Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — Including Tuesday night's 100-97 loss to the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets have lost five straight games. They have to turn right around and play at the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, they're getting killed defensively during the losing streak and injured center Brook Lopez is at least two more days away from playing.
No, these are not fun times for the Nets. However, the NBA schedule does not lend itself to sulking with so many games in such a short time span. In the middle of four games in five days beginning with the Knicks loss, the Nets simply need to find a way to right the ship.
"We had a great stretch where we were playing great," Joe Johnson said of the team's 11-4 start. "It just seems as though lately when it comes towards the end of the third or the fourth quarter, we get stagnant offensively. We haven't been able to put teams away. It seems as though we let teams back in it. We've gotta be able to finish teams off."
The effort has been there for the most part, especially on Tuesday against the Knicks in a game that the Nets were in control of throughout. The Nets raced out to a 17-point first-quarter lead and led by 10 late in the third quarter, but gave both leads back. That 10-point lead late in the third quarter evaporated thanks in part to Carmelo Anthony's 45-point night.
Racing out to big leads and coughing them up is a disturbing trend as the same thing took place on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets raced out to an 11-2 lead, gave it all back, fell behind by as many as 29, but charged back late only to fall, 97-88.
"Whatever the case may be, when we get leads, we gotta keep doing whatever we were doing to get that lead," Johnson said. "We have a tendency to kind of get away from it a little bit and it hurts us. It's been hurting us the past few games."
Lopez is not known for his defensive presence, but the Nets could really use it right now. One of the better defensive teams before the 7-footer went down on Nov. 28, the Nets have given up at least 100 points to four of their last five opponents and are now 1-5 without Lopez.
Lopez did not make the trip to Toronto. He will get treatment Wednesday, is scheduled to work out on Thursday and the next move will be determined afterwards. The Nets are home for the Detroit Pistons on Friday and at the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.
Long term, there shouldn't be any reason for concern with the Nets, but it's the short term that appears to have everyone worried with this stretch of losing.
"We were tough-minded, I just wish we could have scored a little bit more in the fourth quarter," Nets head coach Avery Johnson said of Tuesday's loss. "We gave up 26 points. If we would have been able to score a little bit more, we would've been in good shape. We need to go to Toronto and play with this type of urgency and intensity."
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA