EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Bothered by a performance that didn't live up to his standards, Thaddeus Young felt the need to deliver a mea culpa to his teammates.
The Nets forward, bottled up by the Hawks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series Wednesday night, was frustrated that he couldn't get things going. His jumper was ineffective. So was his play inside, as he had his shots blocked or left them short.
So he called himself out.
"First thing I said when I came into the locker room the other night was, 'Fellas, I'm sorry. I didn't give you guys anything tonight. I've got to be better,' " Young said Friday. "I take pride in everything I do out there on the court and I take losses hard."
Young worked tirelessly at the end of practice in the two days leading into Saturday night's Game 3, a contest the Nets -- who trail the series 2-0 -- desperately need to win.
The 6-8 forward had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the opener -- an outing coach Lionel Hollins described a day later as "lukewarm" -- before going 1-for-7 and contributing two points and five rebounds in 23 ineffective minutes in Game 2.
He's set on turning the tables.
"When I play bad, I take that hard," said Young, who had last appeared in the playoffs with the 76ers in 2012. "So I try to come into this gym each and every day, get some more work in and I just try to get better each and every day."
A key piece acquired at the trade deadline in February for Kevin Garnett, Young fit seamlessly into the Nets' scheme, giving them someone who can play inside or outside at power forward and stretch the defense. He averaged 13.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in 29 regular-season contests with the Nets, nailing 49.5 percent of his attempts and 38.0 percent from three-point range.
But Atlanta's defensive scheme clogs things up on the interior, limiting Young's good looks. He's 8-for-23 from the field in the series and has misfired on both three-pointers.
"They've taken away the paint and Thaddeus is a slasher," Hollins said. "If he makes a couple of shots when he gets outside, then they will have to come out and play him a little more. But that's his game and that's where they are waiting. He's had a couple of shots blocked and felt like he's gotten fouled a couple of times. But, you know, that's the game of basketball."
Now it's up to Young and the Nets to adjust.
Prying off the Hawks' inside chokehold is imperative.
"Well, that's just how they play," Joe Johnson said. "They pack the paint and they make you make jump shots. It's just part of it. We've got to find ways for guys like Thad to get easy baskets, and I'm sure we will do that in Game 3."
The last thing Young wants to do is give another personal apology in a somber locker room.
"Yeah, you appreciate it, but it's not on him," Johnson said. "We can't put that on one guy, that if he gives us this or gives us that, then we will probably have a chance of winning. This is a team game and we give a team effort, man. So when we lose, we lose as a team and not as individuals."