On its surface, it had to be exactly what the Nets imagined when they moved to Brooklyn: David Cone and John Franco chatting with adoring fans, rapper Ja Rule lounging courtside, down the way from D’Brickashaw Ferguson, smiling for the Barclays Center camera crew.
What they didn’t imagine was the rest of it: the shoddy defense, the lack of production, the throngs of fans leaving in the fourth quarter, and celebrity row emptying out with every loud indication that this was going to be another futile night.
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The Brooklyn glamour is there, but the product to support it is not.
The Nets added to their seemingly endless string of bad losses, dropping their fifth straight, 114-100, Wednesday night to the Indiana Pacers.
“It’s the same old story,” interim coach Tony Brown said. “We’ve got to find some other guys to join the fray.”
C.J. Miles scored 27 points off the bench and Paul George added 17. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 21 points, but only three of those points came in the second half. Joe Johnson had 20, with nine assists. Thaddeus Young had his 22nd double-double of the year — 16 points and 14 rebounds — but, it didn’t matter. Not with the opposing bench outscoring the Nets, 58-16, or when 17 turnovers lead to 21 points. Not when you’re the Nets (12-38) and you’ve won just one home game since beating the Knicks on Jan. 13.
“It seems like every game we have a mental lapse or there’s just turnovers,” Johnson said. “I have no idea. I’m sorry. I don’t know. We just hurt ourselves from time to time.”
The Nets defense crumbled in the second quarter (and beyond) struggling to guard against the pick-and-roll and at the same time opening up the perimeter for the Pacers’ shooters. They went down by as many as 16 points early in the first half, and crawling back to within seven in the third quarter seemed like a veritable comeback. The Pacers ended up shooting 50 percent from the floor, led by as many 20 points in the fourth quarter, knocked down 12 threes and outscored the Nets 22-13 in second-chance points.
“We’re not sustaining anything on a regular basis,” Brown said. “If I have to play my guys longer minutes just to stay in the game, I guess I will, but I’m still looking for a few good men.”
The Pacers outscored the Nets 36-20 in the second quarter, including a driving dunk by Myles Turner three minutes into the quarter where he essentially blew by Bojan Bogdanovic. The Pacers shot 57 percent in the first half, including 8-for-11 from behind the arc. They were 13-for-18 from the floor in the second quarter, turning a three-point lead to a 62-43 advantage at the break.
The Nets put up some fight in the third behind Johnson, who scored 11 in the quarter, and Young, who scored six straight in the waning minutes to draw the Nets to within seven. There were other highlights — like Lopez scoring his 1,000th point of the season early in the second quarter, the quickest Net to do it since Vince Carter also did it in 50 games in 2009.
But none of it matters. Not the celebrity sightings, not the milestones, not the double-doubles or the third quarter revivals.
“It got away from us,” Lopez said in a somber locker room, players getting dressed and leaving as quickly as they could shuffle away. “We tried to fight back the rest of the game but we couldn’t do it.”