Nets look lost again at home

nets350_122208.jpgEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Nets were there in body, but that’s about it.
 
You would think a projected 200 million people watching in China, not to mention all those on YES, would inspire a team that isn’t always energized. You would think the close of a telltale four-game homestand that needed to end with a win in order for the Nets to split and stay above .500 would give them a jolt.
 
Think again.
 
Neither the crowd nor the TV audience nor the importance of this game sparked the Nets. They came out flat and did little to correct that in a 114-91 blasting by the Rockets on Monday night at Izod Center.
 
The game started out being about Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian facing each other for only the third time in their NBA career. Yao dominated, finishing with 24 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. But the story became the Nets’ inability to show urgency or play with any passion at home.
 
We’re beating a dead horse, but if the Nets are in the playoff race in April and don’t make it, it will be because of what they didn’t do in their building — win. They’re 5-10, have lost eight games by at least 11 points and five by 20 or more.
 
“I don’t look back,” Devin Harris said. “I don’t look forward. The next one we got is on the road. That’s what we focus on. I don’t really pay too much attention to the games behind that you can’t control.”
 
Yes, but you were just home for four games and you lost three and all three were winnable if you played with the energy you had in the win against Dallas in Jason Kidd’s return.
 
“We want to play better,” Harris said. “We want to do better. We’ll get there. It’s a learning process. Last year, at the end of the year we couldn’t buy a win on the road. We played extremely well at home. I think it just goes in cycles. Hopefully we’ll figure it out in time.”
 
The Nets have time, but it is a concern because it would be shocking if they keep up this pace on the road, where they’re 8-4. It’s going to catch up with them unless they correct it.
 
With Yao and the Rockets in town, the Nets have no excuse for coming out of the locker room and leaving their fight, defense, execution and desire in the locker room. There was some extra juice in the building, more than the night Kidd returned when snow kept most fans away.
 
People were here. People were cheering. And although Yao and Yi got warm, loud ovations, the majority of the fans wanted the Nets to win. They were booed in each quarter except for the fourth. By then, it was too late.
 
Consider this: Over the last three quarters — 36 minutes — the Nets trailed by at least 15 points for 35:05. That’s not easy to do.
 
“The start really hurt us,” Vince Carter said. “They did a good job tonight. They didn’t give us a chance to really get the lead back, which we were trying to do.
 
“We didn’t have that spark of energy. We tried to get it down to 10 and try to make it a game from there.”
 
It didn’t happen. After a three-pointer made it 20-9 with 5:16 left in the first, the Nets never saw 10 again. And the hundreds of millions of people watching in China saw Yi’s team lose another game at home, and never saw them fight back.
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).

2 comments

  1. ameden20@aol.com

    As much as Thorn and Kiki deserve credit for the Harris trade, Yi looks completely lost. No inside game, no hands, no defense, and not even consistent from the outside, which is the only somewhat bright spot he has demonstrated so far (not what you would like from a 7 footer anyway). All this and he might have lied about his age too, LOL. Oh well, I wasn’t much of a Jefferson fan either. Hopefully Nets can get back on track. Harris has been a pleasure to watch for the most part, and I think Frank is doing a good job with the hand he has been dealt, playing so many young guys and role players. If VC can stay strong, I’d keep him to help develop the young guys, but if not, I’d look to move him. He seems a bit out of place with the rebuilding project, in my opinion. Keep up the good work, Al.

    Ari

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