After beating the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night, the hope was that the New Jersey Nets were on their way to turning things around.
In ways, the two games were a microcosm of New Jersey's season.
The Nets have been terribly inconsistent this year, from game to game and within games. It was evident against Chicago when they nearly blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and it showed again when the team could not keep its momentum going after knocking off the Bulls.
New Jersey quickly fell behind 21-3 against the Wizards, a hill that was far too steep to climb.
The first quarter ended with Washington ahead 30-13, a period that saw that Nets shoot just 23 percent and allow their opponent to hit shots at a rate of 60 percent.
The game was actually rather close from there on out, with Washington holding a 67-64 scoring edge through the final three quarters. The Nets even got themselves to within 12 points at one point in the third, but were unable to continue the surge and eventually lost by a final score of 97-77.
It's hard to figure out why, but the Nets have routinely been playing to the level of their opponent.
They've had some extremely close and competitive games against the league's elite teams, while throwing complete stinkers out there against losing teams.
The squad came out of the gates without a teaspoon of energy in the nation's capitol and got the result they deserved for the effort.
If only the Nets could play as hard and execute as well every night as they did against Chicago earlier in the week, their record could be completely different.
For the game, New Jersey shot 33 percent and were 7-of-21 on threes and had 18 turnovers. With numbers like that it's obvious why they lost, but they held a 48-39 total rebounding advantage and a 14-7 edge in offensive boards, yet were unable to keep the game close.
Even after Washington's torrid start, the Wiz shot just 44 percent at the end of the night, so it wasn't all about poor defensive energy. In fact, the Nets stepped up the intensity considerably after the first quarter ended.
Simply put, they just don't have any kind of offensive firepower whatsoever.
The only players who had reasonably good games were Kris Humphries (eight points and eight rebounds) and Jordan Farmar (14 points on 5-of-9 shooting including 4-for-7 on threes).
Brook Lopez racked up 14 points, but was well below 50 percent shooting and grabbed just four rebounds.
At least Derrick Favors showed some promise by scoring 12 points, bringing down six boards and blocking two shots in 25 minutes. He was 3-of-7 from the field, but it was known coming into the season that he was incredibly raw.
It's also concerning that Devin Harris had to, yet again, leave a game with an injury. He suffered a quad contusion against Washington and his status for the team's next game is up in the air.
The Nets can still salvage their week by beating Milwaukee at home Saturday night.
A win then would make them 2-1 this week, and despite the bad loss to Washington would give the appearance of a team moving in the right direction.
If nothing else, they need to give their fans a more ambitious effort.
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