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Kevin Durant sees fouls as the cause of the Nets’ defensive problems

Kevin Durant doesn’t see much structurally wrong with the Nets’ defense despite the team giving up 120 or more points in three straight games. But he pointed to a major problem: reducing fouls.

“I don’t think we were that bad,” Durant said after Monday’s practice. “I know we lost but I watch this, like I said, making stupid mistakes. It makes the game even slower when you put them on the free throw line. They get points every time, 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 given up 23, 34 and 49 free throws. The latter, a loss to Atlanta in a game that saw the Nets drop to 10th in the Eastern Conference, was particularly infuriating.

The Hawks shot just 41.9 percent from the field on Saturday, and Brooklyn’s opposing field goal percentage has been good on a game-by-game basis recently.

But that doesn’t matter if the Nets let teams shoot nearly 50 free throws.

Kevin Durant defends against Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Hawks.

“It’s just the execution and the finishing,” Durant said. “Like, you’re keeping somebody straight and it’s just in your mind, the urge when you see the ball is reaching, you know what I’m saying? And the ref sees the trigger, it doesn’t matter if you touch the ball or not, they will call a foul if you reach.

“So I think at the beginning our defense at the point of attack is solid and then we could end up, as I said, with a foul. We can certainly be better and correct some plays, but overall , I think we have good intentions.

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

“It’s the NBA. We’re not going to completely shut down an entire team,” Durant said. “We’re watching Milwaukee [last Thursday], they shot, what, 44% from the field? It’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 hitting 42% of their shots, it’s pretty solid on the defensive side of the ball.

Reducing faults, in theory, should be an easy thing to do. But the Nets have struggled in that area all season, ranking 25th in opposing free throw attempts.

“Just being in the right place,” said Bruce Brown. “Not reaching. Really just be smart on defense. There were terrible fouls and we commit some of their best free throw shooters.

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

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

Nash said Seth Curry, who suffered an ankle injury, didn’t do much in practice Monday. The team is considering whether or not to sit him out for the rest of the regular season in preparation for the playoff.

New York Post

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