Nets head coach Avery Johnson had planned on giving his team Sunday morning off.
But after the Nets were annihilated in the fourth quarter, 36-20, on Saturday night by a Philadelphia 76ers team that had gotten in at 3 a.m. the night before and was playing its fourth game in five nights, Johnson knew they needed to be sent a message.
“I just wanted them to know that mediocrity is not anything we should be satisfied with. We know we’re a rebuilding team. We know we’re not an elite team, but we’ve got to give ourselves a better chance to win every night,” said Johnson, who elected to have his 5-11 team -- which allowed the Sixers to hit 15-of-19 shots in the final period -- come into its East Rutherford practice facility for a Sunday morning shootaround before its game against the Portland Trailblazers.
“We’ve done that pretty much recently. And I just didn’t want them to be satisfied that at the end of the day Philly got away from us. At the end of the game, we’ll just show up at 4:30 like the coach scheduled it. Sometimes you’ve just got to send a shock through their system and let them know that mediocrity is not something we strive for.”
Johnson said afterward he thought that his team had gotten something out of it.
“Absolutely. I thought the guys were very attentive and I thought they were focusing during video. We didn’t do anything too strenuous,” Johnson said. “It’s mainly just muscle memory. A mental day. We shot a few shots but I was really happy with what we got out of it today. You gotta understand last night’s game, if you take that game and the Miami game earlier in the year. Those two games were probably two of our worst games of the year out of the 16 that we’ve played.”
According to Johnson, forward Troy Murphy will be active for Sunday night’s game against the Blazers.
Murphy, who has been battling back and foot injuries, had been inactive for the previous six. And much has been made of it.
“I think you’re making a much bigger deal of it than what it is,” Johnson said. “I think I’ve been consistent with explaining to you what our situation is. And I just think you’re making a bigger deal than what it is. We’ve got 48 minutes at that position; 18 of those minutes are going to go to Derrick Favors. Some of those other minutes are going to go to Kris Humphries, who has done a nice job for us starting. So we just don’t have a lot of minutes for him. But we need him active tonight, we’ll see how the game goes. We’ve watched him in the game with Brook Lopez and Favors. We’re probably going to take a look with Johan Petro tonight if that’s something we want to do. That’s what it is. It’s not a major issue.”