AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Rather than wasting precious jet fuel and everyone's time on top of that, the Nets simply should've shipped an extra-large box here by overnight express.
It would have been a better way to mail it in.
Without emotional leader Kevin Garnett, who sat this one out to rest, the Nets turned in an embarrassing, zombielike effort against the Pistons Friday night that was as dead as the half-empty Palace of Auburn Hills.
It's as if they never showed up, essentially getting outfoxed by Detroit once pregame warm-ups commenced.
The Nets were lethargic, failing to even sniff the lead in a 111-95 loss that sent them to their fourth defeat in six games. It dropped their record in the second game of back-to-backs to 2-9.
"It puzzles me," Paul Pierce said. "We had an opportunity to move up in the standings. We take a couple steps forward and then a couple steps back. Tonight was definitely a step back. We can't use it as an excuse that we didn't have KG out there. We have to be ready from the jump. We have to be ready to play. There was just a lot of mental breakdowns.
"I don't know if that comes from traveling or back-to-backs, but good teams don't have those problems."
The Nets (22-26) shouldn't be an overconfident bunch of guys who think they can simply show up and rely on veteran moxie to pull out games. Pierce insisted they're not on cruise control.
"You haven't seen our record?" he asked rhetorically. ". . . When you're under .500 . . . I've played on teams where you walk in and you just assume you're going to win and there was a fear factor in there. We don't have that presence yet. We're under .500 scratching and [clawing] trying to get there."
Given their spiritless play and their 23-point deficit at the break, the only real suspense going into halftime stemmed from what tracks rapper Ma$e was going to perform in his mini-concert between halves. In fact, the brand-new mink coat Ma$e was sporting seemed to get more of a reaction than anything the Nets did -- or anything Detroit did, for that matter.
The Pistons (20-29) built a 44-26 edge on the glass through three quarters (57-40 for the game) and destroyed the Nets in the paint, racking up a 48-28 edge on the interior heading into the final quarter. Then Jason Kidd emptied his bench.
"We just weren't ready to play tonight," said Deron Williams, who didn't record an assist in 24:50 and turned the ball over three times. "Our energy wasn't there, effort wasn't there and they seemed to have another gear than us."
Offensively, it was as if the Nets had glue on their hands. There was little movement, as evidenced by five assists in the first half and a mere one in the first quarter. The Nets shot 26.1 percent in the game's first 12 minutes, setting an ugly tone from the outset.
"It's tough," said Joe Johnson, who paced the Nets with 16 points but was just as cold as everyone else early on. "We didn't have KG tonight, so to be honest with you, he communicates probably better than any player in this locker room. So without him, we were definitely missing that. But just from the start, we seemed flat."