Nets fall to 0-14 with 101-87 loss to Nuggets
DENVER (AP)—In a season already full of losses for New Jersey, this might have been a new low.
Nets coach Lawrence Frank called his team’s performance “unacceptable” as it dropped its 14th straight game to start the season.
With Carmelo Anthony(notes) leading the way, the Denver Nuggets seemingly scored at will in a 101-87 win Tuesday night. All the easy baskets drew the ire of Frank, who went from jovial before the game to dour afterward.
“I’m very, very disappointed. Embarrassed,” Frank said. “I just don’t think we put our best foot forward.”
At 0-14, the Nets are creeping closer to the NBA record of 17 consecutive losses to start a season, which is held by Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers. New Jersey will play in Portland on Wednesday night, the second leg of a grinding four-game trip out West.
“Nobody likes to lose, especially at this rate,” said Devin Harris(notes), who scored 19 points despite being hobbled by a strained groin. “We’ve just got to dig deep and find it within ourselves to come out with a better effort.”
Before the game, Denver coach George Karl was wary of facing a winless New Jersey squad. His caution turned out to be unwarranted.
No way did his team want to be the first one to lose to the Nets. That was motivation enough.
“Nothing against them, but coming into a game, you know that a team like that is wounded,” said Anthony, who finished with 27 points. “You don’t want to be their first win. … That can be a confidence-breaker right there.”
With another torrid shooting night, Anthony, the league’s leading scorer, remained the only player to score at least 20 points in every game this season. His 14th straight game with 20 or more points also tied Alex English’s franchise mark to begin a season, set in 1984-85.
Up big midway through the fourth quarter, Anthony and the rest of the starters were seemingly done for the night.
But the Nuggets hit a bump in the road as the Nets cut the lead to 10 with more than 4 minutes remaining.
Decision time for Karl—put his starters back in or run with the subs?
“I thought the magic number was eight, the magic number that would’ve triggered (putting) the starters back in,” Karl said.
He didn’t need to worry, because back-to-back baskets by Ty Lawson(notes) and J.R. smith(notes) quickly ended the threat. Chauncey Billups(notes) was happy to remain on the bench, but was prepared just in case.
“Kept my laces tied,” Billups said, smiling. “But Ty came up with a big play and J.R. made a big play, put it out of reach.”
Even with the losses mounting, Frank was in a cheerful mood before the game. When asked about the effects of Denver’s mile-high elevation on his team, Frank recited a movie line from “Along Came Polly.”
“Remember the scene when (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is playing basketball and going nuts, ‘I’m burnin’, I’m burnin’,”’ Frank recounted. “That’s how you feel, then you have to get a second wind.”
Frank is quite aware his team is treading dangerously close to the mark for the worst start in NBA history. But he said the club wasn’t going to dwell on it.
“It’s your choice what you’re going to focus on,” Frank said. “What we choose to focus on is just today—get better today. … The future—who knows? But right now, we know we have today and we’re just going to focus on that.”
After the game, though, he expressed his displeasure. The Nets shot just 38.9 percent from the field and gave up 29 fast-break points.
“I just think we just didn’t put forth our best effort,” Frank said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the streak. I think it has everything to do with tonight. We just didn’t bring it.”
NOTES: The Nuggets have drawn the ideal back-to-back situation, facing New Jersey and then playing in Minnesota on Wednesday night. The Timberwolves are off to a 1-13 start, their only victory coming against the winless Nets. … The Nuggets won their 16th straight regular-season home game, including all six this season. … Nene finished with 17 points and a season-high five steals. … The return of Courtney Lee(notes) couldn’t spark the slumping Nets. Lee was back on the court after missing the last seven games because of a groin injury. He finished with seven points.