Since Kyrie Irving went down, the Nets have been really good at rebounding from bad losses.
They will have a chance to do so again on Saturday night when they open a three-game road trip in Houston.
The Nets (16-14) shot 26.9% from the field and made only eight two-point field goals in an embarrassing 94-82 loss to the Knicks (8-24) on Thursday night at Barclays Center.
“I think we had some slippage last night,” coach Kenny Atkinson said Friday after putting his players through a practice that included contact drills. “Losing should never be comfortable. We were definitely not the aggressors.”
Without Irving (shoulder), the Nets have gone 12-7 while ranking 25th in offensive efficiency and sixth in defensive efficiency.
In Irving’s absence, Spencer Dinwiddie has been brilliant (26.0 points and 6.9 assists per game for the 19 games), but the Nets’ supporting cast has struggled to score of late.
Irving, who has not played since Nov. 14, will not make the trip as he continues his rehab. There is no timetable for his return.
“He worked on-court today. I watched the workout. It was pretty intense,” Atkinson said.
Caris LeVert (thumb), who hasn’t played since Nov. 10, will travel with the Nets but won’t be ready to play in Houston, the team announced Friday. The Nets also will play Minnesota on Monday and Dallas on Thursday on the trip.
“He’s integrating himself into contact practices,” Atkinson said of LeVert, who would improve the second unit as a playmaker.
The Nets have had to rely on the likes of Dzanan Musa, Theo Pinson and Garrett Temple as the backup point guard behind Dinwiddie, with little success in those stints.
The Nets managed to beat the Rockets (21-10) at Barclays Center on Nov. 1 when James Harden (38.1 points per game) and Russell Westbrook (24.1) shot a combined 3-for-22 from three-point range.
Atkinson expects a different showing from the dynamic duo this time around, especially with Westbrook healthier and showing more consistency with his new team.
He plans to keep mixing up his defensive schemes.
“I don’t think we can play them conventionally,’’ Atkinson said. “I think we have to think outside the box to slow them down.”
With Irving sidelined, the Nets have lost consecutive games only once.
“It’s about trusting our work. Not getting down on ourselves about taking an ‘L,’ ” forward Taurean Prince said. “It’s about taking what we did wrong and then trying to do it the right way the next game.”
Atkinson credits continuity and the veteran presence of players such as DeAndre Jordan for that.
But the Nets know they need to pick it up on the offensive side of the ball for it to continue.
“We’ve had a stretch where we kind of kept our head above water,” Atkinson said. “But it’s important for us to play well on this road trip, and we will. I like our group. I have confidence in them.”