Brooklyn falls to 0-4 away from home on West Coast swing
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Nets were hoping their three-game West Coast swing would help bring them closer together.
Instead, they appear to be falling apart at the seams.
"It's unacceptable," rookie Nets coach Jason Kidd lamented after his high-priced, underachieving team opened its trip with an embarrassing 107-86 loss to the Sacramento Kings, who snapped a five-game losing streak at their expense in front of 15,122 fans at Sleep Train Arena.
"We don't score, we hang our heads and then they score on the other end," added Kidd, who may find himself on the hot seat sooner than later if this rebuilt unit with the NBA's highest payroll -- approximately $180 million including luxury taxes -- doesn't find a way to grab a win in Phoenix Friday or in Los Angeles Saturday before returning to the Barclays Center Monday night to host Portland.
Veteran power forward Kevin Garnett, acquired from Boston along with Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to bring the Nets a strong sense of leadership and identity, revealed before the trip that the Nets may benefit from leaving Brooklyn for a while in pursuit of finding their on-court chemistry.
After managing six points on 2-of-9 shooting and seeing only 14 points of playing time against the Kings, even the 37-year-old Garnett had to confess that the Nets were in dire need of a top-to-bottom self-assessment session.
“No one said this thing was going to be easy. ... It's a difficult transition period right now. We have to clean things up," noted Garnett after the Nets fell behind by as many as 23 points in the first half and never seriously challenged thereafter.
"I hope this was a wakeup call to start the trip," added Pierce, who had 12 points and nine rebounds in Brooklyn's third straight loss since a 104-88 home win over Utah on Nov. 5.
Following general manager Billy King's record-setting offseason spending spree, demanding Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov deemed this team loaded and ready to seriously challenge for an NBA title.
Through seven games, however, Brooklyn doesn't look nearly as good as the unit that went 35-19 under P.J. Carlesimo last season en route to grabbing the Eastern Conference's fourth seed after Prokhorov fired Avery Johnson just two months into the franchise's inaugural campaign in our fair borough.
The Nets dropped to 0-4 on the road this season after winning a franchise-record 23 games away from their Downtown digs in 2012-13
They forced a meager six turnovers against the Kings while giving the ball away 16 times and once again were dismal from the floor, hitting just 38 percent (31-for-82) of their field-goal attempts.
Point guard Deron Williams, the player who figured to benefit most from the team's reconfigured roster, scored 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting with seven assists in 35 lackluster minutes against the Kings.
He was also thoroughly outplayed by Sacramento's Greivis Vasquez, who burned Brooklyn for 17 points and 12 assists.
Brooklyn players insisted during the preseason that their impressive roster on paper would be rendered meaningless if they didn't exert the proper energy and effort on the hardwood.
Yet, following each painful defeat, they continue to indicate that they aren't living up to that self-imposed doctrine.
“You figured the sense of urgency would be there,’’ Nets center Brook Lopez wondered aloud after leading the Nets with 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. “I didn’t have it, and I don’t think it was [there] down the line. It’s obviously got to change.’’
Kidd, who sat out the Nets' first two games while serving his well-chronicled suspension for a drunken-driving charge, dropped to 1-4 on the bench, sparking speculation that he may not have been ready to undertake a team with such high expectations in his first foray as a head coach.
Those rumblings, and Prokhorov's aversion to preaching patience over production, will continue to mount if the Nets can't at least display the nightly effort to match their exorbitant payroll.
"Things will pass and get better," Garnett said. "All of us have to look at ourselves in the mirror and come together,’’
Another few ugly losses and the Nets might not see the same faces looking back at them the next time they take a peek at their reflection.
Nothing But Net: As bad as things are for F Garnett and his teammates at the moment, the 19-year veteran did make some history during Wednesday night's loss in Sacramento. Garnett passed Hall of Fame center Moses Malone for 10th place on the NBA's all-time career games played list by participating in his 1,330th contest. ... F Andray Blatche is just as miffed as the rest of the Nets with the team's poor start. "If you would have told me [we'd be 2-5] before the season, I would have thought you were crazy," the reserve big man noted before revealing that he thought Brooklyn played harder in practice than in the actual games. ... PG Shaun Livingston continued his solid play off the bench against the Kings, scoring 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. … F Andrei Kirilenko did not accompany the Nets on their road trip as he continues to deal with severe back spasms.