The Nets made enough plays in the fourth quarter to knock off the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, but their second game without Irving was a flop. After Monday's ugly 115-86 loss to the Indiana Pacers, coach Kenny Atkinson did not hesitate in describing his team as "below average."
Now with Irving out again with a shoulder injury, the Nets hope to produce a better performance Wednesday night when they host the Charlotte Hornets.
The Nets dropped to 5-8 after shooting 35.7 percent, getting outrebounded 63-40 and getting outscored 41-17 in the second quarter Monday.
"Below-average teams are inconsistent and that's what we are right now," Atkinson said.
Irving sat out due to right shoulder impingement that is considered a day-to-day injury. While he was in street clothes, the Nets lost for the fourth time in five games.
Brooklyn struggled mightily in that five-game stretch, getting blown out twice and squandering double-digit leads in Utah and Denver. They faltered on both ends, averaging 104.4 points on 42.6 percent shooting while allowing 116.8 points on 44.2 percent shooting.
"There's a lot of stuff that's out of your control when you play but the things that are in your control are competing every possession, playing hard every possession, having the sense of urgency, the ownership, the pride and a lot of that stuff is not there with us right now," Brooklyn forward Joe Harris said.
"It's there in (spurts) but it's not there consistently."
With Irving out again, Spencer Dinwiddie would likely start alongside Garrett Temple. Dinwiddie scored 24 points Saturday and then led the Nets with 28 Monday but had little help as only Temple and Jarrett Allen finished in double figures with 10 points apiece.
Charlotte has one more win than the Nets and has faced double-digit deficits in every game this season. The Hornets swept a weekend back-to-back with the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks behind clutch, game-winning 3-pointers from Malik Monk and Devonte' Graham, respectively.
On Monday, the Hornets were denied three straight wins when they suffered a 132-96 loss in Toronto and were outscored 72-40 after halftime. Charlotte hit at least 15 3-pointers for the fifth time but shot 42.3 percent overall and committed 19 turnovers.
"We couldn't find any traction offensively and then we turned it over," said Charlotte coach James Borrego, whose team has lost its eight games by a combined 128 points.
"They came out and asserted themselves," Hornets forward Marvin Williams said. "They imposed their will on us and we were never able to recover."
Graham leads the Eastern Conference with 49 3-pointers and leads the Hornets in scoring at 18.3 points. He had 29 Saturday but was held to 11 on Monday.
The Hornets are hoping to get a better night from Terry Rozier, who is second on the team at 16.4 points per game. Rozier was held to 10 on Monday after averaging 22.6 points in his previous three games.
Charlotte is 11-4 in the past 15 meetings with Brooklyn.
--Field Level Media