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Nets have work to do before Oct. 28 opener against Bulls

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) and Philadelphia

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) and Philadelphia 76ers guard JaKarr Sampson (9) battle for a loose ball during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, in New York. Credit: AP / Kathy Kmonicek

If their 92-91 preseason victory over the 76ers on Sunday was a regular-season dress rehearsal, the Nets apparently need to study the script some more.

At least the Nets, who led by 13 with a little more than eight minutes remaining, avoided a complete collapse, staving off Philadelphia's last-minute charge. But with the preseason almost over and their Oct. 28 season opener against the Bulls approaching, they're aware that it's time to clean up some of their mistakes.

"We've got a lot of stuff to work on still, but we had some positives," Thaddeus Young said. "The Sixers, they are a team that is definitely going to move the ball and get you in transition. We did a good job of imposing our will on the game throughout spurts in courses of the game. But we still have a lot of stuff to work on."

Such as their transition defense, making sure they get back in a timely fashion. The Nets frequently have been burned by not hustling on possession changes, and it's something they are keenly aware they must correct.

Defensive communication also is in need of improvement, and Young said it's on the Nets' big men to be better in helping out the guards, cutting off the penetration and fighting through pick-and-rolls.

Brook Lopez was slightly encouraged with the Nets' performance, pointing to what he believes is an increased level of intensity.

"Our effort was definitely better, guys staying in for as much of the game as possible, and [we] grew off this one," said Lopez, who had 24 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. "I know we are going to make mistakes. You don't really want to take any steps back. You want to see what we did right, do more of that, and learn from what we didn't do right."

Joe Johnson was upset that the Nets gave up 29 free throws to the 76ers, suggesting that their defense isn't up to par.

"The third quarter was pretty good, but we just got to stop fouling so much," Johnson said. "You know, I thought we hurt ourselves a lot by fouling and putting them at the free-throw line."

It's all about baby steps at this point for the Nets, even with only nine more days to get it right before their opener. There are plenty of areas to address, but coach Lionel Hollins remains optimistic.

"We've got a long way to go," Hollins said. "I can see a little bit of a pinhead of light at the end of the tunnel."


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