For most of his 12-game tenure, coach Jacque Vaughn saw the Brooklyn Nets give enough effort that did not warrant severe criticism.
After the Nets took an 11-point loss in Philadelphia Tuesday, against an opponent missing three starters, Vaughn took his team’s effort to task.
Brooklyn’s effort was significantly better Wednesday in Toronto and Vaughn is hoping to see more of the same Friday night when the Nets visit the Indiana Pacers.
The Nets are 7-5 since Vaughn replaced Steve Nash on Nov. 1, a day after Brooklyn beat Indiana 116-109 and three days after it allowed 23 3-pointers in an 11-point loss to Indiana that prompted a team meeting.
On Wednesday, the Nets earned a 112-98 win over the Raptors, who were without Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam. Brooklyn did allow 34 second-chance points and 23 offensive rebounds Wednesday but also limited Toronto to 35.6 percent shooting, including a stout 7 of 29 from 3-point range after allowing 16 3s on Tuesday.
It was Brooklyn’s second-lowest opponent shooting percentage of the season and the sixth time it allowed under 100 points this season — with each instance occurring since Vaughn took over.
“You didn’t see as many breakdowns at the end of plays tonight, the concentration level,” Vaughn said. “A big piece of that is just holding each other to a higher standard. I thought from the beginning of the game, you saw that: a lot more talk from each other, a lot more communication, a lot more demand from each other, which was great to see also.”
Kyrie Irving scored 19 of his 29 points in the third quarter and the Nets survived Kevin Durant being held to a season-low 12 points.
“We’re in the business of winning,” Irving said. “We’ll take this one, especially after last night’s loss, and the whole internet going up in an uproar in terms of how embarrassed we should be, which is true. We just wanted to make sure we paid attention to detail tonight. We came out and responded.”
Indiana has won five of six but saw its five-game winning streak stopped by a rough night of interior defense.
In Wednesday’s 115-101 loss to the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, the Pacers allowed a dreadful 74 points in the paint, resulting in Minnesota shooting 61 percent from the field. Before Wednesday, Indiana conceded 104.6 points on 40.9 percent from the field in its five-game winning streak.
“We’ve got to defend better and be better on offense, both sides of the ball,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said after his team took 19 more shots than Minnesota and shot 38.5 percent from the field.
“We have to get back to our defensive principles,” Indiana guard Buddy Hield added. “We weren’t in the right spots tonight. I don’t know what happened out there but that wasn’t us.”
Carlisle and Indiana are also hoping for another big game from Myles Turner. Turner scored 31 points and is averaging 20.4 points on 61.2 percent shooting in his past nine contests.
Rookie Bennedict Mathurin, who scored a career-high 32 at Brooklyn Oct. 29, added 21 but Indiana got little from its starting backcourt of Tyrese Haliburton and Aaron Nesmith, who combined to go 5 of 24 from the floor.