Nets Notebook: Battling tough schedule, playing a full game - Metro US

Nets Notebook: Battling tough schedule, playing a full game

The Nets’ schedule was and is difficult — 21 games in 40 days spanning mid-November to Christmas Day, with 11 against the NBA’s upper echelon.

A big-picture thinker would consider the stretch a measuring stick. The Nets, naturally, have decided to implement minimalist thinking.

“All that will take care of itself,” Andray Blatche said prior to Tuesday night’s home date with the Thunder. “[We’re] not focusing on [that].”

Concluding with the nationally televised home game against the Celtics on Christmas Day, the Nets will have played Boston and the Knicks three times each, along with the Lakers, Clippers, Heat, Thunder and Bulls.

To the fullest

The challenge head coach Avery Johnson laid out to his team was simple: play a full game.

“[The Thunder have] been together for a little while. [They have] a good squad. Playing one half is not good enough,” Johnson said.

The reigning Western Conference champions, Oklahoma City entered last night’s game second in the West with a 14-4 record. Even without the traded James Harden, the Thunder leads the league with an average of 105.1 points per game. Johnson singled out Kevin Martin (16.1 points per game) for praise, noting he has more than ably replaced Harden, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award last season.

So what did the coach want to see from his charges?

“We have our own pace,” Johnson said. “We’re not going to be good playing at the Thunder’s pace.”

He was also hopeful that being back at home for the first time since the 96-89 overtime win over the Knicks on Nov. 26 would benefit his team.

“Great atmosphere,” Johnson said. “[We] have a lot of energy [playing at home].”

Nets notes …

The NBA announced on Monday that Avery Johnson was named Coach of the Month for November. It marked the fourth time in his coaching career he earned the honor. The first three times occurred when he was the coach of the Mavericks (April 2005, Nov. 2005 and Jan. 2006). The Nets went 11-4 in November, setting franchise records for the best start to a season and the most wins in a month. “Anytime something like that happens [it is recognition of the organization],” Johnson said. … Joe Johnson, Reggie Evans and C.J. Watson will teach a cardio kickboxing class to 60 children at the Flatbush YMCA Wednesday afternoon. … Evans (flu) and Brook Lopez (a mild sprain of the right foot) missed last night’s game. “[We] pride ourselves on having depth,” Avery Johnson said.

Follow Nets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.

More from our Sister Sites