After appearing to get their season back on track a couple of weeks ago, the New Jersey Nets are once again stumbling.
The Nets try and get things turned around on the road, as they open a season-high six-game Western Conference road trip against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
After winning seven of eight from Dec. 20-Jan. 5 to move into a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, New Jersey (18-20) has lost four of its last five to fall into seventh. The Nets lost the final three games of a four-game homestand by an average of 13.7 points, capped by a 111-105 loss to sputtering New York on Wednesday.
New Jersey trailed by 15 with less than nine minutes left in the fourth quarter before taking a 99-98 lead with 2:42 remaining, but couldn't hold on.
The Nets, who have not lost four straight games since Dec. 5-11, have won four of their last five on the road. They also won three games of a four-game road trip against West teams Nov. 19-25.
"Maybe it is a good time for us to get on the road and get ourselves back together," Vince Carter told the Nets' official Web site.
New Jersey has lost three straight in Los Angeles against the Clippers, however, since a 102-96 win at Staples Center on Nov. 27, 2003.
In their first meeting of the season on Dec. 11 at the Izod Center, the Nets shot just 32.1 percent from the floor in a 91-82 loss. Carter had 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting, while Richard Jefferson finished with 21 points on only 6-of-21 shooting.
Carter scored 26 points against the Knicks after averaging 15.3 points - 5.9 points less than his season average - in his previous four games.
Jefferson had 22 points on Wednesday after scoring just nine on a season-worst 2-of-11 shooting in Monday's 99-73 loss to Portland. Jefferson is averaging 20.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in his last nine games, after averaging 25.0 points and 4.7 boards in his first 29 games of the season.
"The last five or six games I've struggled so I have to pick it up," he said. "What better way to start it than on a road trip."
Jason Kidd had 10 points and a season-high 17 assists on Wednesday. He had 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds against the Clippers this season.
Los Angeles (11-24) lost at Utah 106-88 on Friday, falling to 1-30 all-time in EnergySolutions Arena, formerly the Delta Center.
The Clippers, who have dropped 11 of 13, had 15 turnovers and were outrebounded 43-34 by the Jazz.
"We were not sharp mentally,'' Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. "It was like we didn't even have a shootaround.''
Chris Kaman had 16 points and 16 rebounds for his 26th double-double this season. Kaman and had 18 points and 14 boards against New Jersey earlier this season.
The Clippers have lost 11 of their last 13 at Staples Center, after starting the season 4-2 there.
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