The spotlight was shining bright in Brooklyn Monday night but not really for the Nets.
“I know you didn’t come to see me,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins joked before tip off against the Cavaliers.
Nearly 200 credentialed media weren’t there to glimpse the Cavs defeat the Nets 110 to 88.
They were there to see the Royal Family — Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton — who happened to coincide their first appearance at an NBA game withLeBron James’ visit to the borough of Brooklyn.
“For them to take time out of their schedules and come out here to watch their first [NBA] basketball game,” James said,. “it was an honor to be that guy they wanted to watch. So it was pretty cool.”
Players on both sides felt a little extra pressure to impress in front of the most famous couple in the world.
“It felt like the Finals, to be honest,” Kevin Garnett said. “There was a lot of energy in the building, a lot of press, a lot of people in the building and a lot of things going on.”
There were a lot of things going on but little of it was good for the Nets, who hung with the Cavaliers for about two quarters, right up until James scored the first nine points of the second half.
“He just came out with a bull charge,” Garnett said. “And we weren’t prepared for it.”
When Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton arrived, the game was tied at 61-61. Perhaps drawing motivation, the Cavs went on a 24-6 run soon after.
“I don’t think we’re playing as well as we’re capable of playing,” Nets guard Deron Williams said before the game. “We’re still trying to figure things out. We’ve had flashes of good play but not consistently.”
Until they figure it out, assuming that actually happens, there will be less focus on the Nets’ product on the court and more talk about bad quarters like Monday’s 35-18 third dominated by Cleveland.
“It was another bad third quarter for us,” Williams said. “We were playing pretty well up until that point and then LeBron got aggressive and began making plays for himself and others.”
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the 76ers come to town Friday.