SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Andray Blatche is just as dumbfounded as everyone else.
Even the staunchest of the Nets' detractors probably didn't predict this kind of brutal start to what's supposed to be a championship-contending season.
"If you would have told me this before the season started, I would've thought you were crazy," Blatche said after the Nets were crowned by the Kings, 107-86, at Sleep Train Arena Wednesday night. "But it's happening early, so at least we have time to correct it and get back on the right path."
The reeling Nets (2-5), who never led and trailed by as many as 23 points, have dropped four of their last five games since their spirited win over the Heat nearly two weeks ago. They're mired in a stretch that's leaving them wondering when they're going to get it together and begin looking like a team with a $100 million payroll.
"We're not playing 48 minutes," said Paul Pierce who totaled 12 points and shot just 4-for-12 from the floor. "We have our spurts where we are playing well defensively, then we have lapses. So until we get to the point where we can put together two and three quarters, four quarters in a row, we are going to continue to be inconsistent. We have to have a consistent effort on defense, we have to have consistency on offense where we're moving the ball, we're setting picks, we're getting to the right spots, we're not walking in our spots.
"I hope this was a wake-up call to start the trip."
Sacramento (2-5) mostly either dialed up long distance or simply threw down dunks, easily maneuvering its way around the Nets' porous defense. The Nets were constantly out of position, rotating too late and failing to get to the open shooter in adequate fashion.
Even when opportunities presented themselves -- like DeMarcus Cousins collecting his fourth foul early in the third quarter -- the Nets were still allergic to capitalizing on it. They were outscored 28-19 in the third quarter, continuing their disturbing trend. The opposition had gotten the better of them by an average of eight points per game in third quarters in their previous four losses.
A numbing effort inside the paint, particularly in the first half, surely didn't help matters. The Nets shot a horrid 8-for-25 in the interior during the game's initial 24 minutes and they were 4-for-15 inside the blocks in the second quarter alone.
"It's not a good feeling in here, but nobody said this process was going to be easy," Kevin Garnett said. "It's not like no one is not giving a ---- or are not caring if we get beat or not. It's just us. I think the mentality in here is now, it's just all of us in here. We've created this hole and it's up to us to get out of it."
At some point, they're going to have to say enough. So precisely when does that attitude kick in?
"I think now," said Deron Williams, who scored 13 points but shot only 5-for-13 from the field. "It's got to be soon. We are digging ourselves a hole and we don't want to be playing out of a hole the whole season, and so we can't keep just using the excuse 'We'll get the next one or we'll figure it out the next game.' It's got to happen soon."
Said Jason Terry: "Talking is over with. Too much talking. We've done enough talking and now it's time for some action."