When the Nets' 107-97 loss to the Sixers wrapped up Monday night, P.J. Carlesimo offered a quick and simple explanation for why his team's three-game winning streak came to an end.
"They played harder than we did. They played better than we did," Carlesimo said. "This game meant more to them than it did to us. They deserved to win the game."
There's no argument to be made with anything Carlesimo said. The Nets were outworked and outplayed over the course of the game, which makes it hard to feel like the result was anything but deserved for the Sixers.
Having said that, though, we can't help but notice that Carlesimo was content to point the finger at the players without putting his own work up for discussion. Because the Nets were outcoached in addition to being outworked and outplayed.
How else can you explain allowing Thaddeus Young to run roughshod on your team all night and especially in the fourth quarter without even trying to see if Gerald Wallace might be able to do a better job on him? Carlesimo avoids going small the way a portly fellow avoids the treadmill, but his argument for doing things a certain way feels like an anachronism on nights like Monday when the Sixers just speed past his team on the offensive end.
Reggie Evans is too slow and Mirza Teletovic isn't strong enough to handle a player like Young, but Wallace splits the difference well enough to make you think it is worth finding out whether the results will be any better. It might even have an offensive payoff for the team.
After the first quarter of Monday's game, Evans shot the ball seven times while Brook Lopez had just four attempts. The reason was that the Philly defense feared Evans beating them about as much as you'd fear a toy poodle overthrowing the government.
That crushes spacing on offense and keeps points down, something you'd be willing to stomach if the defensive payoff was worthwhile. On Monday, Evans killed the Nets at both ends and Carlesimo never did a thing about it.
Deron Williams continued playing well and Joe Johnson scored 20 points even though he's clearly still struggling with a foot injury. That's a base for success that Carlesimo can't allow to go to waste against mediocre teams like the Sixers, but he did on Monday night even if he's not willing to take the blame for it.