Avery Johnson won a lot of games as the coach of the Dallas Mavericks, but things were done his way, his style of play with defense and a slow-it-down, controlled offense. Dirk Nowitzki referred to it as a dictatorship.
Things have not changed much, just the venue.
The Brooklyn Nets are winning a lot of games but doing it Johnson’s way. He calls the plays, he sets the tone. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News got Deron Williams — the kind of point guard a lot of coaches would give some freedom — to talk about it.
“At times, he likes to micro-manage the game.”
Not all players like that, go ask Devin Harris.
Williams admits he has some latitude — but like a parent dealing with a teenager, allowing some freedoms has to come with them maintaining other responsibilities.
As Williams says, “he’s not always going to agree, but he’s going to listen.” Johnson let the offense flow against the Thunder. Williams benefited on one end while the defense crumbled. For some reason the Nets were suckered into Oklahoma City’s preferred style of play, attempting to run up and down with a team more adept at such entertaining basketball.
After a rough first weeks of the season the Nets had been playing pretty good defense up until Tuesday night. And so you can expect Johnson to rein his team in a little. Try to get them to focus on defense.
But this is a back-and-forth, push-and-pull thing that could get interesting late in the season and into the playoffs, when the competitive Williams will want more.
The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.
Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.
On offensive problems:
I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball
On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:
He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.
On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:
We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.
Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.
But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.
Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.
Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.
He’d appreciate them getting this message.
Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.
So, um, did he have offseason surgery?
Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.
We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?