Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pierce Takes Shots at Williams, Nets

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Pierce Takes Shots at Williams, Nets

Article excerpt

With a playoff spot on the line, the Nets crumbled in their last two games -- losing by an average of 25 points and putting their postseason prospects in jeopardy.

Paul Pierce probably isn't surprised.

The former Net opened up about his brief and tumultuous tenure in Brooklyn in an interview with ESPN published Tuesday, ripping his former teammates -- particularly point guard Deron Williams.

"Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate," Pierce told ESPN. "But I felt once we got there, that's not what he wanted to be. He just didn't want that."

Now Williams isn't Pierce's problem. The veteran forward signed with Washington in free agency over the summer, after the Nets didn't extend him an offer.

"I'm much happier," said Pierce. "It was a tough situation [in Brooklyn] last year. Horrible, really."

Horrible would be a good word for the Nets' last two games: They lost at home by 27 to Chicago on Monday and by 23 at Milwaukee on Sunday. While the Nets were playing uninspired basketball at the most important juncture of the season, the Pacers passed them for the final playoff spot in the East. Indiana ran its winning streak to six Tuesday night by beating Pierce's Wizards in double overtime. Pierce went scoreless.

The only way the Nets can make the playoffs is with a win over the Magic tonight and a Pacers loss in Memphis.

When the Nets traded for Pierce and Garnett in the summer of 2013, they never envisioned having to claw their way into the playoffs.

Back then, the idea was that the two future hall of famers and former champions would give the Nets the mental toughness they needed to contend for a championship, after an embarrassing loss to the Bulls in the first round of the 2013 playoffs.

But when Pierce arrived, he was surprised about what he saw.

"It was just the guys' attitudes there. It wasn't like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn't want to play and didn't want to practice," Pierce told ESPN. "I was looking around saying, 'What's this?' Kevin [Garnett] and I had to pick them up every day in practice.

"If me and Kevin weren't there, that team would have folded up," Pierce continued. "That team would have packed it in. …

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