Nets head West for three-game swing

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins
Nets at Practice

Nathaniel S. Butler/Brooklyn Nets

(November 12, 2013)
SACRAMENTO— After the Nets dropped a tough 96-91 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night in Barclays Center, a loss that dropped them to 2-4, handed them their first home loss, and left them with a two game losing streak, point guard Deron Williams didn’t mince words.

“This one stings,’’ he said.

Stings like sunburn, but there is no aloe lotion for this kind of burn.

There’s only one ointment that will help the Nets: Take care of business by posting a couple of wins on this upcoming road trip.

The Nets embarked Tuesday on a three-game West Coast swing that begins with a game in Sacramento on Wednesday night followed by back-to-back games against Phoenix and the L.A. Clippers on Friday and Saturday.

All three teams play in tough venues and the Clippers are one of the teams that have a legitimate chance to win the Western Conference.

The Nets, however, are looking forward to getting away. Road swings often are described as business trips.

The business of this trip for the Nets is to experience some success by posting their first road win of the season and generate some positive energy going forward.

The season is young, of course, but not too young to be concerned if the losses start to mount.

“It’s frustrating definitely when you get the losses,’’ said forward Paul Pierce. “But like I said, sometimes a road trip can bring a team together.”

“We’re playing three teams that play well at home. Sacramento, they’re tough when they get going. Phoenix, Clippers - it will definitely be a big test for us.”

“But this is type of road trip that could turn things around for us.”

If the Nets are going to turn it around, there are several recurring themes that must be addressed.

The Nets have to use their experience, inside presence and depth to offset the speed and quickness of some of the younger teams in the league.

Cleveland, with Kyrie Irving, Orlando, the Victor Oladipo and Washington, with John Wall, gave the Nets fits.

The team has treated the third quarter like optional study period. They held a two-point halftime lead over Indiana, but the Pacers, which have been together a while and know how to win, turned the game with a 29-21 third quarter.

And third, the Nets have got to remember a defensive possession doesn’t end at the 20-second mark. It ends after 24 seconds or by rebounding a missed shot.

Too often the Nets have played solid defense for 18-20 seconds only to get burned at the end of the shot clock. That was the story in the season-opening loss at Cleveland.

The Nets remain resolute that a lot of these issues will be cleaned up as this squad gels.

Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry are still learning their way around Williams, center Brook Lopez and shooting guard Joe Johnson.

Andrei Kirilenko has been hampered by back spasms and did not make the trip.

And the Nets coach staff, led by rookie coach Jason Kidd, is still implementing systems and philosophies.

Can it come together on the first lengthy rod trip?

“It’s different for all teams,’’ said Pierce. “I’ve been on teams when it’s happened fast. Sometimes it’s taken a while. You just never know. When it happens, it’s all good.’’

Kidd isn’t putting a lot of stock in this trip being some sort of basketball honeymoon. He believes in the team-bonding concept, which is why the Nets took their training camp to North Carolina.

But the problems this team is facing can only be worked through on the court.

“Guys have different theories,’’ said Kidd. “[Some think it’s] better to get on the road, close knit, no distractions.”

“There’s a lot of different ways you can slice it up, but its basketball. We have to get better in a lot of different areas. But we have to get better on the road, too.”

Nets Central

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