The Nets sputtered Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns and never regained their bearings on the West Coast. They finished an 0-3 trip with a swing-and-a-miss, falling to the Portland Trail Blazers without 40 percent of their starting lineup.
Behind Damian Lillard — a player who will go down in Nets’ lore because they traded the pick that turned into him for a broken down Gerald Wallace — the Blazers went nearly wire-to-wire and won, 97-87.
The Nets sandwiched a loss to the Golden State Warriors in between the other two.
“It’s a long season,” forward Kevin Garnett said. “We haven’t even gotten to 10 games yet. This is part of the process. Nothing’s easy in this league, and nothing’s given.”
After climbing out to a 19-point lead against the Suns, the Nets went ice cold and fell, 112-104. Aside from that first half, where they shot 70 percent from the field, the Nets never found the touch.
That was never more evident than in the loss to the Blazers, where Brooklyn went 1-for-19 from behind the three-point line. They didn’t notch their first until the waning seconds when Deron Williams connected and the game no longer in doubt.
The Blazers, on the other hand, converted on 11 of their 26 three-point attempts. The Nets shot 4-for-34 from three in the final two games of the trip.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well,” head coach Lionel Hollins said. “They played well but they didn’t do all that to stop us from making shots; we just didn’t make them tonight.”
Lillard paved the way for the Blazers, who were playing without LaMarcus Aldrdige (illness) and Nicolas Batum (knee contusion). Lillard tallied 28 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.
For the Nets, their starters played relatively well. Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Williams each scored 19 or more points and Garnett posted a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds). The rest of the Nets were forgettable, though.
Jarrett Jack, who went 10-for-10 in a 107-99 loss to the Warriors, managed 12 points but shot 4-for-12. No other Net scored more than two points. As a team, Brooklyn shot 39.3 percent from the field.
“When you’re down, you can’t be inconsistent,” Hollins added. “You’ve got to be perfect.”
The Nets will return home Monday to the Barclays Center for an Eastern Conference matchup against the Miami Heat. After the 0-3 road trip, the Nets sit at 4-5 on the young 2014-15 season.
Miami is 5-4 and losers of its last two games.