RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The former leaders in Boston, who crept out of Barclays Center without so much as a word Monday night following the team’s 108-98 loss, spoke with the media following an intense two-hour practice Tuesday afternoon at the team’s practice facility.
Though the practice was scheduled to end shortly after 1:00, the team continued to work past 2:00 on cleaning up mistakes that led them to their 3-7 start, to the nineteenth-best offense and 25th-best defense in the NBA despite ranking much higher last season and adding talent.
“That’s needed,” Kevin Garnett said of the extra time. “It’s longer because, hell, we need it. Obviously, the more teaching within the system that we’re all learning and trying to get down, trying to create this identity, that’s needed.
“Hell, if we’ve got to be here two or three hours, then that’s what it is.”
Garnett has struggle noticeably since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets in July, and even after a hot 6-for-6 start from the field in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers, Garnett finished the game just 8-for-19, recording more shots than points. Pierce scored well in the first few games of the season, but has sputtered since, including a 2-12 performance on Monday night.
The Nets added Pierce and Garnett hoping for a culture change, as well as a talent injection. Neither has come to fruition just yet, though they’re hoping that a players-only meeting following Monday night’s loss helps a little bit.
“The talk was just basketball,” Garnett said of the post-game meeting. “Obviously a part of it, a lot of it could have been frustration, but it was immediate, just things that you thought you saw. Right after the game, you’re fired up and still going with that same intensity and you’re speaking how you’re feeling.
“I really believe that when you go through dismal times like this, it builds character,” Garnett continued. “It shows you who’s within. Who has the rope and who’s going to let go. I think it really separates the ones that are willing to fight, and so far, everybody’s ‘in’ here. Everybody’s in the conversation. We don’t have one or two guys floating throughout. We’re ‘in’ here. Even the guys that are hurt, we’re in here and we’re all trying to fix this thing. It’s not something that none of want to be in. It’s not a good feeling. I don’t think we’re having any fun around here. Nothing’s fun about losing and we’re trying to fix it.”
“I think we’re in a good state of mind,” Pierce added about the team’s postgame air-cleansing. “The thing is, we’ve just got to continue to remain positive, and build on the things that we’re doing well. We look at each and every game, and see some of the things we do well, and the things that we’re doing bad, we’re trying to correct them. Why we play well when we move the ball offensively, and what we’re not doing defensively when things go bad, when other teams are scoring.”
Pierce also said that he came out to speak with the media after 11:00 last night, but
But they can’t work on everything. Some things just take time.
“One, we’ve got to get healthy,” Pierce noted. “That’s the one thing. Things aren’t going to happen overnight, we understand that, but at the same time, we’ve had different lineups within the first ten games, probably more different lineups or unpredictability about who’s going to be playing then probably anybody in the league.”
Pierce has nursed a sore groin since the weekend, but said the issue won’t keep him out of any games. Same goes for Garnett and his ankle.