Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets: down but not out

The NBA schedule-makers’ cruel joke could have gotten the Nets down, but three very different losses to the Raptors, Warriors and Cavaliers aren’t going push things out of control, say the players and Kenny Atkinson.

“We have a great group of guys,” Atkinson said. “Those are the type of players Sean brought in and we brought in. They just keep working. If they stay together, we’re going to keep improving.”

The head coach cited the Nets garbage time effort against the Cavaliers that dropped the final margin from 45 to 20 points, writes Greg Logan in Newsday Sunday.

Jeremy Lin looked at the final score not as death knell for his team, but as something that happens … and should be dismissed. You have to move on.

“A loss is a loss,” Lin said. “I’m not going to read too much into it. Every single team will do this during the course of an 82-game season. You just have to throw it away. That’s what Kenny was talking about. It’s not satisfying, but get rid of that, take some time to let our bodies and minds heal and clear, and get ready for our stretch after Christmas.”

Instead of delving too deep into the psychological aspects of a big loss —and now a five-game losing streak, Atkinson talked mostly about what the team needs to do on the court.

In the two games vs. Golden State and Cleveland, they totaled 45 turnovers leading to 54 points by their opponents. The Nets are last in the NBA in keeping control of the basketball.

They’re also last in defense and their three point shooting is not showing improvement with six players shooting worse than 30 percent. That’s not going to change the offense, Atkinson said.

The head coach was buoyed a bit by the play of some of the Nets younger players, particularly Caris LeVert who’s likely to see more minutes. He played 23 against Cleveland, finishing with nine points, including two three pointers, seven rebounds, a block and a steal.

“I love how hard he plays. Good for him to see a few shots go down,” said Atkinson. “That’s a positive we get out of this game.”

They’ll need a lot of positives in the next 10 days, playing five games, the last one the first game of a back to back. It doesn’t get easier.

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