D-Will: Effort, energy not there vs. Pistons

Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams’ postgame quotes sounded familiar.

So familiar, in fact, that you would’ve thought they were recorded in November or December 2013.

But no. Just when you thought things changed in 2014, lately they’ve felt very much the same.

“You don’t want to make excuses, it’s tough to get in late but it happens throughout the course of a season. That’s just the nature of the business. And we just weren’t ready to play tonight,” Williams told reporters after the Nets were throttled by the Detroit Pistons 111-95 Friday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

“Our energy wasn’t there. Our effort wasn’t there. And they seemed to have another gear than us.”

No energy? No effort? Not again.

The Nets (22-26), who had just beaten the short-handed San Antonio Spurs at Barclays Center and didn’t arrive at their Detroit hotel until about 3 a.m., fell to 2-9 in the second game of back-to-backs this season, tied for the second-worst record in the NBA, according to the YES Network.

Nets coach Jason Kidd decided to rest 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, and the rest of the team paid the price, getting dominated by the Pistons’ frontline. It may prove to be a smart decision down the road, but it certainly didn’t help Friday night.

The Nets were destroyed in the paint (52-38) and on the glass (57-40). They are 0-3 against Detroit (20-29) this season. In those three losses, they have surrendered a whooping 168 points in the paint.

Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith combined for 51 points, 37 rebounds and 11 assists, while Brandon Jennings nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Nets were stagnant on offense, totaling just one assist in the first 17 minutes, 19 seconds of the game, while missing 14 of their first 15 3-point attempts and 25 of their first 33 field-goal attempts.

The Pistons quickly turned the matchup into a blowout, using a 15-0 run at the end of the first quarter and start of the second to take a commanding 37-17 lead.

Brooklyn surrendered 67 points in the first half -- the most it has surrendered in any half this season. They trailed by 23 after 24 minutes -- the fifth time they’ve trailed by 20 or more points this season. Only the Cleveland Cavaliers have done worse (six), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Kidd elected to pull his starting unit -- Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Andray Blatche -- with 7:28 remaining in the third quarter and his team facing a 29-point deficit.

“We kinda got behind early and we were fighting up hill the whole night,” Kidd said.

Williams (10 points in 25 minutes) finished without an assist in a game in which he played more than five minutes for the first time since Feb. 1, 2006 -- his rookie season with the Utah Jazz against the Denver Nuggets.

The Nets are now 2-4 in their last six games, and haven’t played well since Garnett and Pierce returned to Boston. Bigger teams like Detroit and the Indiana Pacers (4-0) have been able to take advantage of their smallball lineup.

Brooklyn faces New Orleans (Sunday), Charlotte (Wednesday) and Chicago (Thursday) prior to the All-Star break. The Nets should win all three games. But with this team, you never know.

After all, just when you think they’ve moved on, they haven’t -- and it feels like late 2013 all over again.

"We just gotta be ready on Sunday," Williams said. "Bounce back, be ready on Sunday, get that one and go from there."