Kevin Durant sees fouls as the root cause of Nets’ defensive woes

Kevin Durant doesn’t see much wrong with defending the Nets structurally, even though the team has dropped 120 or more points in three straight games. But he pointed out an important issue: reducing fouls.

“I don’t think we were that bad,” Durant said after Monday’s practice session. “I know we lost but I look this way like I said I made stupid fouls. This only makes the game look even slower when you place them on the free throw line. They score points every time the ball comes down but we actually stop them when the ball is live.”

The Nets have lost three of their last four, and in those three losses they have conceded 23, 34, and 49 free throws, respectively. The latter, a loss in Atlanta in a game that saw the Nets drop to 10th place in the Eastern Conference, was particularly galling.

The Hawks shot just 41.9 percent from the field Saturday, and Brooklyn’s opposing field goal percentage has been decent game-to-game lately.

But that doesn’t matter when the Nets let teams shoot almost 50 free throws.

Kevin Durant defends against Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Hawks.
USA TODAY sports

“It’s just the execution and the finishing,” Durant said. “You’re guarding someone directly and it’s just in your head, the urge when you see the ball is to reach for it, you know what I’m saying? And the referee sees the deduction, no matter you touch the ball or not, he will call a foul if you reach in.

“So I think our point of attack defense is solid to begin with and then like I said, we could get into a foul play. We can definitely be better and certain plays we can fix, but overall I think we have good intentions out there.”

On a per possession basis, the Nets are ranked 20th in the league in defense this season. But given the inconsistency with their lineup, it’s hard to tell if that really means much.

“It’s the NBA. We’re not going to completely stop an entire team,” Durant said. “We’re looking at Milwaukee [last Thursday], they shot what, 44 percent from the field? That’s pretty solid for a team that has one of the best players in the world. Then we play a team [Atlanta on Saturday] and the other day they shot, what, 42, 43 percent from the field? They’re making 42 percent of their shots, which is pretty solid on the defensive side of the ball.”

In theory, reducing fouls should be easy. But the Nets have struggled in that area all season, finishing 25th in opposing free throw attempts.

“Only in the right places,” said Bruce Brown. “Not reach. Really just be smart on defense. There were some terrible fouls and we’re fouling some of their best free-throw takers.”

Brown is ready for Tuesday’s game against Houston after battling an illness.

Goran Dragic is still in Atlanta after testing positive for COVID-19.

Nash said Seth Curry, who has been a recurring feature in the line-up with an ankle injury, didn’t do much in practice on Monday. The team is evaluating whether or not to seed him for the remainder of the regular season in preparation for play-in play. Kevin Durant sees fouls as the root cause of Nets’ defensive woes


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