Slumping Nets can’t ‘Kidd’ themselves
Hollins Calls for More Toughness as Losing Streak Reaches Four
Jason Kidd’s much-anticipated return to Brooklyn couldn’t come at a better time for the slumping Nets, who apparently need a reason to get up and stay up for a full 48 minutes, according to their new head coach.
”It’s disappointing when you are at home and you don’t play with energy for 48 minutes, you don’t scrap for 48 minutes. It’s disappointing no matter where you do it,” Lionel Hollins fumed after the Nets, fresh off a brutal 0-3 West Coast swing, suffered a 95-83 loss to Miami on Monday night before a sellout crowd of 17,732 at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
”It was disappointing on the road when we didn’t do it for 48 minutes, but there was no reason when we come home,” added Hollins, who was hired this summer when Kidd pulled his well-chronicled failed power play with Nets management after only one season at the helm.
Hollins, who cited toughness, resilience and defensive-mindedness as the key elements of his coaching style upon accepting the post, watched the Nets wither in all three categories Monday as the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions out-gutted, out-muscled and out-hustled Brooklyn down the stretch.
“We didn’t bone up,” Hollins insisted, clearly annoyed and disappointed after the Nets’ season-high fourth straight loss. “We didn’t bow up our back when times got tough.”
Seeing Kidd, who took off for a bigger paycheck and more power within the organization in Milwaukee, should elicit some fire from the heretofore punchless Nets on Wednesday night.
But as Hollins tells it, Brooklyn players shouldn’t be looking any further than their bank accounts to find a reason to play hard for four quarters.
“NBA players get paid to play,” he noted. “There are a lot of guys sitting on benches waiting for opportunities to play. It’s not like you can go out there and just walk through people. You got to go play.”
The Bucks, who entered Tuesday night’s game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden with a 5-5 record, beat the Heat in South Beach, Fla., on Sunday.
Kidd has done his best to avoid over-hyping his return to our fair borough, where he helped the Nets climb out of an early 10-21 hole last season en route to two Eastern Conference Coach of the Month awards and a first-round playoff victory over Toronto.
“You can’t put Wednesday before Tuesday,” Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel earlier this week. “So for us, it’s just focus on the Knicks, and when Wednesday comes with Brooklyn, we’ll think about them at that point.”
Nets fans have likely had this date circled since the NBA schedule was released.
And it will be an odd scene when Kidd is booed roundly during pregame introductions Wednesday night in the same building where his No. 5 jersey hangs from the rafters as evidence of his importance to this franchise as a player.
But for Deron Williams, who was limited to 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting against Miami, Wednesday’s showdown with Kidd is simply another opportunity for the Nets (4-6) to get a win.
Grudge, or no grudge.
“We really need a win right now,” Williams urged. “It doesn’t really matter who it’s against. It just happens to be against [Kidd].”
Rookie Bojan Bogdanovich matched his career best with 22 points against the Heat, but Joe Johnson (a season-low six points) and Brook Lopez (a season-low five) were rendered useless in the final period as Miami walked out of Brooklyn with its first win in four games.
Lopez, who has played inconsistently since returning from a sprained foot that forced him to miss the first two games of the season, has drawn some fire from Hollins for his lack of defensive intensity during the losing streak.
The 7-foot center again found himself on the bench in the fourth quarter Monday, a trend during this slide, but Hollins refused to take the bait in the post-game press conference when pushed on his feelings regarding Lopez’s effort.
“I don’t want to talk about Brook right now,” said Hollins. “I don’t want to talk about any individuals. I’ll talk about the game. I hear what you’re asking, but it’s not a good time for me.”
It is, however, a good time for the Nets to prove to their new coach that they possess the fire, intensity and wherewithal to give a complete team effort in what is clearly their biggest challenge of the young season.
“I can tell you that [our team has] an identity,” said Hollins. “And it’s not very good.”
Nothing But Net: The Nets finished 44-38 under Kidd last year, stealing Game 7 in Toronto during the opening round of the playoffs before falling to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Kidd, who led the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, is arguably the greatest player in the history of the franchise, making his return into a hostile environment Wednesday night all the more surreal. … C Mason Plumlee had a brutal shooting night Monday against the Heat, going 1-for-5 from the floor and 0-for-5 at the free-throw line. He did grab seven rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench. … Following their showdown with Kidd and the Bucks, the Nets will head out on another three-game trip, making stops in Oklahoma City (Friday), San Antonio (Sunday) and Philadelphia (next Wednesday).
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