According to Kevin Garnett, the Nets are looking for perfection, but he, Deron Williams and Paul Pierce all know that it will require some patience.
That, though, did little to help the triumvirate hide their frustration after the team's latest loss.
“I don’t think you can put a timetable on something when you’re trying to get perfection,” Garnett said on Saturday night. But as he sat down in his locker amongst the assembled media, his body language had already told everyone in the Nets locker room what he revealed next.
“But it is frustrating,” he added.
Frustration and dejection, sighing and searching. It was a recurring theme when Garnett, Williams and Pierce spoke.
“We’re just learning to play together,” Williams said after the contest. “We’re all coming together to try to win a championship,” he said.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, we’re not panicking, we’re confident that we can overcome these struggles and we’re gonna stay together no matter what’s happening on the outside.”
One of the few positives to take away from Saturday night's game was the overall strong play of Wiliams—who is still searching for his rhythm after being limited by ankle issues. In 33 minutes, he turned in a 17-point, 10-assist double-double and only turned the ball over twice. He looked spry and energetic, two adjectives seldom used to describe him in recent weeks.
Still, afterward, he did not want to focus on himself or how he was feeling personally. The recurring theme was about sticking together and potentially using the team's upcoming road trip as an opportunity to right the ship. The trio agrees: the losing must cease.
The team will have a few days off before heading on their first Western Conference road trip of the young season. The short trip begins on Wednesday at the Sacramento Kings and will conclude with back-to-back games at the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Dropping two of those three games would put the Nets at 3-6, and that is not something that any of the team's players wants to see. That explains the dichotomy of the tone after the loss to the Pacers.
“It’s gotta come together, soon,” Williams said after earlier preaching patience.
“I don’t wanna seem like we’re content with losing, because we’re not... Hopefully we can go out on the road and this trip will do something for us,” he said. “We’re learning, we’re trying to get a rhythm together as a team and its happening for stretches but not for 48 minutes.”
That was certainly true on Saturday night.
After carrying a 46-44 lead into halftime, the Nets lost the third quarter 28-21 and trailed by five points heading into the fourth quarter, 72-65. The Pacers got timely hoops from former Net C.J. Watson and All-Star Paul George before a layup by Brooklyn-born Lance Stephenson gave the Pacers an 88-78 lead with 5:25 remaining in the contest.
From that point forward, though, the Nets’ defense tightened up and the Pacers converted just 2-for-8 from the field to close the game. Down by three and with possession, Joe Johnson failed to convert on a game-tying three-pointer with 11.8 seconds remaining. So instead of heading to overtime and potentially handing the Pacers their first defeat of the season, the Nets are left with nothing but frustration after a spirited effort.
“When we look at it, it’s the little things really hurting us,” Pierce said after the loss.
“Everyone wants to win so bad, the thing with us is we can’t get frustrated, we gotta stay together and we’ll figure this thing out," he said. “Maybe going out West will be good for us. Sometimes, they say when you take a trip, you guys are all together, you seem to come together. I’ve been on a lot of teams where we’ve done that so that’s what we’re hoping for.”
In the locker room, long after the loss, Pierce stood before the media, seemingly thinking aloud. In that moment, he reflected on his personal experience and tried to remain upbeat, but his body language was indicative of a frustrated player who was not content with losing.
For the Nets, that is a good sign.
“It’s different for all teams," Pierce said when asked how long it will take these Nets to get on the same page. "I’ve been on teams where it’s happened fast, I’ve been on teams where it’s taken a while... We don’t know when it’ll turn around, when the chemistry is gonna be there, when we’re clicking on all cylinders. The thing is we gotta be patient until it does," he said.
"A lot of young teams, they go through the frustration, the losing piles up, then the arguing, then the whispering behind the back and then the negative press but that’s not this team right here," he said.
"I think we’re a veteran team that’s gonna show a lot of patience and we understand we’re gonna stay positive until this thing turns around.”
With a few days off before embarking on a three-game road trip, hopefully, for the Brooklyn bunch, that will be sooner rather than later.
Moke Hamilton is the NBA Analyst for SNY.tv, contributing regularly to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MokeHamilton