Maybe they were just saving their energy for the possible return of point guard Deron Williams against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday or simply have yet to recover from playing seven games in 10 days. Whatever the reason, the New Jersey Nets were no match for the Houston Rockets, falling 112-87 Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.
The Rockets owned this game from the start, running off a 14-0 spurt in the first quarter and had the lead as high as 26. Brook Lopez helped the Nets make a mini-run in the second quarter to get the deficit down to 16.
So pathetic was the effort, Nets head coach Avery Johnson kept Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic on the bench to start the second half and replaced them with rookie Ben Uzoh and Travis Outlaw.
Lopez found his offensive groove after averaging just eight points over the last two games. Against the Rockets, the Nets center scored 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds in 29 minutes. The benched Farmar and Vujacic scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Houston, fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, was led by Kevin Martin's 20 points. Kyle Lowry added 16 points, while Goran Dragic and Patrick Patterson each added 13 off the bench.
The Nets have now lost three straight and seven of their last eight.
Next up for New Jersey is that showdown with the Knicks across the river on Wednesday night that may or may not feature Williams' return from ailing wrists.