Coming into this season, outside shooting and rebounding concerned the Nets and looked like Achilles’ heels.
On Tuesday, it was everything else that did them in.
The Nets got beat, 127-119, by Philadelphia in their penultimate preseason game before 14,966 at Barclays Center.
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It wasn’t their usual failings that failed them but, this time, shocking sloppiness.
“I said to some assistant coaches earlier today is I really want this team to be known for playing hard, and that starts now,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn had warned beforehand. “It doesn’t start versus Cleveland the first game of the year.
“So, if we can get our guys to understand whether you’re playing a four-minute stint, an eight-minute stint, not to coast — not to think about the end of the stint but to play that extremely hard. So that starts now. … I should never have to go into one of our huddles, timeouts, talk about effort and playing hard.”
Vaughn will certainly have to talk about playing smarter and cleaner.
Yes, without Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, they hit from deep, and they stood toe-to-toe on the boards with the Joel Embiid-less 76ers.
But the Nets committed a staggering 27 turnovers, coughing up the ball in a number of ways to hand Philadelphia 35 points.
Cam Thomas had 18 points, and the Nets hit 54.8 percent from deep.
But they had more giveaways than Oprah Winfrey in her heyday, and former 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons was as guilty as anybody with nine assists but also eight turnovers.
“[Simmons] looks very good. He looks in shape. He looks confident, very aggressive. And it looks like they’ve got a package of stuff in for him. So it looks like he’s ready to go,” said 76ers coach Nick Nurse, who had his team prepared.
“They’re really good at the drive-and-kick, spread-you-out game. They’ve got a lot of wings and a lot of shooters. They’ve got a lot of guys that can take it off the bounce, and that is certainly a system that they’re playing.
“And Ben is really a pass-first guy, and he is big and strong and has a good first step, et cetera, to get into the paint. Sometimes, you’ve got to decide how much help you’re going to use on him. Are you going to let him go down one-on-one? Because he’ll eat you up at the rim with his physicality if you don’t send some help. And if you do send help, he’s pretty good about firing it out. It’s an interesting team.”
Simmons looked good physically.
And make no mistake, in the preseason where scores don’t matter, his health is priority Nos. 1, 2 and 3.
But he had three quick turnovers to put his Nets in an 18-5 hole against his old team.
With the Nets trailing by 16 early in the fourth quarter, Simmons had just four points and as many turnovers as assists (six).
The Nets were in a 99-83 hole after a Filip Petrusev 3-pointer 16 seconds into the fourth.
Simmons shook off his early funk and sparked a 16-7 run.
Spencer Dinwiddie hit a 3-pointer, and after Simmons swiped the ball from Paul Reed, he cruised in for a dunk to cut the lead to 106-99 with 7:35 to play.
Armoni Brooks hit a 3-pointer to pull the Nets to within 110-104 with 4:31 remaining, but that’s as close as it got.
He later hit another 3 to make it 120-114 with 1:49 to play, but again, they couldn’t get over the hump.
Ra’Anana 89, Cavaliers 120
Hawks 112, Pacers 116
76ers 127, Nets 119
Rockets 99, Spurs 89
NZ Breakers 94, Jazz 114
Trail Blazers 106, Suns 117
This article was originally published at the New York Post and was republished with permission.
Originally published as Brooklyn Nets coach frustrated after horror display against Philly