Nets pound Sixers in preseason

Posted: October 16, 2013

THE PREGAME jog that 76ers coach Brett Brown took at FDR Park was quite refreshing, he said, as he gets acclimated to his new surroundings.

Overseeing his squad's 127-97 preseason loss to the undermanned Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center last night must have been as grueling as a marathon for Brown. Though playing without a pair of All-Stars - guard Deron Williams (sprained ankle) and forward Paul Pierce (rest) - the remaining Nets still strolled through a men-vs.-boys win, crushing the Sixers on the boards (54-31), limiting the home team to 39.3 percent shooting (33-for-84) and basically doing pretty much whatever they wanted on both ends of the floor.

While Brown repeatedly has said that he wants his team to play at a fast pace, Brooklyn provided a strong hint why that will not be possible many nights. The Sixers simply can't rebound with big, strong teams. And when you can't rebound, you can't get the ball ahead of the other team to start the break.

"This is reality," Brown said. "You go and you see the level of talent and the level of experience and the physical stature that they play with, I get stuff out of this. It's clear our physical stature is not going to change. We better spend a lot of time in box-out drills or trying to run is not going to pay the dividends that we need it to pay.

"When you look at who your best players are, that group is not a great rebounding group. Look at the history of their stats. So we have to help each other help ourselves. We can't deny it, it's got to be done by committee. It's got to be done with our bigger guards rebounding and getting in there and getting defensive rebounds.

"Thaddeus [Young] is working, Spencer [Hawes] is working, but you look at [the Nets'] Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans and admittedly that is a big team and a very good team. But that's the landscape of the NBA."

Evan Turner led the Sixers with 23 points, while Young and Michael Carter-Williams each posted 12.

Rotation stuff

Brett Brown knows who his five starters willl be when the 76ers open the season at home against the Miami Heat on Oct. 30. After that, he's still figuring things out. Michael Carter-Williams is the point guard, James Anderson the shooting guard, Evan Turner the small forward, Thaddeus Young the power forward and Spencer Hawes the center.

"I feel comfortable with the first five," he said. "I like getting Tony [Wroten] in there for Evan and then I can get Evan back in there. I don't like to have games where you look on the floor and Evan and Thaddeus and Spencer are out, so I like getting Evan out and then getting him back in so I can end that first quarter with him. We're starting to get into a little bit of a flow. We're still experimenting."

Part of the experiment is Temple product Khalif Wyatt. While his game is quite intriguing to Brown, the coach revealed that Wyatt is in a battle for a roster spot, perhaps directly with fellow guard Vander Blue.

"I think Khalif is an old-school, old-man YMCA player that really knows how to play basketball," Brown said. "Khalif just knows how to play basketball. He's not dazzling anybody with speed and dunks and all that. He goes about the game with a high level of old-school intellect and feel. Is he a 'two' or is he a 'one'?"

Before the game, as Wyatt made his way off the court and into the locker room, Brown alerted the media about Wyatt's improved physical condition. Wyatt then let on that he ballooned to 226 pounds before the NBA draft but is now down to 207. His goal is 205, the weight Brown set for him before the season. Though he was playing for the first time as a Sixer in the arena he visited as a fan, the Norristown native downplayed that.

"You just want to go out there and give it your best shot," he said before posting six points and three assists in 23 minutes. "There's no pressure; you just go out there and play the game, just play basketball. It's pretty cool. I was getting up some shots [before the game]. I came here and watched a lot of games, I played here once in college. We played Duke here and that was a pretty special experience."

Temple defeated the No. 5 Blue Devils, 78-73, in early January 2012. Wyatt led the Owls with 22 points.

Different paths

Brett Brown became a head coach in the NBA after being an assistant for many years in Australia, then an assistant in the league under Gregg Popovich.

Brooklyn head man Jason Kidd moved directly to the bench after a 19-year playing career in which he dealt 12,091 assists, second-most in NBA history behind only John Stockton's 15,806.

"I think he'll succeed doing it right away," Brown said of Kidd. "When you look at him, you love his disposition. There's a calmness and a poise that's backed up by an incredible resume. I know his staff well. He surrounded himself with a bunch of good coaches. I think the combination of all that will get the attention of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and just a wide variety of veteran personalities that have expectation and the goal for them is to win a championship.

"That's a tough crew to coach, potentially. But they have a great group of leaders and I think that Jason has the qualities that kind of will allow him to just jump right in and be successful."

He also has inherited quite a collection of players, as the Nets went all-in to try to capture a title.

"The goal is to be at our best come June," Kidd said. "This is a new group, a lot of new pieces and we have a few injuries, so this is an opportunity for some to get better each time we take the floor."

Six shots

Kevin Garnett is wearing No. 2, not the No. 5 he wore in Boston. That was coach Jason Kidd's old number, and that will be retired by the Nets on Oct. 17. Garnett is wearing No. 2 in honor of Malik Sealy, a former teammate in Minnesota who died in a car accident in 2000 when driving home from Garnett's 24th birthday party . . . Shaun Livingston, starting in place of Deron Williams at the point, made all seven of his shots, grabbed nine rebounds and dished eight assists in 24 minutes for the Nets. Joe Johnson had 18 and Brook Lopez 17 . . . The Sixers face the Bobcats in Charlotte at 11 a.m. tomorrow.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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