Searching for a cure to the Nets’ recurring fourth-quarter meltdowns, coach Kenny Atkinson and his staff suggested a players-only video session in which they worked out their problems among themselves Thursday.
It certainly didn’t hurt. They earned a 106-105 overtime win over the Raptors — who entered the game at 21-5, the NBA’s best record — on Friday at Barclays Center.
The session came one day after the Nets blew a 20-point fourth-quarter lead in a 114-112 loss to the Thunder.
“We stepped out of the room and apparently it was quite productive,” Atkinson said. “I think they know our principles. They know what we want to do. But sometimes it’s good to look at it, especially at the end of games and what can we do better collectively as a group. We’ll see if it pays dividends.”
Immediately after that loss to the Thunder, Jared Dudley offered some passionate commentary on the Nets’ problems, saying they were not playing smart basketball and noting that they don’t have a star player to play isolation ball at the end and must rely on ball movement. Atkinson said that is in line with his own thinking, and he believes Dudley’s teammates appreciate his honesty.
“Everything he says to you, he says to me,” Atkinson said. “I talk with our leadership group all the time to get feedback. This isn’t by any means a one-man show. It’s feedback from him, feedback from our leadership group, feedback from our staff and feedback from Sean [Marks, the general manager]. I definitely don’t have all the answers.”
The Nets have struggled since losing Caris LeVert because of a dislocated ankle, going 2-10 in the first 12 games without him.
“Without him, we haven’t been able to close out games,” Atkinson said. “There’s no doubt about that. I think we have enough in that locker room to fight through his absence until he’s back. I just think that.”