PORTLAND, Ore. - No wonder they call it Rip City.
That's basically what the undermanned Trail Blazers did to the Nets Wednesday night: ripped their hearts straight out of their chests.
Even without All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who sat out with a strained left groin, the Nets let Portland take them apart piece by piece. They fell into a cavernous 24-point first-half hole and never recovered, getting blown away, 124-80, at the Moda Center.
In a season loaded with many disappointing moments, it was the Nets' worst defeat, tying the third-largest margin of defeat in franchise history.
"Look man, we could have played against the Eastern Conference All-Stars. We shouldn't lose by 40 regardless of who's out there," Paul Pierce said, "even if they are missing their best players. So I don't know if it's just one of those nights, but at this point of the season, second half of the season, with so many games left there's no way we should come out and play this way."
That's a sentiment that was repeated by nearly everyone in an extremely subdued visitors' locker room. Things got so bad that their coach, Jason Kidd, yanked the starters with 6:17 left in the third quarter and the Nets (26-29) staring at a 69-40 deficit after Nicolas Batum's hammer dunk.
"It's too late in the season to be playing like this," Kevin Garnett said. "We've got to be better. We've got to hold each other accountable."
In putting up a season-low 34 first-half points and getting outrebounded 53-29 overall, the Nets looked like a team that spent the better part of the last two days kicking up its feet on a Southern California beach. Portland built its huge cushion by pounding the Nets in the paint in the half, grabbing a 30-16 edge in that department, and taking advantage of the Nets' atrocious 33.3 percent shooting.
Portland (40-18), which was paced by Mo Williams' 21 points and Will Barton's 20, basically made the Nets look as if they were stuck in a quagmire and ran them out of the gym.
"You look at it, it's unacceptable," Shaun Livingston said. "We are in a stretch run. We are trying to make a statement, we're trying to get playoff seeds, we're trying to get in a good flow down the stretch, and so a loss like this is unacceptable."
Said Pierce: "We lose like this, it's just a complete lack of focus. No way against any NBA team we should lose by 40 with the guys we've got. So I'll just say that's a complete lack of focus and that's all I can really say. We just didn't show up tonight."