The Brooklyn Nets finally got off the snide on Tuesday night when they snapped their five-game losing streak against the Toronto Raptors in a 102-100 victory up in Canada. Now they’re back home where they will take on the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers as they try to make a winning streak out of this.
“Those guys in that locker room finally said that they had enough,” Nets head coach Jason Kidd said after Tuesday’s victory. “They played a full 48 minutes, the schemes offensively and defensively weren’t always perfect, but those guys stayed the course. In the third quarter they came out and acted like it was the first quarter, came out and got a big win against the Raptors on the road.”
The third quarters have been the Nets biggest issue this season as they have been consistently bad coming out of the half. They weren’t perfect in the third against the Raptors, but they won the quarter 26-25 on a last second floater by Joe Johnson. They have improved to 4-0 when they outscored opponents in that frame and 0-10 when they were beaten.
Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche did the heavy lifting offensive with 21 and 24 points respectively. Afterward Johnson spoke about the adjustments they made at halftime that helped them come keep up their intensity and focus at a time where they have notoriously lost both.
“At halftime we didn’t say anything about the third quarter,” Johnson said. “We shouldn’t even talk about it. We just need to look at things that worked well in the first half, what we can improve on and just go out and execute. That’s it.
One of the things that had frustrated Kidd was their inconsistent play on defense and the fact that his message wasn’t getting through to his team. However, the Nets focused much better in that area and, perhaps for the first time this season, they made an effort to communicate better on defense. It seemed to make a big difference.
“I thought we made an extra effort really talking on defense a lot more than we have,” Paul Pierce said. “There was good communication all night. We protected the paint, but there are still some things that we have to work on.”
The game wasn’t prettiest though because of the way they fell apart in the fourth quarter when they allowed the Raptors to go on a 14-0 run in the final minutes. Between that and the fact that Brook Lopez and Deron Williams are not back means that it is far too early to assume that they’ve put their struggles behind them.
“It sort of seemed like we wanted the time to run out instead of going out there and putting the stamp on the game,” Pierce said. “We have to push the lead and not wait for the clock to run out. Fortunately we put up such a big lead otherwise we would have lost tonight.”
DAY-TO-DAY: Lopez and D-Will, as well as Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry are all out again Wednesday night. The Nets, who have always been cautious as an organization with injuries, have not given timetables on any of their returns and simply have listed them as day-to-day while they are out. Lopez has been out since he hurt his ankle in a collision with Kevin Garnett against the Phoenix Suns. He’s missed six games so far and the Nets have gone just 1-5 in those games. Kirilenko has missed even more time as he’s played in just four games. He recently said he was pain free, but that they wanted to take it slow with his return since he’s had a few setbacks already.
TEAM CRITICISM: Things had been getting a little tense before the recent win as Kidd expressed frustration that his message wasn’t getting through to the team, Pierce had some words about the coaching staff being unable to adjust mid-game and now Kirilenko is spoke with the Russian media and didn’t have kind words for how the team has played (how could he?).
Speaking with R-Sport (hat tip to NetsDaily.com), Kirilenko said, “We don’t get enough easy points. The team’s fighting, the team’s trying, but something is not right in basketball terms. We get free throws, but we’re not concentrating much on scoring from under the hoop, after fouls, on quick breaks. We’re not trying to get inside and get points there.”
To me, there is nothing wrong with what he said, he’s just being honest. The timing is odd though because he, of all people, should know that the Nets have dealt with many injuries. Maybe if he had played more than four games then the problems wouldn’t be as pronounced. The good thing, though, is that he didn’t throw anybody under the bus.