Weary of finding himself immortalized in advertisements for frosty adult beverages or becoming a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons, Lionel Hollins calmly measured his words after the Nets' latest debacle.
The Nets are turning to mush as they make their so-called playoff push, and Hollins had every reason to flip out. With every game deeply critical for a team that's on the outside looking in and dropping further in the conference standings by the day, efforts like the sloppy one the Nets put forth in Sunday night's 95-88 loss to the Jazz at Barclays Center certainly have raised more than a few eyebrows.
Another maddening seesaw outing in which the Nets (25-36) were severely outplayed in crunch time left them scrambling for answers again, wondering how they have fallen into a tie with the Celtics for 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 21/2 games behind the Pacers for the eighth and final playoff spot.
It's enough to make someone go batty, though Hollins doesn't want to find himself in a Jim Mora or Dennis Green remix.
"I'm trying not to go the way of a couple of coaches that are in beer commercials," Hollins said. "But we are just trying to play well and consistent. If we play well enough, we're good enough to make the playoffs. But if we don't, we won't. That's not my goal right now. My goal is to play better consistently at home as we do on the road."
In other words, do all the things they didn't do down the stretch against the Jazz (26-36).
The Nets' fourth-quarter play again was atrocious, a familiar scenario during their three-game losing streak that followed last Monday's big win over the Western Conference-leading Warriors.
They were done in by a 10-0 run near the tail end of the quarter after Brook Lopez's dunk brought them within 78-77 with 5:23 remaining. In a microcosm of their recent late-game issues, they turned the ball over three times and missed a free throw and a layup during Utah's game-deciding spurt.
"It really feels like we've beaten ourselves these last few," said Lopez, who was inserted into the starting lineup with Thaddeus Young as Hollins tried to switch things up. Each scored 19 points and Lopez also had 10 rebounds.
"This whole season has been a lot of ups and downs,'' Lopez said. "It feels like we are figuring it out, and the floor kind of falls out from under us."
As Deron Williams said: "Right now, we're in a tough situation where we are fighting for a playoff spot and we are playing really badly. It's like we take one step forward and two steps back."
A few more steps in the wrong direction and they'll be backpedaling all the way out of the postseason picture.
"It's a bit surprising," Young said. "But teams go through these kinds of stretches and it's unfortunate that we are going through these stretches right now. But we will come along. We still have, what, 21 games left in the season . . . so there's plenty of time to put together a streak of games and plenty of time to go into some people's houses and beat them."