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Now we'll see how good the Nets really are

2/1/2014

NEW YORK -- The month of January for the Brooklyn Nets started with a stunning and completely unexpected upset win in Oklahoma City.

And the month ended with the Nets watching the scorching-hot Kevin Durant return the favor with a 120-95 Thunder beatdown at Barclays Center.

Despite the thrashing and the fact that Brooklyn has now lost two straight, the Nets believe they discovered themselves in January, going an impressive 10-3 in the month.

But we may find out just how good the Nets are in February. They don't have any time to lick their wounds after Durant and Serge Ibaka went video game on them and combined to score 51 points on 22-of-24 shooting.

Jason Kidd's team will try to redeem itself in Indiana on Saturday. The Nets are in the midst of a brutal portion of their schedule. Starting with Friday night's loss, they will have played three of the best teams in the NBA -- Oklahoma City, Indiana and San Antonio –- in the span of a week.

And in the month of February, the Nets play eight of their 12 games on the road. Opening the month in Indiana is no easy task, especially for a team that is a bit out of sorts.

"I feel like rhythm-wise, since Boston, we haven't been in a decent rhythm," Kevin Garnett said. "If you look at our team, we haven't shot the ball well since Boston. We got to get that back somehow.

"Defensively, the offense can't dictate our defense but sometimes it does. Whatever we do, we just got to get back on the horse that we were once on and get back to fighting, being consistent with playing with each other and sharing the ball."

That's how the Nets played in January. While most of the country was mired in frigid temperatures and finding out what a polar vortex is, the Nets were red hot for most of the month as they learned how to win together.

Garnett says the Nets discovered "the fight in us."

"The fight is evident and there," Garnett said. "Just got to be consistent with the lineups and everybody that is playing. We need everybody here. Everybody is playing through injury.

"[But] it's about the fight in everybody here. We are strong as whole. One on one, we are not that good."

The Nets (20-24) will need to rediscover that fight, chemistry and consistency immediately. They will find out just how far off they are from where they hope to be in this next week.

"Indiana is the cream of the crop right now," Paul Pierce said. "Definitely can be a measuring stick of where we are at."

Apologies to Pierce, but "The Truth" is Oklahoma City right now. The Thunder look like the best team in the NBA. Durant's team has won 10 straight -- all with Russell Westbrook sidelined -- and is showing zero signs of slowing down.

The Nets looked completely outclassed but this was really more about how locked in Oklahoma City is right now rather than how bad the Nets were. For example, the Nets made NBA history with only 17 rebounds for the entire game, but Oklahoma City shot 63.6 percent from the field and many of Durant's buckets came with a Nets player in his face.

Still, the Nets have hit a lull since winning 10 of their first 11 games of 2014. They let a win slip out of their hands in the final seconds to Toronto at home and then were destroyed by the hottest team in the league. Now they go to a place where they lost, 105-91, on Dec. 28.

Which Nets team will come to play Saturday night in Indiana? The Nets don't want to make any excuses, but Andrei Kirilenko has been sidelined by a calf injury and Kidd may not have Kirilenko and Andray Blatche, who suffered a bruised hip that had the big man noticeably hobbling in the locker room Friday night.

Meanwhile, the suddenly streaking Knicks are on the Nets' heels and Toronto continues to play tough in the Atlantic.

The Nets learned how good they can be in January as they climbed out from near the basement of the Eastern Conference to seventh place.

They might have to play better in February to stay in the playoff hunt.