- RJ Says Blame Me Him For Nets Defensive Struggles - Also Update On Collins -
RJ TAKES THE BLAME FOR NETS' WOEFUL 'D'
By FRED KERBER
November 15, 2005 -- The Nets have been brutal defensively. Richard Jefferson says he is a big reason why. "Me, personally, my defense," said Jefferson when asked why the Nets' defense warrants executions. "I can't let the opposing three-man score 65 on us on back-to-back nights. I can't be giving up those kind of points.
"Even though it's a team game and not every point is on me, I take responsibility. If we shut those guys down, both games are different. If I do a better job, those games are different. So it's on myself. I'm most disappointed in myself right now."
Jefferson pointed to the 35 points fired in by Tracy McGrady, one night after Ron Artest ripped the Nets for 30. If that pair puts up mortal numbers, the Nets can win both. Instead, the Nets looked comatose, and two entries went into the loss column. Jefferson has another stern challenge tonight with Rashard Lewis, who is coming off a 41-point night for Seattle.
The ghastly numbers were there in the boxscore. Jefferson didn't need to stick his chin out yesterday and shout, "I stunk" to the world.
"But it's true. If the starting three gets 65 on you back to back, you're not doing something right. You have to take responsibility for that," said Jefferson. "When I first got here, I was about defense. I got my chance to play because of my defense. Will anybody hit those many on me back-to-back the rest of the season? Probably not. I'm going to take pride in my defense and say it's not going to happen again."
So while Jefferson was whipping himself and accepting responsibility for the Pacers and Rockets banging home 23 3-pointers and shooting a combined .493 (69-of-140), coach Lawrence Frank was waving aside the notion while Jason Kidd was pointing to team-wide mental toughness that was as stout as a Fluffer-nutter.
"This is who we are right now. I'm a realist," said Frank, who then addressed Jefferson's blame-me claim as "the farthest thing from the truth. It's a total team responsibility. Richard is showing leadership skills and accountability. It falls on all our shoulders."
So what exactly has been the most disturbing turn in the 3-4 start? Is it surrendering a ridiculous .424 on 3-pointers? Or an average of 96.4 points?
"More or less, our mental toughness," stressed Kidd. "When things are not going right, not to just fragment. Just to stay together and work through the tough times. This is about peaks and valleys, and we just have to find a way to get out of that lull and get on a high."
The gnawing part is the Nets feel they are making strides offensively despite feeling their way through and trying to get a rotation together. Minutes have been inconsistent as Frank looks for the right combos.
"We're averaging 94 points and that's even without running. We haven't started running yet. There's a lot of things that we have to do, not just defensively, but offensively. It's not so much the rotation, it's executing the gameplan," Kidd said.
"Some [problems] are game-plan mistakes, and understanding exactly what the coach wants. And some of it is getting everyone on the same page. Some of the best defensive teams we have, you understand each other. You know strengths and weaknesses of your teammates," Jefferson said. "We're getting there. But I'm making game-plan mistakes early."