Tired of his team's sluggish performances in their building and understanding the significance of entrenching a rugged home mentality into their makeup, Lionel Hollins figured it was time to switch things up.
So he held a morning shootaround at Barclays Center for the first time all season, hoping it would do the job and awaken their slumbering shooting strokes.
"If you look at us this year, we've actually been better on the road, even though we have a losing record," the Nets coach said before they tipped off against the Raptors Friday night. "We have played extremely well on the road and come home and we haven't played well. And if I use my crystal ball to try to figure out what's going on, that's one thing that I looked at actually."
Guess Hollins is going to have to dig a bit deeper into his bag of tricks.
Once Brook Lopez missed out on his chance to be the hero at the end of regulation, DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson came up huge for the Raptors in overtime. The duo totaled 10 of Toronto's 14 points in the extra session, lifting the Raptors to a 127-122 win and sending the Nets to their 12th loss in their last 14 gams.
Jarrett Jack scored a career-high 35 points to go with 13 assists and eight rebounds to pace the Nets (18-28), who trailed by 17 points in the third quarter. Lopez also scored a season-high 35 points, but missed the potential game-winner at the regulation buzzer.
Jack hit a floater in the lane to knot it at 122 with 55 seconds remaining in overtime. But after a Raptors miss, Johnson beat Bojan Bogdanovic to the glass and his putback put Toronto ahead 124-122 with 41 seconds left.
Jack missed a floater in the lane on the ensuing possession and the Nets got the offensive rebound, leading to a good three-point look for Bogdanovic from the corner off a scramble with 22.9 seconds left. But his shot bounced off the rim. DeRozan hit a pair of free throws with 18.2 seconds left to give Toronto a four-point lead. Jack missed three-pointers in each of the Nets' next two possessions, helping to seal the victory for the Raptors.
Hollins stuck with the same starting lineup he utilized in the Nets' loss in Atlanta two nights earlier, going with Alan Anderson at shooting guard and opting to bring Bogdanovic off the bench. The move is predicated on Hollins wanting more of a defensive presence on the floor at the game's outset, understanding the difficulty the Nets have had guarding some of the league's top players at the "two" position.
But it also paid some dividends midway through the fourth. That's when Anderson rattled in a huge three-pointer to propel the Nets to a 100-95 advantage, eliciting a loud roar from a crowd of 17,062 that didn't have a whole lot to cheer about until a late second-half charge.
Given how things nearly completely unraveled in the third quarter, when Toronto raced out to a 17-point lead on four separate occasions, the Nets seemed fortunate to still be in it heading into the fourth. It was one of their typical uneven performances, chock full of the usual highs and lows that can make them so maddening.
Notes & quotes: Last night marked the Raptors' first trip to Brooklyn since May 2, when the Nets knocked them off in Game 6 to force Game 7 in Toronto. The Nets edged them in the deciding game, too, thanks in part to Paul Pierce blocking Kyle Lowry's floater in the lane in the waning seconds. Dwane Casey admitted it wasn't easy to move past their first-round exit at first. "Well, it was later in the summer," the Raptors coach said. "I watched it a few times, all the games trying to learn, see what we could do better, see what each player could do better, what I could do better as a coach. Soit takes a little while, but I went through all that through the '90s and even in Seattle in the early 2000s, going through the playoffs. You never get over a playoff series quickly. Even the championship series, in Dallas , you don't get over it quickly. You still learn and try to look at it, and see what you can do better."