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Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Nets end 2013 with a thud

By Mike Mazzeo

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce and the Nets have struggled to get a grip all season.
Former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy referred to the Brooklyn Nets as a “bush-jleague organization” during a radio interview Monday.

A day later, the Nets did nothing to dispel that notion.

For the second straight year, Brooklyn was blown out in San Antonio on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s embarrassing, man,” Paul Pierce told reporters after the Spurs beat the Nets 113-92. “You’re already down 30 at the end of the third quarter.

“It’s embarrassing. I don’t know if I’ve probably been a part of this many blowouts in one season already. But at some point, we’ve gotta have our pride. It has to come from each individual and say we’ve had enough of this. It’s extremely embarrassing.”

The Nets wrapped up the 2013 portion of this season with a 10-21 record. They’d need to go 31-20 in 2014 just to finish at .500.

Deron Williams is absolutely right: This once-promising season has quickly turned into a nightmare, and the Nets have yet to wake up.

Where is the energy? Where is the effort? Why aren’t the Nets giving their all for first-year coach Jason Kidd? The Nets have already lost 12 games by double digits -- including six by 20 or more.

Are the players tuned out?

“I can’t speak for everybody. Maybe if you asked them, but this is embarrassing for me,” Pierce told reporters in San Antonio. “I play with a sense of pride. I’m sure nobody in here likes to look up at the score and be down 20, 30 with 20 minutes to go in the game. It has to come to a point where we gotta stand up and fight a little bit harder so we give ourselves at least a chance to win. But tonight it was like, after the third quarter, no chance.”

Has Kidd lost the team?

“I listen to Jason. I do what he says. He’s our coach. I don’t get into all that,” Pierce said.

Tuesday night’s game was over shortly after the opening tip. The Nets were outscored by 10 in the first quarter, 13 in the second quarter and gave up a season-high 39 points in the third quarter. They allowed San Antonio to shoot 51.3 percent and trailed by as many as 32.

“We didn’t bring it, we let our offense dictate our defense, and that’s why we fell behind,” said Kidd, who credited his fourth-quarter group for its “energy and effort.”

Williams, who is averaging just 11.8 points and 5.6 assists in his past five games, was badly outplayed by Tony Parker (18 points to nine). Kevin Garnett was held without a field goal and has four points on 1-for-10 shooting over his past two games. Joe Johnson got into early foul trouble and finished with nine points. In his past three games, Johnson is averaging just eight.

The lone bright spots? A couple alley-oops to Mason Plumlee (15 points, 13 rebounds) and the fact that Andrei Kirilenko (four points in 11 minutes) said he felt fine after making his return following a 25-game absence due to back spasms.

“It’s the team, it’s not just individuals,” Kidd said. “Everybody has to do a little more.”

The Nets look like a team in desperate need of a shakeup or a savior, a trade or a firing. Yet owner Mikhail Prokhorov remains quiet.

“You can be sure no one [in ownership] is ignoring the situation,” a source told ESPNNewYork.com.

Prokhorov can’t like what he’s seeing. His $200 million investment in the franchise may be paying off, but his estimated $190 million investment in this season’s roster sure isn’t.

Injuries have decimated this team. And it hasn’t helped itself on defense or in third quarters. Brook Lopez has been lost for the season due to a broken right foot. GM Billy King’s moves, while certainly understandable, have not worked. Kidd has had few answers for the team’s litany of questions.

“I think with all the injuries it’s been hard to evaluate Jason Kidd. It’s been easy to jump on him not just because of the record, but the things coming out of their locker room, the situation with Lawrence Frank, the incident of spilling the drink on the floor,” Van Gundy told the “Amani and Eytan Show” on NBC Sports Radio.

“I mean this has looked like a bush-league organization much of the year, they don’t play with much effort at all, a very uninspired team. But at the same time they had so many people hurt you just don't know. And now they are not going to be healthy all year ...”

“You can do whatever you want with the coaching situation, but it is not going to change the situation with their roster. They just don’t have a lot of options -- they don’t have draft picks, they are way over the salary cap. They are probably in the worst situation of any team in the NBA right now.”

Van Gundy is right.

It’s up to the Nets to prove him wrong. They just haven’t given anyone a reason to believe that they can.