NEWARK, N.J. -- Maybe the New Jersey Nets were already thinking about watching Super Bowl XLV on Sunday night.
Because in words that only New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott would use, they couldn’t stop a nosebleed on the defensive end of the floor in the first quarter.
The Nets got off to another dismal start, allowing the Indiana Pacers to shoot 65 percent from the field and go 5-for-8 from 3-point range in the opening stanza of their 105-86 loss at the Prudential Center.
“Well, it was another slow start for us,” head coach Avery Johnson said. “That is something we are really going to have to seriously address. We have a lineup -- Anthony Morrow is back and he was really doing well off the bench -- but we needed to get something from our starting lineup. We are really going to have to address this starting lineup before the break and after the break because we are just not getting enough energy as we need.”
Johnson’s team knew it was going to have to establish itself in the first quarter if it had any thoughts of beating a Pacers’ team that came in averaging 33.0 points in the opening stanza of its past three games -- all victories.
But those thoughts were nullified almost immediately after both Devin Harris and Brook Lopez picked up two fouls before the halfway mark of the first. All of a sudden, the Nets were sporting a lineup of Ben Uzoh, Morrow, Travis Outlaw, Derrick Favors and Johan Petro.
Not exactly a five-some conducive to winning.
The Nets hung in until the latter stages of the opening period, but the Pacers scored the last five points to take a 33-24 advantage into the second quarter.
“It’s our starts,” said Harris, who tied Lopez for the team-high with 13 points and added a game-high seven assists. “We’re getting off to sluggish starts. For whatever reason, it’s a different person for every game and if that’s what he [Avery] feels we need to do to get home his point, definitely he’ll do that we just need to start the games a little better.”
Johnson didn’t elude to making a change in the lineup. At this point, he doesn’t really have anywhere else to turn (see lineup above).
Still, the players on the court needed to do a better job rotating and contesting shots, because Mike Dunleavy was able to have a field day from downtown. He hit two of his five 3s in the opening 12 minutes. In fact, as a team, the Pacers made five of their first six tries from beyond the arc.
“I just think we have to look at where we were on the home stand and where we are now,” Johnson said.
At this point, that 4-1 home stand the Nets enjoyed seems like eons ago.
Because right now, the Nets are starting at home like they normally start on the road: terribly.
And that usually -- 12 straight times away from home anyway -- translates into losses.
A lot of them.