Nets' first season in Brooklyn has been one long roller-coaster ride

C.J. Watson, foreground, drives past Denver Nuggets guard C.J. Watson, foreground, drives past Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson during the first half of a game at Barclays Center. (Feb. 13, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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Coney Island's longtime signature ride has nothing on the borough's new tenants.

The Nets' inaugural campaign in Brooklyn has had more twists and turns than the Cyclone, loaded with enough highs and lows to fill up every seat in its wooden roller-coaster car.

The chameleon-like nature of the Nets (31-22) has led to the lack of a true identity, something that remains a mystery even among the players.

"I'm still trying to figure it out," Gerald Wallace said after the Nets' 119-108 win over the Nuggets on Wednesday. "You never know with this team. You walk into the locker room and never know what you are going to get. It just shows when we come to play and everybody is playing, the ball is moving, we're staying and talking on defense, we are pretty hard to beat."

They've had to deal with injuries to Wallace, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams at various points, but even beyond that, the Nets are the definition of a streaky team. They flop one night (as they did in a 31-point loss on New Year's Eve in San Antonio) and bounce back with an impressive victory (beating the Thunder by 17 points two nights later).

Of their losses, 13 have come by double digits. That's partly why P.J. Carlesimo described the Nets' first half as a "mixed bag."

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"More good than bad," the interim coach said, "better defensively than offensively. Too many one-sided losses. We need to be more consistent game to game and not let games get away from us. It's less the record than some of the losses. [It's] the way we lost, how we lost. It's been a problem."

The "C'' word is a big thing surrounding the Nets these days, and it continuously is mentioned because of their split personality. The constant fluctuation in their play -- whether it's possession to possession or game to game -- can be exasperating.

That has to be curtailed in their remaining 29 games heading into the playoffs.

"I think we are capable of being one of the top teams," Joe Johnson said. "We've proven that. We've shown that. We just have to get some consistency, especially going down the last stretch of the season. We want to position ourselves to make a big push, so I'm sure guys will come back focused and we'll be a different team."

That's their hope, anyway. At the moment, there's no clear-cut favorite to challenge the Heat -- a team the Nets already have lost to three times, by the way -- for the Eastern Conference crown. Should the Nets get their act together and maintain it, maybe, just maybe, they could find themselves playing deep into the postseason.

"We are not even trying to show nothing to nobody," Wallace said. "We know what we've got to do. I think everybody knows the potential we have as a team, but [the media] can't give us the benefit of the doubt if we keep playing [well] two games and then sit down for two games.

"We've got to come out and we've got to get rid of this having a good stretch, then having a bad stretch. We've got to get more consistent. We understand we are not going to win every game, but we have to be more consistent on offense and defense and play better as a team."

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