Two games into the season, the Brooklyn Nets have been stung by a wasp. Monday night at the Barclays Center, the Nets blew a 22-point lead, were outscored 32-10 in the fourth quarter -- winning time -- dropped a 107-96 decision to the Minnesota Timberwolves and were booed off their fresh new court. The Timberwolves went 26-40 in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. The group on the Barclays Center floor on Monday played without their two best players, point guard Ricky Rubio (ACL surgery) and forward Kevin Love (broken hand).
This is why Joe Johnson summoned a call to arms.
"We've just got to get a little more gritty, a little tougher," he said. "No team should outwork us."
Head coach Avery Johnson, who since Day 1 has demanded defensive toughness as part of his team's DNA, found Monday's effort passive.
"We just relaxed defensively," Avery Johnson said. "We have a lot of stuff to watch, a lot of correctable errors."
Even while building a 62-47 halftime lead, the Nets allowed 30 points in the paint in the first half. At first glance it's "only" the second game. Those with greater foresight know the Nets have to recover and quickly. It's entirely possible the Nets could end up missing the postseason by one game or half a game. If that were to happen, they'd look no further than Game 2, which is why it's time to go to work to erase that possibility.
"We have to get mentally and physically tougher and that's going to come as the season progresses," Avery Johnson said. "The main thing is how does this affect us going forward. How are we going to respond."