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2:29 AM ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After watching his team drop its sixth straight game, a lethargic 112-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings, Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden sat at a small podium inside Golden 1 Center with a look of frustration.

When asked whether his struggling group needed to have a players only meeting after a week and a half of poor play, Harden was quick with his answer.

“I think we’ve done too much talking,” Harden said after scoring just four points and 2-for-11 shooting from the field. “It’s just, we got to go out there and do it, and do it consistently. We have times when we’re great, and we have times when we’re really bad. We just got to find some consistency throughout the course of games more times than not.”

The Nets have had a litany of issues this season and will continue to deal with them as they try navigate the next few weeks without star forward Kevin Durant, who sprained the MCL in his left knee on Jan. 15.

But Wednesday marked the group’s lowest point of the season — a loss to a Kings team that came in having lost seven straight and was just 2-12 over its previous 14 games.

“You know just as good as I do,” Harden said when asked why the consistency hasn’t been there for the group. “We just got a lot of different things internally — lineups, we haven’t had no continuity yet. So it’s just one of those things where you got to keep going. There’s nothing else to do but keep going, keep pushing forward.”

One of the reasons for the lack of consistency is due, at least in part, to the part-time status of guard Kyrie Irving, who rejoined the team last month and cannot play in home games because of New York City’s vaccination mandate. Irving, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, said he could understand Harden’s frustration about the way the group is playing.

“I respect James’ opinion,” Irving said when asked if he agreed with Harden’s assessment. “When you’re going through a losing streak, not really many people want to be hearing the same thing over and over again, so I definitely feel for him. And I’m sure if you asked a few guys on the team they would probably feel something similar. But for us, it’s just getting closer as a group.

“The ‘get better’ jargon that we consistently use, whether it be here talking with you guys or in the locker room, it can get mundane. It’s just natural for a human being to get tired of that, so game-to-game we’re feeling like we’re coming out with some moral victories if we lose but we’re just tired of that. So I’m definitely on the same boat in terms of that.”

Nets coach Steve Nash echoed a similar sentiment, saying that he felt the group has improved over the past few games despite the losses, and that they just “looked tired” down the stretch.

“This trip our objective was to get better,” Nash said. “The first two games and the first half tonight we were getting better. We were doing the things that they were asking. We didn’t contain the ball in the second half and we didn’t make any plays offensively. Some of that can come down to legs, but I think our guys have been great at keeping their spirits in, their focus in. They’re staying together.”

Nash said he felt Harden, who missed two games last week because of a hamstring injury and a right hand strain, “looked like he didn’t have his legs tonight.” For his part, Harden said his hand was fine, while noting that it’s not just one issue that is hurting the Nets at the moment.

“I think it’s everything,” Harden said. “A little bit of everything. … It’s definitely frustrating. It’s definitely difficult. But we got to find a way to get out of it as a group.”

Harden said he has made his voice heard over the last few weeks as the losses have piled up. But he remains confident that the Nets can win at a high level whenever they have a full roster again.

Like Harden, Irving said he doesn’t believe a players-only meeting would solve what has been ailing the Nets recently.

“I’ve been in quite a few players-only meetings, and if we do have a players-only meeting I know not to tell y’all,” Irving said. “Because it turns out to be something bigger. And there’s a guess of what’s happening and what’s being said in the locker room. But no pow wows as of yet. Maybe, who knows?”

Both Irving and Nash struck a similar chord that better days remained ahead for a Nets team that now stands just a game and a half in front of the play-in tournament group in the Eastern Conference.

“I don’t know any other way,” Irving said. “I’ve been through so many experiences in this league, playing on different teams. Having the opportunity to play with some great players, some great role players as well, and I think the sentiment that I have is just instead of continuing to hammer on, ‘We need to do this, we need to do that.’ We just got to get closer as a group a little bit. This is a time where we can’t be fragile, and we use this period of time that we’re going through as a lesson of growth in this NBA game.”

Source: ESPN NBA

    

Author: Ellen Garcia