The New Jersey Nets are showing new PG Deron Williams just why they have only won 17 games on the season. They dropped their second straight since acquiring the All-Star, this time a 123-108 loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. The Nets are now just 4-27 away from the Prudential Center this season.
The biggest issues for Avery Johnson's squad was trying to keep up with the league's third-best offense. It worked early on, as the road team was only down four after the first quarter, but the Rockets started to break away in the second quarter and took a 13 point lead into the half. Houston put the game away in the third, though the Nets cut the lead to 15 in garbage time.
Brook Lopez led the way for New Jersey in defeat with 21 points, seven rebounds and a game-high three blocks. Rookie Ben Uzoh had a career-high 18 in just 22 minutes of action while Williams had his second straight double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds.
Uzoh's playing time was due to an ankle injury to backup PG Jordan Farmar in the final minute of the first quarter when he came down on a Houston player's ankle. X-rays on Farmar's ankle came back negative, though there's no immediate timetable on his return.
The Rockets leading scorer was Kevin Martin with 30, but it was Chase Budinger that had an answer for the Nets defense all season long. The second-year forward from Arizona took advantage of getting the start in place of the traded Shane Battier with 27 points, including three-of-four from beyond the arc and a handful of impressive dunks.
Johnson knows his team isn't going to be able to win many more games this season if they keep letting teams score at will.
"Our defense has taken a significant step back for obvious reasons," the head coach said in reference to the new starting lineup's search for chemistry.
"We know we're a work in progress."