The Nets left their three-game skid behind and flew out Saturday on a plane bound for a three-game trip. They hadn’t planned to carry on any hard feelings about those close losses. The missteps were all part of Brooklyn’s version of “The Process.”
“To be honest, I think we’re itching to get on to the next one,” Joe Harris said in the quiet in the locker room after Friday’s loss to Portland at Barclays Center. “I don’t think it’s going to hurt our morale or anything like that. We talk about it all the time in this organization. We’re process-oriented, and we’re focused on trying to get better each day.
“We feel like we’re making strides in the right direction. We’ve just got to get over the hump now.”
They know they need to learn from being right there with Golden State, Cleveland and Portland and not being able to finish the job. The Nets fell by seven, 10 and two to the teams with the stars and the experience.
“It’s tough,” said Harris, the fourth-year guard/forward who contributed double-digit scoring off the bench in the last two. “It’s so hard in this league. Night in and night out, you’ve got to be able to execute down the stretch and win close games. We haven’t proven that here in these last three games.
“But I think there’s definitely room to be optimistic. We’ve competed at a high level. Each one of these opponents have been some of the top players in the league, top teams in the league, and have been for the last few years . . . We’ve just got to keep staying with it and the results will come.”
The Nets are a young team that has dropped four of five games since losing D’Angelo Russell, one of its new and biggest building blocks, to a knee injury that required surgery.
“It’s not like we’re getting blown out,” Allen Crabbe said. “We’re having chances to win. We’re just not closing it out.”
The Nets, coming off an NBA-worst 20-62 season, are 6-12 after winning only three of their last 13.
“It’s just the little things,” Caris LeVert said.
The road can be an unforgiving place to find a cure. The Nets are 2-7 away from Brooklyn.
They’re at Memphis (7-11) Sunday night before moving on to Monday night’s game at Houston (14-4 through Friday). Then they play at Dallas before moving on to a home-and-away set with Atlanta. Both those teams were 4-15 entering Saturday night’s play.
“We’ve got a couple of games coming up that we feel like we can win,” LeVert said. “So we’ve got to play the right way.”
The Nets played the wrong way against Portland after taking a six-point advantage with 2:20 left. Despite having a season-high eight double-digit scorers, they lost 127-125.
“We made like three, four boneheaded plays down the stretch that you can’t make when you’re trying to beat a good team,” DeMarre Carroll said.
They had cut visiting Golden State’s lead to four with 2:38 left and Cleveland’s home lead to three with 3:20 left before losing.
“But at the end of the day, we’re playing good basketball,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to somehow get it sooner than later, learn how to close out games and learn how to not relax toward the end of the game.”
These players still didn’t want to bring along any heavy baggage in their minds from losing three difficult games in a row.
“It’s the NBA,” Crabbe said. “You’ve got to let ’em go.”