Nets claim season opener over WizardsOct 30, 2008 - 3:44 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Vince Carter had 21 points and Yi Jianlian added 17 to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 95-85 victory over the Washington Wizards in the season opener for both teams on Wednesday night.
Yi, a 7-footer who played alongside Yao Ming for the Chinese National Team in the Beijing Olympics, shot 7-of-11 from the field on an assortment of 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers and dunks. He also grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots.
The Nets acquired Yi and Bobby Simmons from Milwaukee in an offseason trade for Richard Jefferson.
Carter, New Jersey's team captain in his 11th NBA season, said Yi's debut might be only a glimpse of things to come.
"He's a great young player," Carter said. "As soon as he got here, we just wanted to let him know that we're behind him, we're going to support him to make him the best possible player. He has an unbelievable stroke, he has a lot of talent, and we're just trying to bring it out of him.
"Tonight, he displayed a lot of great things. He definitely has to get better and I don't want him to get comfortable, but I want him to stay hungry because he definitely can become an All-Star."
Carter's jumper from the right wing gave the Nets a 90-82 lead with 1:02 left. Devin Harris scored six points in the final 1:45 to help secure the victory.
Former Wizards forward Jarvis Hayes' turnaround jumper gave the Nets an 86-80 lead with 3:42 remaining. Hayes, who appeared in 82 games last season with Detroit, signed with New Jersey as a free agent in July.
Scoring 11 of his 14 points in the second half, Hayes sandwiched two jumpers around Yi's breakaway dunk for an 80-75 lead with 7:11 left to quiet a smattering of boos from his former fans.
"They don't like when former Wizards come in and play well, I guess," said Hayes, who finished 6-of-9 from the floor with five rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. "We have a lot of athleticism and guys who play hard every night. Yi is a guy who is going to be really good. He's just scratching the surface. He has the skill set that you see in All-Stars. If he can just stay grounded, he'll continue to get better."
Yi succinctly stated his goals.
"Work for each other. Work hard. Be patient. Share the ball. Have the chance to shoot. Play good defense," he said. "And rebound the shots, that's how you win the game. And talk with each other."
Carter scored nine points in the third quarter and Hayes added five as the Nets took a 69-67 lead entering the fourth.
"Vince Carter controlled the game with his post-ups, pick-and-rolls, drives and isolations," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.
Antawn Jamison and DeShawn Stevenson had 14 points apiece for the Wizards, who also got 13 from Caron Butler and Andray Blatche.
Washington, which finished 37 percent from the field, mustered just 39 points in the second half.
"You have to give them credit because they executed offensively down the stretch," Jamison said. "We didn't play well. We did enough to get it down to the last four or five minutes in the fourth. Normally, we find a way to get it done down the stretch, but tonight we weren't able to do that."
Reserves Keyon Dooling and Brook Lopez each scored eight points for New Jersey, displaying just how deep the young Nets could be this season.
"That's kind of going to be our recipe," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We're going to come at you in masses, so it was an encouraging performance. This is how we're going to build through better and worse. This is how we're going to develop guys and we're going to stick to it.
"Every team needs an identity, and the identity of this team is we feel we have great depth. We don't feel there's a lot of falloff at any positions, so there's need to pace yourself. Go as hard as you can go, your partner will come get you, and we'll pick it up and go from there."
NEW JERSEY 95
WASHINGTON 85 FINAL
Oct 29 9:34 PM
NEW JERSEY 69
WASHINGTON 67 END, 3RD QTR
Oct 29 8:57 PM
NEW JERSEY 44
WASHINGTON 46 HALFTIME
Oct 29 8:14 PM
NEW JERSEY 23
WASHINGTON 23 END, 1ST QTR
Oct 29 7:43 PM
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