The cracks are starting to show on the floor, and they may be starting to show in the locker room.
Following an embarrassing 95-78 Christmas Day loss to the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce sounded off on the team’s lack of confidence and mental toughness.
Though he refused to name individuals, Pierce was clearly upset at his team’s inability to handle adversity as a collective unit.
“You can say what you want about individuals and certain people being mentally tough, but it has to be everybody,” Pierce said after the Wednesday afternoon loss. “I can’t speak for everybody all the time. If this was an individual sport, I could speak for myself. Some people respond to adversity different, no matter who’s around or who says anything to them.”
The Nets trailed 57-52 in the middle of the third quarter, before Chicago shot out on a 20-4 run, taking a 21-point lead and ensuring the game was never competitive in the fourth.
With his team falling to 9-19, far away from the championship aspirations they once held, a discontented Pierce didn’t have the answers for solving the mental issue.
“I don’t know if (mental toughness) can be taught,” he added. “I don’t know if you can go to the library and read a book on it. I don’t know if you can buy it at a store. If I had the answer where you get that from … I don’t know.”
Pierce, who finished with six points on 1-8 shooting, admitted that his hand, which he fractured on November 29th during a loss against the Houston Rockets, has not fully healed. Pierce returned after ten days — ahead of his 2-4 week schedule — wearing a protective glove, which he no longer wears.
“My hand is as comfortable as it’s going to be,” he admitted. “The bone isn’t all the way healed, but it’s good enough to play.”