HOUSTON -- Forget a simple plastic cup. Jason Kidd should have dumped a whole bucket of Gatorade on the Toyota Center floor Friday night, even if it would have cost him another hefty piece of change.
At least he would have been spared more embarrassment from his floundering team.
The Nets got their All-Star center back, a much-needed 7-foot reinforcement for a shorthanded group. But even with Brook Lopez finally in the lineup after missing seven games with a sprained left ankle, the Nets were no match for the Rockets.
They seemed almost uninspired in their 114-95 loss, which is perhaps why Kidd benched his starting five other than Lopez in the entire second half. Losers of 10 of their last 12 games and 2-8 on the road, the Nets (4-12) were run off the court, giving up a gaggle of uncontested three-pointers that had Houston (12-5) smelling blood early.
For the second straight game, the Nets never led. They trailed 66-40 at the break, and their fans watching at home probably wished they had spent their time in Black Friday lines instead of tuning in to this debacle.
They saw a lineup of Tyshawn Taylor, Alan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic and Mason Plumlee get the bulk of the second-half minutes.
Just call it a salvo fired by Kidd, whose Nets have been a major disappointment.
"We had to go with the guys that were going to play hard," Kidd said, "and those were the guys. And I played them the whole second half."
That's what it's come to for these injury-ravaged Nets, who have a $102-million payroll: Kidd had to turn to his reserves because starters such as Paul Pierce and Andray Blatche didn't play hard enough. (Kevin Garnett sat this one out for rest purposes.)
"That's a problem," Kidd said. "We have to address that, and that happens through an 82-game season. But we have to figure out what the problem is with that starting group."
Pierce, Blatche, Joe Johnson and Shaun Livingston shot a combined 3-for-23 in the first half.
"He sat me, Joe and P.," Blatche said. "I guess he was trying to make a statement that we all have to be held accountable if we are out there not giving it our all or going as hard as we possibly can, and sticking to the game plan. And he put some other guys in that's going to do it."
Johnson, whose body language clearly indicated he was bothered about being glued to the bench, still played the good soldier role, refusing to stoke any potential brushfire.
"His decision," Johnson said. "He's the coach. He coaches, we are the players. We play."
Lopez, playing on a minutes restriction, was the lone bright spot with 16 points in 21:25.
Chandler Parsons paced the Rockets with 21 points, igniting an attack that went 19-for-32 from beyond the arc on the way to becoming the latest team to throttle the Nets.
"This is a disappointing season, period," Blatche said. "I don't know. We just have to continue to fight and stay together."