He didn’t exactly have a preacher’s robe on, standing on a pulpit to deliver an inspirational sermon. But Avery Johnson had his own way of explaining just how important it is for the Nets to match the opposition’s intensity every time they step onto the Barclays Center court.
“Listen, I don’t want to get into a biblical dissertation,” the Nets coach said before their preseason matchup with the 76ers in Brooklyn. “But I do know one thing: To whom much is given, much is required. There’s a lot more responsibility when you are in our situation, and because of that, you can’t come out and be lethargic. Sure, we won’t have a bull’s-eye on our back like the Miami Heat. Maybe we have a ‘B,’ OK? But we’ve got to be much more focused and sharper.”
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In other words, they’ll have to get used to the types of efforts the three visiting teams brought to the table, the latest being the Andrew Bynum-less Sixers, who walked away with a 106-96 victory Friday night. The Nets played with more inspiration than they did 24 hours earlier against the Celtics, yet the result wasn’t any different.
Sure, they didn’t get blown away this time, but they made the same mistakes that crept up against Boston: slow defensive rotations, allowing too many points in the paint, poor shooting from three-point range, too many second-chance points.
The Nets yielded 46 points in the paint, 21 second-chance points, 16 fast-break points and turned the ball over 11 times, leading to 13 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 Joe Johnson were the two bright spots in an otherwise up-and-down performance in which the Nets dropped their second straight preseason game after winning their first three. Lopez had 23 points and snatched a team-high nine rebounds, and Johnson hit 8-for-15 — going 2-for-4 from three-point range — and scored 18 points.
Deron Williams had 22 points, but struggled with his shot, netting just 9-for-21.
This was a game for Avery Johnson to take a good look at his rotation, the very one he plans on using when the games start counting in two weeks. 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 remaining in the third quarter.
Johnson inserted Keith Bogans, Josh Childress and even Mirza Teletovic before Brooks saw his first action, a sign that Brooks is probably going to have to play his way into the rotation as a regular.