It's not how you start, it's how you finish, right?
Not with the Nets these days. There is growing concern -- with ample justification -- about the Nets' slow starts.
Sunday marked the sixth time in eight games that the Nets trailed after the first quarter. It's not just being behind after 12 minutes that is cause for concern, but the fact they are falling into quick holes.
In their previous game at home, where they supposedly are far better than on the road, they were down 11-2 against the Sixers.
Sunday against Indiana, they faced a 15-8 deficit with their two co-captains, Devin Harris and Brook Lopez, already on the bench with two fouls. And it got worse as the Pacers rolled up 33 first-quarter points.
"We've got to be more consistent defensively. We've got to start games better defensively," said Anthony Morrow, the two guard who is back in the starting lineup after he spent eight games on the bench following a 17-game hamstring absence.
And coach Avery Johnson knows the Nets have lost their share of games by falling behind early and then fighting uphill throughout games. You don't end up with a 15-37 record by accident.
"You've got to be a team that's really mentally and physically tough. As I've been saying all along, as much as we want to talk about fourth quarters, there's first quarters also. It kind of sets the tone," Johnson said. "And we haven't done a good job in that area. That's one of the things we're hoping as the year moves on, we can see some improvement in."
Johnson suggested after Sunday's game that after he takes another long hard look at his team's shaky starts, he might shake up the lineup. He already had said rookie Damion James will start when he returns from a broken foot.
The Nets get another chance to solve their slow-start problem at home Wednesday when they face the New Orleans Hornets, a team they've already lost to on the road this season. The Nets lost 105-91 on Dec. 22 when they were aiming for their first three-game winning streak since January-February 2009. The Hornets shot 54 percent to overcome 21 points by Devin Harris.
PACERS 105, NETS 86: Every one of the Nets' weaknesses showed themselves: poor starts, sluggish defense, perimeter defensive deficiencies, insufficient offense. Together it sent the Nets to their third straight overall defeat and dropped them back under .500 at home (12-13) as the Pacers placed six players in double figures. Brook Lopez and Devin Harris, both in foul trouble in the first quarter, scored 13 points each. The Pacers beat the Nets in Indiana on Jan. 28 by 32 points.
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.