Nets are letting opposing guards down too easily in transition game

Joe Johnson walks to the bench in the

Joe Johnson walks to the bench in the final minutes of a game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. (Jan. 16, 2013) (Credit: Getty)

The solution seems simple, but the Nets don't always adhere to it.

With every fast-break bucket by Jeff Teague and Devin Harris, and with even 6-10 center Al Horford engineering a few three-on-one attacks, it became painfully obvious: The Nets' transition defense wasn't cutting it. They yielded 29 points on 18 fast-break attempts, and it still remains one of their biggest flaws.

It's something the Nets (23-16) know they have to correct -- particularly Friday night, when they face the Hawks (22-16) again, this time at Barclays Center.

"We definitely have to get back better,'' Deron Williams said after Wednesday's loss in Atlanta. " . . . They were running for easy layups, easy baskets all night. So we have to do a better job of getting back and stopping them in transition because they did a great job of pushing the ball."

The Nets have been victimized by their transition defense in each of their last four losses, most notably in the backcourt. They've been shredded by the likes of Harris, Brandon Jennings, Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo.

No doubt, it's a problem others have had as well. But as a team with high playoff expectations, they're going to have to find a way to get it done against some of those fast backcourts.

It all starts with improvement by their first line of defense, meaning it's imperative for the guards to set the tone by finding ways to, at the very least, slow fast breaks down.

"We've got to get back," Joe Johnson said. "When we shoot the basketball, us as guards have to get back."

P.J. Carlesimo gave the Nets another day off Thursday. The Nets' interim coach has been big on making sure his players have enough recovery days so nagging bumps and bruises can heal.

The Hawks likely will welcome back Josh Smith from his team-issued one-game suspension Friday night, so the Nets will need all their defensive strength.

"If we are asking these guys to get back on defense," Carlesimo said, "and play in transition and do the things we are going to do, they are going to need their legs for sure."

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