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Lewis: Brooklyn Nets were ‘outcoached’ ... ‘befuddled’ ... ‘blew it’ on Sunday

Brian Lewis takes time out to go deeper into why the Nets lost to the Los Angeles Clippers

Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

In a scathing appraisal of the Brooklyn Nets loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday, Brian Lewis wrote Tuesday that the Nets did not just “outplayed,” but “outcoached” at game’s end and the coaching staff “didn’t seem to have them prepared for the tactical changes the Clippers made.”

The focus post-game was on the Clippers 22-0 run to close out the game — and Jacque Vaughn’s decision not to call a timeout, but the Post reporter believes that the issues go deeper than that, calling it “the worst collapse in a generation.” Evan Barnes of Newsday had similar things to say about the Nets fourth quarter woes, noting that “in January, the Nets have the league’s second-worst fourth-quarter net rating, being outscored by 18.9 points per 100 possessions.” He too asked whether the team’s lack of adjustments is on the coaching staff.

Lewis wrote this in summing up his analysis of the loss...

The Nets blew it, from players to coaches.

The players missed nine straight shots with turnovers in that horrid endgame.

The coaches didn’t seem to have them prepared for the tactical changes the Clippers made.

Simple adjustments left coach Jacque Vaughn’s squad befuddled.

Their weaknesses were exposed on the floor and on the sideline, outplayed and outcoached by the Clippers.

Specifically, Lewis questioned how the Nets couldn’t adjust to the simplest moves by Ty Lue, the Clippers coach, even though they should have been able to, considering their onw familiarity with them ... and quoted Mikal Bridges’ frustration.

As soon as the Clippers went small and started switching, the Nets lost all semblance of ball movement or pace.

Worse, they looked shocked by tactics that are far from shocking.

“Yeah, we’ve just got to know when to adjust, how to adjust; and just got to play the game. The whole game,” Mikal Bridges said.

“[The Clippers] went small, redded everything. Then we were stuck, didn’t know what to do with … how to break it.”

Lewis added...

It’s a damning indictment that the Nets are starting the second half of the season and — despite two timeouts and a veteran team — they had 5 ½ minutes to adjust to the adjustment and were completely befuddled.

The Nets were a switching team all last season.

They redded frequently the year before that, and have been using small lineups essentially since Vaughn took over.

The concepts are simple and familiar.

Yet all season long they’ve failed to figure out how to handle them.

“Switching has been somewhat of a kryptonite for us,” Claxton admitted. “It’s definitely hurt us this far in the season. It just forced us to play slow and [hunt] mismatches instead of keeping that flow we had going offensively.”

Lewis hit some of the same topics in talking to Dexter Henry of the Post Sunday after the game, expressing “concern” at some of Vaughn’s moves or lack of same.

In his Post story, Lewis also quoted players saying that while the loss was tough and there were indeed issues, there were also positives the team can take away from the loss.

“We’ve got a big homestand coming up and things are definitely trending in the right direction; even [Sunday] we played well for the majority of the game, but obviously we have to play that same way for 48 minutes,” Claxton said. “And that’s our challenge.”

Meanwhile, Barnes may not have been as scathing as Lewis, but he chronicled in great detail the Nets lack of urgency in fourth quarters this month, suggesting that the Clippers example, while extreme, was not out of context.

Consider the evidence: On Wednesday against the Trail Blazers, they led by nine to start the fourth quarter. The Nets then gave up a 13-5 run to lose the lead. With 1:48 left, they led by four, only to allow a closing 8-2 run capped by Anfernee Simons’ game-winning shot.

Jan. 15 against the Heat? The Nets led by 16 in the third quarter, only to lose that lead on a 23-7 run. They led by five with 1:35 left in overtime but gave up an 8-2 run.

Jan. 7 in Paris? The Nets started slowly this time, trailing the Cavaliers 16-4. Despite a fourth-quarter push to get the deficit to single digits, they were in too deep a hole.

Jan. 2-3? Fell behind 16-3 at New Orleans in the first quarter and gave up a 22-4 third-quarter run to the Rockets. Both were double-digit losses.

Even in a win, the Nets couldn’t close right. They led by 32 in the second half against the Thunder on Jan. 5 but let the lead dip to six before winning by nine.

The Nets may not have that luxury Tuesday night vs. the Knicks who have a tendency to get out front early.