In their first 11 games under new coach P.J. Carlesimo, the Nets won the battle for points in the paint eight times. Although they are still 3-2 in their last five contests, winning that battle has been an issue recently.
It may not have been that noticeable when the Nets beat the Hawks, Knicks and Timberwolves in low-scoring close games. It was glaring following blowout losses at Memphis and Houston, which scored a combined 102 points in the paint while torching the Nets’ interior defense and shooting 61.6 percent (61-of-99).
“Without question our defense has really slipped, and in both our transition and in the halfcourt,” Carlesimo said before last night’s game with Orlando. “In particular our transition and as a result it’s not the only reason [we’ve lost two straight]. And when you don’t defend well particularly when you don’t defend well in transition, you give up a lot of rebounds.
“The one thing that has pretty much been a constant for us all year is that we’re one of the better rebounding teams in the league. Memphis is not good but an exceptional rebounding team, so I can understand struggling a little bit. But we didn’t struggle a little bit, we got hammered on the boards. So hopefully it was an aberration and hopefully it was the end of the trip and blah, blah, blah had something to do with it. But we’re very concerned and very disappointed that we can slip as far as back as we did in those two games.”
That raised the five-game total to 54.1 percent, a trend that started with a 94-89 win over Atlanta on Jan. 18. It also made the Nets one of 12 teams that allows their opponents to shoot 60 percent from distances of five feet or less.
The Nets also are a minority on that list. Only three other teams also hold that distinction — Houston, New York and Golden State.
In the last two games, opposing starting centers Marc Gasol and Omer Asik each scored 20 points. That marked the eighth instance in 44 games the Nets had allowed an opposing starting center to score that often. It was the first time under Carlesimo they allowed that since Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins scored 29 points in a game the Nets won the rebounding the battle by 10.
Williams explains media no-show
From a statistical standpoint, scoring 27 points and handing out 11 assists ranks as one of Deron Williams’s best games of the year. Along the way, he also rolled an ankle which limited him to seven points after halftime. He also got ejected late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss in Houston.
Afterward, Williams did not address the media and his reasoning was to protect himself from any possible fine by the league.
“I just wanted to make sure I didn’t say something stupid,” Williams told reporters at the morning shootaround in East Rutherford, N.J. “That was it.”
Nets recall two from D-League
Forward Tornike Shengelia was recalled from the NBDL after he torched opponents in three games by averaging 28.3 points for the Springfield Armor. That was the good news in the report Carlesimo received.
The bad news was Carlesimo will be unable to use him as Shengelia is out with concussion symptoms. The Nets announced he will be out indefinitely.
Rookie guard Tyshawn Taylor was also recalled after averaging 26.5 points and 7.5 assists in four games.
“Both played well,” Carlesimo said. “Toko played exceptionally well. Toko had a couple of a monster games.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.