EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Beaten by a team brimming with young talent, the Nets weren’t happy with themselves after a 15-point loss to the Timberwolves on Sunday.
“We didn’t play hard,” Jarrett Jack said after that 100-85 loss at Barclays Center. “We didn’t show any resistance.”
Said Brook Lopez, “It was nothing X’s and O’s or anything like that. It was just energy and effort.”
The next day, during a video session leading up to a game against the Bulls, the Nets’ dip in intensity was cast on the screen in front of them. And it triggered something.
“They all acknowledged their mistakes,” coach Lionel Hollins said after Thursday’s practice. “They talked about it. And they went out that night and you could see a difference on the court.”
The Nets trounced a surging Chicago squad, 105-102, to end their losing streak at five games. Then they went punch-for-punch with the Mavericks before falling, 119-118, in overtime.
“There are no moral victories,” Thaddeus Young, who scored a Nets-season-high 29 points, said after that loss. But given the trajectory of the team’s December, sustaining the effort level was an important sign as they prepared to face the Wizards today.
“I think that we’re coming together as a team,” Hollins said. “I told them, ‘Keep your head up. We’re playing better. We’re playing more together.’ ”
Even without Bradley Beal, who hasn’t played since Dec. 9 because of a right leg injury, the Wizards are an up-tempo team with John Wall at the point.
“I’m sure that without Beal, they miss his ability to really stroke the ball. But they still have weapons,” Hollins said. “They use their speedy point guard to get in the paint, create havoc.”
The Nets’ ball movement was superb against Dallas, leading to a season-high 32 assists. It was their highest assist total in a game since they recorded 38 on Jan. 16, 2014, against Atlanta. The 10 three-pointers they made (on 52.6 percent shooting) also was a season high.
“I told the guys,” Hollins said, “if we had 82 games where we played on that level, I would be happy.”