Kevin Garnett is averaging just 6.9 points per game, less than half his career average. Credit: Getty Images
After Monday’s second half collapse on both ends, very few Nets commented about the state of the team.
Less than 24 hours after falling to 3-7 and viewing the game tape at a practice that lasted for over two hours, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce confirmed that a team meeting actually did occur.
“I think the talk was just basketball,” Garnett said. “Obviously a part of it, a lot of it, could have been frustration but it was immediate, just things that you thought you saw. Right after the game, you’re fired up and still going with that same intensity and you’re speaking how you’re feeling. It’s multiple and it’s surrounded off of betterment and going forward and it’s team building.
“I really believe that when you go through dismal times like this, it builds character. It shows you [what’s] within and who has the rope and who’s going to let go. I think it really separates the ones that are willing to fight and so far everybody’s in here.”
Garnett’s comments remained consistent with what other Nets have been saying.
“Everybody’s in the conversation,” Garnett said. “We don’t have one or two guys floating throughout. We’re in here. Even the guys that are hurt, we’re in here and we’re all trying to fix this thing. It’s not something that none of us want to be in. It’s not a good feeling. I don’t think we’re having any fun around here. Nothing’s fun about losing and we’re trying to fix it.”
“I think we're in a good state of mind,” Pierce said. “The thing is, we’ve just got to continue to remain positive, and build on the things that we’re doing well. We look at each and every game, and see some of the things we do well, and the things that we're doing bad. We’re trying to correct them. Why we play well when we move the ball offensively, and what we’re not doing defensively when things go bad, when other teams are scoring. So we had a chance today to clean up a lot of that stuff, talk about it in the film room and hopefully we can improve on that.”
The meeting came after Garnett’s first double-figure scoring game but in a way it was symbolic of Monday’s game, a hot start followed by a cold finish since he made his first six shots before missing 11 of his final 13.
“Well, I feel better about this group man,” Garnett said. “We still haven’t been whole. We’re still dealing with different ailments and the minute we have all our guys back, we go through something now. So it’s just always something at this point. We’re not using any excuses. We’re not that type of team. We’re all trying to find our identity and who we are and what we’re going to be night in and night out and be consistent with that.”
Though confident it would turn at some point, maybe even Wednesday in Charlotte, Garnett was unsure of that exact moment.
“I’m not a genie,” Garnett said. “I’m not a fortune teller. I can’t tell time. The only thing I know is just to work through the process and work through what it is. My confidence is that we have a group of guys that are willing to and committed to changing what the current is.
“It’s easy to quit. It’s easy to give up and walk up out of here and say, ‘You know what this is too hard,’ but we don’t have that type of team nor do we have that type of character.
“But we are still trying to find the true identity of something we’re going to be night in and night out. It can’t be just on the offensive end. ... Obviously we’re trying to be a defensive team and have defensive schemes and be committed towards that. It’s a task. No one said this whole thing was going to be easy nor was it going to be simple. Having guys in and out makes it difficult but you just got to continue to work, continue to come in here and try to correct things and believe in the system ... and try to be consistent with whatever the identity is going to be.”
Garnett, Pierce say loss not on Kidd
After Monday’s loss, head coach Jason Kidd took a page out of the coaching playbook by saying the loss was on him.
That subject is always up for debate but after practice, Garnett and Pierce echoed the sentiments of those who talked last night. They deflected the blame away from Kidd and talked of team-wide responsibility and accountability.
“The blame is all of us man,” Garnett said. “It’s not just on Jason. You can’t put the s— all on him. We’re players who obviously have to be professional, come out here and do our jobs but I’m speaking a little more of a system.”
“We gotta hold everybody accountable,” Pierce said. “The players, the coaches, this is one big group and we're all in it together. So it's not only on him, it's on all of us.”
The use of the word system is a key talking point in the NBA, especially for teams that have been put together on the fly like the Nets were. The most recent example was last year’s edition of the Lakers, who added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
“When you see these teams like Indiana, they’ve had their guys, they’ve added some pieces, but their core has been together. This is a brand new group and it’s not easy to just put these ingredients together and expect it to just work and being a new system on top of that, guys being in and out but we’ll get it and we’re committed towards making this thing what it’s supposed to be and what it’s going to be and if not we’re going to die trying.”
Williams ready to return, Lopez and Kirilenko likely out
The first three answers from Deron Williams were one word responses of “everything,” “great” and “yeah.”
As in he did everything in practice, felt great and will play Wednesday night after missing the past two games with a sprained left ankle suffered in the first quarter Friday night in Phoenix.
Williams said he didn’t think he would be on a minutes restriction, something he dealt with in the opening week of the season after missing most of training camp with a right ankle injury.
As for the other injured Nets, it did not sound like Brook Lopez or Andrei Kirilenko will be ready in time.
Lopez has missed the last two games with a sprained left ankle that got tangled with Garnett’s foot late in regulation Monday. Lopez did not practice but said he felt good enough to play if he was able to decide for himself.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” Lopez said. “That’s not up to me. I feel good. I feel like I could play. I’m not the one calling the shots there. We’ve got to think about long term.”
As for Kirilenko, who has been limited to 53 minutes so far this season, he did not sound optimistic about returning from back spasms. Kirilenko said he has suffered from back spasms at various points over the last seven years but this instance has been the longest they have persisted.
Among the things that will signal some kind of improvement will be the ability to move freely, especially on screens and cuts during offensive sets and that seemed to be a few days away.
“If you move and if I move, because my game is very energetic moving-wise, a lot of cuts, if I feel like something is stopping me from that,” Kirilenko said. I am not good at playing the other game, and just staying in the corner and waiting for the shot. I am not that kind of player. I have to be really ... I have to make sure that I am really free of any pain in any movement, stopping effects.”