EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Allowing Fenerbahce to torch them with uncontested jumpers and watching so many open shots created by back-door picks certainly wasn't the most ideal way for the Nets to begin their preseason.
Defensive issues abounded in Monday's 101-96 loss to the Turkish team, resulting in the Nets spending plenty of time going over the basics of their scheme on Tuesday. They stopped frequently in practice to make sure players were clear about what they are supposed to do, hoping to spur a learning process that can be a challenge given all the new faces.
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"Playing basketball is hard, playing defense is hard," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "It's effort, getting comfortable with the scheme, and understanding where everybody is supposed to be, and it's communicating early. It's helping when you need to help and getting back to your own [man]. Sometimes you will be in a help position, but it's not really a need to over-help."StoryWith Bargnani out, other Nets' big men performStoryJack has bounced around, made friends
That's where Hollins said the discipline and focus come in. Being aware of the situation and on top of the strengths and weaknesses of the player they are guarding is imperative and critical to adhering to the team's philosophy.
The Nets believe that more repetition and talking out on the floor will aid in mastering what Hollins wants.
"I think a lot of it is communication and then just it's going to have to be stuff that becomes habit," Brook Lopez said. "We've just got to work on our scheme more and really drill it. At the end of the day, that extra bit is all effort. They always say, 'Defensively, I want effort, defensively who wants it more?' And that's what it's going to come down to."
The Nets yielded 100.9 points per game last season, ranking 18th in the league, and they let the opposition shoot 50.6 percent from the floor. Only the Kings, Knicks, Magic, Lakers and Timberwolves watched their opponents shoot a higher percentage.
That has to change and the Nets believe they have personnel to improve those numbers.
"Yeah because we are a lot younger, a lot more athletic," Joe Johnson said, "and I think that helps us defensively. Now, we have to work on the I.Q. situation, as far as knowing when to go double or when to stay home with your man or keep working on today."
Jarrett Jack chalked up most of their defensive miscues in the preseason opener to weary legs. He picked up two fouls early on and said that stemmed from him "just being lazy."
"It's tough to simulate that game situation and I don't know why," Jack said. " . . . But once we start to get back into the swing of things as far as games on the daily and not having so much down time in between, I'm sure the fatigue will go away as well as those fatigue mistakes will go away, too."