Starting Five: The D without KG

With 6:03 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Nets trailing the Chicago Bulls 78-72 Thursday night, Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd decided to substitute Andray Blatche into the game for Kevin Garnett.

Garnett was playing extremely well in the second game of a back-to-back, but Kidd wanted to give him a quick rest.

Of course, Blatche, despite his offensive prowess, is nowhere near the defender Garnett is, and the move ended up backfiring.

The Bulls scored six straight points, and the time Garnett re-entered, the Nets were down 84-72 with 3:18 left. They would go on to lose 92-76, as Chicago closed on a 17-4 run.

“We’ve got to get to the point where we are playing better defense, especially when Kevin comes out of the game,” Paul Pierce told reporters, according to Newsday. “That seems to be one of our glaring weaknesses right now. We can sustain an acceptable defensive level when he’s in the game, but he’s not going to be able to play 40, 38 minutes a night.”

Let’s take a look at some defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) splits, shall we:

Thursday night:

Garnett on court (25 minutes): 96.3

Garnett on bench (23 minutes): 113.7


Garnett on court (45 games, 964 minutes): 100.5

Garnett on bench (51 games, 1,509 minutes): 107.1

Pretty staggering, but let’s give it some context to the season stats:

A defensive efficiency rating of 100.5 would qualify right behind the San Antonio Spurs for sixth-best in the NBA.

A defensive efficiency rating of 107.1 would qualify as the second-worst in the league; only the Utah Jazz are worse.

So Pierce is right.

It’s just a matter of trying to fix the problem -- which, given their personnel, is much easier said than done.

And this is where it hurts that the Nets don’t have many tradable assets.

It’s a problem that likely needs to be fixed externally. But it may not be feasible.

Question: Do you think this is a problem that can be fixed internally? Let us known in the comments section.

In case you missed it: Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are going to have to pick up their play after the All-Star break.

Stat of the night: Thursday night marked Brooklyn’s first loss of the season when surrendering fewer than 95 points (15-1).

Up next: Mason Plumlee will participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night; Johnson has the 3-point Shootout Saturday night and the All-Star game Sunday night.