HOUSTON, March 8 (Ticker) --
The "Texas Triangle" looks like the Bermuda
Triangle to the New Jersey Nets.
NBA TV highlights from|
The Nets looked completely inept in a 83-71 setback to the
Houston Rockets that was not nearly as close as the score
scored 18 points, Steve Francis
had 17 and rookie
added 12 and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who allowed
their fewest points this season and held the Nets without a
Coming off defeats in Dallas and San Antonio, New Jersey fell to
0-3 on a four-game road trip, lost their seventh straight game
away from Continental Airlines Arena and dropped their
season-high fourth consecutive contest overall.
The Nets, the defending Eastern Conference champions who are
just 4-10 since the All-Star break, had not dropped four in a
row since March 5-9, 2002.
"I think it's obvious, anyone can see it that we're not right,"
said Nets guard Kerry Kittles
, who scored eight points. "This
is not a good feeling. We want to have some swagger and we
don't have it right now."
New Jersey trailed, 16-14, with three minutes to play in the
opening quarter before Houston closed the half on a 28-10 run.
The Nets set two franchise records for offensive futility in the
opening 24 minutes, managing 24 points, eight in the second
quarter. It also was the fewest points allowed in a half in
"We didn't score, we didn't make shots and it affected us on the
other end," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "We got our heads
down like the game was already over. We've got to get back to
who we are."
New Jersey opened the second half with a 6-0 burst to climb
within 44-30 but got no closer until the waning seconds.
"This was a very big win for us," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich
said. "In practice yesterday we worked on what they do. They
get a lot of layups from their backdoor play and we were ready
"We moved the center over whenever they ran that play," Yao said
through an interpreter. "We were able to stop their most
scored 16 points and Richard Jefferson
10 and 13 rebounds for New Jersey, which shot 58 percent
(11-of-19) in the fourth quarter to improve to a measly 36
percent (27-of-75) for the game.
"We didn't have any energy or effort," Scott said. "We played
the first half like the season was over. I don't know what
happened. I thought the second we played harder, but we still
didn't make shots."
"I really don't know what happened," Kittles said. "They were
giving us the jump shots. That's what we took. We're not
playing with any confidence or energy right now."
Nets All-Star Jason Kidd
managed six points on 3-of-12 shooting
and sat out the final 17 minutes with the game out of hand.
"Their leader was hurt," Francis said of Kidd, who did not speak
with the media after the game. "I don't know what it is, but
there's something wrong with him."
Francis missed the Rockets' practice Friday due to the flu, but
he played 41 minutes and made 8-of-13 shots.
"He was phenomenal," Tomjanovich said. "He's a warrior. He had
a real solid game. He's such a competitor. I was hoping
whatever he had wouldn't bother him."
"I was a little slow tonight," Francis said. "(But) I was able
to play with it and we got the win."
With the victory, Houston moved within 1 1/2 games of idle
Phoenix for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff
The Nets saw their lead over Philadelphia atop the Atlantic
Division slip to just one game.
"We came out flat and they jumped on us like they should when
you come out flat," Martin said. "We didn't get any stops and
they compounded it.
"It's frustrating, but there's no need to be mad."