Toronto, Canada – By Larry Fine
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The New Jersey Nets lost to the visiting Dallas Mavericks 117-101 on Wednesday to set a record for the worst start to an NBA season at 0-18.
The Nets sank to the occasion with a resounding thud, outscored 49-22 in the second quarter to trail 77-50 after finishing the first quarter tied 28-28 with the Mavericks, who improved to 14-5.
The 1988-89 Miami Heat and 1998-99 Los Angeles Clippers had previously shared the dubious mark with the Nets at 0-17.
The Mavericks dealt the Nets the record-setting defeat with an awesome offensive performance in the second quarter in which they shot 89.5 percent from the field on 17-of-19 shooting.
Although many baskets were made on layups and dunks through a porous New Jersey defense, Dallas was also 5-for-5 from beyond the three-point line in taking command by halftime.
Nets interim coach Tom Barrise said he thought all the losing had "worn down the guys" and that he was particularly disappointed in the lack of defensive effort.
"We didn't do that in the second quarter and Dallas is a great offensive team. They just exploded on us."
Chris Douglas-Roberts, who scored 24 points for the Nets, said he was tired of losing.
"At this point I feel like the streak has definitely gotten the best of us," the guard told reporters.
"So when a team goes on a run. it's almost like we give up. That's what it looks like to me. We sort of give up and just lay down instead of trying to fight."
Point guard Devin Harris, one of many Nets sidelined by injury early in the season, echoed the assessment.
"We got to find our spirit, find our fight," said Harris, who missed 10 games with a strained groin.
Harris said he hoped Vandeweghe would bring new life to the team when they host the Charlotte Bobcats Friday.
"It's a breath of fresh air," Harris said. "But if we don't play defense at a high rate none of this is going to matter."
Douglas-Roberts, however, said a turnaround was tied to the players.
"It's not the coach. Red Auerbach could coach us," he said about the former Boston Celtics coach.
"It doesn't matter who you bring in. You have to have heart. You have to have the heart to overcome something like this. We're laying down. We're weak.
"In a minute, if not already, teams are going to be coming in and saying, 'Oh, we got the Nets, all you got to do is come out, punch them in the mouth and they'll give up and run off with a tail between their legs.'"
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)