CHICAGO -- Andray Blatche looked down at the stat sheet, crumpled it with his left hand and disgustedly tossed it on the floor.
It was that kind of night for the Nets. They were blown out of the Windy City Saturday night, embarrassed by the Bulls, 96-85, before a sellout crowd of 22,414. Chicago scored 19 straight points to turn the game into a laugher in the second half, making Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and the Nets' other starters benchwarmers late in the fourth quarter.
After getting off to a fast start, the Nets played the final three quarters as if they were trudging through quicksand. They put up little resistance when the Bulls started taking it to them and found themselves trailing by 20 points early in the fourth quarter.
Afterward, Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said changes could be coming, one of which might be tightening his rotation.
By losing for the fourth time in five games, the Nets (34-26) fell a half-game behind Chicago (34-25) in the Eastern Conference standings and were left explaining how things soured so quickly after a promising start.
"The most frustrating thing is we come out and we play so well and it seems like once we sub, it seems like we start all over again," said Williams, who went 4-for-12 from the floor and finished with 14 points and six assists. "I'm not saying it's the bench's fault or one guy's fault. I'm just saying in general.
"It could be the second group's playing good and they sub me, Joe and Gerald [Wallace] back in and then we don't just click right away. It seems like we've got to get going again and that can't happen. We've got to be ready to go, whoever it is. Subbing in at any time, we've got to be ready to go."
Simply put: The Nets were done in by the Bulls' 19-0 run spanning the end of the first half and part of the third quarter. They had a stretch in which they went 7:37 without scoring a point and watched Chicago turn a 39-38 deficit into a 57-39 lead.
Brook Lopez's two free throws with 9:12 left in the third quarter finally snapped the drought, but the Nets didn't collect their next field goal until Johnson's layup dropped in with 8:20 left in the third, snapping a span of 8:07 without a field goal.
At that point, the Nets trailed 59-43. Even though 20-plus minutes remained, this one was over.
Johnson suggested the Nets' tempo was one of their biggest issues. "Second half like always, we just don't have what it takes to kind of get back into the ballgame,'' he said. "It's like our energy, effort isn't there. We don't get stops and we make it hard on ourselves offensively because we are so methodical as far as when we bring the ball up the court. We just kind of walk it up the court and maybe that's from not getting stops, and we're taking the ball out. But we don't run like we do in the first quarter. First quarter, we looked pretty good. We were getting stops, getting out and getting easy baskets. It's like after the first quarter, it doesn't exist anymore."
With 11 of their next 14 games on the road, the Nets know they can't afford to turn in many more games like this.
"I think it's definitely concerning," Williams said. "Any time you lose four in five, that's not good and you are trying to make a playoff push and this is a team that [was] a half-game behind us, knowing the stretch we have coming up on the road. All these games count. All these games are big. These are all games you are going to look back and wish you could have played better."