CLEVELAND -- Kevin Garnett mean-mugged, scrunching his face up into a pretend angry scowl as he tried to explain how his new teammates were anxious for instant results.
The Nets had just lost their season opener to the Cavaliers, falling 98-94 Wednesday night after failing to knock down any clutch baskets late in the fourth quarter with their starting point guard on the bench. Garnett, seated on a folding chair in a back area of the cramped visitor’s locker room, was talking about how the Nets are going to have to practice the P-word rather than expecting immediate success.
These things, Garnett said, take time. The Nets are, after all, a relatively new bunch that hasn’t had much time together in the preseason due to injuries and scheduled rest.
“It’s going to be a little more impatience,” said Garnett, who registered eight points and 10 rebounds. “But everybody has to be patient and it’s not because you assembled guys and then, ‘Voila!’ These are things Jason [Kidd] has been working with us every day. Our system is what it is. There’s a lot of different stuff. We’re just gathering it. We’re not a perfect team by far but we are a hard working team.
“We’re a team of no excuses. We’re going to watch tape and live and learn.”
When they see the footage before Thursday’s practice in advance of Friday’s game against the Heat, there’s one thing that’ll quickly jump out at them. Those pesky offensive rebounds they yielded -- all 16 of them -- contributed to 16 second-chance points.
“We’re building,” said Paul Pierce, who had 17 points, which were only second to Brook Lopez’s 21 on the team. “Obviously, it hurts, but we’ve got to go back and look at the reason we lost this game. Through the course of the season, you’ve got to understand it’s always going to be about the little things. I thought tonight we defended for 22, 23 seconds, but we gave up last-second shots.
“We gave up offensive rebounds in key possessions and those are the things that to be a championship team, you are going to have to clean those things up. You’ve got to give them one shot and out. For the most part we defended well. We just gave them opportunistic rebounds, offensive rebounds and crucial shots when the shot clock was winding down in the possession.”
Garnett wasn’t about to slight the Cavaliers. Led by Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, and the emotional lift that accompanied Andrew Bynum’s return in his first game since 2012, Cleveland kept the Nets at bay. The Cavs didn’t trail for the game’s final 23:33, regaining the lead for good on Anderson Varejao’s 14-foot jumper with 28.1 left.
“They have so many different parts that are dangerous,” Garnett said. “It wasn’t like we were playing some - - - - - - team or half- - - - - team. This team pushed us to the limit.
"It’s a very good team. These are all learning lessons for us. Times we couldn’t get over the hump, times we couldn’t get that bucket we needed but we were still in the game having an opportunity to win. Rebounding playing defense, the faceguard which was whatever. That’s the road and these are lessons we have to learn from.”
That’s the way Jason Terry, who had 14 points in 19:03 off the bench, saw it. This thing, as much as everyone may want it to, isn’t going to simply come together overnight.
“Hopefully the finished product will be us hoisting up the trophy,” Terry said. “So we know it’s a long haul. But when it happens, it’s going to be special.”