Free-falling Nets running out of answers, playoff options

By on March 9, 2015

Talking to the Nets these days is not an easy assignment.

The team has lost three straight and is falling out of the playoff picture, and the players seem run-down by what’s happening.

They’ve also become increasingly tight-lipped- as if they’ve been instructed to just plead ignorance over the club’s poor play.

The normally agreeable Joe Johnson was nearly mute as he struggled to explain Friday’s overtime collapse against Phoenix. He seemed shell-shocked and out of answers.

On Monday, it was Deron Williams’ turn to plead the fifth.

Walking over to reporters, Williams had the look of someone who was being called into the principal’s office for bad behavior after practice, likely aware that a lot of the blame for the team’s struggles rest on his shoulders.

But the normally expressive point guard didn’t have much to say in the way of details.

“I wish I had an answer for all y’all questions,” said Williams, who has two years left on a five-year, $ 98 million deal. “I wish I had an answer for why we’re struggling, for why we go up and down, why I can’t shoot. I don’t got no answers. I got nothing man, I wish I did. That’s going to be my saying for the rest, ‘I got nothing.'”

With his ankle issues behind him and a body that seems healthy- he banged his left hand in Sunday’s loss to the Jazz but stayed in the game- Williams has run out of answers to explain his recent dip in productivity.

For the month of March, Williams is making just 30.6% of his field goal attempts.

In the last two games, he’s missed 17 of 21 shots, and he is shooting just 23.3% in the three losses.

Asked why he seems to have lost his ability to score, Williams showed he hasn’t lost his sense of humor either:

“I’m just not a very good shooter man,” his words dripping with sarcasm. “I’m just not a very good shooter.”

Pressed again, he took a different approach.

“I don’t know. I’m just not making shots,” he said. “Missing layups, missing, you know, shots I normally hit.”

The reality is that at this point, with the Nets (25-36) a season-high 11 games below .500, Williams and his teammates are just not very good- for now- because the team has shown an ability to beat good teams and could always make a run- even if the remaining 21 games are littered with playoff-bound opponents.

“We thought we had a good team,” Williams said. “We’ve seen glimpses of it. We just can’t figure it out. One game we’re a very good passing team, we move the ball around, we look like we have a lot of energy, play with a lot of heart and then we get blown out by 30. And can’t close out games. We’re inconsistent as a team, I’ve been inconsistent as a player so that’s what causes up and down I guess. Inconsistency.”

While Hollins seemed to be fraying at the edges following Sunday’s 95-88 loss to the Jazz, trying to control his emotions, on Monday he claimed he was more pained than pissed.

The Nets will try to break into the win column against New Orleans in the final match of a five-game home-stand on Tuesday. Sunday’s loss dropped them two and a half games behind eighth place Indiana and three games behind seventh place Charlotte for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

“No, I was probably disappointed. But frustration is a long ways away,” Hollins said. “I get disappointed. I get down when we lose. I’m a competitor, I want to win. When I come in there and talk to you guys when we lose, I’m hurt.”

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