The Brooklyn Nets’ sluggish offense has slowed to the point of lifelessness during their current losing streak.
Turning things around Monday night will be no easy task as the Nets host the Houston Rockets, who have found their groove on both ends of the court.
Brooklyn (16-21) ranked 22nd in the NBA with 96.9 points per game through Jan. 2, but lately that production has dipped even lower. The Nets fell to Detroit 98-93 on Saturday for their fifth consecutive defeat, a stretch in which they’ve averaged 86.8 points.
"I can’t get inside their heads," coach Lionel Hollins told the Nets’ official website. "I’m sure they’re frustrated. We’ll have to find out when we play again. That’s when you determine where a team’s psyche is."
Deron Williams’ absence hasn’t helped. Williams’ assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.74 was 18th among point guards who have played at least 500 minutes, while replacement Jarrett Jack’s 1.87 ratio is 44th.
Brooklyn has averaged 16.3 turnovers in January and now Williams, already slowed by a sore knee, is out indefinitely due to a fractured rib.
"Every game the turnovers are hurting us," Hollins said. "We had shots that would put us ahead or put us ahead further. And to compound it, we get in crucial stretches where we make a turnover here or a turnover there."
The Nets’ downward offensive trend arrives at a poor time given their upcoming schedule. Ten of their next 12 games come against teams with 25 or more victories, six of which feature top-10 defensive units.
Houston (26-11) fits both of those categories and has played especially stifling defense during its three-game win streak. The Rockets downed Utah 97-82 on Saturday and, over their past five wins, have held opponents to 86.6 points per game.
They’ve averaged 108.4 points in their past five overall.
Houston forced the Jazz into 31 turnovers – the most by any team since Washington forced 33 on Dec. 12, 2004 – and improved to 20-2 when holding a team below 45 percent from the field.
"We’re catching a rhythm," said James Harden, who had 30 points to up his NBA-leading average to 26.8 per game. "Defensively, we look pretty solid. Offensively, we were sharing the basketball, and guys were scoring. It’s a free-for-all out there."
Trevor Ariza has tallied 20 steals over his last five games, while Josh Smith has contributed in his newfound bench role. He recorded five blocks over the previous three games and on Saturday posted his first turnover-less game since joining Houston on Dec. 26.
The Rockets had won 14 straight in the series prior to a 105-96 loss in Brooklyn on April 1. Joe Johnson had 32 points to lead the Nets in a game both Dwight Howard and Brook Lopez missed due to injury.
Johnson, who was shooting 46.3 percent overall and 41.5 percent from 3-point range through his first 25 games, is at 40.7 percent and 28.8 from long distance since Christmas.