EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — On Friday night, the Nets were routed by the Knicks on national TV. On Sunday night, they face the Golden State Warriors (21-0), the NBA’s best team and defending champion.
How’s that for timing?
“Well, I think after [Friday] night, playing a team like [the Warriors], it won’t be hard to get our guys up,’’ Nets coach Lionel Hollins said Saturday about facing Stephen Curry and friends at Barclays Center. “It won’t be hard to be motivated to come out and do better, knowing that if you don’t, you’ll get beat by 50. [So] it probably is a good time.’’
It’s as good a time as any. Golden State is on the second night of a back-to-back, having beaten Toronto on Saturday, and the Nets can take pride in knowing they came within a whisker of being the first team to beat the Warriors in the teams’ first meeting on Nov. 14 in Oakland. The Nets took the Warriors to overtime before losing, 107-99, and had several chances to win the game in regulation — the last coming on a last-second inbounds play in which Brook Lopez missed a point-blank shot at the buzzer.
Lopez was asked Saturday if he has thought about that missed shot, and how it could have changed everything for the 5-14 Nets.
“Maybe once,’’ he said with a smile.
Turning serious, Lopez acknowledged that the game against the Warriors represented something of a turnaround for the Nets, who had started the season 0-7 and were 1-8 when they played at Golden State. They are 4-5 since that loss and have been competitive in every game aside from Friday night’s game against the Knicks.
“There’s lots of things we did well’’ against the Warriors, he said. “We gave ourselves multiple opportunities. What we really feel was our own error cost us the game multiple times and we’re definitely drawing on a lot of things we did in that game — trying to emulate, especially defensively, what we did and offensively as well, trying to keep it at our pace.’’
With the 7-foot Lopez their top scorer (20.2 points per game) the Nets know they don’t want to get into a running game with Golden State. Playing a deliberate half-court game is the better way to go, the Nets believe.
“The more you run and take quick shots, the more opportunity they have to run back at you and shoot threes and attack the basket,’’ Hollins said. “You want to limit their possessions. It’s the same way in football. If you run the ball and control the clock, the other team doesn’t get as many possessions. It’s the same way here.’’