Defense, rebounding undermine Nets
December, 18, 2013
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsKevin Garnett and the Nets nearly wrestled the game away from Wizards in the final minutes.NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets felt like they should’ve beaten the Washington Wizards Wednesday night.
And they would’ve ... if they rebounded or defended the 3-point line with any sort of success.
In their 113-107 loss at Barclays Center, the Nets were out-rebounded 51-31, gave up 19 offensive rebounds and 23 second-chance points and allowed the Wizards to shoot 12-for-20 from 3-point range -- 9-for-12 in the first half.
“We need to look at tape and see how we can get better as coaches and players,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said after his team dropped to 9-16. “We scored enough points to win, but there were some rebounds that we couldn’t come up with down the stretch. We are getting better, but we lost a game we felt we could control.”
The Nets came into the game last in 3-point defense (39.8 percent) and 21st in rebounding differential (minus-1.1 per game), so the fact that they struggled in both areas wasn’t much of a surprise.
But they’d been playing better defense lately in winning four of their previous five games, so this was certainly a step back.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesBrook Lopez's return didn't help the Nets' rebounding haul Wednesday.
“It’s tough losing at home, period,” said Paul Pierce, who led the Nets with a season-high 27 points. “You want to try and establish something at home, try to gather some momentum here. Especially going into the holiday, because after the holiday we have a tough road trip.
“This was a tough loss for us. This was a team that we felt like we could beat, but unfortunately they’ve beaten us twice in two close games and we’ll figure this thing out.”
Pierce explained the team’s struggle to rebound.
“They did a good job of putting us in rotation with the pick-and-roll,” Pierce said. “[John] Wall did a great job of putting pressure on the bigs when they helped. [The] weak-side big would crash, leaving a guard on a big trying to box out all night long, and it worked to their advantage. When they didn’t hit the roll man, if he didn’t finish, they caught [the] opposite big on our smalls all night long.”
And 3-point defense?
“A lot of that is positioning,” Pierce said. “Sometimes we get caught in the paint and we have to make the second or third effort to run the guys off the 3-point line. ... And we have to continue to play defense for 24 seconds.”
Wednesday night’s game was decided on two plays. After the Nets cut a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to one, Marcin Gortat came up with a timely offensive rebound and putback while Kevin Garnett was down on the floor to make it 103-100 Wizards with 1:35 left.
“I don’t even know,” Garnett said when asked if there should’ve been a foul called on Gortat. “When you’re tied up things are happening so fast, you know, [it was] that type of night. He was there, there was no call and the play went on.”
Then Bradley Beal proceeded to deliver the dagger, a 3-pointer that gave the Wizards a six-point lead 27 seconds later. The Nets are 0-12 when giving up more than 100 points in a game.
On many nights, shooting 52.7 percent from the field and holding your opponent to 43.2 percent will lead to a win.
Just not on this night. Not on a night when the Nets couldn’t grab a rebound or defend a 3.
“I mean we are playing well and I feel like we have some momentum going,” Garnett said. “Obviously we ran into a talented Washington team who’s playing well also. ... It wasn’t like we were playing Swish cheese.”
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