SACRAMENTO—Exactly why the Nets didn’t play like the desperate team here Wednesday night is the $190,000,000 question, the one that every player and coach in the Brooklyn locker room needs to seriously consider.
The Sacramento Kings came into this game having lost five straight. But no one expected Sacramento to be any good this season, not with a team payroll of less than $60,000,000. There was little reason for urgency on behalf of the home team.
The Nets, on the other hand, with the off-season acquisitions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko, have lofty expectations. That’s what comes with a payroll three times that of the Kings and the highest in the NBA.
Yet the Nets, losers of two straight and winless on the road, did not play like the desperate team. They got crushed, 107-86. And now the atmosphere around this team is beginning to feel a little, well, desperate.
“All of us have to look ourselves in the mirror and come together,’’ said Garnett. “No one said this thing was going to be easy.’’
Yes, it’s, ‘Look in the Mirror,’ time for the Nets.
“I hope this was the wakeup call to start the trip,’’ said Pierce.
Once again the Nets turned in a horrible third quarter, getting outscored 24-13. But by then the Nets already were doomed, trailing 52-40 at the half.
“You figured the sense of urgency would be there,’’ said center Brook Lopez. “I didn’t have it and I don’t think it was down the line. Its obviously got to change.’’
The third straight loss dropped the Nets to 2-5, tying them for the second worst record in the Eastern Conference. The Kings also are 2-5. Yes, the Nets and Kings have the same record.
“If you would have told me this before the season started I would have thought you were crazy,’’ said backup center Andray Blatche. “It’s happening early so at least we have time to correct it.’’
The Nets have been saying that for about a week now and still some of the same problems persist. The Kings played with more intensity. The Nets crumbled in the third quarter.
Pierce and Garnett said they would come out more aggressive on the offensive end. Pierce took seven shots – making three – while playing the entire 12 minutes. Garnett was 1-of-3 in just under five and one-half minutes.
The Nets had five players in double figures led by Lopez’s 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Marcus Thornton led the Kings with 24 points off the bench.
On paper, this was supposed to be the easiest of the three games on this trip. Brooklyn plays at Phoenix on Friday and at the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. But as we are learning, what is written on paper has nothing to do with happens on the court.
“It’s about finding out who we are and what we have in this locker room,’’ said Terry. “Like I said when it started, it looked good on paper. But can we figure it out as a group?’’
Terry acknowledged he was trying to send a message, if not light a fire, when he reacted to a perceived elbow thrown by Sacramento point guard Greivis Vasquez with 8:20 left.
Terry feigned having been hit in the forehead and then took a menacing step towards Vasquez. Terry was called for a personal and technical foul. Replays showed Vasquez did not make contact.
The losing has taken its toll.
“This is a great time for us as a group because it can ony test us,’’ said Kidd. “This can only bring us together.’’
Or tear them apart.