Nets pummeled, peeved in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. -- After falling to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, the visitor's locker room was reeling. Like a boxer who'd eaten too many punches, they were stunned, still seeing stars.

"It's too late in the god damn season to be playing like this," said a dejected Kevin Garnett.

"We lose like this, it's just a complete lack of focus," echoed Paul Pierce. "I mean, no way against any NBA team we should lose by 40 with the guys we got."

The Brooklyn Nets lost 124-80 in their worst defeat of the season and fourth worst in franchise history.

"There's no explanation," said Shaun Livingston, who then corrected himself to account for Brooklyn's complete and total failure in all aspects of the game. "Well, there are a lot of explanations. But not really. Not any excuses."

Indeed, after two days off, the Nets came out looking more like a team playing the second night of a back-to-back (which, conversely, the Blazers were). Brooklyn was disorganized on defense and sluggish on offense. And when they found open shots -- which were rare -- they clanked out.

The Blazers, meanwhile, wasted no time. They attacked the rim, hit 3-pointers (13-of-31), shot 53 percent from the field and built an early lead that was blown open in the second quarter.

Already up 14 with just more than three minutes remaining, Portland ended the first half on an 13-1 run to take a 58-34 lead into the break.

Less than four minutes into the second half, Nets coach Jason Kidd pulled Kevin Garnett. He would not return. The white flag had been raised.

Wednesday's collapse was a far cry from Sunday's triumphant celebration in Los Angeles, where an undermanned Nets squad beat the Lakers and welcomed Jason Collins as the first openly gay athlete in major American sports.

Wednesday, Collins played just seven minutes to little fanfare -- he checked in at the beginning of the fourth quarter and received no introduction on the PA system. Here, he was just another sub, entering a game whose outcome was all but decided.

"Game minutes are game minutes," Collins said. "Tonight, Portland attacked from the start and it was hard to try and get back in the game."

Perhaps the only Nets player to take anything positive from Wednesday's drubbing was newly acquired Marcus Thornton, who saw his first minutes in a Brooklyn uniform after missing Sunday's game with food poisoning.

"Every game is still a game I can learn from," said Thornton, who finished with nine points on 4-for-11 shooting, two rebounds and one assist. "I'm new, so I'm still learning the offense and the defense at the same time. Getting used to the coaches and all that, you can still take that off a game like this."

Unfortunately, the rest of the Nets were not so lucky.

And the fact Portland played without All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge added insult to injury.

"We could have played against the Eastern Conference All-Stars," Pierce said. "We shouldn't lose by 40 regardless of who's out there, even if they're missing their best players. I don't know if it's just one of those nights, but at this point in the season, second half of the season with so many games left, there's no way we should come out and play this way."