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Friday, December 6, 2013
Same story, different night for Nets

By Mike Mazzeo



NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony may have thought the New York Knicks were the “laughingstock of the NBA” going into Thursday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, but that’s no longer the case.

That distinction now belongs to the Nets, who were obliterated by the Knicks 113-83 Thursday night at Barclays Center.

You would’ve thought the $190 million Nets would’ve played with more sense of urgency knowing their hated rivals from across the East River had lost nine in a row.

They didn’t. As usual, typical Nets basketball prevailed. The Nets (5-14) have now lost 12 of their last 15 games.

“It hurts big regardless of who we’re playing,” Joe Johnson said. “This loss here is not more significant than another loss. We just can’t seem to get a win in our building. It’s been embarrassing at this point.”

The Nets came in as the league’s worst team in terms of 3-point defense and average third-quarter scoring margin.

They came out just the same.

The Knicks (4-13) drained a season-high 16 3-pointers and shot 57.1 percent overall. They outscored the Nets 34-16 in the third, turning what was sort of a close game into another blowout. Brooklyn is now 1-13 when losing the third and has been outscored by 102 points in the quarter this season.

New York led by as many as 34. Boos rained down from the rafters throughout the second half and faint “Fire Kidd!” chants could be heard late in the fourth with the game well out of reach.

“It’s not ideal. It’s not ideal,” Kevin Garnett said. “Nothing just went our way from the giddy up. They came out fast. The first quarter it seemed like they made everything [70.6 percent], and it seemed like we were playing catchup from that minute on.”

Coach Jason Kidd sounded like a broken record postgame. All you have to do after each and every one of these losses is just press play.

“You have to stay positive,” Kidd said. “The thing about the NBA is there’s another game and that’s Saturday on the road in Milwaukee. We have to look at the tape and how we can get better and also as players we have to watch and see how they can get better. We are not going to make any excuses because we feel we have enough talent to win, but we are coming up short and we’ll go back and look and see what we have to do better.”

How about everything?

Kidd then resorted to making an excuse by mentioning that his team is decimated by injury. Deron Williams (ankle), Paul Pierce (hand), Andrei Kirilenko (back) and Jason Terry (knee) were all out. Williams is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics.

There’s no doubt injuries have been a factor. Players have been playing in different roles, many of them asked to take on more than they can. But still, you’d think they’d come out with more energy and a better effort. You’d think they wouldn’t trail by at least 20 for the seventh time in 19 games. You’d think they wouldn’t have to play another meaningless fourth.

And yet ...

“There’s a lot of moving parts day to day, and we’re working through them,” Garnett said. “We’re continuing to work hard. We’ve shown progress in practice. There’s got to be something to transcend us over. We’ve got to do what we do and what we talk about as far as scheming going into the game. We’re not doing a very good job of carrying it over. We’ll work on things and what the game plan is and the [other] team’s shooting the hell out of the ball.”

And so it goes for the Nets. Same story. Different day.

Brooklyn is still just 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Celtics for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

“I think we can turn it around; the East is pretty bad,” Johnson said.

But when?

“It’s a process,” Garnett said. “Everybody in here is trying to stay positive. We come in trying to work as hard as we can. We’re trying to carry it over to games. We’ve got guys beat up and we’re not whole, period! The guys that we have are trying to compete and fight, and as you can see, it’s not enough. But we’re a fighting team. We’re trying to do the right thing and come out and play together.”