If this was a measuring stick, the gap between the Nets and the Heat seems as lengthy as the distance from Brooklyn to Biscayne Bay.
Perhaps that may even be a little kind after seeing the way Miami easily handled the Nets for the third time in two-plus months.
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"It's disappointing," Gerald Wallace said after an 105-85 loss to Miami Wednesday night, "because in any sport, you measure yourself up against the champions, and they are the champions. They've embarrassed us all three times, so what does that say for us as a team trying to be a championship team?"
That they have a long, long way to go and are nowhere close to being in the Heat's stratosphere.
Said Wallace: "Basically."
The Nets (27-19) were throttled and embarrassed in the second half. They fell apart after a strong first half, constantly misfiring from the field, throwing the ball away and playing atrocious defense.
Miami (29-13) outscored the Nets 36-14 in the third quarter, when LeBron James had 10 points and Dwyane Wade scored eight. By then, the Nets' strong first-half finish that erased a 12-point deficit to tie it at 49 was a distant memory. Most in the Barclays Center sellout crowd of 17,732 could see Miami was about to run away with it and end the Nets' eight-game home winning streak.
Miami, which beat the Nets for the 13th straight time, had 15 unanswered points in the third quarter and scored on 11 straight possessions. The Nets committed eight of their 19 turnovers in the third.
"When the bubble burst," Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said, "it burst completely."
Wallace said: "Typical Nets basketball. We don't play together, careless turnovers, we don't execute offensively. Defensively, we don't do anything. We don't defend, we don't guard the ball, we don't help each other out. It's the same story as it's been all season."
Brook Lopez, hours after being named a replacement All-Star reserve, led the Nets with 21 points. Joe Johnson had 16 points and six assists but shot 4-for-15. Deron Williams, battling flu-like symptoms, had only nine points and five assists, turning the ball over six times.
So after that strong start under Carlesimo, the Nets have dropped three of their last four by double figures.
"Those were games that we didn't actually lose," Wallace said. "We got our ---- kicked in all three of those games. Memphis dominated us, Houston dominated us and Miami, the second half, dominated us. We are saying we want to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, we want to compete in the playoffs, essentially shoot for a championship.
"But we have letdowns against some of the top teams in the league, and we can't do that against such good teams."
It's becoming a trend, though, and that's probably why the Nets' locker room cleared out so quickly. Many players already were dressed and some were out of the room less than 15 minutes after the final buzzer.
"This is a bad loss," Williams said. "We hoped to come out and put a better effort out against these guys, with how close we are in the standings with them and a chance to gain a full game, just really try to prove we could play with them. We just didn't do that today."
Said Johnson: "This one hurts."