Mr. Hyde Shows Up for Nets Once Again

Nets lose to Hawks to squander chance for tie with Knicks atop Atlantic

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    The bad Nets showed up Sunday when the good Nets could have moved into first place.

    Perhaps the Nets are just an illustration of the borough they call home. 

    Brooklyn is many things, but it certainly isn't consistent. You've got million dollar apartments and a toxic canal, artisinal pickles and the old ways of Bay Ridge and, in Williamsburg, the Hasidic and the hipster living in a delicate harmony. 

    The Nets are just as erratic, something that's become ever more maddening now that excuses about coming together as a new collection of players are as useless as a subway token. They couldn't even settle on whether Sunday's game was a big one, with P.J. Carlesimo snapping at reporters who asked him about tying the Knicks with a win and team president Brett Yormark using his Twitter account to crow about the chance to pull even with the Knicks. 

    Carlesimo wound up winning, since he called the game meaningless and his team certainly played that way. Leading Atlanta by two heading into the fourth quarter, the Nets slipped into exhibition game mode and wound up losing 105-93 to keep the collapsing Knicks in first by themselves a little bit longer. 

    The loss was doubly painful since the Nets are now venturing out onto the road for the better part of a month, playing eight games in 17 days in a run that would test the most stable of teams. Since the Nets are not that, it's fair to wonder if they'll be able to return to Brooklyn with the same chance of grabbing the top spot even if the Knicks continue to resemble the depths of the Isiah Thomas era. 

    After all, how can you have much faith in your team's offense when it takes a gigantic step back in Joe Johnson's return to the lineup? Deron Williams has been on a torrid stretch, but Sunday found him turning the ball over and overseeing an offensive effort that looked stilted compared to the smooth effort against the Hornets the last time out. 

    And the pick and roll defense was nowhere to be found, which makes you wonder if we aren't headed back for another stretch when the Nets are forced to bench their All-Star center during the fourth quarter. It's as inexplicable as it is unsurprising to see the Nets lay an egg at this point in the season. 

    They've become like an NBA version of a pair of dice. Snake eyes, lucky sevens and 10's the hard way are all possibilities whenever the Nets take the floor, which is exciting right up until the point you realize that teams made up of human beings aren't supposed to be as unpredictable as a pair of inanimate dice. 

    Jack Kerouac might have found himself on the road, but we're thinking the Nets are going to continue to be a messy band of contradictions because every sign that they've found themselves is met with a quick rebuttal from the ugly side of their souls. Sunday was just par for the course. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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