MIAMI -- All that hype and preseason chatter surrounding the Nets is officially on hold for a while.
They came to South Florida in search of something to feel good about, hoping for a solid bounce back against the NBA's defending champion in the aftermath of that tough loss to Minnesota two days earlier. But there wasn't much to be giddy about Wednesday night, not after the 103-73 pounding the Heat put on them before a festive sellout crowd of 19,627 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
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"Everyone wants to come out and think it's going to happen right away, and this and that," power forward Kris Humphries said. "That's not the case with anything in life. We have to work at it."
Playing for the second straight game without swingman Gerald Wallace, who still is nursing a sprained left ankle and wasn't available to guard reigning MVP LeBron James, the Nets were run out of the building in the second half. Miami put a stranglehold on things with an impressive third quarter. Until then, it looked as if the Heat was toying with the Nets (1-2), waiting to turn up the throttle.
Miami made 11 of 19 field-goal attempts in the third, outscoring the Nets 29-15 and outrebounding them 14-7. The Nets had 19 turnovers overall, which Miami (4-1) cashed into 31 points, and made just 3 of 21 attempts from three-point range, nailing a total of only 30 of 80 shots from the floor. "This team shouldn't be losing by 30 to anybody," Deron Williams said. "But it's a work in progress. We can all play better. I can definitely play better and take care of the ball better. We can all play better defensively and we all know that. It's still early in the season. We're 1-2.
"It's not like it's time to start panicking. We told people it's going to take some time for us to come together and it's looking that way still."
Williams led the Nets with 14 points on 7-for-15 shooting, but committed seven turnovers and had only three assists. Humphries had 11 points and 11 rebounds in his best game of the season, and MarShon Brooks added 12 points off the bench.
Johnson, who started the game guarding James because of Wallace's absence, wasn't very aggressive for the third straight game, disappearing offensively during stretches. Johnson hit only 4 of 14 attempts, finishing with nine points and just two rebounds.
If anything, losing their second straight game in difficult fashion shows just how far the Nets have to go before they can truly be considered one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. "Nobody said we were on Miami's level," coach Avery Johnson said. "We aspire to get there. We're definitely not there with three games in the regular season . . . We are going to get there one day, but it's going to take an enormous amount of work.
"We've got to go through some struggles together. I'm really looking forward to seeing how our team is going to bounce back against Orlando."