Jacque Vaughn: Nets' defensive energy, effort becoming contagious

Jacque Vaughn hands up in front of bench vs Clippers
Jacque Vaughn hands up in front of bench vs Clippers

The Nets improved to 4-2 under new head coach Jacque Vaughn on Saturday with a 110-95 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, as they held their fifth straight opponent to under 100 points.

Brooklyn had been struggling on defense under former head coach Steve Nash, as they allowed at least 105 points over the first seven games of the season. Vaughn said after the win that he hopes the energy and effort he's seen on the defensive end of the court can be contagious for the team going forward.

"We made shots and we talked about that, if we rebound we can get out and run, we didn't capitalize on the transition opportunities we had, but we dedicated our energy and effort on the defensive end of the floor, which was special," Vaughn said. "And hopefully this group is feeling it. Shot clock violations, block shots, coming over to help each other, it has to be contagious."

Kevin Durant reiterated Vaughn's praise of the defense, saying that they didn't let any of the Clippers' shooters get going by making them take tough shots throughout the game.

"I felt like all night we made them shoot over our hand, the shots that they did make were all tough," Durant said. "I felt like you got tough shot-makers over there, Marcus Morris, PG [Paul George], John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard. They all made tough shots, but you gotta live with some of those. We were excited about how the way out defense was trending throughout the whole game even though we didn't make shots, I feel like we were generating good shots too, so eventually those will start to fall.

"We hung our hat on just staying in front of our man and making them shoot tough shots over us."

Vaughn went on to say that consistently contesting shots has been one of the main keys to winning games, adding that the group is doing a strong job "covering for each other" on defense.

"The mentality behind the defense," Vaughn said. "I think you see everyone participating every single play. There's not too many plays where a shot isn't contested, we don't run back, we don't box out. I told Kevin it was my fault at the end of the third quarter, where he had four fouls, that was pretty much the only uncontested layup we had where he didn't want to pick up his fifth foul. You see plays over and over again where we're covering for each other."

Nov 12, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) and guard Cam Thomas (24) during the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.com Arena.
Nov 12, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) and guard Cam Thomas (24) during the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers at Crypto.com Arena.

Vaughn added: "I think overall it's just more evidence for our group, they continue to see if they dedicate themselves to the defensive end of the floor, they keep covering for each other, understand this is a simple game that the individuals are the ones who complicate it, we space on the offense and defend and play hard and we won't complicate it more than that."

Big man Nic Claxton blocked three shots and grabbed 14 rebounds in the win, and said afterwards that the Nets defense has "been beautiful" the past few games.

"It's been beautiful the way we've been defending, it's been beautiful," Claxton said. "Everybody, we're all connected, we're helping each other, we're covering for each other. Really utilizing our length out there and making it tough for teams."

Claxton pointed out that the Nets didn't allow a 20-point scorer in the win, and credited that to making them take difficult shots throughout the game.

"I think we came out a little flat in the second half, we knew we had to get it going, especially defensively," Claxton said. "Just continuing to make them take tough shots. I think we did a really good job of making them tough shots, even the shots they did make were mostly contested. So we just made it tough for them all night. Them not having anybody score over 20 points, I see, that's solid."

Veteran shooter Seth Curry stepped up in the fourth quarter Saturday, scoring 14 of his 22 points to seal the victory. Curry added that communicating and helping each other on the court has been one of the keys to recent success.

"Everything for us right now, we're playing as a team, communicating on both ends of the floor," Curry said. "Obviously our defense has been really good because everybody's helping each other, don't feel like we're on an island out there even when we get mismatches every once in a while. Kevin's doing a great job really on both ends leading the way, protecting the rim, creating offense. Team's continue to sell out to him and he's making the right play. Game is easy, past few games we've been getting great shots just matter of knocking them down. When we knock them down we're a tough team to beat."