The Brooklyn Nets suffered their fifth loss over six games last night, 112-104 to the Denver Nuggets.
Offensive and defensive struggles are the story from last night’s loss to the Nuggets, as Brooklyn nearly paved the way for Nikola Jokic’s career night. He scored 41 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dropped 5 dimes in the win over the Nets.
Brooklyn was on a four-game losing skid prior to their win over Phoenix on Monday, and will look to improve with three games left on this road trip.
Head coach Kenny Atkinson told The New York Post it was simply a lack of effort.
“We just gave it up. We coughed it up too easy. I just don’t think we had the requisite juice. The execution wasn’t good. It was like we were walking in mud in everything we did.”
Walking in mud is the proper phrase, as the team committed a season-high 25 turnovers in the loss. Point guard D’Angelo Russell led the way with 8 of his own.
He remains focused on getting better, individually and as a team.
“Man, no excuse. I’ve just got to be better. I’ve just got to be better, more focused. I think it was really on us, just being real nonchalant, starting with me being careless with the ball and just not valuing it.”
Veteran forward DeMarre Carroll says it’s also a matter of playing back-to-backs.
This was the Nets second back-to-back this season. They won the last in a thriller over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“We’ve got to learn how to play on back-to-backs. … We kind of took the night off. That’s something you can’t do in the NBA. You can make all the excuses in the world. But you’re in the NBA; it’s your job. We’ve got to learn, and we’ve got to learn quick.”
Head coach Atkinson made an NFL comparison to Russell’s turnover issue. The point guard is averaging 4.3 on the year.
“I want him to get better. He’s like the quarterback that throws two interceptions. Those are tough to overcome. And we talked about it at halftime, so I brought him out, talked about it, and said ‘Improve.’ So we’ve just got to help him.”
Carroll is also working with Russell, in more of a mentor role in the Nets locker room.
“We actually had a long conversation in my room. At the end of the day he’s just trying to feel his way in, coming from the Lakers where it was all open, one-on-one. He’s trying to fit his way in, know when to attack, when to make the play.”
It’s not the first time he’s reached out to his point guard, as the forward notes he had many talks with Jeff Teague when he played for Atlanta.
“So right now he may be overthinking it a bit. But it’s the same thing when I was in Atlanta with Jeff Teague doing the same thing. I told him go look at film of Teague and see how he adapted to it; because at the end of the game we’re going to need him, his scoring. It’s growing pains. He’ll learn. He’ll definitely be better.”
Russell’s play is directly tied to the Nets success, and when he’s off the team is off.
Hopefully DeMarre is right. He needs to be better.
The Brooklyn Nets will move on to Portland for the third game of their five-game road trip. Tip-off versus the Trailblazers is Friday, 10:00 PM EST.