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NEW YORK -- For the first time this season, as losses mount, Brooklyn Nets rookie coach Jason Kidd was critical of his team and admitted that it is getting complacent.
Playing their first game after finding out that center Brook Lopez would be lost for the season because of a fractured fifth metatarsal of his right foot, the Nets were blown out by the Indiana Pacers 103-86 Monday night at the Barclays Center and booed by the home crowd.
We are kind of getting comfortable with losing. And we got to make a stand with that because when things get tough, do we just give in, and most of the time right now we do." -- Nets coach Jason Kidd
"Well, I think it is getting very close to just accepting losing," Kidd said after his team lost its third straight to drop to 9-18 this season. "We are kind of getting comfortable with losing. And we got to make a stand with that because when things get tough, do we just give in, and most of the time right now we do."
The Nets came into the season with the NBA's highest payroll -- an estimated $190 million counting the impending luxury tax -- and extremely high expectations. But they've failed to meet them.
During the summer, Nets general manager Billy King mortgaged the future, relinquishing several future assets to acquire veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in an effort to try to win now. So far, it hasn't worked out.
On Monday night, Garnett and Pierce both left without talking to the media. Pierce was automatically ejected after being assessed a flagrant foul 2 for clotheslining Pacers point guard George Hill as Hill tried to finish a layup in transition with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter. He could face a fine or suspension from the NBA league office as a result.
Pierce (0-for-7) was held scoreless for the first time since March 9, 1999 -- the 16th professional game of his 16-year career. Garnett went 3-for-10 from the field in 19 minutes. Both players have struggled mightily while trying to fit in with their new team for most the season.
Told of Kidd's comment, point guard Deron Williams said, "I'm not. I'm not comfortable losing. It's not fun. Not only when we're losing during the game, but when I go home sitting there and thinking about it, it's not fun."
On Monday night, the Pacers' top-ranked defense held the Nets to 38.2 percent shooting from the field; Williams (3-for-9), Garnett and Pierce combined to go 6-for-26.
The Nets were down just 45-39 at the half, but the game turned into a blowout in the third quarter, when Brooklyn was outscored by Indiana 30-19. The Nets have given up as many as 30 points in the third quarter eight times this season. Brooklyn ended up trailing by as many as 24.
Asked about the boos, shooting guard Joe Johnson told ESPNNewYork.com, "It's not the first time. We haven't put up much of a fight. It kind of comes with the territory."
The Nets have been decimated by injury all season. Andrei Kirilenko (23 games), Terry (15 games), Williams (11 games), Lopez (10 games and counting), Pierce (five games) and Garnett (one game) have all missed time as a result of various ailments. As a result, they have had to use 12 different lineups.
"It's tough, but it's something we can't control," Williams said. "We couldn't control Brook going down and being out for the season, we couldn't control when I missed games and he missed some games [earlier]. Ticket's [Garnett] missed some games. Paul with his hand. It's been a rough year as far as injuries, but we can't make excuses. We can still play better. We've had a lot of games where we haven't rebounded, that's cost us some games. And we haven't done the little things that have cost us games. We gotta start doing those."
The Nets entered Monday night's game ranked 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency (106.4 points allowed per 100 possessions) and 24th in rebound rate (48.6 percent). Kidd, echoing what he's said throughout the season, noted the team's porous defense is having a negative impact on the offensive end.
"When we don't make shots, we tend to hang our head and we forget about playing defense," Kidd said. "You look at Indiana, they got a couple of layups there because of missed shots and our transition [defense], which was really good in the first half because I guess both teams weren't making shots. And there in the third, Indiana is making shots and we are not, and the game kind of got away from us."
Williams, who missed a wide-open layup in the third quarter and then tweaked his left ankle late in the fourth -- but said he was "all right" -- was highly critical of the way he played.
"I need to play better. I need to be more aggressive for us to have a chance -- especially with Brook going down, that's what I talked about is stepping up," Williams said. "Tonight was just a bad game for me, throwing the ball all over the place, couldn't hit a shot. It took my aggressiveness away, and I think I played into what they were trying to do."
Despite their horrible start, the Nets find themselves just 2½ games behind the Toronto Raptors (11-15) for first place in the Atlantic Division.
"Yeah, I mean, anything can happen," Williams said. "We're just digging ourselves out of a hole right now. We're trying to make the playoffs and we're still only a couple games back of leading our division, and that's kind of where our focus is right now."
The Nets were supposed to contend with the likes of the Pacers (23-5) and Miami Heat (20-7) for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. They haven't.
"Right now, [the Pacers are] just playing with a lot of confidence. And we're not," Williams said. "You just look at how much fun they're having, how loose they're playing. They're just a team where everyone's playing with confidence. Paul George is playing with confidence, [Lance] Stephenson, the way he's came on playing with a lot of confidence right now. I talked about getting our confidence back, our swagger back to where we can beat everybody, and that's what we need to do."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.