The Nets (25-37) have no time to grieve after dropping their fourth straight home loss, a 111-91 pummeling at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans.
In typical fashion, the Nets got off to a fast start, going up 25-11 midway through the first quarter. But alas,t he Pelicans shot 51.7 percent from the field including a scorching 57.1 percent (12-21) from behind the arc, and outscored the Nets 100-66 the rest of the way. Brook Lopez, despite a perfect 6-for-6 first quarter and a thunderous dunk on Anthony Davis, notched just one field goal after — yet still led the Nets with 15 points and nine rebounds.
To add injury to insult, the Nets suffered three down players during the game: Alan Anderson (bruised tailbone), Markel Brown (ankle sprain), and Sergei Karasev (right knee injury). Karesev’s injury was the most severe, reflected by the agony and pain he displayed lying on the court soon after — not to mention the chilling replay (warning: not for the squeamish). Anderson and Brown traveled with the team to Miami, but Karasev stayed behind for testing.
Tonight, the Nets begin a four-game road trip in South Beach against the Miami Heat (28-35), who are without Hassan Whiteside, after a one-game suspension for an errant elbow on Boston’s Kelly Olynyk during Monday night’s loss to the Celtics. Whiteside has been a beacon of hope for the Heat this year, averaging 10.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, shooting 62.5 percent from the field.
The Heat, ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, have injury problems of their own. Already without ten-time All Star Chris Bosh, recovering from blood clots in his lungs, the Heat lost center Chris “Birdman” Andersen to an ankle injury Monday. He remains questionable for tonight’s game. Newly acquired Goran Dragic (lower back contusion) missed the last two games, but is expected to return tonight, as is Udonis Haslem (knee), who missed only Monday’s game. Dragic has averaged 16.1 points and 5.1 assists in eight games since being acquired at the trading deadline.
Dwayne Wade has been hot, averaging 31 points on 23-for-41 shooting in the past two games. For the season, Wade has averaged 21.2 points and 5.2 assists per game in 45 games.
The Nets still have no answers for their struggles. Head Coach Lionel Hollins has tried different lineups, rotations, and strategies but the play on the court has not been consistent. The duo of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson has mirrored the team’s struggles, and the desire of the Nets’ assumed leadership on the court remains a mystery.
“I think competing is what this business is about, that’s the reason I played, the reason I coach – to compete,” Hollins said, “It’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame, it’s not about anything but just going out there competing and earning respect of your opponent. That’s all that matters.”
What to watch for: Where is Joe Johnson? The five-game home stand has been the most unproductive stretch of his short Nets career, averaging just 7.4 points per game on 35.6 percent shooting (16-for-45).
Tip-off is at 7:30 EDT at American Airlines Arena in Miami.