Avery Johnson hit the Nets with a little homework on their first day of school.

With all their expected offensive firepower, scoring probably won't be all that difficult for Johnson's crew. So the Nets coach is strictly emphasizing defense for the most part, knowing just how crucial it's going to be to the team's success.

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"Avery just gave us a pretty big handbook for training camp," center Brook Lopez said Monday. "It's all defense. All the defensive principles and everything, our ideas, our beliefs."

But that's not all.

"It even has the date of our four written tests on principles," Lopez said. "So we are going to be hitting it pretty hard. We are a defensive-minded team. I'm just focused on being the guy in the middle that everyone can count on. If they get beat, I'll be back there. We just have to be prepared to help each other out."

The Nets, with their season-long makeshift lineup, ranked 20th in the league last season in points allowed per game, yielding 99.1 while scoring only 93.1 per contest. That's not going to cut it and Johnson wants to implement a certain mentality right away.

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"We must make a major step defensively," he said. "We've got to take a major step in the right direction. We've got to be in the Top 10 . . . We've got to be a good defensive team."