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NEW YORK -- Scary hours have arrived for the 2022-23 Brooklyn Nets, and it's not even Halloween yet. After a dismal, dispirited defensive effort in a 125-116 loss at home against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, they are 1-5 on the season, with a league-average offense and the second-worst defense in the NBA. 

"It was a disaster," Nets coach Steve Nash said at Barclays Center. "I mean, how else do you say it? I didn't see the will, didn't see the desire or the connectivity necessary to get stops and get rebounds."

Indiana made 23 3-pointers, a franchise record, on 46 attempts, many of them wide open as a result of miscommunication and missed rotations. Rookie guard Bennedict Mathurin scored 32 points on 8-for-16 shooting, including 6-for-9 from deep. The Pacers, who were on the second night of a back-to-back, finished with an offensive rebounding rate of 44.6 percent. Big man Jalen Smith grabbed seven offensive boards, one more than the entire Nets team.

"Too many errors on top of lack of effort at times," Nash said. "It's not even about schemes, it's about fighting. If you're letting a guy run in and grab an offensive rebound unopposed, it's hard to get stops."

Brooklyn's Ben Simmons said that the players had an "honest and open" conversation about the defense in the locker room. He said that they had to understand that "it's not easy to win in the NBA" and opponents won't simply give games to them. 

"We gotta be accountable on the defensive end," Simmons said. "And we're not. Guys are coming in here and putting up career highs each night or whatever it is. And we're just not clicking defensively."

Kevin Durant said that the Nets need to improve their point-of-attack defense so they can avoid scrambling and giving up open 3s. Each player, he said, needs to "dig down deeper and just be better." He added that the post-game, players-only talk was not "anything special," since they "talk about what we need to do as a team every day." 

Nash's message to the team, he said, was simple: "We just gotta make a bigger commitment. It's gotta mean more and we gotta care more." It was as blunt as he has been at any point during his tenure in Brooklyn, which began with the 2020-21 season. 

"We have to look deep, deep inside ourselves and what we want to do," Nash said. "What do we want to accomplish? Do we want to give up on this because it's been difficult early or do we want to stay the course and start to build something?"

It was the kind of defeat that made the prior ones look worse. Before the Pacers pounded the Nets, it was relatively easy to make the case that their record was misleading: They've had a tough schedule, beginning with three teams -- New Orleans, Toronto and Memphis -- that pose problems on the glass. They pulled out the Raptors game, had a strong first half against the Grizzlies and another one in Milwaukee, where they missed a bunch of open looks. They were coming off an overtime loss against the Dallas Mavericks in which Luka Doncic dominated the way he often does. 

But Indiana laid Brooklyn's big issue bare: It has not meaningfully slowed down any opposing star this season. (In addition to the Mathurin explosion, Tyrese Haliburton went off for 26 points on 7-for-16 shooting, including 6-for-10 from deep.) That the Nets have had serious trouble rotating to open shooters is less significant than the growing list of playmakers, from Ja Morant, Brandon Ingram and Pascal Siakam to Desmond Bane, Haliburton and Mathurin, who have looked at the Nets as easy prey. 

"Tonight, a lot of their 3s were one-on-one 3s," Nash said. "Same in Memphis. It's happened to us a little bit. So ability to guard the basketball one-on-one has hurt us. The effort, it's not always the effort physically. It's the effort mentally to make sure we're clean on our calls. And taking it for granted, not talking to one another causing confusion and guys are getting too many good looks. And as you can see, [this is] what happens when they get confidence. They were lights-out."

Nash lamented the occasions that Brooklyn failed to match up properly in transition, surrendering open 3s to players who were already in rhythm. He said that, while the Nets have had "a lot of really good days," recent losses "shook our mentality hard." When things have not gone their way, they "haven't had enough resilience to fight through. And that's what we're seeking right now." 

These are alarming quotes about a team that entered the season with championship aspirations clouded by its franchise player's since-rescinded trade request. Durant acknowledged that the mood in the locker room was "somber," but framed it as a natural response to losing a fourth consecutive game. 

"It'll change once we start playing some good basketball," Durant said. "And we got a lot of basketball to be played ahead of us." 

Durant said it was "just an overall shitty night." Simmons, exuding optimism, said that he believes everyone on the team "wants to win and be here." When a reporter tried to ask if the team believes it can be the best version of itself, Simmons did not even let him get the full question out.

"For sure," Simmons said. "Yeah. F--- yeah. I believe it. I believe we can be the best team in the NBA. I believe that."

Brooklyn hosts the Pacers again on Monday. The team is advertising a costume contest, trick-or-treating and face-painting for fans who decide to spend their Halloween at Barclays. Must-win games in the NBA aren't typically played in October, but for these Nets, another disastrous defensive performance would constitute a full-scale horror show.