Maccabi Haifa can’t handle NBA’s Nets

The biggest disappointment of the night was not Haifa’s play, but the fact that only around 2,500 fans witnessed the game.

311_Mac Haifa vs. NJ Nets (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Mac Haifa vs. NJ Nets
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Maccabi Haifa’s first ever game against an NBA team ended as expected on Sunday night.
Haifa put up a fight in the first half of its exhibition encounter against the New Jersey Nets, trailing 56-43 at the break. However, it couldn’t keep up with its superior opponent in the second half, eventually falling to a 108-70 defeat in Newark.
“In the first 24 minutes we were almost equal to the Nets,” new Haifa coach Elad Hasin said. “We played quality basketball and were disciplined both offensively and defensively. In the second half we saw the gaps in quality between the teams and after I saw in which direction the game was heading I decided to give all our players a chance to enjoy the experience.”
The biggest disappointment of the night was not Haifa’s play, but the fact that only around 2,500 fans witnessed the game, despite the fact that the attendance was announced at 5,174 for the Nets’ first true contest in their temporary home, the Prudential Center.
The Nets, who will play in Newark until their new home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, is completed, had hoped Haifa would attract a large Jewish crowd.
At least New Jersey enjoyed the play of its rookie Derrick Favors, who had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Favors, the No. 3 pick in the draft, energized the Nets with three fastbreak dunks in the opening stanza. He scored 12 points in the first half as the Nets took a 13-point lead into the interval.
“He was good,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “He was in the right spots on defense and he was decisive on offense. He ran the floor well and got out well in the break. For his first professional game, he did some good things.”
The 6-foot-10 Favors had to deal with trade talk as camp opened, before a fourteam deal that would have sent him to Denver and landed All-Star Carmelo Anthony in New Jersey collapsed.
“It feels good not having to worry about trade rumors and all that stuff,” Favors said.
“I wouldn’t say I had a great day. It was an OK day. I have some work to do, but it was nice to see some of my hard work pay off.”
Newcomer Anthony Morrow also scored 14 points. Devin Harris had 12, Brook Lopez and Travis Outlaw each added 11, and Johan Petro 10.
Morrow made four three-pointers, giving the Nets a much-needed perimeter presence. He hit two straight threes in the opening stages of the third quarter, giving New Jersey a 64-45 lead with 10:06 remaining in the period.
Sylven Landesburg scored 24 points for Haifa, with Derrick Low adding 14 points for Hasin’s team, which now turns its attention to the second leg of its EuroChallenge qualifying tie against Paris Levallois in which it will need to overturn its 12-point first leg defeat to advance to the group stage.
AP contributed to this report.