Nets point guard Deron Williams caught fire in the second half of Wednesday night’s game against the Pistons.
Too bad he couldn’t find his shooting stroke earlier.
Williams scored 27 of his game-high 34 points in the second half and the Nets cut an 18-point third-quarter deficit down to one in the final period, but they were unable to get over the hump and suffered their fourth straight loss, 99-92, to the Pistons at Prudential Center.
After the game, Nets coach Avery Johnson ripped into his team for its lack of energy in the first half. The Nets opened up 3-for-16 from the field, missed their first nine 3-pointers and shot 34.2 in the opening 24 minutes as they allowed the Pistons to outscore them 31-19 in the second quarter and take a 51-39 lead into the break.
“We had no energy,” Johnson said. “We have to do a better job of having more energy in the first half. We can’t play one half and beat teams. We need to generate more energy in this building, and we just didn’t have it [Wednesday].”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
All season-long the Nets have been doomed by poor starts. Wednesday night’s game was just the latest example -- and as a result, the Nets (8-19) fell to an inferior opponent.
“It’s definitely one we let split away and we’d love to get it back, but we play these guys again in their building on Friday,” said Williams, who went 1-for-5 from the field in the first half.
The Nets fell behind 64-46 with 7:44 left in the third quarter, but ripped off a 31-14 run capped by a four-point play from Williams to pull within 78-77 at the 8:28 mark of the fourth. But the Pistons countered with six straight points -- two layups and a dunk -- to regain command. Williams hit four of his career-high tying six 3-pointers in the final stanza and finished with 17 points in the period, but it wasn’t enough.
“It’s another tough loss at home,” said Williams after his team fell to 3-9 at The Rock. “We’ve been struggling there all season, failing to find our shot and our rhythm. It’s really hard to win games when you’re shooting in the [40 percent] range.”
It’s even harder when you allow the NBA’s lowest scoring team to shoot 53.4 percent, outscore you in the paint, 50-24, and on the fastbreak, 14-2.
“I’m not gonna complain about the arena,” said Williams, who came in shooting 39.2 percent there and has already done plenty of that. “There’s no excuse for losing at home and losing games. We gotta play better.
“We needed more energy, we needed to play together and with more enthusiasm,” Williams said.
They didn’t. Williams scored 30-plus points for the fourth time this season, power forward Kris Humphries pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds and backup point guard Jordan Farmar poured in 16 points in the third quarter, but the Nets wasted all of that.
And making matters worse, shooting guard Keith Bogans’ may be lost for a while after injuring his foot on power forward Greg Monroe’s reverse dunk with 2:27 left. Johnson said he’ll undergo an MRI on Wednesday.
“It’s not looking great,” Johnson said. “It’s real tough when we’re screaming like 50 times, don’t let Monroe to go left. He’s a left-handed player. He has two left hands, so we’re screaming don’t allow him to go left, but he still goes left and dunks on us, and as a result, Bogans gets tangled up inside and comes down wrong.”
Great. Injury to insult. The last thing the Nets need is another excuse -- even if it’s a legitimate one.
Enough is enough already.