With all apologies to Allen Iverson, whose retirement tour brought him to the Barclays Center last Friday for the Nets’ tilt with the Heat, we’re talking about practice here.
In the aftermath of Sunday’s debacle in Orlando, when a bunch of zombies seemed to be masquerading around in black Brooklyn uniforms, the Nets say they ramped things up a notch or two or three in Monday’s practice. That, paired with the lasting memory of failing to show up and getting embarrassed by the Magic (you remember that one play where rook Victor Oladipo yammed 360-degree style after barreling into Deron Williams for a steal, don't you?), had the Nets salivating for redemption.
The Jazz were rendered to a pack of lamb chops. They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting devoured 104-88.
“I’d like to think [Monday’s] practice carried over to [Tuesday’s] game,” Kevin Garnett said. “It was probably the hardest practice we’ve had since training camp. Jason Kidd really stressed about playing hard, being consistent with playing hard and the importance of playing hard every night. Orlando was a totally a failed effort and we really got after it. So I’d like to say [Monday] is a carry over from [Tuesday’s] practice.”
Cue the Iverson soundtrack, straight with the mixed in scratching effect. Yes, we’re still talking about practice, man. Practice. Not a game. Not a game. But practice.
Kidd said the Nets couldn’t settle for perimeter jumpers that day. It was take the ball to the rack and can a shot on the inside -- or else the scoreboard wouldn’t budge. No wonder the Nets pumped in 58 points in the paint, with 29 of their 40 makes coming on the interior in their rout of the Jazz. In fact, 44 of their 78 attempts from the floor took place inside the key.
Of course, a lot of that came from Brook Lopez, who was a force.
“As a team, that’s what we talked about [Monday],” Kidd said. “We were kind of a jump shooting team, and [Monday’s] practice was the only way you score is by getting the ball in the paint. And the drills and the focus carried over to tonight. When you look at some of those stretches, I think it was 13 out of 16 points, the ball was in the paint. So that’s what we focused on and those guys delivered.”
Williams said the Nets simply need to transfer the same mentality and intensity that goes on during their practices to game days. If they do that, he believes, they’ll be fine.
“Definitely. We talked about it,” he said. “We beat each other up in practice every day, and then we come out and don’t have energy against Orlando, and we knew that was something we couldn’t have happen again. So I think we had a great practice. It was tough. We battled and we knew we had to do the same thing [against the Jazz]. And I think it kind of carried over.”
That carry over got Williams something he’d been searching for since the Jazz dealt him to the Nets during the 2010-11 season: a win. He hadn’t sniffed victory against Utah in four previous tries and he wasn’t about to pretend like he wasn’t savoring it.
“It definitely does. It’s good to finally beat them,” Williams said. “It’s a rebuilding year for them, but I’m definitely happy to beat them.”