With Deron Williams sidelined, slumping Nets fall to Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- They came to the Midwest in search of a much-needed win, hopeful of finding some consistency.
That got a bit more difficult for the Nets Wednesday night with the pregame news that All-Star guard Deron Williams would sit out with a bruised right wrist, missing his first game this season and elevating C.J. Watson into the starting lineup.
Without Williams, that put the onus on others in the backcourt to get it done against the scrappy Bucks. Didn't happen, though, and so the Nets' swoon continued after they lost, 108-93, to Milwaukee at the Bradley Center. It was the Nets' 13th straight loss to the Bucks (15-12).
"We are a way better team than what our record is, how we're playing," Gerald Wallace said. "It seems like guys are content with the situation that we are in and I'm [ticked] off about us losing, especially losing the way we are losing."
Brandon Jennings (25 points) hit a three-pointer with just over a minute left and the outcome already sewn up when a fan sitting near the Nets' bench shouted, "C'mon, Brooklyn. I didn't come to see this."
Actually, it was nothing new. The Nets (14-14) are 3-10 in December after an 11-4 start.
Despite their struggles from the floor and the Bucks being mostly in control since the second quarter, the Nets were close midway through the fourth. When rookie Tyshawn Taylor, who served as the backup point guard with Williams out, hit his first career three-pointer with 8:51 remaining to bring them within 84-80, they had some life.
However, Milwaukee kept the Nets at bay with a 21-9 spurt capped by a Jennings three-pointer with 1:29 left, giving the Bucks a 105-89 lead and sending the Nets to the .500 mark, a position they surely didn't think they'd be in after their strong start to the season.
"Absolutely not," Brook Lopez said. "I think sky's the limit for us. We are working through a rough patch right now, but we just have to stick together and keep working."
Lopez led the Nets with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Joe Johnson, who needed to provide firepower with Williams out, was a non-factor, going 5-for-15 with 13 points in 36 minutes. Andray Blatche had 14 points and five rebounds off the bench.
The Nets led by two at the end of the first quarter but once again were done in by a sloppy second quarter filled with missed shots and turnovers. One day after being outscored 34-18 in the second quarter by the Celtics, the Nets let the Bucks have a 33-18 advantage. They made only 6 of 20 field-goal attempts and missed all six shots from three-point range.
They didn't take good enough care of the ball in the quarter, either, committing four turnovers. The Bucks rattled off a 22-7 run to end the half, sending the Nets into the locker room staring at a 13-point deficit.
With his starting point guard out, one of the biggest tasks for Avery Johnson Wednesday night was making sure the Nets' ballhandling didn't suffer, particularly since they turned it over 20 times against the Celtics with Williams in the lineup. They turned it over a total of 16 times Wednesday night.
"It's kind of been the same old, same old," Johnson said. "We just shoot ourselves in the foot."