Kidd challenges Nets, but is it too late?

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
12:49
AM ET
NEW YORK –- Jason Kidd emerged for his postgame news conference Monday night wearing a loosened tie, with frustration all over his face.

The Brooklyn Nets' head coach looked exasperated after the Indiana Pacers had delivered a 103-86 beatdown that felt worse than the score.

[+] EnlargeJason Kidd
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsJason Kidd had a hard time watching his team's performance Monday night.
Kidd doesn’t believe in calling out players, but even he had to say something after this debacle.

"I think it is getting very close to just accepting losing," Kidd said. "We are kind of getting comfortable with losing."

"And we got to make a stand with that because when things get tough, do we just give in?" Kidd continued. "And most of the time right now, we do."

If this is how life is going to be without Brook Lopez, the Nets might as well break this team up and start collecting as many future assets as they can by February’s trading deadline.

Yes, the Nets could still win the weak Atlantic Division and make the playoffs, but this roster was assembled to do more than just make the first round, or even reach the second round before getting bounced.

It was already debatable whether the Nets could contend with the Miami Heat and Pacers or not, even before Lopez went down. But Monday night showed that, without Lopez, the Nets (9-18) aren’t anywhere close. And it’s not even a talent issue. The Nets just don’t have much fight in them right now.

Paul Pierce showed the most fight against the Pacers when he clotheslined George Hill on a fast-break layup with the Nets down 19 and 4:22 left in the third quarter. Pierce didn’t look like he was trying to hurt Hill, but perhaps he was venting frustration and maybe delivering a message to his team that enough is enough.

The Nets need to get angry. Any emotion is better than what the Nets displayed in the third quarter against the Pacers, who showed they are in a different class than the Nets by outscoring them 30-19.

When the Nets miss shots, they stop defending. When another team makes a run, the Nets tend to just take it and fold.

Kidd was asked what can he do when a team is beginning to accept losing.

"You don’t have enough timeouts, you know?" the exasperated rookie head coach said. "I can call as many timeouts to slow it down and call a play and get us in a zone, but we still have to find a way to put the ball in the basket and get stops."

"That is not just individual, but that’s the team," he continued. "That’s what we have to find out."

Kevin Garnett and Pierce -- who was ejected for the flagrant foul 2 against Hill, which will likely be reviewed by the league for a possible suspension -- didn’t sign up for this.

[+] EnlargePaul Pierce
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsPaul Pierce was ejected after a flagrant foul on George Hill.
They figured they would be complementary pieces, not having to carry the load. At this stage in their careers, they don’t have that left in them.

With Lopez, the Nets could still cling to the hope they could make some noise in the playoffs. When Lopez went down, much of the burden fell on Deron Williams' shoulders. He’s the difference-maker on the Nets roster.

Against Indiana, Williams looked to pass and get his teammates involved, but he didn’t look for his shot much, going 3-for-9 and finishing with nine points and eight assists.

Williams said he needs to do more. "I need to play better," Williams said. "I need to be more aggressive for us to have a chance -- especially with Brook going down, that’s what I talked about is stepping up. Tonight was just a bad game for me, throwing the ball all over the place, couldn’t hit a shot. It took my aggressiveness away, and I think I played into what they were trying to do."

When the Nets started this season, with so much hope and anticipation, Kidd said he wanted to get Williams back to being an elite point guard.

Williams said he wants to show Kidd he can still be that, and that he and the Nets are not growing comfortable with losing. "I’m not comfortable losing," Williams said. "It’s not fun. Not only when we’re losing during the game but when I go home sitting and thinking about it. It’s not fun."

Kidd did not place the blame on Williams on Monday. He says it's bigger than any individual; it's about the team. He wants to believe his team has more guts than this. Maybe he will get a Christmas Day surprise and the Nets will respond to his challenge.

But if the Nets play anything like they did against the Pacers, Christmas is going to be a nightmare against Tom Thibodeau’s hard-playing Chicago squad.

And that’s no bull.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
15.5 0.6 0.5 27.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsM. Plumlee 6.8
AssistsD. Williams 6.2
StealsJ. Jack 1.1
BlocksB. Lopez 1.6