(Tony Brown – @BrooklynNets)
Nets Interim Head Coach Tony Brown called out his team’s effort after their loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night.
Brown was asked a question about the performances of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Sean Kilpatrick, and he replied, “I like the spirit of Sean Kilpatrick, I love the spirit of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. He’s getting a chance to play again, and they play their butts off when they’re out there.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have enough guys pulling the rope in that direction and it’s frustrating because I know they can do better. But I’m in a point in this season where I’m just going to play the guys that want to play more spirited basketball. And I can’t sit and watch guys not give 100 percent and make the same mental mistakes that we do. I’m a little frustrated, but that’s just the way I see it.”
For Brown to call out his players is very disingenuous considering he created the environment for this players to not go all out.
Brown has not shown that there is any accountability for these players, and epitomized early on by his clapping at the end of a game when the Nets trailed Utah by 25.
Any other coach would have been livid and shown his displeasure with his team, but not Brown, who had to show early on what a nice guy he is compared to Lionel Hollins.
At the end, Hollins was portrayed as a tyrant who was hard on the players, yet it was Hollins who got a lot out of them in the first two months and they were in every game.
Under Brown, there is also no accountability on defense, as evidenced by how many nights the Nets give up over 110 points. I would have said 100, but when they hold teams there, it’s an achievement.
It also is foolish for Brown to talk about who he’s playing or not as if there is a variation of skill on the roster.
The only two players signed for next season that do not need to be evaluated by new General Manager Sean Marks are Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. On the flip side, Marks could shop them to get back draft picks and really start from scratch rebuilding this team.
The fact that Brown has stopped playing Willie Reed and plays Thomas Robinson and Markel Brown just 12 minutes a game does not mean he has to question the team’s effort. It just shows that they already are tipping off who will be part of the team next year.
The biggest thing is that this season was basically lost on January 10, when Hollins was fired. It is hard to keep up the excitement of coming to the arena with nothing to play for, for three months, and with three weeks left, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Brown made it quite clear with his starting lineup on Thursday night who his comments about effort were focused on, as he removed guards Donald Sloan and Wayne Ellington from the starting lineup for point guard Shane Larkin and shooting guard Sergey Karasev.
This showed that his comments on Tuesday night could have been a motivating tool more than anything.
Larkin plays with a lot of effort, has been one of the Nets’ most consistent players this season, and Brown rewarded him with this return to the starting lineup.
In the Nets’ 104-95 win on Thursday night, Larkin put up 16 points on superb 7-10 shooting, including one three-pointer, seven assists, and three rebounds in 31 minutes of action.
Sloan played 17 minutes off the bench, and had five points, six assists, and six rebounds, and was a +13, meaning the Nets scored that many more points than Cleveland when he was on the floor. Ellington and Thomas Robinson did not play.
Brown said of Larkin, “Shane Larkin, unbelievable game by him – good floor general today, made some key baskets, made some key plays down the stretch.”
Cleveland Head Coach Tyronn Lue said of Larkin starting, “Smart job by Coach Tony Brown to start Shane Larkin. He’s fast, he can get into the paint and cause havoc.”
The Nets beat Cleveland because they gave it their all from start to finish. It has to be noted, as well, that Cleveland, on the second part of a back-to-back, played most of this game at half-speed.
The Nets led 59-49 at the half, and Cleveland responded with a monster third quarter, outscoring the Nets 34-21 to take an 83-80 lead into the fourth.
In the fourth, the Nets played some of their best defense of the season, as they held Cleveland to just 12 points.
Cleveland led 92-90 with 6:11 remaining, and the Nets basically closed the game on a 14-0 run. (Cleveland’s only basket a Jordan McRae three-pointer, came with 9.8 seconds left). That basket made it a 104-95 final.
LeBron James had 30 points on 13-16 from the field (1-2 on threes), with six rebounds and five assists. James basically did whatever he wanted on the floor.
Where Cleveland lost this game was at the three-point line, where they shot a dreadful 10-for-38, including 1-8 from Kyrie Irving and 2-8 from JR Smith.
Cleveland Head Coach Tyronn Lue said of the game, “We’re just not playing hard for 48 minutes. We came into this game saying you can’t overlook this Brooklyn team. They’re a good team. Our backs were against the wall and we got down in that third quarter. We tried to come back and play hard but it just wasn’t enough. We just have to play hard. Like I said, every time we have to compete. In that third quarter, we come out, we’re aggressive, we’re into the ball and we’re scrapping. We held Brooklyn to 21 points in that third quarter but that’s when our backs were against the wall again, instead of just coming out starting the game and focusing on the way we’re supposed to play.”
Lue said of the fact that the Cavaliers should be past not getting up energy-wise, “As a coach, you hope you’re past it. Tonight, coming out, this Brooklyn team was a dangerous team. With Brook Lopez, he is a load down low. Brooklyn played hard; they competed for 48 minutes… If we don’t compete for 48 minutes, things like this will continue to happen.”
Brown said of what he saw out of the Nets down the stretch, “Well, we had a lot more fight than we’ve shown the last couple of games. More than anything, obviously, Brook led us down the stretch. He made a couple of huge baskets, especially the last one for the and-one. But more than anything, we got defensive stops. They missed shots, and we were able to control the game from there. I think they might have missed the last four or five shots of their possessions, and it gave us an opportunity to get out in the open court and run, obviously. And we just played sound basketball down the stretch that we hadn’t shown in the past. I think Shane (Larkin) had that one turnover and he knew that he got too deep under the basket and tried to thread-a-needle pass against this team that’s too long and too athletic. They’ll make a play. But other than that, I thought we were sound in what we were and it’s just a solid team effort.”
Brown said of how he characterizes a win like this, “Well, the energy was definitely way up. Our intensity was way up. We had a lot more bounce on the court than we normally have. I mean, Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson), for his 16 minutes, he gave us a lot of athelticism and a lot of bounce out there, Chris McCullough. I thought Markel Brown finishing the game gave us another huge defensive effort to end the game.”
Brook Lopez said of the win, “We never gave in. They did come out hard in the third quarter and make runs. They did try to hit us early and we just stuck with it. They even came back and took the lead. It was something we’ve been struggling against all season, but we pushed through that. I can’t emphasize enough that when we really succeeded (tonight), we played great team basketball, we shared the basketball, we played with each other, and on defense, we finished each defensive possession with a rebound, which is important.”