The Nets completed their Western Conference road schedule last night in Houston and remarkably they didn’t win a single game. That’s Oh-and-15 against West teams in their houses.
There were some winnable games overall and certainly on this trip. It wound up that three of the four-games on this trip were winnable. You wouldn’t have thought the Dallas game initially, but the Nets were up 18 in the second period and Dirk Nowitzki was nowhere to be found.
But Memphis, especially without Zach Randolph, was beatable, and certainly Houston was if the Nets were willing to work hard or commit a hard foul. By the way, Luis Scola just scored again.
“We’re disappointed because we played well enough in some of these games to win,” interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe said.
This is one of the many stories of the Nets’ season – their inability to win games that they could and should.
It’s one of the many reasons they’re in this position with 16 games to go. They need to win three games to avoid tying or setting a new record for the worst season in NBA history.
The Nets can, and probably, should avoid that record. Yes, they have had stretches like 18 consecutive losses. But twice they won three in 14 games and once three in 15 games. So it’s possible.
Also, the schedule lightens up a little with seven games currently against teams under .500, including at Philadelphia, Washington and Indiana and home for Sacramento, Detroit and Chicago.
Really, this is all the Nets have to play for at this point: pride and avoiding the record. But it’s going to take a commitment to doing what needs to be done on both ends of the floor.
That means establishing Brook Lopez and going to him early and often. It also means Lopez keeping his head in the game. His frustration on this trip was obvious. The Nets also need Devin Harris getting in the lane and creating shots for himself and others. They can’t keep falling behind big and needing Jarvis Hayes’ late-game shooting to get them back into it.
It also means defending, blocking out, limiting penetration and knocking someone down once in a while.
When the Nets remake this team over the summer they need to address that shortcoming. They need a hard-nosed player up front who will deliver a hard foul when it’s warranted.
Teams have no problem coming inside on the Nets and getting whatever they want. This is nothing new. The Nets really haven’t had an enforcer-type since Kenyon Martin or maybe Jason Collins.
No one is suggesting you hurt someone or incite a fight, but you can commit a hard foul to let the opposition know they can’t just stroll inside and get layup after layup.
Teams have no-layup rules. Most of them are good teams, but still. When Scola and the Rockets were scoring more than half their points in the paint, it would have been understandable if someone sent a message.
Anyway, it’s hard to be something you’re not and the Nets’ aren’t a physically tough team. They haven’t been for years. But they have 16 games to be something they don’t want to be. That's up to them.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)