Tuesday, January 21, 2014
We've seen this before in Brooklyn
By Mike Mazzeo
NEW YORK -- Following a 21-point drubbing in San Antonio on New Year’s Eve, the Brooklyn Nets were fed up.
They were 10-21, and quite frankly, they were sick and tired of getting destroyed every night.
“We don’t like losing. We don’t like being called losers. I think what’s got to us more than anything,” Jason Terry said.
The calendar changed from 2013 to 2014. The Nets changed, too. They beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City two nights later, and they haven’t looked back since.
“We have that swag going that we feel like we can beat anybody when we step out there,” Deron Williams said Tuesday night after Brooklyn improved to 8-1 in the new year following its 101-90 beatdown of the Orlando Magic at Barclays Center.
Jason Kidd is the mastermind behind the Nets' 2014 turnaround.
Yes, for the second straight year, the Nets were galvanized by a Jan. 2 victory in Oklahoma City following a Dec. 31 blowout loss to the Spurs.
It really is deja vu all over again.
“Crazy, right?” Williams said.
The Lawrence Frank-Jason Kidd fiasco. Sodagate. Brook Lopez’s devastating season-ending injury.
That all seems like a distant memory now.
These days, it’s still same story, different day: Only this time it’s about winning and consistency rather than losing and dysfunction.
“The biggest thing about this turnaround is we never got down on one another,” Paul Pierce said. “We never had any finger-pointing. We never put the blame on anybody but ourselves. We just kept coming to work and kept staying professional because we believed we could turn this thing around.”
And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Since Jan. 2, the Nets have the NBA’s fourth-best defense (100 points allowed per 100 possessions) and eighth-best offense (107.5 points for per 100 possessions).
“Defense. That’s where we’ve set our tone and trying to hang our hat on,” Shaun Livingston said. “We’re trying to build our identity on the defensive end of the floor.”
“I think they probably have the most minutes under their belt together [dating all the way back to the preseason], so they’re very comfortable with one another and you can see that on the floor,” Kidd said.
Since returning from injury, Deron Williams has sacrificed his starting spot for Brooklyn's benefit.
Third quarters aren’t even an issue anymore, as evidenced Tuesday night, when they outscored the Magic 27-14 in the frame to turn a four-point lead into a 17-point lead heading into the fourth.
Credit Kidd and his coaching staff for that.
“I think [Kidd has] done a great of making adjustments,” Williams said. “I think you see him putting his footprint on the game a little more.
“Since Lawrence has left, I think he was leaning on him a lot, and now he’s coaching the way he wants to and doing things the way he wants to. I think that’s what you’re seeing.”
Kidd has his players trusting one another, Williams said. They have finally gotten Kidd’s system and have flourished as a result.
“Jason gives his players freedom to be themselves,” Terry said. “It’s like a Pete Carroll approach. He’s had to go through some early adversity, which has made him grow, and we’ve bought in.”
Every last one of them.
Williams has selflessly decided to come off the bench as he recovers from ankle injuries.
Garnett is impacting the game on both ends of the floor, protecting the rim (opponents are shooting 43.8 percent against him in the paint) and knocking down midrange jumpers (64 percent shooting in January).
Pierce is causing matchup problems at power forward.
Johnson has emerged as a consistent offensive threat -- especially early in games.
Livingston, Anderson and Mirza Teletovic have taken on increased roles.
Andrei Kirilenko has made a massive impact since returning from back spasms, doing so many intangible things that don’t show up in the box score.
Andray Blatche (19.0 points and 10.3 rebounds on 61 percent shooting over his past three games) is arguably playing his best basketball as a Net.
You can literally go up and down the roster. It truly is an incredible transformation.