Defensive issues, turnovers doom Nets in loss to Lakers: 3 Takeaways

Brooklyn Nets
Nets forward Nic Claxton is fouled by Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Barclays Center sounded more like Arena by the end of Tuesday night’s meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets managed to pull within two in the third quarter, but they never closed the gap completely and fell to the Lakers 106-96.

It was their eighth loss in their last 10 games in Brooklyn and the Nets defense continued to be an issue, as it had been on Sunday in their loss to Minnesota. James Harden recorded a 33-point tripled double, while Patty Mills had 15 points and DeAndre’ Bembry added 12 points of his own. Nic Claxton had 6 points in his first game back after missing the last seven games with hamstring tightness.

Here are three takeaways from the Nets’ loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night.

[READ: Nash questions the validity of  Harden report]

Nets Defensive Issues Continue

The theme of the night on Tuesday was transition defense. Steve Nash talked about it, James Harden talked about it and the Nets just didn’t seem to be able to handle it against the Lakers.

Even as the Nets clawed back in the third quarter and came within two points of tying the game, LeBron James knocked down back-to-back shots, and Los Angeles quickly opened up a double-digit lead. Brooklyn’s inability to come up with stops at key points in the game squashed a comeback in Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves as well.

“Our emphasis going into the game was transition defense,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said after the loss. “I think we gave up too many transition points in both (losses). You could say every defensive woe was happening on Sunday night, but tonight we played hard and we did a lot of good things defensively considering who we were missing. I thought that guys played hard.

“But the attention to detail, little things here and there, knowing assignments, knowing what we were in, knowing personnel, little things that we went over that we just didn’t execute enough. Too many mistakes there that were preventable.”

After the game, James Johnson said that the errors with the transition defense came from the communication between players.

“We’re just not paying attention to the details,” Johnson said. “The players gotta make sure that happens. Our staff does a great job of giving us the details and things we need to do to help us be successful. We just didn’t execute.”

Turnovers Galore

There was certainly some sense of Irony in the fourth quarter as TNT broadcaster, and TV voice of the Nets Ian Eagle, discussed the high number of turnovers by Brooklyn just as LeBron James picked off the ball and converted the fastbreak slam dunk. In fact, that happened twice in the span of only a few seconds.

It highlighted the high volume of turnovers that the Nets committed on Tuesday night against the Lakers. By the time the buzzer has sounded, Brooklyn had coughed up the ball 19 times including the two highlight-reel plays by James.

“One we just made a poor pass, the other one we just fumbled the ball right to him,” Nash said about those two specific instances. “Two sloppy possessions.”

Unfriendly Confines at Home

With a 12-12 record this season at Barclays Center, the Nets just haven’t been able to find a way to explain why they’ve struggled so much at home. After playing four games with both Harden and Kyrie Irving in the lineup, the Nets took on the LeBron-led Lakers with just Harden as their offensive focal point.

The struggles at home began before Irving’s part-time return meant he could only play in games on the road, so that can’t be the only reason behind their sluggish performances at Barclays Center. Still, the Nets have not won consecutive games in Brooklyn since December when they downed the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 14 and followed it up with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers two nights later.

“I’m still unsure why we struggle at home. Obviously, it’s disappointing and frustrating,” Nash said prior to the loss. “We’ve played very well on the road for the most part and to have a basically a .500 record at home is below our expectations. I’m not sure exactly why that is, but hopefully, it’s something that we can cure in the rest of the season.”

They’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see if they can accomplish that task.