One step forward. Two steps back. Nine turnovers along the way.
Just when it seemed the Nets had taken some baby steps and started to turn the season around, they started to turn the ball over.
Coming off two of their more encouraging games of the season, the Nets fell apart in the fourth quarter Saturday. Trailing by just two entering the fourth, the Nets committed nine of their 20 turnovers in the quarter and fell to the depleted Wizards, 111-96, at Barclays Center.
The Nets have lost seven of their last eight games, and six straight at home. At 8-22 they are 14 games under .500 for the first time since moving to Brooklyn.
“This is disappointing to be where we are,” Lionel Hollins said. “But we are where we are. We are the team that we are at the moment. We’re struggling to get better. We have starts of moving forward and then we have lags where we go backwards.”
They seemed to be moving forward after a layup by Thaddeus Young gave the Nets a 75-69 lead with 3:13 remaining in the third quarter. But the Wizards then went on a 17-2 run that carried into the fourth quarter to take an 86-77 lead.
The Nets pulled within 89-84 on Shane Larkin’s layup with 7:04 left before the Wizards responded with a 16-2 run that blew the game open. Turnovers limited the Nets to just 15 field goal attempts in the fourth.
“Turnovers, bad shots, and defensively we couldn’t get stops,” Joe Johnson said. “I think we were just careless with the basketball. I mean we caught an earful after the game, which we were deserving of.”
The earful came just days after Hollins complimented the Nets for playing at a level that would make him happy, win or lose. But down the stretch, the Nets in no way played at the level they did in a win at Chicago and overtime loss to Dallas earlier in the week.
John Wall had 22 points and 13 assists for the Wizards, who were playing without half of their rotation, including Bradley Beal. Marcin Gortat had 25 points and shot 10-of-15 from the field. Jarell Eddie, making his NBA debut, scored all 12 of his points in the fourth, connecting on each of his four three-point attempts.
“They fit a few big threes,” Brook Lopez said. “I don’t think we did a good job of adjusting to what they were doing. It kind of just fell apart from there.”
Lopez had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Thaddeus Young had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Jarrett Jack added 15 points and 11 assists and Bojan Bogdanovic added 14 points, but both had four turnovers each. The Nets shot 5-for-17 from the free throw line, allowed 20 points off turnovers, and ultimately took a step in the wrong direction.
“Obviously we just need to be more consistent, which has really been the word of the year,” Lopez said. “Just in one game for 48 minutes, and obviously through the season as well. I think that sums it up a lot.”
Added Hollins: “It takes a lot of effort to win in this business. It’s not easy. You can’t play when you want to play. You’ve got to play every night. You’ve got to play every minute. Every time you go on the court, you’ve got to play hard. It’s something that we’ve got to get better at.”