Nets reeling after another loss to Knicks

Joe Johnson might be the only person on Earth who believes the Brooklyn Nets are better than the New York Knicks.

Hate to break it to ya, Joe. I know you don't want to change your mind. But it's simply not the case.

"Definitely Brooklyn?" Please.

The Knicks further cemented their place as the top team in the city Wednesday night, routing the Nets 100-86 at Madison Square Garden.

The Nets (13-12) now trail the Knicks (19-6) by six games in the Atlantic Division standings. New York is 2-1 versus Brooklyn in 2012-13.

"We're frustrated," Nets point guard Deron Williams said after his team suffered its third loss in a row, and eighth in its past 10 games. "We gotta change some things. We've gotta get better. It's on us. ... We've lost a little bit of our toughness, so we've gotta get that back."

The Nets spent $330 million in the offseason in an effort to avoid being in this position, yet here they are, just a game over .500.

"It's surprising," D-Will admitted. "Especially with how we started. It seemed like we were rolling pretty well, and then we kind of just hit a snag and we can't figure out how to get our confidence back, and we're looking to do that."

It's not going to be easy.


• The Nets haven't beaten a .500-or-better team since Nov. 28, the same night center Brook Lopez got injured. They went 2-5 without him and are 0-3 since his return.

• Their once-stingy defense has regressed. They came into Wednesday night's game having allowed an NBA-high 47.8 percent shooting in December.

• D-Will (career-worst 39.6 percent shooting, 16.8 points, 8.2 assists, 3.0 turnovers) recently admitted being uncomfortable in coach Avery Johnson's offense, a $98 million system player playing in the wrong system.

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Nets have already lost six games in which they led by at least 13 points.

• They're the league's second-worst third-quarter team, so it came as no surprise when the Knicks capped the quarter on an 18-6 run to take an eight-point lead into the fourth.

The Knicks led by as many as 18 in the final period, prompting mock "BROOK-LYN!" chants from the capacity crowd. This time, there wouldn't be another epic finish in the Battle of the Boroughs.

"I think they're gonna remain confident," Avery Johnson said of his team. "We're coming into a three-day break that comes at a much-needed time. We need to get some practice time in.

"These are the times that dictate what team we're going to be all year. It's not gonna be easy. We've still got a ton of season left; I know I've been saying that, but we'll get it turned around.”

Is it time to worry? Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has scored 34, 45 and 31 points in three games against the Nets this season. He is playing like an MVP, and the rest of the Knicks have followed his lead all the way to the top of the Eastern Conference.

"I think if we were six back with 10 games to go, then I would probably be a little bit more discouraged," Johnson said.

The Nets coach keeps saying his team "isn't there yet." The Knicks certainly are.

When will the Nets arrive?

"It's not time to panic," Williams said. "We're still figuring things out. Hopefully it'll come together."