Moke Hamilton, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — The Nets are 2-0 in the P.J. Carlesimo era and the club is doing its best to find the mojo it had during the month of November when it went 11-4. After the Nets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 29, Jerry Stackhouse spoke with SNY.tv about where the Nets are as a basketball team, their progress and where they hope to go from here.
When asked what the difference has been for the Nets over their past two games, Stackhouse says it’s mostly about effort. “We’re playing with a little bit more spirit than we have of late,” he said. Though he did admit that playing lower echelon teams helps, too. “Not playing any real good teams, that helps, too. Respectively, [the Bobcats and Cavs] are just not the caliber of teams we’re going to go out and play on the road.”
And tonight, in San Antonio, is where the road gets tougher for the Nets. They’ll visit San Antonio’s AT&T Center tonight before taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Jan. 2.
“Winning a couple gets your confidence back and hopefully we can go out and get a couple of big wins and I think that will really do us some good,” Stackhouse said. “We still make mistakes, we make mistakes defensively, we’re still missing some extra passes and stuff in our offense that I think would make the game a little easier but we’re being encouraging instead of kinda putting our heads down and chastising guys we’re kinda lifting them up and that’s a conscious effort and I think that goes a long ways.”
Still, heading into two of the league’s most intimidating arenas, the Nets must improve and learn from their past. “At the end of the day, we gotta stop making the same mistakes, I mean, it’s alright to pat a guy on the back, but mistake after mistake after mistake, we’ve gotta start eliminating those if we’re going to have a chance of beating good teams,” Stackhouse said.
The Spurs and Thunder are a combined 27-4 at their respective home arenas this season. So a victory in either building would do wonders for the Nets confidence. As a team, they’ve still got a ways to go to become a conference contender, but Stackhouse likes their chances, despite the recent turbulence. “We have a long ways to go, I think where we are right now, we’re going to have some growing pains. I mean, it’s New York and everybody expects everything to happen right away, but we’re realistic about that and where we are and we know we have to continue to build month to month to month,” he said.
At 38 years old, Stackhouse has emerged as a bit of a sage in the Nets locker room. His wisdom and 18 years of professional experience has been invaluable for a fairly young team with nine new faces. A normal NBA season is full of ups and downs and the Nets have experienced that already.
Stackhouse has earned the respect of his teammates by staying in great game shape, effectively contributing when his number has been called, and providing sound advice to some of the younger players in the locker room.
“We’ve regressed a bit from the first month we’ve had but I think overall, we’re still building our team… As long as there is some marked improvement over the next few weeks, over the next few months, hopefully, we’ll be one of those teams that’s contending.”
Already, Stackhouse sounds like a coach and as the Nets look to right their ship, he’ll be a valuable asset in coach Carlesimo’s locker room.
Tonight in San Antonio, the Nets will get a jumpstart on their January and will collectively attempt to turn the page on their rocky December.