Nets inch closer to NBA's worst-ever start

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Rafer Alston lamented that it's gotten so bad for the New Jersey Nets after 15 straight losses that there's nothing more to say for inspiration.

"You bust out a speech at 0-5. You use different quotes from different champions and leaders at 0-10," he said. "But at this point it's all inside of you as individuals. You've got to find something inside of you to leave on the floor."

The Nets moved a loss closer to the record for the NBA's worst start to a season on Wednesday night when they dropped yet another game, 93-83 to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The NBA record is 17 straight losses to start a season, set by the 1988-89 expansion Miami Heat and matched by the Los Angeles Clippers in the lockout-shortened 1999 season.

New Jersey equaled the second-longest skid in franchise history and is one away from the 16 straight losses in early 1978 that is its record. The Nets travel next to Sacramento for a game against the Kings on Friday before wrapping up their four-game road trip at the Lakers on Sunday.

The Nets were coming off a 101-87 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night.

"It's mental and physical," Alston said. "You're playing back-to-backs on the road, you've got the losing streak on your mind. A lot of things play into it but you've got to stay strong."

Greg Oden continued a recent run of strong play with 18 points and eight rebounds for the Blazers, who have won 10 of their last 12. Portland has won six straight at home.

Brandon Roy had 13 points and Rudy Fernandez added 12 -- all 3-pointers -- for the Blazers.

Brook Lopez had a career-high 32 points and added 14 rebounds for the Nets, who tied it at 54 early in the second half but ultimately couldn't keep up with Portland.

"You walk into the locker room and it's like a morgue," coach Lawrence Frank said. "Guys are laying it all out there. It's disheartening to lose, but you keep putting efforts like this together and we'll break through."

Frank's stance was considerably softer than the night before, when he called the Nets' performance "unacceptable."

Oden said Frank's comments made the Nets more dangerous.

"We knew that they were going to come in with a lot more attitude," Oden said.

Frank did not start Devin Harris, playing his third game back after missing 10 games because of a groin injury, or Courtney Lee, playing his second game back after missing seven games with a groin injury.

Harris came in with 3:25 left in the first quarter. Lee followed in the period.

The Blazers began to pull away late in the second quarter, when Martell Webster's 3-pointer made it 43-33. Portland extended the lead with LaMarcus Aldridge's jumper.

New Jersey closed to 49-44 at the break. Lopez led all players with 16 points at the half.

The Nets pulled within 54-52 on Lopez's jumper, then tied it on Alston's layup, before Joel Przybilla responded with a dunk and Roy added a fadeaway jumper.

Fernandez extended the lead to 69-59 early in the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer. He made another one from 29 feet that made it 72-61 and the rout was on.

Portland was coming off a 122-98 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Oden tied his career high with 24 points and matched a season high with 12 rebounds.

In his last four games, Oden has hit 27 of 36 shots from the floor. He has scored 16 or more points in each of those games, a first in his career.

Oden said afterward he didn't want to dwell on his recent accomplishments.

"It was a team effort and all the guys played well, especially in that fourth quarter when we all came through and brought a lot of energy," he said. "We came together and pulled away."

Game notes
Portland has hosted the Nets on the day before Thanksgiving for three of the past four seasons. ... The Blazers have a four-game winning streak over the Nets. ... Former Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington was at the game. ... The fans were prepared for the Nets. One held a sign that said: "The NBA, where 0-15 happens." ... Over the course of their six-game winning streak at the Rose Garden, the Blazers have defeated their opponents by an average of 17.2 points.


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