Road-weary Nets blown out by Nuggets
DENVER -- They had just spoken hours earlier about finishing this road excursion strongly, making sure they didn't succumb to their road weariness.
The Nets have had enough room service to last a lifetime during the last two weeks, living out of suitcases that virtually have been their dressers.
Given that they were 12 days and six cities into their excursion away from home, fighting through the midst of the NBA's longest road stretch of the season and again without Joe Johnson's services, what happened Friday night against Denver seemed inevitable: They played as if they already had one foot on their chartered plane.
The Nets were no match for the Nuggets' breakneck pace, essentially turning into spectators in Denver's dunkfest. Although the Nuggets were without sparkplug point guard Ty Lawson, who sat out with a plantar fascia tear in his right heel, the Nets were pounded from wire-to-wire in a 109-87 loss at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets now are an NBA-best 33-3 at home.
"They came out and put a beating on us from the jump, really,'' Deron Williams said. "We were close at first. After that, it really wasn't close at all.''
So the Nets (42-30), who could've established a franchise record for road wins in a season, headed to Utah for Saturday night's game 4-2 in this string of eight games away from home.
This one was lost in the first half, in part because of the Nets' atrocious defense inside the paint. Denver collected 22 of its 26 first-quarter points on the interior and canned 16 of 25 attempts in the paint in the first half en route to a 55-38 halftime lead.
The Nets shot 5-for-20 from three-point range and missed 18 of 36 free throws.
When asked if he was disheartened by the effort, Williams said, "Yeah, it's disheartening. Hopefully, it's just one of those games you forget about and move on. Hopefully, we get this next one because it's important that we finish up this trip with a win.''
Said Blatche, "Put it in a box, throw it in the ocean and just keep on going for the game [Saturday night].''
Did the altitude affect him? "Oh, yeah. Oh, did I. Oh, my God, when I tell you how my lungs were going to explode. It was tough,'' Blatche said. "They've got an advantage. I'm telling you, when I came out there first two, three minutes, I thought I ran about 10 miles. But it's tough.''
After the Nets play in Utah, they'll finally head home, though it won't be for too long. Even though they'll technically be done with the hefty portion of this streak of eight games away from Barclays Center, they still have one more to go, against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday night. Their next game at their arena isn't until Thursday against the Bulls.
Said P.J. Carlesimo, "We just need to take from all the good minutes and take that into tomorrow night because Utah is knocking on the door of that last playoff spot, and if there's another building in the West that's extremely difficult to play in, it's where we are going tomorrow night. We just need to play a lot better than we played tonight and more like we've been playing recently.''