No Easy Answers For Brooklyn Malaise

NEW YORK – December has not been kind to the Brooklyn Nets.

When the month started, the Nets were 11-4, they ranked 11th in defensive efficiency and Avery Johnson was named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month. Less than three weeks later, the Nets are 13-12, they rank as one of the three worst defensive teams in the month, they just got thrashed by the New York Knicks, and Johnson’s seat might be getting a little warm.

Just two days ago, Johnson’s star point guard Deron Williams publicly pined for the “flex” offense he ran in Utah. The Nets actually rank in the top 10, offensively, but they’re clearly not getting the most of their high-priced talent.

Williams is shooting less than 40 percent from the field and less than 30 percent from 3-point range. Joe Johnson has recovered somewhat from a slow start, but he’s mostly doing his own work to get his shots. Gerald Wallace is too often a spot-up shooter instead of a cutter, and Brook Lopez isn’t seeing the paint as much as he did before he injured his foot.

“I don’t have something I can really put my finger on,” Williams said of the team’s offensive struggles on Wednesday. “I guess it’s still a learning curve. We’re still learning to play with each other, still trying to pick our spots.”

Even against the Knicks’ struggling defense on Wednesday, Brooklyn often took too long to get to any kind of action that would put New York at a disadvantage. On too many possessions, the ball wound up in Williams’ or Johnson’s hands with nothing to do but try to beat their man in isolation as the shot clock wound down. When they tried posting their big guards against their opponent’s smaller backcourt, the Knicks fronted the post and the Nets failed to do anything about it.

Two nights after the Houston Rockets scorched the Knicks by playing fast and aggressive, the Nets played slow and deliberate.

Still, the Nets managed to score more than a point per possession (86/83) on Wednesday. Yes, their offense could be better. Much better. But their defense couldn’t be much worse.

The Knicks tore that defense apart on Wednesday, scoring 100 points on 83 possessions. Carmelo Anthony was barely bothered by Wallace, scoring 31 points on 22 shots. Raymond Felton kept running high pick-and-rolls with Tyson Chandler because the Nets couldn’t stop it.

“We have a game plan that we tried to execute tonight on the defensive end, and it just wasn’t working,” Williams said afterward. “We weren’t doing the things that we needed to. We weren’t getting the help in the right spots, our rotations were slow, we let guys drive right to the basket without any help. And that’s not how we want to play.”

The Nets were so flustered, Johnson started doubling Anthony as soon as he crossed the mid-court line — the ultimate sign of defensive desperation.

“Defensively, tonight, is where we lost the game,” Williams admitted. “Our offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders, but we didn’t get enough stops.”

Offense. Defense. The Nets’ lost their way when Lopez got hurt on Nov. 28, and they haven’t been able to get back to where they were when they were beating the Clippers, Knicks and Celtics on a five-game winning streak that had them playing for first place in the Eastern Conference just 18 days ago.

“It seemed like we were rolling pretty well and we just kind of hit a snag,” Williams said. “And we can’t figure out how to get it back — get our confidence back as a group. We’re looking to do that.”

Williams isn’t going to put the onus on Avery Johnson to right the ship though.

“It’s on us,” he said. “It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s us as players. We’ve got to come out with more energy and more focus. It’s like we lost a little bit of our toughness. So we’ve got to get that back.”

Yes, the coach needs to get more creative with his offense. But the Nets’ issues are about more than just Xs and Os. Defense especially is about effort and focus.

“Our fight, our energy, our intensity,” Williams said when asked what needs to improve. “Just how we come out and approach the game, I think, as a group. We have to come out a lot more focused mentally, just ready to compete for 48 minutes; not 24 minutes, not 36 minutes, [but] for a full 48 minutes.”

24 Comments

  1. jordy says:

    I think a trade is in order, what do you think of trading gerald wallace and brooke lopez for a lamarcus aldridge and a 2 second round pick. you will have then williams at the point, joe johnson at 2, jerry stackhouse at 3 or marshon brooks, kris humphries at 4, lamarcus 5. wouldn’t that be more exciting to watch

  2. Jack Goodman says:

    I think our defence i mean i know our defence has to be better. And we also have to stop running so many iso plays

  3. Jesse says:

    Avery Johnson is more a good player than a good coach.
    The players that Net has can do a lot more than this. A smart coach who knows how to use them is urgently needed. The history of Mav”s proved that AJ does things awfully wrong.

  4. jetchicken says:

    honestly, i think it’s all on dwill. he blames the system or them having no effort. but then he’s out their missing open jump shots, air balling 3’z. he has no 1 else to blame apart from himself. he should get to the gym and work hard like other stars in the league like westbrook and durant who just continue to improve their games

  5. Knixfan says:

    Theres nothing more the NETS can do but give it time for chemistry.

  6. vern says:

    Like I said in the beginning of the season when everyone swore Brooklyn was taking over the city. The only difference between the last few seasons and this new Nets team is a new arena. A new arena wont change how they play. Like a kids new toy, they work real good and are fun when they’re new but then the novelty wears off and it’s just another toy.

