The Nets dropped their 16th straight game to open the season, moving within one of matching the worst start in NBA history with a 109-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
After losing to the team that had the worst record in the NBA a season ago, the Nets need to beat the Lakers on Sunday at Staples Center to avoid matching the record for futility held by the expansion Miami Heat (1988-89) and the Los Angeles Clippers (1999). The potential record-setter would come at home against Dallas on Wednesday.
"It doesn't matter who we have from here on out," guard Devin Harris said. "We have to come out with the same type of intensity we had in the second half no matter if it's the Lakers or the Knicks. We have to treat everybody the same and come out with a decent effort. Yeah they're the defending champions, but they can be beat. If we give the effort we need to, we'll keep ourselves in the game."
The Nets failed to do that in the first half against Sacramento, falling behind by 22 points in the second quarter. The Kings shot 59 percent in the first half, getting to the basket with ease and outrebounding New Jersey 26-8 at one point in the second quarter.
"We cheated the game in the first half," coach Lawrence Frank said. "I take full responsibility that we can't play 48 minutes and have the intent from beginning to end, especially in the situation that we're in."
Brook Lopez had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Harris scored 25 points on 6-for-22 shooting for the Nets, who matched the longest losing streak in franchise history with their latest loss.
"We've kind of been pressing these last few games," Lopez said. "When you're 0-fer, you're pressing the whole time."
Things were so bad for the Nets that they missed five shots near the basket in one 15-second span, including three that were blocked. Frank complained to the officials when Monty McCutcheon told him the defensive plays were all clean, asking incredulously at one point, "All five?"
The return of All-Star Harris to the starting lineup couldn't do the trick for the Nets. Harris, who missed 10 games with a groin injury, had come off the bench the past three games. He missed six of his first seven shots before helping the Nets get back into the game in the third quarter.
Harris' steal and dunk was part of a 16-4 run that helped New Jersey cut it to 67-61 midway through the third quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Udrih and Omri Casspi helped the Kings open the lead back up to 84-69 heading into the fourth.
"When you dig that big of a hole, you pretty much have to play mistake free the rest of the game and we didn't do that," Harris said.
New Jersey got it back down to six early in the fourth but never got any closer and lost for the 10th time in its last 11 trips to Arco Arena. Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 21 points for the Nets.
Casspi scored 18 points, making three of four free throws when New Jersey went to the hack-an-Omri strategy in the fourth quarter.
Udrih added a layup that made it 104-94 with 1:05 remaining. Spencer Hawes had 16 points and 10 rebounds before being sidelined in the third quarter with a bruised right knee.
"When a team has been kicked around like New Jersey, you know that they've got some good performances in them," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "I was just hoping tonight wasn't the one where they came in and put it all together."
The Nets missed six of seven shots to open the game, including a dunk attempt by Lopez on the opening possession. New Jersey fell behind by 10 points less than halfway through the first quarter and trailed by 20 midway through the second.
The Kings took a 59-42 lead into the break when Evans scored with 1.1 seconds left on a give-and-go with Hawes off an inbound pass.
"We took the mentality that any NBA team can win on a given night," Kings forward Jason Thompson said. "We didn't want that night to be against us."
Lopez was called for a flagrant foul in the first quarter when he hit Thompson's arm on a dunk attempt, sending Thompson crashing to the floor. ... The Nets also lost 16 straight games in the 1977-78 season. ... The banners honoring the Sacramento Monarchs, who folded last week, have already been taken down.