- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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After the Brooklyn Nets dropped to 3-9 in December, CEO Brett Yormark took to Twitter with a message that should be echoed by the other integral members of the organization.
"The entire organization needs to work harder to find the solution. We will get there."
The Nets were again left searching for answers.
"I wish I knew," $98 million point guard Deron Williams responded when asked why things have taken a turn for the worse.
Tuesday afternoon’s performance epitomized what has gone wrong of late.
• Too much stagnant offense.
• Too much isolation basketball.
• Too many turnovers (a season-high-tying 20).
• Too many missed field goals (a 40.6 field goal percentage).
• Too many missed free throws (they were 17-for-29 from the line).
• And high-priced stars all missing in action:
D-Will: 10 points, six assists and four turnovers on just seven shot attempts.
Shooting guard Joe Johnson ($89 million): 12 points on 4-for-14 shooting.
Center Brook Lopez ($60 million): 15 points (just six after the first quarter) and eight rebounds.
Concerned yet, Deron?
"I think it’s already a concern," he replied. "We feel like we can be a good team. We’ve had some good wins. The reason we got those wins is because we were playing together on both ends of the floor. Coach [Avery Johnson] has been talking a lot about trust, about trusting each other on the court, and I think we’ve gotten away from that."
Forward Gerald Wallace (15 points, six rebounds, three steals), who was one of the only Nets putting his heart and soul into every possession, seemed to shed a bit of light on what’s been going on.
"We’re dropping our heads on every little mistake," Wallace said. "It’s carrying over from the locker room on to the court, and it shows. ... Losing wears on you."
Boston dominated from the opening tip. The Celtics outscored the Nets 34-18 in the second quarter and led by as many as 21 points in the third.
"This game reminded me of that preseason game when they came in and felt like they had something to prove," Johnson said. "We kind of had that look in our eyes like we’re up 2-0. They’re thinking March, April and May, and we didn’t have that sense of urgency until the fourth quarter."
One can only wonder what owner Mikhail Prokhorov is thinking, as a man who spent $330 million for a team that sits only a game over .500 a third of the way through the season. It seemed like Nets GM Billy King handed Johnson a roster capable of making it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals if everything fell right.
But the way they’re playing now, they’ll be fortunate to make the playoffs -- even in an extremely weak Eastern Conference.
Consider: Since beating the Celtics on Nov. 28, the Nets have had wins over the Orlando Magic (minus Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu), the Toronto Raptors (minus half their team), the Detroit Pistons (on a buzzer-beater in double overtime) and the Philadelphia 76ers (minus Andrew Bynum).
There may be plenty of season left, but things have to change. Quickly.
After all, how long can Johnson continue using what has become his go-to line this season:
"We’re not there yet."
6dMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo