EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (NBA.com exclusive) -- The Nets have now set a new standard for futility to start an NBA season.
And if their 117-101 loss to the Mavericks on Wednesday night at the Izod Center was any indication, the Nets are on a course to put their new, dubious record well out of reach for struggling teams of the future.
Unable to recover from allowing Dallas to shoot an almost unheard of 90 percent in the second quarter and 80 percent in the first half, the Nets fell to 0-18 to start the 2009-10 season -- surpassing the previous mark of 0-17 set by the expansion Miami Heat in 1988 and the Los Angeles Clippers in the lockout-shortened 1999 season.
"You want to try and make history," Nets point guard Devin Harris said. "But not in this way."
And for the first time in this miserable stretch, at least one Net was questioning out loud the team's fortitude and toughness.
"At this point I feel like the streak is getting the best of us," said swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts, who led all Nets scorers with 24 points. "It's really starting to get to us now.
"So when a team goes on a run, it's almost like we give up, which is very unfortunate. That's what it looks like to me. We kind of give up and lay down instead of trying to fight.''
Dallas put the game out of reach in the second quarter by going an astounding 17-for-19 from the field, leading one observer to wonder if the Mavs could actually shoot 89.5 percent if there were no Nets on the floor. The Mavs were also 5-for-5 from 3-point range and 10-for-10 from the line in the frame. Their 49 points tied the Nets' record for the most points allowed in a quarter. The Mavs led 77-50 at intermission and 105-78 after three quarters.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 24 points. Jason Kidd, in his second game back in New Jersey since he was traded for Harris, Maurice Ager and Trenton Hassel in February, 2008, finished with 16 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds -- and zero regret for what has become of the former Eastern Conference power he once surveyed.
"It doesn't pain me," Kidd said. "It's unfortunate, but I think the biggest thing is I wish those guys luck to turn this thing around."
For Tom Barisse, the Nets' longtime assistant coach, the loss marked his second and last game as interim coach. Kiki Vandeweghe, who was officially named replacement for the deposed Lawrence Frank on Tuesday, will take to the bench in Friday's home game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Before the game, Vandeweghe dismissed the possible perception that he was waiting until the Nets already had the all-time worst start to a season in hand before he took over. He said his delayed start was a matter of logistics. In fact, he spent the game with New Jersey's new top assistant, Del Harris, in the stands, two rows behind the Nets' radio team.
And, no, Harris did not run out of the arena at halftime.
"It's not the coach," Douglas-Roberts insisted. "Red Auerbach could coach us. It's us. It doesn't matter who you bring in. They can't go out there and play, they can just tell you what to do.
"You have to have the heart to overcome something like this. It's simple. We're the only team without a win. OK. There's other teams who aren't good teams but they're winning, some games. Minnesota beat Denver the other night. It's just, I don't know man."
Vandeweghe acknowledged the losing isn't getting any easier for his players. And he does worry about how such a defined, now record-setting culture of losing will affect future free agents who might consider New Jersey as a destination next summer when the team actually has money to spend.
"It's my job to worry about everything,'' Vandeweghe said. "You fast-forward and realize we're not a championship team -- and it's a tough one. I'm not going to sugar-coat it.
"This is one of those growing-pain times where you basically start over. You're going to go through some times. Nobody expects (18 straight losses), but you know you're going to go through tough times and you know there are going to be issues and you've got to fight through those."