By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With his team coming around the clubhouse turn in its historic first season in Brooklyn, Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo may have to go the whip down the stretch run.
Following an inexplicably lackluster effort in Philadelphia on Monday night, the Nets prepare to host New Orleans Tuesday in the finale of a four-games-in-five-nights stretch prior to a much-needed four-day break in advance of a grueling road schedule to close out March.
"When you're that step slow, there are going to be different things, but it's always going to be something," Carlesimo lamented after Brooklyn's 106-97 defeat in The City of Brotherly Love to a Philadelphia team that had dropped five straight and is holding down the Nets' old spot at the bottom of the Atlantic Division standings.
"I'm way more concerned with our defense than our offense right now," Carlesimo admitted as the Nets squandered an opportunity to win their fourth straight and move within 1 1/2 games of first-place New York in the Atlantic. "We weren't good offensively, but 97 points on the road should be enough to win a game."
Deron Williams continued his brilliant play since the All-Star break with 27 points and 13 assists, suprassing the 10,000-point career mark on a pair of free throws in the fourth quarter. Joe Johnson added 20 points, Brook Lopez scored 19 and Reggie Evans pulled down 11 boards for Brooklyn, which has just two home games remaining this month.
According to Carlesimo, the effort his team displayed in Philly won't be good enough to get them where they want to go come playoff time.
"We just didn't play," he noted. "They played better than we did. We didn't defend right from the very beginning. They played harder than we did."
The Nets remained 1 1/2 games in front of Chicago for the coveted fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. But with more performances like Monday night's, they may find themselves battling for a No. 7 or 8 seed. Only two games separate Brooklyn from seventh-seeded Atlanta.
''I'm more worried about the loss than the record or anything like that," Williams said of reaching the 10,000-point milestone.
While the Nets try to shake off a disappointing effort at the Barclays on Tuesday, a pair of Brooklyn high school teams are gearing up for Saturday's high noon Public School Athletic League Championship Game at Madison Square Garden.
It will be top-seeded Lincoln vs. No. 2 Thomas Jefferson in an All-Brooklyn Final for the city hoops crown as the Railsplitters knocked off Wings Academy at CCNY on Saturday before Thomas Jefferson throttled third-seeded Curtis in the other semifinal.
The AA rivals split two regular season meetings earlier this season, with each winning on the opponents' home floor, before Lincoln topped Jefferson, 72-60, in last month's Brooklyn Borough Championship Game.
Junior Isaiah Whitehead hopes to help perennial contender Lincoln capture its first crown since 2009 after watching Boys and Girls win each of the last three PSAL titles.
Long-time Jefferson coach Lawrence "Bud" Pollard needs senior Jaquan Lynch to continue his strong play after the senior put up a team-high 20 points against Curtis on Saturday.
Read next week's Eagle for a full recap of the title game, or log on to www.brooklynagle.com.
LIU-Brooklyn can make it three for three with a win in Tuesday night's NEC Championship Game at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center.
Read Thursday's Eagle for full coverage and photos from the contest, or check out our website on Wednesday.