  7. jake says:

    PANIC ,PANIC, PANIC

    NETS fans its an early in a season and every team go through this just like Miami, Knicks and Lakers. they will bounce back big time. they have yet to gel. they will be fine. they are going to make 3 or 4 spot in east which is better than last year Knicks.

  8. jesse says:

    Avery Johnson looks like a con-man preacher, that steals peope’s money as a succseful televangelist. From the south.
    dont ya think?

  9. Oneil says:

    Hey, Deron said it. I was at the game on Tuesday and saw firsthand how little effort the Nets were exerting. They are just not playing hard. The other teams WANT to win more than they do. That’ all there is to it. Avery should take them on a field trip to OKC to see how players who care go about approaching the game.

    Watch the Nets; no communication, no effort—just going through the motions and cashing them checks. I guess Deron Williams can only put up big numbers against an injured Jeremy Lin.

  10. Get off my Nutts says:

    Chill out everybody it was just a bad run .. they’ll come back they got a good coach

    DWill has to lead his team better and make them a unit, thats where this has to start.

    They have the ammunition to be very pwerfull, they just have to work togeather and we have seen glimpses of it

    If they are still hovering by .500 by all-star than there is concern

  11. jose machado says:

    they´re not playing hard like before! if u don´t win in a beautiful way, u have to win in a ugly way, if the opponent team it´s playing well we have to put them playing bad, effort, with blatche and lopez u have to create a great inside game.

  12. Rafael Mijolary says:

    As a Nets fan, we need to fire avery, he’s no the coach for this team, he doesn’t knows how to use young talent and your PG. We nee to stop with those isolations, u cant win games with iso. The team dont have a 3pt shooter comming of the bench, i mean specailist, not stack… and billy king should trade for a PF, not ilyasova, but a star like josh smith or gasol, avoid the bad contracts like ersan or bargnani, please! we have a good talented team, but the coach doesnt knows how to use, imagine sloan? #BROOKLYN

  13. […] No Easy Answers For Brooklyn MalaiseNBA.com (blog)When the month started, the Nets were 11-4, they ranked 11th in defensive efficiency and Avery Johnson was named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month. Less than three weeks later, the Nets are 13-12, they rank as one of the three worst defensive …Biggest Takeaways from Wednesday Night's NBA ActionBleacher ReportCharles Krupa / APNBCNews.comNBA Trade Season: The Utah Jazz look to be major listeners this yearSLC DunkComcast SportsNet Philadelphia -CBSSports.comall 413 news articles » […]

  14. Buddy says:

    The Nets are the Nets
    weather in NY or NJ lol
    Go NY,

    • uoykcuf says:

      Agreed! Whether you got it or not, nets are still the nets.

      • elonepb says:

        So does that mean the Knicks are still the Knicks? Only winning 1 single playoff game in a decade while the Nets win 40+? If so, I’ll take the “Nets being the Nets” any day.

  15. Bulls2012 says:

    The Blog title says “Whats Wrong”….The Nets were one of the laughing stocks of the league last year and this year there two games over .500…big improvement in my opinion..The nets are just not good as people thought they are REALLLLLLLYYYYYY overrated..

    • Go NETS! says:

      they’re so overrated!. Let’s trade D. William and j. Johnson to the Lakers for Gasol.

      • Bulls2012 says:

        lmao thats not going to happend…Lopez and Johnson maybe but the Nets will never deal Williams for Pau Gasol

  16. Daniel Mccoy says:

    Dear Nets, I been a fan for years, I love the team but your begining to smell like the Net teams of old. You don’t play you lose. It’s starting to stink.
    What you have lost was the ability to play hard for more than a half. The Nets have kicked put against all the teams then they start shooting 3s and missing ,lose the lead and finally getting the lost.
    I think you have to use your whole team. Remember when the starting 5 was losing to Boston then the second string came in and won the game. Avery You have forgotten your whole team. Your second and 3rd team brings super energy, Your first team runs out of gas. This is shameful. Give your rookies a shot, Marshon is becoming a Tebow. Put the guy in. Phil Jacksome maybe waiting in the wings if you fail. Come on Net’s wake the funk up.

    • LetMarshonPlay says:

      Please put him in

    • FormerNJNetsFan says:

      To be perfectly honest at some level I’m glad that they’re losing. After moving to Brooklyn and rebranding the team to the point that they feel nothing like the team I rooted for (apparently in vain) for 10 years from the age of 9 until their final days. Through it all they completely disregarded how hard this was for fans like me who rooted for them unwaveringly even when they couldn’t win to save their souls. They were gonna just walk away, and start and start winning with their cool new fan base immediately. They had to wait ’till they left to make the moves to do it too. In a sense it’ll be poetic justice if this continues. If this does go south for them it’ll be a long few years for that team. Their Big 3 of D-Will, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez are a more expensive big 3 than LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh. They have longer contracts too, so it’ll be a while before they can even press the reset button. They’ll have a hard time fixing what they have too with limited cap room. If that’s the way it’s gonna go then it’ll be nothing more than they deserve. I’ll be laughing if it does,