Nets Understand They Must Get Defensive

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins

EAST RUTHERFORD – The film session lasted a solid 40 minutes, and it wasn’t pretty.

When it ended, the Brooklyn Nets’ coaching staff filed out, leaving the players to ponder what they had just seen – clips of what head coach Lionel Hollins believes are defensive shortcomings that must be corrected for this team to succeed.

“I think we were a little disappointed in our defense at times,’’ said point guard Deron Williams. “I think we’re a little lazy. We’re standing up. Definitely a lot of things we can improve on on the defensive end.

“I’m not even looking at offense really. What we need is defense. We got to break those habits. We’ve practiced a lot harder than it looks like when we’re playing. That’s something that we talked about. It can’t happen.’’

After the film sessions, Hollins put the Nets through a grueling two-hour practice, almost all of which was devoted to defense. He is a stickler for detail, stopping action often to correct positioning, footwork, even making sure players have their hands raised on defense.

If you think that’s petty, consider one of Hollins’s influences, Jerry Colangelo, the former Phoenix Suns GM and currently the director of USA Basketball. It was Colangelo who gave Hollins a piece of advice that is non negotiable:

“He told me to make sure players pay attention to the little things,’’ Hollins said. “Everyone can do the big things. Champions are champions because they succeed at the little things.’’

The Nets will do less switching in Hollins’s defense than they did last season. They will protect the paint like a park ranger defending an endangered species.

“It’s just multiple effort,” Hollins said. It’s about being tough, aggressive and it’s about doing it every time. Defense is consistency in your work ethic and five guys on the same page doing it together.

“We’ve had moments when we looked really good and we’ve had moments when we had two or three guys doing well and then a couple of guys resting. You’ve got to be all five guys, every defensive possession.’’

NOTES: Hollins said he hopes to have center Brook Lopez (right foot sprain) back for the season opener on Oct. 29 in Boston. Lopez did not practice but he looked smooth in a variety of foot drills and got in some serious aerobic work on the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill.

Kevin Garnett (stomach virus) returned to practice and showed no ill effects. He continues to push second-year post man Mason Plumlee. Garnett thinks Plumlee can be a top-line player who enjoys a lengthy career.

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