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Kenny Atkinson: Nets have pulled back defensively

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson looks on against the

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson looks on against the Sacramento Kings during the second half on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Atkinson says the Nets aren't as aggressive on defense with two rookie point guards. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

After the Nets’ promising 4-5 start, things all began to go wrong on the defensive end starting with a blowout loss in Los Angeles to the Clippers, who scored 71 points in the first half of that game. The return match was Tuesday night at Barclays Center, and the Nets were working to break a seven-game losing streak that began with that first embarrassment against the Clippers.

In those seven games, the Nets yielded an average of 122.3 points per game. Injuries have contributed to the Nets’ inconsistency, but coach Kenny Atkinson admitted he also has pulled back to a degree on the aggressive approach his team was taking on defense.

“We’ve changed,” Atkinson said. “What’s important for us is lineups, continuity. We have two rookie point guards playing. I think that will help us when we get some stability back. That being said, we should be doing better.

“We are doing some things different tactically, but with this program, we don’t want to be jumping all over the place. You don’t want to scheme yourself out of things. We have a competitive group, but there’s another level of physicality and effort we can make.”

Brook smart

Center Brook Lopez has played restricted minutes all season but played just over 30 minutes for the first time in Sunday’s loss to the Kings. “I like his progression,” Atkinson said. “That was part of the plan to build him up. He’s feeling good physically . . . but we have to keep in mind being smart. There’s a lot of metrics, a lot of things we take into account.”

Two timing forwards

Just as they did on Sunday, Nets Fs Anthony Bennett and Chris McCullough played in the afternoon with the Long Island Nets D-League team and then were recalled for Tuesday night’s game. McCullough had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists in a loss to Windy City, and Bennett had 14 points and eight rebounds.


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