Yuletide Jeer Fills Brooklyn's Barclays Center
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Exactly one year ago, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry came to Downtown Brooklyn and demolished the Nets, 93-76, all but spelling the end of Avery Johnson's tenure as head coach.
Who knew that those were the best of times when compared to what the Nets are facing this Christmas Day as they prepare to host the Chicago Bulls at high noon in a nationally televised contest?
As members of the Celtics, Garnett, Pierce and Terry contributed to Johnson's demise here last Christmas.
"The Little General" lasted just one more game on the Brooklyn bench following the X-Mas Day beat down.
The reigning NBA Coach of the Month was replaced by P.J. Carlesimo, who guided the Nets to a strong 35-19 finish to the regular season before being ousted by Chicago in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
At the time of his dismissal, Johnson's Nets were 14-14 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
As Jason Kidd and his Brook Lopez-less unit hit the floor at the Barclays Center for this year's X-Mas affair, the Nets are a dismal 9-18, and have also lost three in a row.
Terry, who came to Brooklyn along with Garnett and Pierce in the blockbuster draft-day deal that promised to make the Nets a legitimate contender for an NBA Finals berth, believes the time is now for Brooklyn to bust out of its early season malaise.
And to finally begin living up to its preseason status as an elite team.
"We're together. Again, it's just a matter of picking it up," Terry said after scoring 11 points in Monday's 103-86 home loss to conference-leading Indiana before a disgruntled sellout crowd of 17,732.
"We must pick it up and Christmas is a special day," added Terry following his first game since missing the previous 15 with a bruised left knee. "This is a great opportunity to come in against a team like Chicago, who is going to make you play hard each and every possession."
According to Kidd, the Nets' possession-to-possession effort has been more than just lacking of late,
The neophyte head coach issued a bold indictment of his team's collective spirit following Monday's loss, which featured a career-high 26-point effort from former Lincoln High School legend and Brooklyn native Lance Stephenson.
"We're kind of getting comfortable with losing," admitted Kidd, who may soon be feeling the heat from demanding owner Mikhail Prokhorov if the Nets' don't start winning. "It's getting close to just accepting losing and getting comfortable with it, When things get tough, we just give in."
Lopez, who is lost for the season after suffering a broken foot, was supposed to be the player through whom the Nets could start working their way back into a very winnable Atlantic Division race.
The team’s leading scorer and most potent inside threat won’t be back to help the Nets save their season, or Kidd save his job, for that matter.
“Obviously, after losing Brook Lopez, we’re trying to do it by committee,” noted Terry, who won an NBA title as Kidd’s back-court mate in Dallas in 2011. “So we’re going to have to find a way. This is what we have. There’s nobody coming here to save the day, so we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to go out and grind it out.”
Pierce was ejected from Monday’s contest following a flagrant foul on Indiana’s George Hill. He also slapped with a $15,000 fine for his actions on Christmas Eve after managing to go scoreless for only the second time in his Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Garnett scored 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting against the Pacers after sitting out Brooklyn’s heartbreaking 121-120 overtime loss at Philadelphia last Friday night.
All in all, the Boston trio has been a bust in Brooklyn through 27 games.
But with the Nets just three games behind first-place Toronto, it’s certainly not too late for Pierce, Garnett and Terry to do what they came here for.
“All is not lost,” Terry insisted. “We get another opportunity here at home on a special day. What better Christmas present to get than a win against the Bulls?”
Nothing but Net: Stephenson, who won four PSAL titles with Lincoln in the previous decade, was elated following his breakout performance against the Nets Monday night. "Have all my family come out and watch me and I was just very motivated and very hyped for this game,” he said. “I couldn't sleep at night. I'm just happy we got the 'W'." … G Deron Williams, who has struggled through ankle injuries all season, scored nine points, committed four turnovers and handed out six assists in Monday’s loss. He also took responsibility for the team’s poor effort in its first game since learning Lopez would be lost for the rest of the season. "It starts with me. I have to play better,” said Williams, who went 3-for-9 from the floor. … The Nets only had two second-chance points against the Pacers, further illustrating Kidd’s point that his team is showing signs of contentedness with losing. … Pierce went 0-for-7 from the field prior to his ejection.