PHILADELPHIA— Remember that good vibe that had surrounded the Brooklyn Nets like throngs Times Square revelers on New Year's Eve?
Vanished like those partiers on the morning of Jan. 1.
The Nets were riding the wave earlier this week. They had routed the Philadelphia 76ers, 130-94, to win their fourth game in their last five. The team was getting healthy. Fun City.
Now it's back to Doubt City.
Evan Turner willed in a shot that hung on the rim like a drip of ice cream off a cone before falling through at the buzzer giving the 76ers a 121-120 win and redemption. The Nets (9-17) have now lost two straight.
The marvelous and clutch play of Pau Pierce almost saved the Nets. Pierce drained a 3 to give the Nets a 120-119 win. It capped a breathtaking performance in which he had 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Pierce was 7-of-9 from the field, 4-of-6 on 3's and 6-of-6 from the line.
But after Alan Anderson blocked an Evan Turner, the 76ers had the ball under their basket with six seconds. They got it to Turner who got off an off-balance prayer that was answered when it dropped.
Just five nights after that win over Philadelphia, the Nets traveled down the New Jersey Turnpike for a rematch.
Joe Johnson, who torched the 76ers for 37 points, did not play. Kevin Garnett got a night off. And Michael Carter-Williams, the 76ers terrific rookie guard from Syracuse was back in the lineup.
But is that a 34-point swing? Was that any reason for the Nets not to drop another hammer on the hapless 76ers? Was that any reason o get outscored 66-30 in paint?
No, no and no.
The Nets didn't have Johnson and Garnett but they had center Brook Lopez, who missed Monday's game. They had the 76ers number. Or so we thought.
The 76ers, who hadn't played since that blowout, showed some character by responding with the win. Now we get to see if the Nets have that same character.
They host the Indiana Pacers, the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, Monday night. It's their time to do some soul searching.