NBA Beat: The Nets’ $101 million payroll hasn’t bought much so far

It’s been nearly 30 years since the legendary rap group Beastie Boys released their song “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.”

Early in this NBA season there have been plenty of reasons for those associated with the Brooklyn Nets to get little sleep.

Brooklyn, the team with the league’s highest payroll at an excess of $101 million hasn’t looked like the title contender owner Mikhail Prokhorov is looking for.

The Nets finally broke through with a road win Friday night in overtime in Phoenix. But for a team expected to pay in excess of $80 million in luxury taxes, limping out to a 3-5 record before Saturday’s game at the Los Angeles Clippers is far below expectations.

Brooklyn took on the big salaries of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to go with the max contracts of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez with hopes of challenging Miami and Indiana for supremacy in the Eastern Conference.

But of that core group of players, it could be said only Lopez has yet to enter his prime. And to acquire those players the Nets dealt away their young athletes, including MarShon Brooks and Gerald Wallace.

The Nets entered Saturday with issues on both ends of the floor, ranking 19th in scoring (96.3 points) and points allowed (100.8).

That’s left first-year coach Jason Kidd searching for ways to shake up a group of players, many of whom he played against last season.

He wants the Nets to focus on defense and not worry about offense. Instead, Kidd is seeing his team not play defense because they’re missing shots.

“It’s not acceptable,” Kidd said. “We hang our hats on the defensive end. Clearly in our losses we let go of the rope on the defensive end, and whenever you do that it’s not going to work in this league no matter who you play.”

There are reasons not to panic in Brooklyn.

The Nets play in the Atlantic Division with three rebuilding teams (Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto) that figure to not be able to challenge them in the long run. That leaves the New York Knicks, who are also struggling and have already lost center Tyson Chandler to a broken leg for an extended period.

“If you told me this before the season started, I would have thought that you were crazy,” said forward Andray Blatche after the Nets were blown out by the Kings last week. “It’s happening early, so at least we have time to correct it and get back on the right path.”

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It’s been widely assumed the All-Star in Golden State’s backcourt is Stephen Curry, but don’t rule out Klay Thompson joining him.

Thompson has a slight scoring edge in average (20.4 to 20.3), and he’s shooting 54.3 percent from the field, including 50 percent from three-point range.

Some wondered if Thompson would stay in the starting lineup with the addition of Andre Iguodala, but Thompson is still a starter, and he’s on pace to prove he’s more than just Curry’s sidekick.

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Never mind his Twitter beef – exaggerated or not – with Brandon Jennings, there are bigger things for Knicks guard J.R. Smith to be worried about.

He returned from a five-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana and has played like he’s in a haze.

Last season’s Sixth Man of the Year is shooting 25.7 percent in his return to a team that desperately needs help for Carmelo Anthony.

Last word

“The fadeaway still works, the ballhandling, being able to post. Those are things that I can do right now. But it’s not the playoffs, thank God.”

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to NBA TV on Friday night, saying he could play if the playoffs were happening now.