After the shot clock expired Tuesday night, cementing another disappointing game for the Brooklyn Nets, coach Steve Nash implored his players to look inward and ask themselves “what type of team they want to be.”
“I don’t think that we go out every single day of our lives and sacrifice the time in order to be average at anything,” Kyrie Irving said after Brooklyn’s third straight loss. “And we look very average. And we have the talent that the eye test presents that we should be dominating.”
Brooklyn has developed a pattern this season of playing incredibly hard — and often times beating — the teams toward the top of the standings, but losing to the league’s bottom dwellers. In fact, with a 122-111 loss in Detroit on Tuesday, the Nets are now 7-11 against teams with a record below .500 — the most such losses in the league.
Jerami Grant tied his career high with 32 points for the Pistons. Irving, who was playing with a sprained index finger, finished with 27 points and seven assists. James Harden added 24 points and 12 assists.
Brooklyn remains without Kevin Durant, who is in the NBA’s coronavirus contact tracing protocols until at least Friday after being exposed to a team employee who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
Detroit jumped out to an early double-digit lead and controlled the game for almost the entire 48 minutes. During a timeout in the first quarter, Harden appeared to have a spirited conversation with DeAndre Jordan about the team’s defensive effort. Over the course of the game, Nash pulled Jordan aside several times.
“I don’t think they were necessarily picking on him,” Nash said. “It’s an emotional sport. We find ourselves in the hole and then get a little emotional.”
Jordan, who said he didn’t recall what Harden had specifically said, admitted he needed to be better overall defensively.
“I’ve gotta be better for us, defensively,” Jordan said. “We all have to be better. But I just take a little bit more ownership on that end of the ball because that is a thing that I love and a big part of why I think I’m out there for us. So we’ve gotta be better, but I take a lot of that.”
Since the Nets traded for James Harden in mid-January, they rank last in defensive efficiency, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. And while the Nets were able to whittle the Pistons’ lead down to single digits, they were never able to get over the hump.
“A lot of teams come out very comfortable against us,” Irving said. “And then that’s kind of the feel for the rest of the game is that we’re playing catchup, and that’s just not the way to play as a competitor just always down.”
“We just have to turn that corner. And we haven’t done it yet, but we will. And I’m telling you the league’s going to be on notice when that happens.”