The Nets were being crushed by 36 points Wednesday night when Devin Harris did something it never should have taken almost 40 games to do. He went off.
What took so long?
The way the season has gone for the Nets it’s surprising more players haven’t lost their cool and there aren’t more holes in the locker room walls, or broken dry erase boards or urinals lying on the floor.
No one is condoning destroying public property - certainly not me. Every person and player has a different way to show his frustration, but it’s good that someone has gotten emotional. A general malaise as the Nets often have shown can be mistaken for them not caring.
It is a tough situation – the losing, the fact that the organization has made moves and will continue to make moves with 2010 free agents in mind and players don’t know if they’ll be here the whole season.
But none of that should matter. Professional pride should take over more often than it does, and when it doesn’t everyone should be upset. It seems since Lawrence Frank left the only person who gets excited and shows emotion is assistant coach Tom Barrise. He laced into the players a few weeks ago in Toronto, drew a technical a few games ago and was said to be a little angry at halftime last night. It’s not Kiki Vandeweghe’s personality to get loud and critical, but he has to do something to fire up his team because his outwardly laid-back style is not working.
Vandeweghe had some things to say at halftime last night, but it was Harris and Barrise that were the most emotional, we’ve heard.
This was the Nets’ 35th loss in 38 games; their sixth by at least 20, 15th by 15 or more and 24th by double-digits. What took so long?
“My frustrations came out,” Harris said. “They did. I try to keep that in check as much as possible. But it’s just, at some point, we’ve got to take a stand.”
“It was good to see,” Chris Douglas-Roberts said. “That’s the first time I’ve seen him let off some frustration like that. It was good. I’d rather see that.”
Harris was right. And he may have taken another step in his leadership by going out and playing inspired ball in the third quarter. He played defense – finally – hustled and it lifted his teammates a little.
The game was out of reach, but the fact he was out there, playing hard after he showed his frustration was important.
Harris easily could have said to Vandeweghe his taped right wrist, which has mild tendinitis, is hurting; let Chris Quinn and Terrence Williams finish the game. But Harris made sure he was out there and still playing in the fourth quarter.
Now that this is all over with the question is how do the Nets respond from this? How do they come back from another humiliating defeat? Do they follow their de facto leader tomorrow night against the Pacers and finally get their fourth win and first of 2010?
This was one of those you probably penciled as a winnable game – and it should be. But be forewarned that Danny Granger is back from injury. He came back three games ago and led the Pacers to two straight wins – over the Suns and Raptors.
At some point the Nets have to take a stand. If they really want to avoid more “history in a bad way” as Harris said on Wednesday they’re going to have to take a stand
Already, the Nets established the record for the most losses to start a season with 18 and their 23 consecutive games being out-rebounded also is a new standard. All that’s left is worst record ever. The Nets need six wins in the final 44 games to reach avoid that.
It’s doable. There are plenty of bad teams in the league, teams that will overlook the Nets. But it also comes down to the Nets’ approach and if they play with the same mentality defensively, the same overall energy as they did against Boston they won’t beat anybody.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)