'Did you expect them to never lose again?'
The Brooklyn Nets, until Wednesday night, hadn't lost since 2013 began. Many aspects of the team's play, from Deron Williams' renaissance to the improved quality of bench pieces such as Mirza Teletovic, bode very well for the team's prospects the rest of the season.
But they weren't going to go undefeated. And Wednesday's 109-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, in retrospect, was a logical ending point for their streak.
The Nets had traveled to Atlanta to play on a second consecutive night, following Tuesday's home victory over the Toronto Raptors. They were tired, and it showed.
Deron Williams, a night after logging 43 minutes, shot 5-for-18, committed five fouls and generally looked more like the player who wasn't getting enough rest prior to January. Joe Johnson's shot suffered, too, with a 4-or-15 night, including 0-for-4 from three, against his former team. And the Nets struggled from long range as a whole, managing a woeful 4-for-26 from three-point range.
Against a fatigued Brooklyn defense, the Hawks shot almost 58 percent from the field. Atlanta was coming off an embarrassing 39-point loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
“We played like a team that got in late and was tired, but that doesn’t give Atlanta their due,” Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said following the game.
The two teams will square off again on Friday night in Brooklyn, this time with both teams rested. Assuming Hawks forward Josh Smith, the team's leading scorer, returns from his suspension, the game will give another window into how the Nets stack up against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff contender.
Expectations for them, even after last night's result, will no doubt be high.
Nets beat reporter Tim Bontemps, responding on Twitter to angry fans, wrote after last night's game, "The vitriol about this game admittedly amuses me. The Nets have won seven in a row and nine of 10. Did you expect them to never lose again?"