for this game

Nets lose NBA-record 18th straight to start season

Dec 3, 2009 - 9:36 AM By BRIAN MAHONEY AP Basketball Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.(AP) -- They are off to the worst start in NBA history, and the New Jersey Nets might not have hit bottom yet.

"There's going to be a few more weeks of adjustment, unfortunately," outgoing interim coach Tom Barrise said.

How much lower can they get?

New Jersey was pounded into NBA infamy Wednesday night, falling 117-101 to the Dallas Mavericks for its 18th straight loss to start the season.

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 Friday at home against Charlotte.

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 on 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."

The NBA record for longest single-season skid is 23 games, shared by the Memphis Grizzlies and Nuggets.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points and Kidd had 16 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Mavericks, who led by 31 points in the third quarter. Erick Dampier added 18 points and 11 boards, and Jason Terry also scored 18 points.

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 Thursday.

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 Friday.

Vandeweghe handled the pregame coach's meeting with reporters, then sat in a seat above center court with Del Harris, the former Dallas assistant who will join him on the bench.

Dallas shot 89.5 percent in the second quarter, hitting its final nine shots and making all 10 free throws while building a 77-50 lead.

There were only a few boos, but then again there weren't many fans. The Nets have been plagued by poor crowds for years, and a chance to see history or Kidd wasn't enough to change that, as attendance was announced at just 11,689.

Some fans left early - a few heckling Vandeweghe and Harris on their way out - while two sitting courtside wearing Santa Claus hat-covered paper bags that read "0-18" over their heads were still there in the fourth quarter.

Eyeing the summer of 2010 free-agent class and still planning a long-delayed move to Brooklyn, the Nets have made a series of cost-cutting moves in recent seasons, trading Kidd and other players who helped them become a perennial playoff team and two-time NBA finalist this decade.

"It's unfortunate. There's nobody on that team that was a part of the run we had here," Kidd said. "They're going in a different direction. Personnel-wise, they're young. They got some young talent. The future is bright for them if they can stay together and stay healthy."

But they were woefully unprepared to deal with the injuries that have hit them this season, especially against a Dallas team that was fortified this summer after owner Mark Cuban agreed to the re-signing of Kidd and a trade for Shawn Marion.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, an assistant for five years in New Jersey, compared the Nets' situation to when he coached an Indiana team wracked by suspensions after the brawl with Detroit Pistons fans five years ago.

"I've been through it. It's tough. It's not easy," Carlisle said. "Kiki will do a great job with these guys because he's a great teacher and they're going to get healthier. Everything is going up. It's at the bottom now."