Nets hoping to brush up on paint defense

Tyson Chandler of the Knicks tries to shoot

Tyson Chandler of the Knicks tries to shoot over Brook Lopez of the Nets. (Jan. 21, 2013) (Credit: David Pokress)

There's a slew of adjectives that would describe the Nets' defense of late.

Most aren't suitable for print in a family newspaper, though.

As the Nets wrapped up their four-game road trip and started looking ahead to Monday night's matchup with the Magic at Barclays Center, there's no denying their defense is out of whack. All too often, particularly in their past three games, they've given new meaning to the term "Swiss cheese defense."

Even a matador would chuckle at the relative ease with which the opposition has cut through the Nets' interior, something that must change dramatically as they embark on a rough stretch against the Heat, Bulls and Lakers in the next week.

"It's effort," Reggie Evans said after Saturday night's 119-106 loss in Houston. "We have to put more effort in. That's what it really all boils down to -- effort and a little heart, a little determination."

In their last three contests, the Nets have been toasted in the paint, surrendering an eye-popping 164 points, an average of 54.7 per game. Opponents have put up 136 attempts in the lane and knocked down 60.2 percent of them.

"We've done a horrible job defending the other team's center," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "It's as simple as that. We can say we were tired [Saturday], fourth game in six nights, and all on the road and all that . . . But we are just getting annihilated with points in the paint. So we need to get some better individual defense and we certainly need better team defense."

Carlesimo got so frustrated with the lackadaisical effort Saturday that he kept yanking his big men when he saw something he didn't like, struggling to find the right combination.

"That's the thing," he said. "We had some guys who we felt weren't defending as well as we'd like them to defend and then we took them out. Other guys went in and gave us defense and couldn't give us the offense, and it took us a long time to finally get a group that was giving us both."

As bad as the Nets' defense has been, their rebounding has been equally disappointing. They've yielded 29 offensive rebounds in the last two games.

There are times when a ball can't be corralled inside the paint and it somehow kicks back toward the free-throw line near the guards. But the Nets haven't consistently gotten their mitts on the ball when that happens, giving the opposition a shot at scoring second-chance points.

"Us as guards have to make a conscious effort to get in there and help the bigs out rebounding," Joe Johnson said. "A lot of times, especially last game and [Saturday] as well, their guards got long rebounds and we just have to get in there and help those guys out."

Brook Lopez shouldered some of the blame for these interior troubles.

"I don't know if I'm communicating enough or contesting enough," he said, "but we definitely have to change some things and get back to what we were doing."

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