Nets search for answers amid losing ways
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The emotional toll that comes with losing was evident on every face as the Nets individually filed out of the visitor's locker room at the Garden, sporting a variety of bleary-eyed looks in the aftermath of yet another defeat.
There was bewilderment. Frustration. Disappointment. Anger.
This wasn't the way things were supposed to be at this point, not with a franchise-best start through 15 games that earned Avery Johnson November coach of the month honors. But after a 100-86 pasting at the hands of the Atlantic Division-leading Knicks on Wednesday night, the Nets (13-12) are trying to pick up the pieces and collect themselves.
They're probing for ways to regain that winning form and find that toughness Deron Williams thinks they've lost during this stretch where they've dropped eight of their last 10 games.
"We need to talk as a group," Williams said after the game, "and figure things out."
Keith Bogans said: "We've hit a rough patch. We've got some work to do."
A good starting point would be dissecting their play in the second halves and shoring up those areas of inconsistencies. For a team that started 11-4 and sat atop the Eastern Conference, the free fall has been stunning.
"It's surprising, especially after how we started out," Williams said. "We had two five-game winning streaks and it seemed like we were rolling pretty well. Then it kind of hit a snag and we can't figure out how to get it back, get our confidence back as a group."
Gerald Wallace said the opposition is taking the Nets out of their comfort zones, something that wasn't happening early on.
"We came out the first part of the season, nobody knew what to expect with all of us guys together," he said. "So we got on a kind of run and kind of got going. But now we're midway into the first half of the season and we've been scouted. Teams have figured out what we do and they are scouting against that. So we just have to come out and be more mentally prepared.
"At this point in the season, it's all mental. It has nothing to do with physical. You've got to execute your plays offensively and defensively and stay in tune to what you are doing as a team."
Williams said it's not time to panic. Wallace sees it the same way. The Nets, who will practice at their East Rutherford, N.J., facility Friday for the first time since it was damaged by superstorm Sandy, have two days to smooth out some of those kinks before they host the Sixers on Sunday.
"Just as easily as we've lost eight out of 10, we are capable of winning eight out of 10," Wallace said, "and we are capable of putting together five- or six-game winning streaks. We've just got to get ourselves together and keep playing harder."
Bogans said: "It's just growing pains. We are a team that was just put together . . . We're professionals. We've got to figure it out."