Friday, December 7, 2012
Nets D goes missing in December
By Mike Mazzeo
Where’s the D?
That’s what the Brooklyn Nets were wondering following their third straight defensive dud -- a 109-102 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday night at Barclays Center.
“Our problem is defense, and we are not the same team defensively,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said after the Warriors shot 51.1 percent and went 9-for-19 from 3-point range. “We have to figure out how to get our team out of this defensive funk.”
Last month, the Nets surprisingly finished second in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing just 90.4 points per game. But in three December games -- all losses -- the Nets are giving up an average of 109.3 points on 53.8 percent shooting.
No way they’re going to finish in the top third in the league defensively with those numbers.
“We scored enough points to win the game, we just didn’t get enough stops,” Deron Williams said. “We had too many breakdowns in our defense. Too many system errors.”
On Friday night, the Nets were outscored 54-39 in the second half. Stephen Curry had 21 of his 28 points in the final 24 minutes, while David Lee contributed 30 points and 15 rebounds. Golden State outscored Brooklyn by 22 in transition (24-2) and 12 in the paint (50-38).
“Just effort,” D-Will replied when asked why the Nets haven’t been the same defensive team they once were. “We’re just a step slow. “I know we won’t be getting two days off in a row anymore. We can count on that. But we gotta come together and figure things out.
“Coach already told us he’s not happy with us, and we shouldn’t be happy with ourselves the way we played defensively. ... Defensively is where we lost this game tonight.”
Joe Johnson had a season-high 32 points. At one point, he made seven consecutive shots. Williams contributed 23 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while Andray Blatche added 22 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.
But those numbers didn’t matter. The Nets led by as many as 13 in the second quarter, but started to get in a track-meet with the high-octane Warriors -- and they paid for it.
Lee and Curry combined for nine points during an 11-1 fourth-quarter that turned an 89-86 Brooklyn lead into a 97-90 deficit. The Nets never got within four the rest of the way.
Even though shot-blocker and paint-protector Brook Lopez missed his fourth straight game due to a mild right foot sprain, Johnson wasn’t about to make any excuses.
“We gotta figure it out. There have been other teams that didn’t play with their best player and won at home and on the road. It’s a part of the NBA life,” Johnson said.
“We gotta do a better job of team defense. They were quicker than we were tonight, and we’ve gotta figure out why we were a step slow. We should’ve been rested and ready, but again, we’ll get back to the drawing board.
“We don’t have a happy locker room right now. They’re very disappointed with this loss. But we really can’t hang our heads. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”