NEWARK (AP) — Despite a successful start, the New Jersey Nets know there is plenty of room for improvement – maybe not as much improvement as the Charlotte Bobcats need.
The Nets look to move on from their first loss when they host the winless Bobcats on Wednesday night.
After losing 18 straight games to open a dismal 12-win season in 2009-10, New Jersey won its first two contests this autumn before falling 101-78 at home to Miami on Sunday.
Though only one defeat, Sunday’s effort proved how far the Nets still need to go to seriously compete with an elite team like the Heat and their superstar trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. New Jersey shot 35.3 percent and struggled to score after averaging 103.5 points and shooting 50.4 percent in home victories over Detroit and Sacramento.
“We still have some work to be done,” said Nets point guard Devin Harris, who had 13 points and six assists.
New owner Mikhail Prokhorov, however, liked what he saw from the Nets during the first week of the season.
“I am very pleased with the team’s progress and look forward to watching the Nets reach their full potential as the season continues,” he said in a statement released by the team.
Brook Lopez had 20 points while No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors added 13 and 13 rebounds Sunday for the Nets, who remain confident despite their disappointing effort.
“We’re still on the ground floor,” coach Avery Johnson said. “We’re three games into this, and the world is not over.”
The Bobcats (0-3) are taking the same approach despite being mired in the worst start of the franchise’s seven seasons. Coming off its first-ever playoff appearance, Charlotte has averaged 91.7 points through three games.
“It’s not panic time,” swingman Stephen Jackson said. “I’ve been playing 11 years and three games is nothing to panic about. We don’t want to get 0-10.”
D.J. Augustin had 26 points and Jackson added 23 in Charlotte’s 98-88 loss at Milwaukee on Saturday. The Bobcats committed 18 turnovers, giving them 56 in three games – an average of nearly 19.
“We just got to stay positive. It’s a long season,” said Augustin, averaging 17.0 points and 5.3 assists thus far.
The season might seem even longer if the Bobcats don’t improve their play on the road.
Charlotte went 13-28 away from home in 2009-10. That included a 97-91 loss at New Jersey for the Nets’ first win of the season Dec. 4. The Bobcats have failed to score more than 88 points in two road contests this season.
Charlotte did win its last trip to New Jersey, 105-95 on April 12. Jackson had 17 points and nine rebounds, and has averaged 22.3 points in his last four games at New Jersey. Harris had 22 points for the Nets in that matchup.
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