(Photo by Lolita Beckwith)
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins is working in a lot of new players this year and is spending the preseason figuring out how they all fit into the puzzle.
Before the Nets lost to the Boston Celtics 109-105 on Wednesday night, Hollins said of the team’s chemistry, “I’m pleased with the progress. The guys have come out and given effort and been focused in practice. We’ve had good practices. We haven’t been as consistent in games, but that happens when you’re trying to look at different people and give people opportunities to show they belong.”
On Wednesday night, he started newcomers Shane Larkin at point guard and Wayne Ellington at shooting guard, along with returnees Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, and Thaddeus Young.
The Nets brought in Larkin from the Knicks, who drafted him in 2014. In his rookie season, he led the Knicks in minutes played with 1,865, assists with 226, and in games played, suiting up for 76 of the 82.
On Wednesday night, Larkin had 10 points on 3-for-8 from the field, 1-for-4 from behind the arc, and an assist in 29 minutes. This was his second start of the preseason, with the other one coming in Detroit last Thursday, when he had 17 points in 27 minutes.
Ellington, who the Nets signed in the offseason, spent last season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Last season, he scored 10 or more points in 27 games in a starting role.
Against Boston on Wednesday night, Ellington had five points on 2-for-6 from the field, and made his one three-point attempt, with two rebounds and an assist in 14 minutes.
Off the bench, Bojan Bogdanovic, in his second year with the Nets, played a lot with Dahntay Jones, Thomas Robinson, and Ryan Boatright.
Jones, whom the Nets signed on September 10, spent last season with the Los Angeles Clippers. He played 33 games last season coming off the bench.
Jones played 19 minutes and scored nine points on 2-for-3 from the field, missed his only three-point attempt, and made five free throws, with a rebound an assist.
Robinson, whom the Nets brought in from Philadelphia in the offseason, had just two points on 1-for-5 shooting, in 18 minutes on Wednesday night.
Hollins said afterwards about what he needs to see improve before the regular season begins, “Just everything about our team has to improve. I mean, we have to be better defensively. We have to be better in attacking the basket. We had 22 misses in the paint, we had 50 points in the paint, and we missed 22 shots. We make some of those other shots, things could have been different tonight. Just being comfortable with being aggressive and playing – and not thinking and trying to be perfect – but just playing the game.”
Brook Lopez had 12 points on 2-for-6 from the field, but got to the free-throw line a lot, where he shot 8-for-10, in 27 minutes.
Lopez said of the game, “We didn’t have a great energy in the first half, and to give ourselves a chance we are going to need that every night. We are going to have to take advantage of our youth. We’ve got to be scrappy. that being said, I think the second half we came out and we just played a lot looser. Our guys were confident. I thought we were just trying to get out there and play basketball – a little bit more up-tempo, not really thinking as much, trying to play to guys’ strengths and really get it going.”
On moving forward with two preseason games left, Lopez said, “Again, you know, I think we just need to play looser and just have guys play with more confidence. You know, when we get into practice, when we are just calming down, you know, and getting guys back to their strengths. We came out in the second half and Coach (Hollins) didn’t have a play drawn up on the board. He just said mistakes are going to happen. We needed to get back to what we do as a group and individually and just play up-tempo and play with confidence.”
Hollins said of the game, “I thought it was a tale of two halves. I thought the first half we came out, and we were not aggressive, and they took the fight to us. In the second half, we came out, we were the aggressor and we took the fight to them. We still missed too many shots really. I think we shot 40 percent, we were 36 percent at halftime. We came and got it up to 40, so we shot better in the second half. I thought the ball movement was better and just attacking was better in the second half, and that’s where we are trying to take the positives from the game, and go forward, and be that way through four quarters.”