Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: January 31, 9:28 AM ET
Gerald Wallace vents after loss
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Following his team's third embarrassing performance in its past four games, Brooklyn Nets small forward Gerald Wallace didn't mince words.
"Those are games that we didn't actually lose ... we got our asses kicked in all three of those games," Wallace said after the Nets were annihilated by a motivated LeBron James and the Miami Heat, 105-85, on Wednesday night at Barclays Center.
"Those teams pretty much dominated us. Memphis dominated us. Houston dominated us. And Miami in the second half dominated us tonight. We're saying we want to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and we want to compete for the playoffs and shoot for a championship, but we're having letdowns against some of the top teams in the league and we can't do that and be a successful team."
The Nets (27-19) finished 0-3 against the Heat this season and have lost 13 straight to the Heat. In those three losses, they combined for 57 turnovers (19 per game) and shot 14 of 66 from 3-point range (21.2 percent), and were outscored by a total of 63 points (average scoring margin of minus-21).
"No. I don't think so," Wallace replied when asked if the Heat are 20 points better than the Nets. "Are they a good team? Yeah, they're a good team. They're the defending champions. But I don't think they're that much better than us. I don't think they're 20 points better than us. I'm not saying that they can't beat us, but they're not 20 points better than us."
On Wednesday night, the Nets played a tremendous first half against the Heat, and took their first lead (53-51) since 2-0 early in the third quarter. But with owner Mikhail Prokhorov watching from his seat at center court, things unraveled.
Miami outscored Brooklyn 36-14 in the third, turning a close game into a laugher. The Heat shot 65.2 percent during the quarter, while the Nets had eight turnovers. James, fueled by some brazen pre-game comments from Reggie Evans, had 10 of his 24 points in the third.
He may have been "no different from Joe Johnson or Andray Blatche" in the first half when he went 4 of 11 from the field. But James played like the best player on the planet in the second. Evans bolted before he could be questioned by reporters.
James, who added nine rebounds and seven assists in 34 minutes, has beaten the Nets' franchise 17 consecutive times. In the fourth quarter, a "New York Knicks" chant could be heard from the rafters.
"Typical Nets basketball," Wallace said of the third. "We don't play together. Careless turnovers. We don't execute offensively. And defensively, we don't do anything. We don't defend. We don't guard the ball. We don't help each other out. It's the same story as it's been all season."
This season, the Nets are 17-0 against sub-.500 teams (at time of game played), but just 10-19 against.500-or-better clubs.
"I tell the guys, 'Everything looks good against the average team because we're able to make up because of our talent,' " Wallace said. "But when we play against these marquee teams, we can't have those types of games and having the same thing happen over and over again."
In back-to-back blowout losses to Memphis and Houston last Friday and Saturday, the Nets gave up an unacceptable 122 points in the paint and 129 first-half points. On Wednesday night, they allowed Miami to shoot 51.8 percent from the field, including 11 of 19 from 3-point range.
"It's disappointing, because in any sport you measure yourself against the champions, and they're the champions, and they've embarrassed us all three times," Wallace said. "What does that say for us as a team trying to be a championship team?"
Wallace refused to say that there was a massive talent gap between the two teams.
"We match up with them talent-wise, 1 through 5 and down the bench," Wallace said. "It just has to do with teamwork, executing offensively and defensively and helping each other out on the defensive end, making the extra pass on the offensive end and taking care of the ball, and we didn't do that tonight."
So how do they make it change?
"I don't know," Wallace said. "You can stick your finger on anything you want to stick it on. It's just something we've gotta figure out as a team, how to come out and compete for four quarters. I really don't even know what's wrong."