All those losses in what’s now the worst start in NBA history had already beaten down the New Jersey Nets.
So when the Dallas Mavericks hit them with a 49-point second quarter, the Nets simply had no fight left.
New Jersey was pounded into NBA infamy last night, falling, 117-101, in East Rutherford, N.J., for its 18th straight loss to start the season.
“I think what happens is you know it wears on you,’’ interim coach Tom Barrise said. “It’s not a two-game losing streak. We play four games a week in this league and it’s every day and every other day, and you know you hear it and you start to feel it a little bit.’’
The Mavericks made 17 of 19 shots and opened a 27-point lead in a nearly flawless second period, burying the Nets early in former New Jersey captain Jason Kidd’s second trip back to his old home.
The Nets passed the 1988-89 Miami Heat and 1999 Los Angeles Clippers, who both dropped their first 17 games. New Jersey’s next chance to end the streak comes tomorrow at home against Charlotte (7-10).
If the Nets defend the way they did last night, the skid could last a while longer.
Dallas shot 81 percent in the first half, the first NBA team to make 80 percent of its shots in a half since the Denver Nuggets hit 82 percent against the Clippers April 4, 2006, according to STATS, LLC.
“At this point, I feel the streak has definitely gotten the best of us. It’s really not starting to get to us now,’’ guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said. “So when a team goes on a run, we kind of, it’s almost like we give up, which is really unfortunate but that’s what it looks like to me. We kind of give up and just lay down instead of trying to fight.’’
Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points and Kidd had 16 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds for the Mavericks, who led by 31 points in the third quarter.
The Nets, the NBA’s worst team in scoring and shooting, could only blame their defense this time, which gives new coach Kiki Vandeweghe something to address when he runs his first practice today.
Vandeweghe, the Nets’ general manager, replaced the fired Lawrence Frank and will coach the team the rest of the season - but not quite yet. Though his hiring was announced Tuesday, Vandeweghe won’t coach his first game until tomorrow, which left Barrise in charge one more time.
Hawks 146, Raptors 115 - Al Horford had 24 points to lead nine scorers in double figures and host Atlanta enjoyed its best offensive night in 16 years. The Hawks had their highest-scoring game since Jan. 30, 1993, when they beat Philadelphia, 149-123.
“It was fun,’’ Horford said. “It was one of those nights where we couldn’t miss.’’
Atlanta shot 59 percent from the field
The Raptors suffered their fifth straight loss. “We were simply outclassed,’’ said Toronto coach Jay Triano. “They just destroyed us.’’
Cavaliers 107, Suns 90 - Shaquille O’Neal had 12 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes, LeBron James just missed a triple-double, and host Cleveland opened a 30-point lead in the third quarter in dismantling Phoenix. James finished with 12 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds, and another chase-down block of Suns guard Jason Richardson, whom he victimized last season. It was the second straight blowout loss for the Suns, who were throttled, 126-99, by the Knicks Tuesday night.
Magic 118, Knicks 104 - Rashard Lewis scored 17 of his 20 points in the third quarter, helping host Orlando pull away to its ninth victory in 10 games. The Magic scored 41 points in the decisive third quarter.
Bulls 92, Pistons 85 - John Salmons scored 22 points, Derrick Rose added 19, and host Chicago ended a five-game losing streak.
Thunder 117, 76ers 106 - Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Nick Collison added 18 points in his first game back from an injury, and host Oklahoma City handed Philadelphia its eighth straight loss. Word that 10-time All-Star Allen Iverson would be returning to Philly wasn’t enough to keep the Sixers from suffering their longest losing streak since 2006.
Wizards 104, Bucks 102 - Earl Boykins scored 11 of his 13 points in the final 10 minutes, including the winning free throws with a second left, to lead host Washington. Boykins had a hand in the Wizards’ final 8 points.
Kings 110, Pacers 105 - Tyreke Evans scored 26 points to help host Sacramento win its fourth straight game and improve to a surprising 9-8. Danny Granger made six 3-pointers and scored 33 points for the Pacers, who have lost three straight.
Rockets 102, Clippers 85 - Aaron Brooks made his first eight shots and finished with 22 points to lift visiting Houston. Brooks was 9 of 11 from the field overall.
Grizzlies 97, Timberwolves 95 - Mike Conley scored a season-high 20 points and Rudy Gay tallied 14 of his 20 points in the second half to help Memphis (7-12) beat host Minnesota (2-16) in a matchup of the Western Conference’s worst teams.