The Nets flew west on Monday facing a road trip that offers a grueling schedule, but also a chance to settle into life with Jacque Vaughn.
The interim coach only had about 24 hours to put his own stamp on the Nets before they played their first game under him Sunday, a 110-107 win over the Bulls. But as the final 19 games of the season get underway starting Tuesday against the Lakers, Vaughn will try to put his fingerprints on the Nets in the wake of Kenny Atkinson’s firing.
“I challenged the staff to get a list of things that maybe they had been thinking about [doing],” Vaughn said Sunday. “We had discussed some of those things that we’ll continue to discuss going forward. I think you’ll see some changes. Some things will remain status quo. … Little tweaks that hopefully our players respond to.”
The changes that Vaughn began putting in place for Sunday’s game were not overly dramatic. Elevating DeAndre Jordan into the starting lineup over Jarrett Allen was the most noticeable one, but the Nets also switched more on picks defensively and Vaughn tried to add in a few new out-of-timeout plays.
Vaughn said he will also be adding in new defensive sets.
“We’ll start implementing defenses that, if you don’t have the communication, they won’t work,” he said.
A more immediate concern was figuring out the root of the Nets’ turnover problems after committing a season-high 29 on Sunday.
The opponents on their West Coast road trip won’t make things any easier. After Tuesday’s game against LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they play a back-to-back Thursday and Friday against the Warriors and Clippers, before wrapping up with a game Sunday against the Kings.
But the Nets saw the trip as a chance to “quiet out the outside noise,” Caris LeVert said, and focus on their new reality after a chaotic weekend.
“We’ll use this time to build our camaraderie, jell and learn JV [Vaughn] a little bit more, but also compete,” Jordan said. “We got some tough opponents, but [shoot], that’s the NBA. We gotta come out and play. We’ll see tough teams like this in the postseason, if that’s where we want to be. Down the line, we gotta be able to win road games.”
The Nets recalled Nic Claxton from G-League Long Island, where the rookie big man averaged 21.7 points and eight rebounds over the past three games.