Nets lack of consistency hurting Brooklyn in final weeks of season

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Orlando Magic guard Caleb Houstan (2) and Brooklyn Nets center Day’Ron Sharpe (20) compete for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 26, 2023, in Orlando, Fla.
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

The Nets are in a battle to stay out of the play-in round but on Sunday night Brooklyn’s effort once again fell flat against an Orlando Magic team that they should have been able to beat. And all of this came after they had just picked up a huge win over the Miami Heat the night before. 

Brooklyn is now two points back of the fifth-place New York Knicks and tied with the Heat for sixth in the East, though they do hold the tiebreaker with Miami thanks to Saturday’s win. But the loss to Orlando killed the momentum that the Nets had coming off the win the night before and put the pressure back on them as they try to keep from falling into seventh. 

“I’m not an excuse guy. Guys gave what they had tonight across the board,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said about the effort. “Tough back-to-back for us. A lot of learning lessons coming out of this. It’s a tough one. We come off a good win and the message to the guys is we are going to have to earn every single game we get. No one is going to give it to us. We have to go get it.”

Vaughn has never let the Nets off the hook since he’s taken over as head coach and he wasn’t doing that on Sunday. However, the Nets lost a chance to gain some ground and instead have now dropped six of their last seven games.

In an all too familiar tale, the Nets’ best player had a massive night, but the rest of the team failed to match that. Mikal Bridges has been exactly what the Nets had hoped for when he came to them via the Kevin Durant trade at the deadline. 

Bridge put up 44 points in a game that he carried Brooklyn, but the players around only added 52 points of their own and shot 2-for-26 from three-point range, which has become a staple of the Nets’ gameplan since losing Durant and Kyrie Irving. 

The Nets won’t play again until Wednesday when they face a Houston Rockets team that is just trying to finish out the regular season. On paper, the remaining eight games don’t come off incredibly intimidating — even though three of their final seven opponents currently sit in a play-in round or playoff spot. 

Even the Utah Jazz are still in the postseason picture as of now.

But Sunday’s loss is a reminder that, as Vaughn said, there’s no such thing as a sure win and the Nets could easily find themselves falling back in the standings if they can’t piece together some more consistent efforts down the stretch.

For more Nets coverage, visit amNY.com and our affiliate site at TheBrooklynGame.com