Once again, the Nets disrespected the game by looking past a losing foe.
And once again, they were served a huge slice of humble pie, this time a 122-111 loss in Detroit to the worst team in basketball.
This time, the Nets saw the last of the Pistons with a 20-point lead in the second quarter, cutting it down to two in the third before capitulating in the fourth.
“My message was personal pride, connectivity and togetherness. Just resistance. We can’t start the game with 10 disadvantages, be with 20 disadvantages in the second half hoping it will be easy, ”said coach Steve Nash.
“You have to want to fight your teammates, make it extremely difficult for the other team, make them miserable. We did not do that. … We have a lot to clean up. Number one is that attitude and that level of competence and that connectivity. Those are things you cannot elaborate, you cannot practice. You just have to bring it in, and I didn’t feel it for 48 minutes. “
Kyrie Irving, back from missing a game and playing tape on his injured right index finger, finished with 27 points, but shot just 12 of 28 and 2 of 9 from deep. James Harden added 24 points and 12 assists, but had seven turnovers.
The Nets (14-12) lost their worst third straight game of the season and continued to play the competition. It is the best 7-1 in the NBA against teams of .500 or higher, but fell to 7-11 against losing teams.
“I don’t accept that, I don’t think our team will accept it,” Irving said. “We don’t want that to be what the teams think of us. We’re seeing it day after day where teams are coming in and punching us in the mouth early, and we’re trying to catch up; and it turns out to be against the boys with him [worst] records. We have to call it what it is and we have to fix it. That requires maturity, responsibility, and an understanding of what we have to do to move forward.
“We look very normal. We have the talent that tests the sight [shows] we should be dominating. … We have to turn that corner. We haven’t done it yet, but we will. And I tell you the league will be on the alert when that happens. “
If one looked in the dictionary, okay, I googled, for a cheat game, the Pistons (6-18) would have been the definition.
But facing the worst shooting team in the league, the Nets let the Pistons hit 55.4 percent, a season high. Jerami Grant had 32 points and Delon Wright added 22.
After Joe Harris opened the night with a 3, the Nets allowed a 13-0 run and were left behind by 10 thanks to Grant’s dunk. They never took the lead again.
Brooklyn finished the first quarter down 38-26, in abysmal defensive mess. Irving was attacked at the switches, the Nets were either defeated by dribbling or sucked in to help when their teammates did, leaving their men open for dunks and lay-ups.
The Nets gave up an 8-0 run, trailing 49-29 on an Isaiah Stewart 3-pointer with 9:14 remaining at the half. And no one was more guilty than DeAndre Jordan, beaten multiple times. Harden had multiple lively talks in the first half with him, as did Nash.
“Defensively we have some lapses. We have to be better. I mean, [crap]”I have to be better for us, defensively,” Jordan admitted. “We all have to be better, but I just take a little more ownership on that end because that’s something I love and a big part of the reason I’m there for us. We have to be better, but I take a lot of that. “
Jeff Green’s dunk made it 63-54 at halftime. With Bruce Brown replacing him to start the half, the Nets rode a 7-0 run to put him at 74-70.
Irving’s 3 cut the deficit to 79-77 with five minutes to go in the third. But the Nets allowed a 7-0 run to bring the lead back to 101-89 with 8:54 to play.
“It just falls to us and lets us know that you can’t cheat the game like we did in the beginning,” Jordan said. “Hopefully we learn from this drift we’re in now and respond.”