Calling them a bunch of fat cats wouldn't properly depict the Nets, but for some strange reason, they sure aren't big on prosperity these days.
In squaring off on Saturday night against the reeling Pacers, a team that dropped a 10-point decision to the struggling Pistons 24 hours earlier and was missing C.J. Miles, the Nets seemed to have the perfect platform to extend their season-best three-game winning streak and infuse much-needed confidence into a team searching for consistency. But Indiana didn't cooperate. Neither did the Nets' shooting stroke.
The Nets shot only 36.4 percent and turned the ball over 16 times, numbers that directly led to a numbing 110-85 loss to Indiana at Barclays Center. It equaled the Nets' largest margin of defeat two months into their seesaw campaign.
"It's very disappointing," said Joe Johnson, who had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists but shot only 4-for-12 in a microcosm of the Nets' plight. "Obviously, we've got to take it one game at a time, but I was looking forward to us at least getting to .500 and building from that. So we took a misstep back."
Jarrett Jack, starting again as Nets coach Lionel Hollins elected to bring high-priced stars Deron Williams and Brook Lopez off the bench while they work themselves back from injuries, was the only player who consistently brought it for the Nets (13-16) against the Pacers. He had 22 points and six rebounds, and Sergey Karasev added a career-high 14 points.
Take away the shooting of Jack and Karasev, and the rest of the Nets shot 13-for-53 (24.5 percent). The bench, which is supposed to benefit from a boost with Williams and Lopez in the mix, went 5-for-32 (15.6 percent), and that's not going to get it done.
Not when Indiana (11-20), paced by Rodney Stuckey's 20 points and eight assists, had all four of its top reserves crack double digits in scoring.
Lopez and Williams were a combined 2-for-12. Lopez didn't score a point for the first time since his rookie season.
"There are no excuses," Hollins said. "They didn't play very well and they have to play better for us to be better or for them to get more playing time and more consistent playing time."
Williams, in his second game back from a calf strain, shot 2-for-7 and had seven points and three assists. He concurred with Hollins.
"He's definitely right," Williams said. "We do have to play better. We are two of the highest-paid players on the team, and so that's our responsibility is to play better. Hopefully, we accept that challenge. I do. I think Brook does."
Lopez was invisible, something that's virtually impossible for a 7-footer. He missed all five shot attempts and had five rebounds and two assists. He shook his head so much, he could have been mistaken for a human bobblehead doll.
Every time he misfired, he jogged back on defense in a state of bewilderment.
He insists his back is fine and he's 100 percent. It's simply all about making shots he usually makes.
Still, in a season loaded with rough nights, this was yet another one for Lopez.
"I felt like I was getting back into it and then my back did what it did, so I've just got to keep working and get back at it again," Lopez said. "I know the player I am, I know the player I can be and I can't get down on myself. I have to be that player."