The Brooklyn Nets currently have a lot going on.
Early this week, they returned home from their trip to Mexico, in which they were the NBA’s only team to spend an extended period of time (five days) in the country.
The Nets defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder on December 7, capping off a season-best stretch of four wins in six games, before losing to the Miami Heat two days later.
This past week was unfavorable to say the least.
After squeezing out a 103-98 win over the Washington Wizards, who were without their best player in John Wall, on Tuesday, the Nets dropped three consecutive games.
On Thursday, they were outlasted by the New York Knicks in the Barclays Center, 111-104, the next day they played the Raptors in Toronto, losing 120-87 in possibly their worst showing of the season, and on Sunday, back in Brooklyn, they were beaten by the Indiana Pacers, 109-97.
“On both sides of the ball, not the requisite sharpness, energy,” said Atkinson after the Nets’ loss to the Pacers. “Somehow in these next two days we have to find a way to get that back. It is a little disappointing because our guys are high-level competitors and we are just not getting over the hump.
“Like I said, that ‘it,’ whatever that ‘it’ is, we are missing that physicality, that energy,” he added. “We got to find it and we have to help them get it back.”
The losing streak arrives with a raised eyebrow or two as the Nets had just dealt for Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas, along with a 2019 second-round pick that originally belonged to the Knicks, in exchange for Trevor Booker, who is now a Philadelphia 76er.
Okafor was the third pick in the 2015 NBA Draft after current injured teammate D’Angelo Russell and just before Knick star Kristaps Porzingis.
After sitting out a couple of games, Okafor and Stauskas, who combined for 70 minutes played this season in Philly, debuted against the Raptors. Okafor dropped 10 points and four rebounds in a highly anticipated showing that lasted just over 22 minutes.
Stauskas, a native of Mississauga, Canada, scorched the Raptors for 22 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 5-of-7 from three, and seven rebounds in 28 minutes.
Though, given the result, it didn’t matter much.
Against the Pacers, Stauskas logged 15 minutes and did not score, shooting 0-for-5. Okafor did not play, raising some eyebrows.
But since the beginninge, this new Nets regime has preached patience.
“I talked to Jahlil,” Atkinson said after the game. “I think the plan going forward is a couple things. We need to help him get in better condition, that is first off. We need to integrate him more into the system. I think it is going to take some time.
“I’m not going to give you a date, but it is a strategic plan, just like we have done with all our guys,” he continued. “It is going to take some time.”
The Nets returned to action on Wednesday to host the Sacramento Kings at Barclays Center, where they’ll also entertain the Wizards on Friday. Tip-off for both games is 7:30 p.m.