The Nets' luster is wearing off a little bit, necessitating some serious polishing heading into the final week of the preseason.
Nothing needs buffing more than their defense. It was shredded in the 76ers' 106-96 victory last night before a Barclays Center crowd of 13,270, carved up inside with precision in the early going.
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The Nets were slow on their rotations, at times also leaving 76ers wide open on the perimeter, and looked nothing like the team that won its first three preseason games.
"It's been a little different," Joe Johnson said. "We just have to come out and execute at the start of the game. That's mainly where we've had problems at these past two games. Even though we got off to a good start, they started knocking down shots, and it's almost as if we kind of went away from what we are supposed to do defensively.
"We've got to stick to the principles. Whatever the coaching staff, whatever type of scheme they have for us going into a game, we have to stick with that scheme."
The Nets yielded 46 points in the paint to the Andrew Bynum-less 76ers, also allowing 21 second-chance points and 16 fast-break points.. Thaddeus Young was a monster on the inside with 24 points, 11-for-15 shooting and nine rebounds. The Nets even had trouble bottling up Spencer Hawes, who had 13 points and five rebounds.
Brook Lopez and Johnson were the two bright spots in an otherwise up-and-down performance. Lopez had 23 points and nine rebounds. Johnson shot 8-for-15, including 2-for-4 from three-point range, and scored 18 points.
Deron Williams had 22 points but struggled with his shot, going 9-for-21. He finished with four assists in a game in which Avery Johnson wanted to get a good look at his actual rotation, the one he plans on using when the games start counting.
Curiously, MarShon Brooks, whose third-year contract option for $1.2 million was picked up before the game, didn't check in until there was 7:03 left in the third quarter.
The Nets made a game of it late, but their bid to win their last game in their new building until the Nov. 1 season opener against the Knicks fell short.
"Today we played better in spurts," Deron Williams said. "There are a lot of things we can take away from today that went really good and work on it. But it is good we have a good week of practice and have one game left."
Said Avery Johnson: "They came out and made some threes on us in transition, which hurt us early in the game. But I thought our energy was much better tonight. We weren't perfect . . . There was no lack of effort tonight, but we just didn't finish the game."