The guy who initially was listed as doubtful in the hours leading up to Wednesday night's matchup with the Celtics -- only to be declared healthy enough to play some two-plus hours before tipoff -- checked out early in the second quarter.
At least Deron Williams had an excuse, reaggravating a sore left side that sidelined him in Monday night's loss. Too bad his teammates didn't, especially Brook Lopez, whom Nets coach Lionel Hollins referred to as "lazy." They could've certainly used a doctor's note or something to explain why they turned in one of their most disappointing efforts of the season, dropping a brutal 89-81 decision to the Celtics at Barclays Center.
One simple word perfectly describes the plight of the Nets (16-19), who lost their third straight on this night: outhustled.
"No question," Mason Plumlee said. "No question. It hurts to say that, but that's what happened."
Joe Johnson had 17 points but shot 7-for-16, providing a snippet of the Nets' frustrating night shooting the ball. The Nets, who also got 16 points and 12 rebounds from Plumlee, canned just 21 of 55 attempts from the field through the final three quarters and turned the ball over 16 times during that span, directly leading to 16 points for Boston (12-21).
"We just had a lot of careless mistakes, man, including myself," Johnson said. "Just costly turnovers that kind of hurt you or kind of sucks the life out of you, and that can't happen. We are here at home, we've got to keep our crowd into it. It's very important for the big wins. I mean, this was a game that I think we definitely should have got."
Not with the type of lackadaisical effort displayed by Lopez, though. The Nets' 7-footer once again came off the bench and was basically a non-factor with six points and five rebounds in 17:27, sitting the final 9:52 after being replaced in the lineup by Mirza Teletovic.
Lopez was passive, hoisting seven shots, and got badly exposed for lack of hustle on one sequence at the end of the third. As Johnson's bad pass intended for Plumlee started speeding toward the backcourt, Lopez briefly gave chase, quickly stopping after feeling the ball was going to trickle all the way to the other baseline and out of bounds.
But Jae Crowder hustled into the picture, flying past Lopez as he chased down the ball, and got fouled by Darius Morris. Crowder sank both free throws for a 69-60 advantage with 28.9 seconds left in the quarter, a microcosm of what a disappointing night it was for Lopez.
Hollins' message for Lopez? "I just told him he was being lazy," Hollins said. "That's all it is."
Lopez, speaking mostly with his head down and failing to look in the eye at the assembled throng of media in front of him, admitted he inexcusably blew it. "I didn't realize Crowder was behind me," Lopez said. "Very poor all night for me. But I expect more of myself."
Williams checked out with 10:21 left in the first half after reinjuring himself, going scoreless in four minutes. It wasn't long until Williams trudged toward the locker room for further examination.
"It's kind of like running your car into a wall so to speak," Jarrett Jack said, "but I'm sure he's going to be patient with it, allow himself to heal so that when he comes back, it's not going to be something that's nagging him the rest of the season."
With the Knicks dismantling their team and there being no juice in the local rivalry, the NBA announced it has pulled the Feb. 6 game between the Nets and Knicks in Brooklyn from ESPN and instead will show the Clippers take on the Raptors.