These losses are getting tough to take. While it is encouraging that the New Jersey Nets are playing hard and keeping games close, at some point they need to pull out some wins.
If they can't, there is a good chance the players will become discouraged and lose their energy. Coach Avery Johnson can keep the team playing hard for right now by selling them on the fact that, despite their record, they aren't too far removed from a playoff spot.
If the team continues to slide, however, the squad will fall out of contention, the players will lose hope and the season will turn into a disaster. It's exactly what happened last year when the Nets ended up going 12-70.
Playing the Golden State Warriors in a Martin Luther King Day afternoon contest, the Nets fell, 109-100. The score was mostly close throughout, but New Jersey dug itself too deep early on.
The Nets do have the ability to score. Over the past several games, their shooting percentage has been good, and that was again the case Monday when they hit 49 percent of their shots.
Their problem is that they have difficulty going on extended runs, and are prone to stretches of complete offensive ineptitude.
After one quarter of action, the Nets played the Warriors to a standstill, the score even at 28.
The Nets shot 65 percent in the opening frame, and just needed to clean up in regards to turnovers and giving the Warriors second-chance opportunities on offensive rebounds.
That did not happen, and the Nets hit just seven of their 19 second quarter shots, scoring all of 18 points in the process and went into halftime down, 54-46. They wouldn't get closer than three points the rest of the day.
The sloppiness continued for the rest of the afternoon, as New Jersey ended the game with a total of 16 turnovers and gave up 11 offensive boards to Golden State.
The Nets also did not take advantage of all their opportunities, missing a number of shots close to the basket.
Devin Harris and Brook Lopez carried the load for New Jersey, combining for 39 points on 48 percent shooting. Harris, who was extremely aggressive in driving to the basket, leading to 10 free throw attempts, also tallied eight assists and Lopez brought down seven rebounds.
Kris Humphries notched another double-double, his 11th of the season, with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Sasha Vujacic had a nice game as well, scoring 16 points.
"The Machine" doesn't offer much in penetration ability, but he is capable of knocking down shots.
It's always up to the players to perform and win games, but the front office may need to come to a conclusion quickly on the Carmelo Anthony situation.
With the constant talk that is going on about a possible trade, it's impossible for it not to affect the players. It's hard to even watch a game without wondering if it's the last time we'll see Harris in a Nets uniform, and he must be attuned to that as well.
Anthony doesn't seem too enthused about playing in New Jersey, so the team might be better off cutting bait and letting everyone know that no one will be moved, at least not in that deal.
It could lead to some wins.
Johnson also needs to do a better job of putting his players in positions to succeed.
Lopez ended up putting up 15 shot attempts, but most of them came in the second half, and it seemed like he hardly touched the ball in the first 24 minutes. When he did, he was often too far away from the basket to make a scoring move.
He needs to be set up on the post, where he can do his thing. Johnson has to make sure this is happening.
The Nets are now winless in their last six games and have not won on the road since mid-December—a nine-game stretch.
They won't be able to end the road skid, but they can put a stop to their losing streak when they host Utah on Wednesday.