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Nets hold players-only meeting, bail on media after loss to Blazers

(Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)Kevin Garnett is averaging just 6.9 points and 7.8 rebounds this season. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

Apparently unwilling to let the Knicks hold the title of Dysfunctional Kings Of New York, the Nets held a lengthy players-only meeting Monday following a 108-98 home loss to the Blazers.

The New York Post reports that Brooklyn (3-7 and in the Atlantic Division basement) gathered to discuss their disappointing state of affairs a little more than a week after Carmelo Anthony gathered his New York teammates together for a players-only post-game conversation.

The team’s locker room remained closed for 25 minutes following the game while a players-only meeting was held.

When the room finally opened to the media, it was a ghost town, with several players having already left and team leaders Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett — who were a combined 10-for-31 in the game — eventually blowing off the assembled media.

“Just talking about the game, and what we’ve got to figure out,” Joe Johnson told The Post about the meeting. “We’ve just got to get some chemistry, because when we get stagnant to where we can’t get a bucket, we have to have something we can go to and we’ve just got to figure it out.”

TheBrooklynGame.com reported that Jason Terry tried to downplay the significance of the meeting, which came after the Nets suffered their fifth loss in six games.

"No meeting at all," Jason Terry squashed, roughly an hour after the game. "Just guys reflecting, realizing that we just let another opportunity slip. But we'll figure this thing out."

There were plenty of factors that made this particular loss feel a little more demoralizing than usual. Brooklyn was playing without Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Andrei Kirilenko, but hopes were raised when they managed to score 40 first-quarter points. Those same hopes were immediately dashed when their offense fell off a cliff: The Nets shot 14-for-19 (73.7 percent) in the first quarter before going just 17-for-66 (25.8 percent) the rest of the way. Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson combined to shoot just 6-for-24 while the Blazers shot 53.9 percent for the game. To boot, Wesley Matthews hit more three-pointers in the first quarter (4) than the Nets combined to make during the entire game (3).

First-year Nets coach Jason Kidd fell on the sword for the loss afterwards, according to the Associated Press.

"I take the blame for this," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "We got stagnant on the offensive end, so that falls on my shoulders. We came out flat in the third quarter."

SI.com's Matt Dollinger ranked the Nets at No. 23 in this week's NBA Power Rankings and that's a very accurate representation of their first three weeks of the season relative to the rest of the league, even if it's a shock compared to preseason expectations. Brooklyn ranks No. 20 on offense, No. 22 on defense, and No. 25 in point differential. After Monday, only four teams (Milwaukee, Sacramento, Utah and Washington) now have a worse record than Brooklyn.

How will things get markedly better until the Nets have their key pieces back? Who knows. Kidd struggled to get production from his reserves on Monday but, perhaps more importantly, his starters haven't come close to clicking yet. The Williams/Johnson/Pierce/Garnett/Lopez quintet has a minus-5.4 rating through eight games together, a number that would have seemed preposterous in August given that all five players have been All-Stars in recent years.

In other words, meetings are fine, but they won't do much good unless the Nets are gathering around Williams to rub magic potions on his balky ankle. It really shouldn't take 25 minutes for the Nets to say "hang tough until help returns" and "we're still only 1/2 game out of the No. 8 seed because we play in the Eastern Conference." That's more or less the lay of the land right now, and it's definitely not time for major panic.

Even after this rough stretch, there's no good reason for Brooklyn's stars to ditch the media, especially after a number of the team's high-profile players spent all summer woofing about their "takeover" over New York. Enjoying the bright lights and the big stage during the highs requires gritting and bearing your way through the questions during the lows.

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