Good thing the Nets were dressed in some special all-black, short-sleeved uniforms Wednesday. Made it much easier for them to stay in costume -- as giant pieces of coal.
Instead of stuffing everyone's socks at the Barclays Center with presents and holiday cheer, the Nets were left singing that same sad tune that even jolly Old Saint Nick is probably tired of hearing at this point.
A team that was ripe and bursting with championship expectations when the season tipped off, Wednesday lacked energy, will and heart yet again, drawing the ire of what was easily the most ornery sellout crowd this season in Brooklyn. They were fed up with another lethargic performance, a numbing display on Christmas for the second straight season.
By the time the final buzzer mercifully sounded in the Nets' 95-78 loss to the Bulls, it was a minor upset that many of the 17,732 patrons in attendance still had voices and didn't need a lozenge or two after all the booing and chants of "Fire Kidd!" The Nets (9-19) have become a laughingstock, a team that's nowhere near as good as many projected.
"We're not," Andray Blatche said. "We thought we were this championship team, but we're not showing it right now. Getting booed at home, that tells us we're not. That means we're not doing enough. That means we've got to fix it as a unit. Not just one person, but all of us. Starting from the coaching staff to the players."
The natives are restless and the crescendo is growing with each effortless defeat, particularly when the Nets go belly-up in the second half the way they did against Chicago (11-16), which was missing star Derrick Rose and Luol Deng. The Nets were outscored 36-20 in the decisive third quarter, connecting on just 2 of 14 shots and wilting in the face of adversity.
"We've got to be more mentally tough," Paul Pierce said. "You can't get down when things don't go your way. You've got to continue to fight . . . I think it's just that we lose confidence, like we are expecting things to go south.
"It's embarrassing to lose on Christmas and in front of millions of people watching, but I'm not going to keep my head down. That's the way we've got to be out there on the court. We've got to continue to keep pushing."
Things got so bad for the Nets, who lost their fourth straight and fifth in six games, that even the Nets' ultra-positive public address announcer David Diamante didn't do his usual "Brooklyn, stand up!" routine at the start of the fourth. Perhaps he figured, given a nationally televised audience, some fans would have been embarrassed to actually rise out of their seats in fear of getting spotted in the crowd, and laughed at for spending their hard-earned cash on the product the Nets keep tossing out there.
Remember, this wasn't supposed to happen after bringing in players such as Pierce and Kevin Garnett. But rather than it aiding in a heart transplant, the Nets are still flatlining.
"I'm even surprised with this season, how it's played out. It's like a nightmare," said Deron Williams, who led the Nets with 18 points but had just four assists to go with three turnovers. "The way the injuries have been and the things we talk about every day: the lack of energy, the lack of effort. I didn't see that being a problem when we put this team together."
At this rate, they won't be together much longer. Not if they don't pull out of a tailspin that's putting a chokehold on what was one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history.
"Our record shows we are not a good team right now," Pierce said. "We are 9-19. I mean, we've got a lot of work to do. Our goal is still to improve, but when you are 9-19, the record speaks for itself."