The inability for the New Jersey Nets to execute in late game, pressure situations is undoubtedly a huge factor in their rough start, but they are currently being done in by other deficiencies.
Against the Chicago Bulls on New Year's Eve, failure to execute on offense down the stretch certainly led to the 90-81 loss the Nets were handed. There were other glaring holes that contributed to New Jersey's fourth defeat in a row though.
Mainly, these defects are the Nets' absence of three point shooting and scoring from the second unit.
Not having a consistent threat from downtown can easily be attributed to Anthony Morrow's hamstring, which is currently taking longer to heal than expected.
Morrow is statistically one of the best long range shooters in NBA history, and was shooting threes at a rate of 41 percent before going down. The timing of the injury was a shame because he was really starting to stroke it just before he felt a "pop" in his right hammy.
When Sasha Vujacic first came to the Nets it appeared he might be able to fill that void, but he has had difficulty with the deep shots lately, and on Friday was just 2-of-6 on his three point attempts.
Chicago didn't shoot the three at a great percentage, but hit three more of those shots than the Nets did. In a game that was decided by nine points, it can be looked at as the difference.
The Nets are also getting nothing from their bench right now, as New Jersey's reserves shot only 35 percent and scored 18 points against Chicago.
To be fair, the team was only able to dress 10 players as Jordan Farmar needed an MRI on his knee and Troy Murphy suddenly came down with an illness.
The starters also did not play exceptionally well, shooting at 40 percent, but a lot of that, okay most of that, falls on Travis Outlaw, who again struggled.
On the game, Outlaw was 6-of-17 shooting and only made one of six threes. He may be in the starting lineup, but he belongs on the bench.
It's also hard to be too angry with Brook Lopez and Devin Harris (a combined 9-for-24 in the game) given how well they have played lately, particularly Harris.
The two stars also tried to make up for their shooting woes in other ways, as Lopez got to the free throw line 11 times and grabbed eight rebounds while Harris had nine assists. Harris also played very well on defense in holding Derrick Rose, a potential MVP this year, to 5-of-16 shooting.
The bench simply needs to play better and be more selective with their shots.
Johan Petro saw some action due to the injuries and illnesses, and whenever the ball goes to him we all know it's not coming back. He has it in his head that he needs to put it up every time he touches it, which is not helping the team.
What has contributed most to New Jersey's recent struggles?
Petro is capable of hitting 18-foot jumpers, but just because you can doesn't mean you should.
Chicago's bench (33 percent) did not shoot much better than the Nets' secondary players, yet they scored more points (23). They did this by being more aggressive, as the Bulls' reserves attempted six free throws.
Derrick Favors was the only Nets backup to even attempt one. He had three in total.
To break it all down real quick for you, the combination of the extra three pointers and bench scoring gave Chicago a 41-27 edge in those categories.
It was a nine point game. These two areas are where the contest was decided.
Of course, the 16 Nets turnovers did not help, but they were not as crucial and were an improvement over the team's 20-plus giveaways Wednesday night.
The Nets can't celebrate the new year too hard as they have a game on New Year's Day in Minnesota.
Hopefully for them, 2011 will bring better fortune than 2010 did.