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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Feb 21, 2024 6:29 pm

Interim coach Kevin Ollie wants Nets energized against Raptors

mikal bridges

Kevin Ollie wants energy and a hunter mentality from his players in his debut as the Brooklyn Nets interim coach Thursday night against the host Toronto Raptors.

He is taking over from Jacque Vaughn, who was fired.

The Nets have dropped five of six, including a 136-86 road loss to the Boston Celtics on Feb. 14, their final game before the All-Star break.

Ollie will try to turn around a team that too often showed a lack of energy and effort. He has 28 games left in the regular season to improve the team and show that he should become the coach next season.

“We’re all auditioning these 28 games, players included,” Ollie said. “And we’ve got to be in the same boat, rowing in the same direction to get this done.”

The struggling Raptors have lost three straight after winning the opener of a five-game homestand that ends Thursday. Toronto is in a 3-11 drought.

Ollie wants effort and energy from his Nets.

“That’s how I coach. That’s what I’m going to demand,” Ollie said. “I want them to demand that from me, and that’s from Day 1. We can’t be 30th in loose balls. We can’t have five charges on the season. We can’t have those things. …

“I want hunters. If you hunt, you’re going to play. You don’t hunt, you’re not going to play.”

Nets forward Mikal Bridges was asked how many hunters he saw on the practice court on Tuesday.

“Everybody,” Bridges said. “Staff, training staff, strength dudes, coaches, everybody, man. I think it’s just what it is, and everybody here wants to win.”

Bridges said he was “100 percent” confident the Nets could turn the season around.

“Things aren’t going good right now, and that’s life,” Bridges said. “You just kind of see what type of person you are, what type of man you are.”

Bridges said that there were problems with the Nets even in December when they had a better record.

“We were winning, but we weren’t detailed on both ends enough,” Bridges said. “We weren’t playing as hard as we should have been. When we start losing a little bit, our (bad) habits started to show. On defense, we’re not talking to each other, we’re not helping, we’re not in rotation.

“A lot of it is on the players, as well, but I think we weren’t in sync and we kind of didn’t know what we were out there doing,” he continued. “It was a little bit of a free-for-all.”

One of the positives for the Raptors has been third-year player Scottie Barnes, who is coming off his first NBA All-Star Game selection. At 22, he is the second-youngest player in franchise history (Chris Bosh was 21) to earn All-Star honors. Barnes is averaging career bests in points (20.1), rebounds (8.1) and assists (6.0) this season.

He scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the All-Star Game on Sunday in Indianapolis.

“I feel like I always have that inspiration, that motivation to try to come back as an All-Star,” Barnes said in Indianapolis. “It’s one of my goals, and I’m going to keep fighting every year for it.”

Toronto set season bests in points in the paint (84) and fast-break points (40) in their final game before the All-Star break, a 127-125 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 14.

–Field Level Media

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