Their playoff hopes were flickering badly enough already, and after last night's loss it's getting close to lights out.
In a game they certainly could've used to boost their morale along with their place in the Eastern Conference standings, the Nets basically transformed themselves into a bunch of construction workers, showing off their masonry. Their atrocious shooting, coupled with them also morphing into a virtual M*A*S*H unit in the second half and, doomed them in a 111-91 loss to the Pelicans at the Barclays Center.
So a week after their stint at home began in earnest with plenty of promise, creating a tangible sense that their inconsistent ways were potentially finally being put in the rearview mirror, the Nets (25-37) are mired in a four-game losing streak and are a season-high 12 games below .500, dropping to 3 1/2 games behind the Hornets for the eighth playoff spot.
"Yeah, it's a little mind boggling," Joe Johnson said. "Man, honestly we just ? I don't know. Whether we get off to a fast start or slow start, in my eyes it just seems as though we always are fighting uphill and it's just hard to give ourselves a chance. ?Obviously, it's not easy to keep a positive mindset during a rough, tough stretch like this. You think when you come home, you probably will play some of your best basketball.
"And for us, it hasn't been the case. So, we've just got to stay focused, man. We've got, what, 20 games left? Believe it to not, it's still not over."
Markel Brown, Alan Anderson and Sergey Karasev each got hurt, leaving a team that was outscored 100-66 and canned only 25 of 70 shots from the field over the game's final 38:20 shorthanded. Brown sprained his right ankle early in the second half and wasn't available for the better part of the third and fourth quarters, leaving them even more thin at guard due to Alan Anderson suffering a bruised tailbone in the first half and without enough offense to contend with New Orleans (36-29), which was paced by 17 points apiece from Quincy Pondexter and Alexis Ajinca.
Brown's X-rays were negative and he, along with Anderson, traveled with the team to Miami in advance of tonight's matchup against the Heat. But Karasev, who suffered a right knee injury late in the fourth quarter, remained back in New York and is expected to undergo further examination today. Brown said he's "good" and he tweaks his ankle all the time. He surely didn't lose his sense of humor when recalling what happened on the play.
"I got driven by," Brown said. "Probably, if I wouldn't have got driven by, I wouldn't have rolled my ankle."
Here's where things are with the Nets at the moment: the action in the stands during an in arena marriage proposal got more of a rise from the paying customers than anything they actually did on their own herringbone court. Boos have become the norm, a result of the Nets' dramatic about face.
"It was looking up for us and looking like we were about to go on a run," Deron Williams said, "and now it's quite the opposite."
"The teams in front of us, they are not showing any signs of slowing down," he added. "And so we've got some ground to gain and we've got to play better than we are if we want a chance to win."