Notes: Nets set for Hawks, O2 Arena
January, 16, 2014
By Mark Woods and Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce said neither team will be fazed by an unfamiliar arena.LONDON -- The Nets will look for a third win at London’s O2 Arena when they meet the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, 10 days after taking a 91-86 victory over the same opponent at the Barclays Center.
The Hawks –- officially the home team -- will have a different feel with Louis Williams slated to start in place of DeMarre Carroll, who had 10 points last time but is skipping this trip to attend the birth of his daughter Wednesday.
But Jason Kidd was already expecting a fresh kind of challenge the second time around.
“It’s about making adjustments for both teams,” Kidd said. “We know they’ll look to shoot the ball better, so we’ll take the 3 away. And we want to get better on the defensive end.
"Transition is big for us. They’re a team that can get out in transition with [Kyle] Korver around the 3-point line. That can open the game up pretty quick, so we have to get back and match up.”
The Nets will also look to Shaun Livingston to have as big an impact as he did in the previous meeting, when he helped hold Jeff Teague to 5-for-15 shooting from the field.
“Teague is having a great year for me,” said Kidd. “He sets the tone. With Shaun, we’ve asked him to guard everybody, so that’s a tough challenge he has ahead of him.”
A sellout crowd is anticipated in London with players from Arsenal and Chelsea on the guest list along with other British celebrities.
Paul Pierce, who previously played in London with the Boston Celtics, expects the atmosphere to feel like any regular NBA game across the Atlantic. A lack of familiarity with the venue, he insisted, shouldn’t have any impact on either team.
“We go to so many different arenas throughout the year,” he said. “The West Coast teams we go to once a year. So you look at it like that. It’s like being on the road; you have an arena you’re not really familiar with. But at the end of the day, the [hoops] are 10 feet. The court is 94 feet. And both teams have to shoot the same ball.”
• Brooklyn Nets newcomers Kevin Garnett and Pierce had a difficult time adjusting to their new surroundings early on.
But that has changed of late.
“KG and Paul were the rock and foundation in Boston, so they came here and I think they tried to fit in,” Nets GM Billy King said during an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio on Thursday. “But I think the last month they’ve just sort of been themselves.”
The Nets are 5-1 in January. Garnett has played four games during the month, averaging 8.3 points and eight rebounds on 61.9 percent shooting. Pierce has appeared in all six games, averaging 15.5 points on 39.2 percent shooting.
• The Nets entered the season with championship aspirations. But things obviously haven’t gone the way they hoped so far -- especially with regard to injuries.
“The goal right now is let’s get in the playoffs, because once you get in the playoffs, it’s a new season and anything can happen,” King said. “That’s our goal, and hopefully with that we’ll be as healthy as possible and see how far we can go.”
Brook Lopez's season-ending injury was extremely tough to swallow.
“For Brook especially, it’s heartbreaking,” King said. “That’s what hurts me the most is for him.”
Injuries, though, have opened the door for guys like Livingston and Mirza Teletovic, both of whom have made the most of their opportunities.
Livingston, King said, has become the team’s defensive specialist, often asked to guard the opposing team’s best wing player. The Nets are giving up just 96.9 points per 100 possessions in January with Livingston, who has moved into the starting lineup, on the floor.
Teletovic, frustrated by a lack of playing time last season, is averaging 7.8 points in January on 38.2 percent shooting from 3-point territory.
“The next guy’s gotta play,” King said. “It’s not an excuse; it’s the reality.”
Asked why his team has been playing better lately, King mentioned the smaller lineup, defense and “our attitude has gotten better."