Avery Johnson thinks Brooklyn Nets need "hit-first" mentality

After winning three straight preseason games, including two decided in the last seconds, the Nets looked awful vs. the Celtics and couldn't cut it vs. the undermanned Sixers. The problem, more than anything else, was defense or as Avery Johnson put it, the lack of a "hit-first mentality."

Johnson admitted the time to be aggressive on the defensive end is long-past and although he liked what he saw at the Nets' Open Practice Sunday, he knows it has to continue if the Nets are ever going to develop a defensive personality along with intensity. Among the specifics cited by Johnson: "We struggle when teams start off with small fours."

"This team does not have the personality that I thought it would have at this point. That’s been somewhat of a disappointment.," Johnson said. "They don't have a hit-first mentality and if you don't have a hit-first mentality, you are going to get hit."

Otherwise, Open Practice (open mainly to season ticket-holders and community groups) was about entertainment. As he did it at Ramapo College when the Nets were still in New Jersey, Brook Lopez tried his hand at half court jumpers, rimming out most of the time, but still impressive. Toko Shengelia showed how it was done, hitting two from 47 feet. In the tamer shooting contest, Reggie Evans, not known even for his foul-shooting, was on fire.

Not everyone participated. C.J. Watson (right hip pointer), Keith Bogans (bruised tailbone) and Jerry Stackhouse (sore right hamstring) were all out. Andray Blatche and Josh Childress (both with sprained left ankles) participated in practice --and shooting contests-- but not in the scrimmage. All are seen as minor injuries.

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