Nets start fast ... only to fold again

December, 18, 2012
12/18/12
11:44
PM ET
Brook LopezAnthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsBrook Lopez & Co. are good at building double-digit leads. Keeping them? Not so much.
How’s this for alarming?

The Brooklyn Nets have had leads of 10-plus points in 18 of their first 24 games this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they’ve lost six of them.

Tuesday night’s 92-90 setback at the hands of the Utah Jazz at Barclays Center served as their latest debacle. The Nets led by 13 heading in the locker room at the half, but turned the ball over seven times in the the third quarter and were outscored 48-33 in the second half.

“I think the guys are upset,” Nets coach Avery Johnson replied when asked what the state of his team was with the 18-6 New York Knicks looming on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. “I think it’s gotta hurt a little bit deeper because we’ve given up double-digit leads like this.

“We’ve got a 13-point lead. At home. We should try to take that to 20 and value the basketball.”

The Nets (13-11), who have lost two in a row and five of six at home, were outscored 26-17 in the third and shot just 35.3 percent. They came in as the NBA’s second-worst third-quarter team in terms of points per quarter and scoring margin.

“We gotta bounce back,” said point guard Deron Williams, who criticized Johnson’s offensive system, then went out and scored just 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting. “This is a tough loss. It shouldn’t sit with us well. We had control of the game and we gave it away.”

With the Nets trailing 90-88 and 1:51 remaining, D-Will was called for an offensive foul in the post that may turn into an anti-flopping violation on Jazz point guard Mo Williams.

“I didn’t think it was enough to be a charge,” D-Will said.

In three games against his former team, Deron Williams is 0-3 and is shooting just 31 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

He couldn’t explain why the team falls apart in third quarter.

“I don’t know. I wish I did,” D-Will said. “We even talked about it. We’ve talked about it a lot.”

It hasn’t helped.

Good luck getting away with it against the Knicks -- with or without Carmelo Anthony.

“We know they beat the Heat in Miami without him, so we know they still have a good team,” D-Will said.

The Nets are 2-7 in December following an 11-4 November.

D-Will still isn’t comfortable. Center Brook Lopez isn’t his pre-injury dominant self. Bad third quarters and blown double-digit leads remain issues as well.

The Nets were a wide-open Gerald Wallace 3-pointer in the waning seconds away from forgetting about all of it. But he missed. Of course he did.

Are the Nets ready to take on the top team in the Eastern Conference?

“Of course,” power forward Kris Humphries said. “If I didn’t feel like that we probably wouldn’t go to the game tomorrow. You’ll see us there.”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8