CHARLOTTE - A confusing, confounding game was followed by some confusing words.
The Nets just lost 79-68 to the Charlotte Bobcats in one of the worst-played games I have ever witnessed - it was 14-10 after one - but there were few signs of disgust afterward from outside or inside the visitor's locker room.
Naturally, Chris Douglas-Roberts was frustrated. He's never happy when he loses. And Rafer Alston said the third period was "embarrassing," and seemed to say there were some players going for theirs when they should have been playing team ball.
But they also talked about how good the Nets were for two quarters-plus. Coach Lawrence Frank said a couple of times the Nets did "some good things" and a couple of people "did some good things."
We understand Frank didn't want to pile on his winless team, because this certainly wasn't an effort thing. They played hard. They just were more inept than a really bad team.
But the Nets really didn't do that many good things. They scored seven points in the third period, 20 over the final 18:40. They committed 26 turnovers. They went scoreless for 10 minutes and were outscored 24-0 in that span. They matched a record for points in a quarter and came close to equaling their all-time low for points in a half and in a game. All of those numbers are deplorable.
These are the Bobcats they played, a team they can beat and should have beaten. Sure, holding them to 10 points in the first period, eight field goals in the first half and 33 before halftime were good things, but let's only give the Nets half of the credit for that.
The Bobcats are a bad team that somehow is 2-2, which says an awful lot about how bad the Knicks and Nets are. Well, the Knicks won tonight so where does that leave the winless Nets?
"We basically went from everything that was successful in the first half...you can't get bored with success," Douglas-Roberts said. "You cannot get bored with success. It's as simple as that. We were doing everything right. We were clicking on all cylinders in the first half. In the second half we went away from it."
Clicking on all cylinders? I wasn't watching the same game, especially when the Nets scored 14 points and shot 22.2 percent in the first period.
Had the Nets won this game the way it was going it would have been them being better on this night than a bad team. They weren't dominating. The Bobcats were missing shots and committing turnovers. It was bad basketball 14-10 after 12 minutes usually is.
"I thought our guys answered the bell defensively," Frank said. "Combine 26 turnovers and the offensive rebounds we didn't do enough to get it done."
Why so sloppy?
"Some of it is fatigue," Frank said. "Some of it is their defense. Some of it is turning the ball over, a combination of a couple of factors."
The fatigue factor is a hard one to buy. The oldest player, Rafer Alston, played the most minutes at nearly 46. The Nets had a couple of guys - Josh Boone and Eduardo Najera - who played a total of nine-tenths of a second.
Fatigue is an excuse and a state of mind, especially when most of these guys are 24 and younger. This was a game the Nets should have won. Instead it was the second they dropped after leading by at least 14 points.
That's all that matters. They didn't play the Lakers, Celtics or Cavaliers. This was the Bobcats.
Bad team. Bad loss.
Yi Jianlian left the game with a sprained right MCL. He will undergo an MRI today.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)