even without Kawhi Leonard, showed its championship pedigree and ran circles around the Nets for most of the contest. As Brooklyn readies for the regular season, it's clear that it can score with the best teams in the NBA, but defending is a whole other story.

 Aside from Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan, Prince and David Nwaba, the rest of the Nets rotation hasn't shown a willingness or ability to defend effectively possession in and possession out. 

With the season fast approaching, the Nets defense will need to grow by leaps and bounds if they hope to challenge Toronto, Boston and Philadelphia for Atlantic Division supremacy. 

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