Nets still searching for an identity

Jason Kidd talks with Joe Johnson during the Jason Kidd talks with Joe Johnson during the second half of a game against the Knicks at Barclays Center. (Dec. 5, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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In listening to Joe Johnson describe the Nets' situation, it's obvious they're as discombobulated as ever. And that's really saying something.

Maddening defeats are stacking up, and it seems to be getting worse. They have lost nine of 11, six by double-digits, and the last two games -- both at home -- were lost by an average of 27 points. And the Nets (5-14) still don't seem to have a concrete plan on either side of the ball.

"Offensively, we don't really have an identity," Johnson said after the Nets were thumped, 113-83, by the Knicks on Thursday. "We throw it down to Brook [Lopez] pretty much when there's nothing, and we put him in a lot of tough positions, man. We just basically sit and watch, so we make his job a lot harder than what it should be, without us doing a lot of moving and cutting. We make everybody's job harder."

The Nets crawl into Milwaukee to face the Bucks Saturday night while trying to fend off the perception that they're engulfed in a dysfunctional situation.

"It's not ideal," Kevin Garnett said. "It's not ideal."

There's no doubt that injuries have contributed to the bad start, and the Nets could get a boost if Deron Williams returns as expected when the Celtics come to town on Tuesday. Still, there have been way too many instances in which they've shown little energy or quickly have gotten discouraged.

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"It's basketball," Johnson said. "It's not that hard. I think we are making it a little more complicated than what it really is. It's on us as players to come out and play and work harder than what we are doing. Because regardless if we are getting beat by teams that are better than us, I'm sure they are not 25, 30 points better than us in our own building. So that's on us as players."

He added: "We just don't have any chemistry at this point."

That goes for the defense, too. They have allowed opponents to shoot 41.6 percent from three-point range, easily the worst in the league. They've yielded an average of 8.9 three-pointers made per game, third worst in the league. Even the rotations have been embarrassingly late, leaving opponents wide open.

"I think I've got to do a better job that if they run them off the line, that I'll be there for them," Lopez said. "I've got to do a better job of contesting at the rim, make that the only option."

Garnett said coach Jason Kidd implemented new things, a sign that he really is going about it his way after "reassigning" top assistant Lawrence Frank.

But five weeks into their season of great expectations, despite a plethora of wily veterans, the Nets still are mighty rough around the edges.

"There's a lot of moving parts day-to-day and we're working through them," Garnett said. "We're continuing to work hard. We've shown progress in practice and now we've just got to somehow transcend this. We've got to carry over what we do -- and what we talk about as far as schemes and things -- over to the game. We're not doing a very good job at carrying it over."

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