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Nets decide to slow it down, feature Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez reacts after scoring during a game

Brook Lopez reacts after scoring during a game against the Utah Jazz. (Nov. 5, 2013) Credit: AP

Jason Kidd chuckled, perhaps thinking about how he's had to reverse course in his rationale.

Kidd was reminded of those times leading in to the season when he talked about incorporating an uptempo style to the Nets' game, maintaining they would get out and run wild and free more than before.

Apparently, they've learned their lesson the hard way.

As their 90-82 win over the Bucks on Saturday night proved, the Nets' ideal blueprint for consistent success on offense is simple: pound the ball into the post to Brook Lopez or Joe Johnson and let them facilitate things.

"Yeah, we are going to slow it down,'' Kidd said. "We are going to try to get the ball inside, work in and out. When you have that opportunity, and have a player like Brook, or Joe also, command double-teams, you are going to have some [open] shots that we made [Saturday]. We are not a team that's going to try to zoom up and try to score 110 points.''

Not with an aging and injured cast. That factor should result in featuring 7-foot center Lopez a lot more, working their offense through him to maintain a level of consistency and balance.

Since returning from a seven-game absence because of a sprained ankle, Lopez is averaging 20.8 points and shooting 53.8 percent from the floor, continually asserting himself early on the low blocks and featuring an effective array of moves.

Lopez is making solid decisions with the ball and isn't strictly plodding his way into the paint, knowing when to go to the hole and when to swing the ball to someone else.

"I'm just trying to get good position,'' he said. "I know I can trust my guards to give me the ball where I can score easily, and when I catch it on the block, I'm trying to be patient. I just want to be very patient, let the guard come through and try to read all my options. If the double comes, I think I'm confident in kicking it to whoever is there and being able to find the open man.''

Just four days ago, Johnson voiced his frustrations with the Nets' lack of an offensive identity, mentioning that they simply threw the ball to Lopez when there wasn't much happening, which in turn made everyone's job increasingly difficult. So he likes the notion of putting more focus on playing inside-out, particularly when they make a concerted effort to get Lopez involved early in the shot clock.

"He draws so much attention that we can play through him all game,'' Johnson said. "If you don't double-team him, he's going to score or get fouled, and then you've got guys like me, Alan Anderson on the perimeter making plays. So it's great. If we all are playing an isolation to where I'm iso'd, I can be a decoy a lot of times, because with so much attention, Brook will be open and it goes hand in hand.''

Pace is key for the Nets, and that isn't going to change when their injured players return. It's probably no coincidence that their last two victories came in games in which they went to Lopez repeatedly, controlling the flow of the game by letting him operate.

"We are not an up-tempo team like a lot other teams in the league,'' Anderson said. "When we have our chance to get up and down, we will. But until then, we have guys like that we can share the ball from side to side, find the open shot, put the ball down low, let Brook, KG [Kevin Garnett], Joe and when Paul [Pierce] gets back, whoever. But when we move the ball side to side and we've got four or five guys touching the ball down in the halfcourt, we are pretty tough.''

Deron Williams is scheduled to return to action against the Celtics on Tuesday night after missing the last nine games with a sprained left ankle, and his teammates also are counting on his presence and ability to create off pick-and-roll situations to help stabilize things more in the halfcourt setting."He's definitely a guy who draws a lot of attention,'' Johnson said. "Obviously, defense won't help as much off of him. He's another penetrator, scorer, a guy who can make plays with a high I.Q. It'll be fun to get him back out there on the court, and hopefully it makes everybody's job a little easier.''

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