Not all doom-and-gloom in New Jersey

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:26 PM ET

The Nets’ losses mount at a time when history and infamy hover over New Jersey’s pro hoopsters like a dark cloud.

It followed New Jersey into the suburbs of Detroit on Tuesday night and it will continue Wednesday when the Raptors should become the latest beneficiaries of the Nets’ woes.

Amid the losing, which threatens to break the NBA’s all-time record in the modern era set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, Brook Lopez has emerged.

It’s small consolation for a team that entered Tuesday’s tip against the Pistons with a 4-42 record, but Lopez’s emergence gives the Nets hope.

Devin Harris is a frontline point guard whose injured wrist is healing.

A billionaire owner-in-waiting is Russian Mikhail Prokhorov, whose love of basketball is said to be matched only by his love of women.

There’s even talk, finally, of escaping the swamps of the Meadowlands for that long-discussed relocation to Brooklyn, a move that reportedly involves setting up a temporary shop at Newark’s Prudential Center.

Considerable cap space has been created, but at considerable cost.

Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter were relinquished in separate deals, netting the Nets 10 players and future draft picks, while shedding $10 million US in salary.

One could argue that the only bona fide rotation players were Harris, who’ll one day be an all-star, Courtney Lee and Yi Jianlian.

There is the promise of hope on the horizon, but for now and for the balance of the season, all people want to discuss is the hopelessness of the Nets.

“It’s tough to live,” New Jersey forward Chris Douglas-Roberts said recently following yet another loss. “It’s tough to live.”

The NBA is a ruthless and cruel business. There is no pity, no time to feel any sympathy for the abandoned.

The Charlotte Bobcats became the first team to lose to the Nets, who began the season by losing 18 in a row, an indignity of record proportions.

As the final seconds ticked, the home fans cheered. After the final buzzer, players gathered at midcourt and exchanged hugs.

Interim head coach Kiki Vandeweghe stood in front of his team’s bench and started clapping.

Vandeweghe, also the team’s general manager, was thrust into the role in a series of coaching changes, first triggered at 0-16 with Lawrence Frank at the helm, followed by two more defeats under Tom Barrise’s watch.

Only time will tell if the Nets are the worst team in the history of basketball, but a healthy Harris will at least help New Jersey avoid that dubious label.

At times, the Nets have shown little chemistry and little heart.

Without Harris making plays or drawing defenders, the Nets’ roster is woefully thin when it comes to players capable of creating their own shot.

In New Jersey’s four wins heading into Tuesday’s game, Lopez averaged 24.0 points.

Following their fourth win, a 103-87 conquest over the Clippers, L.A. held a players’ only meeting.

In the same game, ex-Raptors forward Kris Humphries scored a career-high 25 points.

When they won their first game back on Dec. 4, Lopez dropped 31, while Lee produced a career-high 27 points.

When no player is having a career night, it seems the Nets have no chance.

Even when they give themselves a chance, the Nets can’t close-out games.

In its two games prior to its matchup with the Pistons, New Jersey lost by a total of six points.

“No disrespect to the Nets franchise, but (we) couldn’t lose this game,” Sixers forward Elton Brand said after Philly’s 83-79 win. “They do have talent over there and they’ve been in games.

“I’ve been on some poor teams, but none so poor that we had only four (wins) more than halfway through (the season).”

Infamy may await the Nets, but in a strange way history is on their side.

In 1990, New Jersey picked first overall and selected Derrick Coleman.

In 2000, New Jersey used the first overall selection on Kenyon Martin.

If this 10-year pattern continues, New Jersey will pick first.

The prize is Kentucky’s John Wall.

How fitting given how New Jersey has had is back against the metaphorical wall all season long.


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