It was another miserable night for the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday as they suffered their 15th consecutive loss of the season, this time at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Nets, who have yet to win a game, put in a battling performance with a game-high 32 points and 14 rebounds from Brook Lopez, but Portland always had the edge in a 93-83 victory.
"You bust out a speech at 0-5. You use different quotes from different champions and leaders at 0-10," said the Nets point guard Rafer Alston. "But at this point it's all inside of you as individuals. You've got to find something inside of you to leave on the floor." Greg Oden was top-scorer for the Blazers with 18 points while Joel Przybilla hauled down 10 rebounds. "You walk into the locker room and it's like a morgue," said the Nets coach Lawrence Frank. "Guys are laying it all out there. It's disheartening to lose, but you keep putting efforts like this together and we'll break through."
New Jersey, who face Sacramento tonight and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, have equalled the second-longest losing streak in franchise history and are one away from the record of 16, which came back in 1978, The NBA record number of consecutive losses to start a season is 17, set by the 1988-89 expansion Miami Heat and matched by the Los Angeles Clippers in the lockout-shortened 1999 season. The Minnesota Timberwolves are faring little better than the Nets - who they beat on the opening night of the season.
They have not won since, and slumped to their 14th successive defeat as 22 points for Carmelo Anthony helped the Denver Nuggets to a 124-111 victory on Wednesday. "I told them I was very disappointed with them at half-time and I was disappointed with them at the end of the ball game," said the Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis. "I will always take them playing poorly if I see them playing hard. "But the effort, the energy, the passion, just that competitiveness, it just wasn't there tonight."
Michael Beasley's dunk with 1.6 seconds left gave the Miami Heat a 99-98 win over their Florida rivals Orlando Magic. Dwayne Wade's jump shot was short, and Beasley soared in the air over Matt Barnes to seal the win. The Phoenix Suns are top of the Western Conference standings following their 126-111 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Amare Stoudemaire netted a game-high 28 points for the Suns with Steve Nash adding 11 points and 16 assists.
"I've been working hard to get my feel back," said Stoudemire, who is working his way back after eye surgery in February. "The coach is showing confidence in going to me. We did a great job of exploiting their defence. I was taking what the defence was giving me." Paul Pierce had 27 points as the Boston Celtics edged out the Philadelphia 76ers 113-110, while the Cleveland Cavaliers proved too strong for the Detroit Pistons, winning 98-88 thanks largely to 34 points from LeBron James.
* With agencies