With Thursday's upcoming "showdown" against the Knicks looking more like a pillow fight at this point, and with another humbling defeat at the hands of the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets are really beginning to not only sound like a team that is frustrated, they are beginning to physically look that way, as well.
For Kevin Garnett specifically, he must prepare for an extended period of playing without Paul Pierce, who was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture to his right hand. The official timetable for Pierce's return is two to four weeks, but fractures can sometimes take longer to heal.
For Garnett, the prospect of playing without Pierce is daunting. "Put it on the list," he said, referring to the myriad of injury and rotation issues the Nets have already faced. "It's unfortunate for Paul. I knew something was wrong with him because I've seen him play through a lot of different injuries," Garnett said.
"These are frustrating times," he said, stating the obvious. "We got a lot of moving parts to this thing; the ones that try to work and get this thing fixed will be those that do that. It's a difficult time around here and Paul's injury doesn't help anything."
After the Nets suffered the 87-111 defeat at the hands of the surging Nuggets, Brook Lopez barely looked up as he spoke with the media afterwards. Joe Johnson dressed quickly and Andray Blatche bolted almost immediately. Nobody seems to want to wallow in the losing locker room, and understandably so.
At this point, it is very fair to ask: how long is too long? At what point should patience run out? For Lawrence Frank, evidently, that time has come. But most people in front offices around the league will tell you that by Thanksgiving, and certainly by the time the team has played 20 games, its identity should be intact.
For a prime example, see the team that handed the Nets it worst home loss of the season, the Nuggets. They began the season just 1-4 but have found strength in numbers and are being led by Ty Lawson. They have won 10 of their last 12 games despite losing Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer—two important rotation players from last season's 57-25 team.
The Washington Wizards are another example of a team that has stumbled out of the gates but have managed to find themselves a bit. After beginning the season just 2-7, the Wizards have won seven of their past nine games over the past three weeks.
In all fairness to the Nets, they have battled a steady stream of injuries over the course of this young season, but more important then chemistry, turnovers and miscommunications is effort. And there have been plenty of times when effort was simply not there. Another alarming but recurring theme for these Nets has been the team's demeanor when they have found themselves on the wrong end of a run. With just over eight minutes remaining in the third quarter of Tuesday night's loss to the Nuggets, the Nets trailed by just four points, 56-60.
For the Nuggets, Darrell Arthur and Randy Foye got hot, the Nets missed shots, and they folded like a well-washed pair of jeans as the Nuggets outhustled and outscored them 29-9 over the final eight minutes of the period.
It is a sight that has become all too repetitive. Feeling the urgency of a season slipping away and without a first round draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the words "patience" and "process" are seldom used in Brooklyn these past few days. And they were not used by Garnett on Tuesday night.
When asked directly about the potential of additional shakeups with the roster, Garnett acknowledged that the front office is likely to take a long, hard look at what can be done to help this still-struggling team.
"I am sure management will do what they feel is best for this team and this organization," Garnett said when asked about the potential of additional moves. "This organization and every guy has to understand that and that's the business part of this. You have to expect that and you can't think that's not going to happen or that it doesn't exist. That's just the reality part of the NBA and sports."
Saddled with big-money contracts, the Nets are limited in what they could potentially pull off in the realm of trades, though Tyshawn Taylor, Mirza Teletovic and Mason Plumlee have all shown positive flashes and could emerge as potential pawns.
For the Nets, right now, though, their reality is that they seem to take two step backwards each time they appear to take a step forward. With Deron Williams still on the shelf and Pierce expected to be absent for an extended period of time, heading into Thursday's matchup with the Knicks, the team is searching for something to hold onto—still.
For a roster that is constructed to win now, that is a problem.
"I think at this point, we are trying to figure out who we are and fix this," Garnett said. "We are at home getting beat by 30, 40 points and that's not what we want. That's not even close to what we predicted where we wanted to be... We need to have a better showing, period, and we will, we have no choice."
At eight games below .500 and closing in on the 20-game mark, the clock is ticking in Brooklyn, and there, the time for patience is almost up. The period of desperation may be just one more loss away, and the struggling Knicks would be all too happy to provide it.
Moke Hamilton is the NBA Analyst for SNY.tv and contributes regularly to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MokeHamilton.