Maybe Deron Williams is right.
Maybe his team’s move to Brooklyn can’t come soon enough -- because the Nets are clearly at a major disadvantage when they play at home.
In their latest debacle at the Prudential Center on Sunday night, the Nets (7-14, 2-6 home) were outshot 51.5 percent to 36.5 percent -- 2.4 percent worse than they normally shoot at home -- and wound up on the losing end of a 94-73 blowout at the hands of a depleted Raptors squad that was playing without Andrea Bargnani (calf) and Leandro Barbosa (ankle), a duo that has accounted for 42.3 percent of their scoring output this season.
The Nets’ first winning streak of the season? Over. Those back-to-back gutsy road victories in Philadelphia and Cleveland, the first time they’ve won consecutive road games on the same trip since late November 2008? History.
“I think the way we looked [Sunday night], I guess [our guys] thought there was a ‘1’ in front of the ‘2’ [-game winning streak],” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “Instead of two in a row, they thought it was 12.”
It seems like just yesterday that the Nets were talking about the playoffs and D-Will’s new slogan, “I love it.” But with a chance to surpass the Knicks in the standings, the Nets played a whole lot like their crosstown rivals have of late, and wound up on the wrong end of a game they should’ve won -- if, of course, they played with any energy.
“[Sunday night] it was like, ‘Okay Deron, you come out with a 95-point play for us and the rest of us will stand around and you win the game for us. That’s not gonna work,” Johnson said.
It didn’t. In fact, it blew up in their faces. Williams scored a team-high 24 points on 8-for-20 shooting in the arena he loves to hate, but the rest of his teammates combined for 49 points -- the same amount of points the Nets scored over the final three quarters -- on 19-for-54 shooting.
The Nets, who turned the ball over 15 times and trailed by as many as 23 late in the fourth quarter, went a stretch of 7 minutes and 1 second in the second quarter without a field goal, had two fastbreak points all game-long and their starting frontcourt of Kris Humphries, Shelden Williams and DeShawn Stevenson gave them next to nothing, scoring five points on 2-for-8 shooting.
Simply put: they were at their best when D-Will was penetrating and creating off the dribble. Otherwise, their ball movement and spacing were awful, and it didn’t help that rookie Marshon Brooks was rusty after missing the last three games with a nagging Achilles injury. And defensively, they weren’t any better, allowing the NBA’s 27th-best shooting team to connect on more than half of their field-goal attempts. DeMar DeRozan abused them for a game-high 27 points, while Jerryd Bayless chipped in 17 and Linas Kleiza added 15.
“I don’t think we put as much emphasis on this game as we should’ve,” said Williams, who lost to the Raptors for the first time in his career (14-1). “We got complacent.
“We didn’t shoot well. We didn’t move the ball well. And our defense was horrible. It wasn’t what we need to do to win.”
“We’re not good enough to look past anybody,” Johnson said. “We’re not the favorites. We play 66 games this year, and we’re the underdog in all 66 of those games. And until we prove ourselves by become a playoff team and playing consistently, that won’t change.”
The Nets will practice for the first time since Jan. 19 on Monday.
“We’re starving for one,” Johnson said.