Orlando, Fla. – To Deron Williams, there’s an easy way for the Nets to snap out of their funk.
“We’ve just got to figure out how to play basketball for a full 48 minutes, good team basketball,” the All-Star point guard said following Friday’s shootaround at Amway Center. “We’ve played good in stretches and we’ve played bad in stretches.”
Williams summarized the Nets’ plight in their last two games, a pair of tough defeats at the hands of the Timberwolves (blowing a 22-point third quarter lead versus an undermanned team) and Heat (a 30-point blowout in South Florida).
“We played well against Minnesota and then in the third quarter and fourth quarter, we just kind of collapsed, you know?” Williams said when I asked him to explain what’s gone so wrong for them lately. “That’s a game we should have won and we’d be 2-1 right now.
“In Miami, we played good in the first quarter, a little bit in the second quarter, and we were only down nine at halftime. Third quarter, we came out and didn’t get it done. But we’ve just got to figure out how to put it all together for 48 minutes.”
The way to do that, Joe Johnson says, is to mash their foot on the accelerator from the get-go when they hit the court against the Magic tonight.
“We just want to come out and just be aggressive from start to finish,” he said. “That’s our main objective right now.”
Another objective? How about scanning the defense a wee bit better.
Avery Johnson doesn’t think his team is doing that well enough at the moment, and wants to see some significant improvement in that area. That would help cut down on their average of 17 turnovers a game through their first three contests.
“I had to tell our guys, I wish I can call 15 or 20 timeouts to walk through every situation,” Johnson said. “Can’t do it. We’ve got to take personal responsibility in terms of doing a good job of reading the defense. If you’ve got three guys on you, it’s probably a good time to pass the ball. If you have single coverage on you and you are one of our scorers, it’s probably a good time for you to score the ball, get a quality shot for us. Don’t take a bail out shot.
“So again, the guys are fully aware of where we are. They know we have a lot of room for improvement. But for us, we can’t improve in 50 different things in one game. We’ve got to start having small victories in some areas of our game.”
They may be able to start by running their offensive sets in their entirety when they’re called.
“You’ve just got to concentrate on finishing plays, getting through plays all the way,” Williams said, “and then if something works, keep sticking with it.”
Johnson wants them to get on that proverbial same page.
“Right now, we don’t have much margin for error,” he said. “We have to know our opponents, their individual strengths and weaknesses, and we have to know what we are trying to accomplish, what we are doing on the court offensively and defensively.
“Everybody needs to be in a synchronized mode and have one mind. That’s what we are trying to do.”