Nets starters put up a no-show; Embarrassed by Trail Blazers, 124-80

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With all the buzz surrounding the Nets lately, they can finally focus on winning basketball games. Tonight they were in Portland looking to make it two straight wins, hoping to capitalize on the Trail Blazers' injury to All-Star, Lamarcus Aldridge.

While most of the hype in Sunday's game was surrounding new acquisition Jason Collins, the Nets picked up a big road victory on a second night of a back to back against the Los Angeles Lakers. Tonight they were up against the Portland Trail Blazers, looking to make it three wins in their last four games, and improve their record to 16-7 in the new year.

The Trail Blazers would be without their All-Star Forward, LaMarcus Aldridge (knee) and his back-up, Thomas Robinson. For Brooklyn, Shaun Livingston returns to the starting lineup after a tailbone injury.

The Nets couldn't capitalize on the Trail Blazers' injuries, however, as they get destroyed: 124-80. This loss moves them 2 games behind the Wizards for the fifth seed.  The team's veteran leadership was not happy.

"It’s too late in the God [forsaken] season to be playing like this," Kevin Garnett said. "We have to hold each other accountable."

"We lose like this, it’s just complete lack of focus," Paul Pierce said. "There’s no way, against any NBA team, we should lose by 40 with the guys we got. … We just didn’t show up tonight."

"It was a bad game for us," Deron Williams said. "They came out here and kicked our [behind]."

"It was a bad game for us," Nets guard Deron Williams said. "They came out here and kicked our [behind]." - See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Nets_crushed_by_Blazers_124-80_in_Portland.html#sthash.GSrnzxLp.dpuf

Entering this game, Portland ranked first in points per game (107.7) and first in rebounds per game (46.0). Two aspects that the Nets have struggled with all season.

After a fast 13-6 start for Portland, Jason Kidd called a quick timeout to get the offense in rhythm. Shaun Livingston, who missed Sunday's game against the Lakers, only played three minutes due to early foul trouble. Nicolas Batum led the way for the Trail Blazers with 12 points. The Nets took a one point lead with three minutes remaining, but struggled without a natural point guard on the floor when Deron Williams picked up his second foul. Portland had the lead after one: 29-20.

The Nets picked up right where they left off from the first quarter: disoriented. Give credit where credit's due; Portland's ability to space the floor was giving the Nets' defense nightmares. It took Brooklyn 21 minutes to finally hit their first three. They were 0-7, when Joe Johnson finally hit one at the three minute mark in the second quarter. They finished the half 1-11 from three.

You can tell who the elite team was. The Nets were being outplayed and out coached. They scored just 14 points in the second quarter, while the Trail Blazers put up another 29. Portland owned a 58-34 lead, behind Nicolas Batum's 15 points. This game got out of hand... fast.

Jason Collins & Mason Plumlee didn't log any first half minutes.

Quick first half stat(s): The Blazers bench' scored 26 total points in the half, just 8 behind the entire Nets team. Also, Portland had the Nets out rebounded 27-13. Another big team, another night of struggle on the glass.

Pick your poison. On the offensive side of the ball, the Nets had no ball movement. Defensively, Portland was driving through the paint at ease. Brooklyn was being embarrassed. The Trail Blazers reached their biggest lead of the game (29) at the 6 minute mark of the third quarter. Five Blazers'  were already in double-digits despite the 17 minutes remaining!

Kidd installed the bench at the midway point of the third quarter. His starters clearly didn't bring the energy, so why not give the bench a shot?

If you want anything to feel good about, the bench outscored the Blazers 17-13 to end the quarter. Still, it didn't make much of a difference. Portland owned a 82-59 lead going into the fourth quarter. Not only did they own the lead, but the rebound category as well: 40-22. Game over.

Starting the fourth quarter, Jason Collins finally got his first minutes of the game. His presence could have been used a little more tonight to buckle down the paint.

Kidd continued to ride the bench, as they continued to stay afloat with the deficit they faced. You have to appreciate the effort from the bench, but it just wasn't enough. In his first game as a Net, Marcus Thornton finished with 9 points on 4-11 shooting, but only 1-of-6 from deep.

The Nets went on to lose this game 124-80. Mo Williams led all scorers off the bench with 21 points & 7 assists. Brooklyn was out rebounded 53-29, proving to be another disappointing night on the glass and on the scoreboard. In the last 17 games, the Nets have only out-rebounded the opposing team three times.

Following tonight's game, the Nets will travel to Denver to face the Nuggets tomorrow at 10:30 PM ET.

For more on the Blazers, see: Blazer's Edge

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