Nets coach Kenny Atkinson decided against carrying out his threat to make changes to the starting lineup, sticking with Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Tyler Zeller to start against the Wizards on Friday night. But he definitely put them on notice about the need for a more energetic start than they had produced in four straight losses.
“Hopefully, we got the message that we’ve got to get off to better starts,” Atkinson said after a Thursday film session. “So give them another shot at it.
“You saw on the film how we competed in the third and fourth quarters [against the Kings on Wednesday] with our energy and our defense compared to how we started the game. The great thing about film is how it speaks for itself. Five or six clips does the trick. Or 50 clips.”
Message received. The Nets drove to the rim early and led 53-43 at halftime, though they were only 4-for-17 from three-point range.
Asked if poor three-point shooting contributed to slow starts, Atkinson agreed. “We’re not driving the ball like we did previously before these four games,” he said. “Against Sacramento, we had nine drives to the rim. I asked the guys if that was an NBA record for least amount of drives to the rim in a game.”
n Okafor shaping up
Jahlil Okafor, who played only two games in Philadelphia, has made just one appearance since the Nets traded for him. “He was not playing,” Atkinson said. “You can do as much off-court stuff as you want, run and get on the treadmill, but basketball shape is a little different. He’s working his tail off with our coaches and our performance team. Our goal is to get him to a point where he’s in a position to succeed.”