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A Time for Toughness, Mental and Physical


The Nets and their coach realize what they need if they're going to win this series, now tied at 1-1 and headed to Chicago: toughness, both mentally and physically. In comments Tuesday, there was a realization that the Bulls had treated them as fragile Monday night. A tight game turned into a debacle in the third quarter. No fight + bad shooting led to an 11-point quarter and a 12 point deficit going into the fourth.

"We didn't handle it as well as we need to," Carlesimo said in a conference call. "Matching or exceeding their physicality is always one of the things we talk about and one of the keys when you play the Bulls. We did a better job of doing that in Game 1 than we did in Game 2."

Deron Williams, who shot 1-of-9 against Bulls double teams, blamed himself and vowed he would never play that badly again, the implication being that he needed to be tougher mentally as well as better at shooting (although he played well otherwise --10 assists, two turnovers). "He’s way above average in terms of his feel for what’s working, what’s not working, who needs to be more involved, who hasn’t had a shot in a while, who’s got a favorable matchup to go to."

Meanwhile, Carlesimo said it's "easy" to block out talk of his future. The veteran coach didn't get a team out of the first round in Portland and missed the playoffs during stints in Golden State and Seattle. As for his counterpart in Chicago, there's renewed praise for Tom Thibodeau, whose talents including getting a team ready for tough battles.