Notes: Defense the focus at first practice

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
5:36
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Nets practiced for the first time on Tuesday, and coach Avery Johnson liked what he saw.

“We got a lot accomplished. We threw a lot at them today,” Johnson said as his team opened up training camp at the PNY Center. “It was more of a defense-focused practice, but we had some pretty good offense, too.”

Johnson went into detail about what the Nets need to do to become a top-10 defense.

“First of all, we’ve got to get back in transition and build our defense, and the only way we’re gonna do that is if we have good spacing on offense,” Johnson said. “Too many times in the past we’ve had four guys crashing the boards, which put our transition defense in a bind, so transition defense is No. 1. We’ve got to get our guys back. We gotta protect the basket. We can’t be a team that allows layups in transition and lobs.

“And once we get our defense set, we’ve gotta make sure that we see man and ball, we’ve got to guard the ball the first two or three dribbles, we can’t get blown by so easily. We’ve gotta have good defense. And this is a pick-and-roll league, so our pick-and-roll coverage has gotta be sound, knowing that teams are still gonna score 70 or 80 points. ... We tried to take a lot of the gray area out of what we’re going to be doing with our pick-and-roll coverage, and defense, we gotta finish our defense with rebounding. I saw an aggressiveness, physical attitude in trying to get defensive rebounds today.”

Johnson noted that none of his players asked out of practice due to fatigue. Sounds like his team is in pretty good shape -- not just talent- and depth-wise.

• Rookie guard Tyshawn Taylor was limited in practice due to a strained left quadriceps.

• Johnson said that as of now, Andray Blatche will be his backup center, while Mirza Teletovic will be the backup power forward. Johnson did say that Blatche is obviously capable of playing the four spot as well.

• A slogan in the team’s practice facility reads: “It’s our time.”

“But for it to be ‘our time,’” Johnson said, “we gotta put in an enormous amount of work. You can have the newest uniforms. The best slogans. You can talk the talk, but you gotta walk the walk.”

• Johnson said he has a “reasonable number” when asked about his rotation, but wouldn’t reveal it.

• Bloomberg reports that power forward Kris Humphries has signed with agent Arn Tellem. Tellem also represents center Brook Lopez and shooting guard Joe Johnson.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8

NEW YORK CALENDAR