CHARLOTTE -- The Nets can’t play every game against the Bobcats, but if they can transfer what they do against Charlotte to their other contests there is no way they should own the NBA’s worst record ever.
Easier said than done.
But you see the confidence the Nets play with against Charlotte -- not just Tuesday night, but earlier this season -- and you just wonder why they can’t do it more often.
The Nets beat the Bobcats, 103-94, on Tuesday night in the first game after the All-Star break because they played a complete game. The Nets didn’t get rattled when Charlotte made runs and they didn’t let them make many runs because they made plays.
It is that simple, but with this team it’s not. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be 5-48 and in need of five more wins to avoid the record for the worst season in NBA history.
The Nets did so many things right in this game, so many things they normally don’t do and it led to their second win of the season against the Bobcats. The Nets also won their first game of the season, after a record 18 consecutive losses, against Larry Brown’s bunch.
The Nets got strong performances from Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and Courtney Lee, the three players they were expected to rely on most this season.
As a team, they made 51.9 percent of their shots, their second-highest percentage of the season. They had an 11-rebound edge -- a rarity -- and also won the offensive-rebound and second-chance points categories.
Josh Boone was huge from that vantage point. Never did a stomach virus make the Nets feel so much better.
Tony Battie would have been the second big off the bench if he wasn’t sick. Since he was, Boone played for the first time in nine games. He was single-handedly responsible for eight rebounds, four offensive and nine second-chance points.
You’re not going to get this type of production every night from Boone or the hot shooting from the Nets, but they put themselves in position to win by playing hard, together and being where they were supposed to be -- on most plays.
“We came with effort tonight,” coach Kiki Vandeweghe said. “We were focused and we were good defensively. Everybody was into the game and that’s what it takes to get a victory.”
Sounds so easy, but it’s not. Not for this team. We’ll see how they respond Wednesday night against the Heat when they go for their first two-game winning streak of the season.
There were times before the break when it looked like the Nets were on the verge of a breakthrough -- or a breakdown -- and this game was an indication that they’re making progress.
It really comes down to this: The Nets don’t want to be the worst team of all time. No one wants that on their resume. And the Nets have too many quality players and veterans who have played for winning teams, gone to the NBA Finals and played in the conference finals, to let something like that happen.
They’re not going to win 20, but they’re good enough to win 10 if they stay healthy. The schedule isn’t that bad, as we went over Monday. We mapped out about seven or eight possible wins. We failed to mention the Bobcats, which was an oversight.
So now they have to just get five more, five of their last 29.
There is one more game before the NBA trade deadline. After that, the Nets should be able to relax and focus on the rest of the season. They’re not expected to do anything major and may not do anything at all.
But once the Nets know this is their team they can just focus on each game, get any negative thoughts out of their heads and try to finish the season as best as possible.
That’s how they opened the second half and look what happened. The Nets won’t win every night, but if they play this way, don’t let up and play to win instead of not to lose the record should be safe.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).