MILWAUKEE - An atrocious season-low shooting percentage in a game that could have inched them closer to punching a postseason ticket had Joe Johnson likening the Nets' play to the stuff found in landfills.
"If we are making shots, it makes a world of difference," Johnson said Sunday after the Nets got run over by the Bucks, 96-73. "We didn't make shots tonight, so we looked like garbage. That's how it was."
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A box of Hefty bags didn't seem quite enough to clean up the mess the Nets (37-43) left at BMO Harris Bradley Center. That must have been disconcerting, given what was at stake and that their old coach's team clinched a playoff spot against them.
A victory would have lowered their magic number to one. Now, thanks to the Pacers' win over the Thunder, the Nets are tied with Indiana for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the seventh-place Celtics, with two games left.
Perhaps their lone solace is this: Because they hold the tiebreaker over the Pacers, their playoff fate remains in their hands. They will host the Bulls Monday night and the Magic on Wednesday night.
"Obviously, it didn't go how we wanted it to, so we've got to put it behind us and move forward," Johnson said. "We still control our own destiny. It's as simple as that. We've got two games left and two games that we must win. That's how we've got to approach it."
By misfiring on a bevy of open looks and shooting 32.5 percent from the field, the Nets didn't give themselves much of a chance against Jason Kidd's athletic, scrappy Bucks (40-40).
Former Nets coach Kidd made sure Brook Lopez wouldn't beat up Milwaukee inside the way he's been pounding the opposition lately. The Bucks, who blitzed the Nets with a 24-6 run to start the second half, quickly sent an extra defender at Lopez whenever the Nets attempted a pick-and-roll, forcing them to try to get it going from the perimeter. It never happened.
Lopez's team-high 12 points did push him past Kidd on the Nets' all-time scoring list.
"You've got to give them credit," said Deron Williams, who went 1-for-11 from the floor. "They definitely took away our offense a little bit and made us uncomfortable out there trapping pick-and-rolls. They were really aggressive defensively and I think we really just couldn't find the answer for it. We did miss a lot of open shots early and I think they kind of made us reluctant to shoot and sometimes we were overthinking out there.""But you've got to give them credit and the way they played. They knew they needed one game to clinch the playoffs and they came out and played well."
A confetti shower as the Nets trudged off the court probably served as a reminder that they were victimized by Kidd yet again. For the third time in four tries this season, Kidd emerged victorious against the team he coached last season -- and the franchise that hoisted his No. 5 jersey into the rafters at Barclays Center 17 months ago. He became the first man in NBA history to lead two franchises to the postseason in his first two years as a head coach.
Whether the Nets join in on the playoff fun this week is all up to them. "We are still in control and we've got to focus on ourselves," Lopez said. "The other teams are going to do what they do. They will fall where they may, but we are focusing on ourselves."