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Friday, December 20, 2013
Lack of effort costs Nets in Philadelphia

By Mike Mazzeo



PHILADELPHIA -- The Brooklyn Nets may have had championship aspirations going into the season, but, as Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells once said, “you are what your record says you are.”

And right now, they’re 9-17 and going nowhere fast.

Just four days ago, the Nets trounced the Philadelphia 76ers by 36 points. But on Friday night, they were beaten in overtime, 121-120, at the buzzer by that same 7-19 Sixers team -- plus Michael Carter-Williams -- which had lost its previous seven games and 11 of 12.

It doesn’t get much worse than that, does it?

“We gotta be up for everybody,” Nets small forward Paul Pierce said. “It’s not like we’re walking giants. We’re bottom-feeders right now, just like Philadelphia.

“We don’t have the luxury [to come] in here and coast, come into the fourth quarter and turn it up. Those are the great teams that understand that and understand the moment. We’re not there yet.”

Not even close.

So much for being that hard-nosed, defensive-minded squad they set out to be in the offseason. The Nets, who have lost their last two games after giving up a combined 234 points, can’t get a stop or grab a rebound. On Friday night, they gave up 51 percent shooting, allowed 66 points in the paint and were beaten on the backboard, 49-36.

Evan Turner
Paul Pierce had position but didn't get the call on Evan Turner's OT winner on Friday night.
“It’s one thing: effort. That’s what basketball is built on, is effort,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said.

The Nets failed to bring any Friday night.

“I don’t think anybody expected this. It’s baffling to me,” Nets point guard Deron Williams said. “At some point we have to just say enough is enough.”

Williams has said that before.

With shooting guard Joe Johnson (personal reasons) and power forward Kevin Garnett (rest) out of the lineup, the Nets needed Williams and Brook Lopez to step up.

Neither did.

Williams (17 points, season-high 14 assists) had six turnovers and went 5-for-12 from the field, while Lopez played much worse than his final stat line (22 points, seven rebounds) indicated, frequently getting beaten to loose balls. Lopez did not face the media after the game.

“It’s just inexcusable, for us, being one of the biggest teams in the league, to get crushed on the glass every game,” said Pierce, who had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in 44 minutes.

Pierce nearly won the game for the Nets when hit knocked down a 3-pointer with 16.9 seconds left to give his team a 120-119 lead.

But they couldn’t hold it.

Evan Turner capped off a 29-point night by hitting a tough shot over three Brooklyn defenders. It bounced on the rim three times and went in.

The Nets actually defended that shot pretty well. It was all the other breakdowns on that end that proved costly. They are 0-13 when allowing more than 100 points and rank 27th in defensive efficiency.

Remember when Garnett was talking about a top-three D?

“I think we came out soft in the sense of not being aggressive,” Kidd said. “We have to take some pride on the defensive side.”

It was supposed to be their identity. Now it’s just a bad joke.

“We’re trying with the injuries and guys out of the lineup, it’s kind of been inconsistent, but we’re working at it,” Kidd said.

They have a lot to fix. Because right now, they’re a defensive disaster.

“That’s set in, the reality that we can’t rebound the ball or protect our paint,” Kidd said. “Those are the things that we have to work on.”