NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets didn't win five games a in a row, nor beat the Boston Celtics, by accident.
There's no question this team has made progress from the beginning of the season until now. That much was certain in the fourth quarter on Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls.
Despite trailing by 10 points to start the final stanza, the Nets went on a 15-5 run to tie the game at 65, only to see their winning streak halted because they failed to execute down the stretch. They made just two field goals over the final 5:12 and were outscored 15-4 over the final 4:36 as they fell to the Bulls, 84-73, at the Prudential Center. The Nets (22-44) ended up scoring a combined 30 points in the second and third quarters, shot 31.1 percent over the first three quarters combined -- 34.9 percent for the game -- and would up amassing a season-low 73 points.
"Defensively, when you give up 84 points and 40 percent from the field, we think that's a game we're going to win," head coach Avery Johnson said. "Offensively, we just didn't make any shots tonight; the ball didn't go in for us. We had some pretty good looks and even on 30 percent shooting we got 22 assists, but shots just didn't fall from two and from three. But if you would have told me we would have held one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference defensively, we would've taken it.
"I like the way we came back. We could have put our heads down, but we came back, guys fought hard. WE got the game tied; we just couldn't keep it going. We kept roaring back, that's what I like to see."
Said power forward Kris Humphries, who notched his 24th double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and tying for the game-high with 16 rebounds: "We just couldn't score points tonight. You look at the stat sheet and we shot low 30s percent wise. We held them to a good amount of points and we just needed to turn it up offensively, we just weren't able to do that tonight."
The Nets won't have to think about the loss very long. They'll fly out to Milwaukee and take on the Bucks on Friday night. However, they're just 4-27 on the road.
"We can either turn it around quick or it can go bad quick," Humphries said. "So we're looking forward to getting on the road and getting a couple of wins and then getting back here Monday."
The word "playoffs" was never really in the Nets' vocabulary. And it'll probably stay that way, unless they can somehow go on an improbable New Jersey Devils' like run from here on out.
"I'm just look at each game," Humphries said. "I'm not sitting here looking at our record, the playoffs, and all this and that. What works for me is to just take it one day at a time. I know it's a cliche, but you have to get a win, get a win. We're all out here competing for the fans, for our jobs, for our families so you have to go do your job."