Joe Johnson scores 32 but Nets get beat inside by Warriors
There couldn't have been more of a contrast.
Inside the Nets' locker room Friday night after a numbing 109-102 loss to the Warriors, as if the long faces weren't a good indicator, the silence basically said it all.
The Nets were a beaten bunch, ticked off with the way they essentially went belly up in the second half against Golden State for the second time in two weeks.
The Warriors were acting exactly the opposite, basking in youthful euphoria. As they made their way back to their locker room, their jubilation was evident when one player screamed loudly, making sure his voice echoed. "That's how you get a dub!" he bellowed, using slang for the letter W.
Or in the Nets' case, here's how you lose your third straight game: play atrocious defense.
Once again, their defensive intensity betrayed them, a maddening trend the Nets (11-7) thought they had gotten past while they were rolling to five straight wins.
They allowed a whopping 50 points in the paint, yielded 24 fast-break points and were outscored 54-39 in the second half.
"It has been a problem, guarding penetration," said Nets coach Avery Johnson, whose team had led 37-24 early in the second quarter. "When you see a team that has 50 points in the paint, we have to do a better job of guarding penetration, pick-and-roll coverage . . . Our defense got broken down quite a bit, so we have to repair it."
The Nets simply fell apart down the stretch, giving up critical offensive rebounds on the few occasions they got initial stops. Curry and Lee were especially difficult to deal with in the fourth quarter, when Lee had 13 points and four rebounds.
Lee's two-handed hammer dunk during a scramble with 36.6 seconds left gave Golden State (12-7) a 107-100 cushion. By then, the Nets' 87-84 lead on Joe Johnson's fadeaway with 10:03 remaining was a distant memory.
"We did the same thing in Oakland," Williams said. "We've had that problem all season where we kind of get complacent. We get up around the same, about 12, 13, 14 points, and we let our foot off the gas instead of stepping on the gas a little more. So we have to do a better job with that, and it starts on the defensive end."
Said Joe Johnson: "We didn't come up with the big plays in the second half to get over the hump. They beat us to all the loose balls, rebounds, points in the paint. Put the onus on the guards. Our perimeter defense wasn't great and they were making tough shots. But for whatever reason, we just didn't have it like we started."
They better get it together quickly, otherwise they'll have serious trouble snapping out of this swoon.
"We've got to figure it out," Avery Johnson said. "I saw a couple of guys hanging their heads tonight. That's not good. That's not mental toughness. So we've got to repair some things and we've got to find a way to get out of this losing streak."