You knew you couldn't rely on the Knicks. They let that be known when they were down 10-0 and then 30-9. At least the Nets fought. A lot of good it did, as they missed the playoffs for the second straight year, but you would rather have a team that didn't give up the fight.
That should continue over these final four or coach Lawrence Frank, captain Vince Carter and whomever else will have a lot of explaining to do.
I don't think effort will be a problem the rest of the way. Maybe the Nets won't be as sharp against Detroit because of the emotional letdown from not making the playoffs. The guys were pretty down after the game.
Plus you don't know what type of rotation and what combinations Frank will play, although you have to believe Yi Jianlian and some of the other young guys will get longer looks.
Going back to last night: The two best point guards were Rajon Rondo and Stephon Marbury.
I was talking to someone the other day who said Rondo may have deserved to be an All-Star over Devin Harris. I don't necessarily agree with that, but Rondo sure looks like an All-Star when he plays the Nets, which means Harris needs to do a better job of defending.
In the four Celtics' wins this season, Rondo averaged 17.5 points - his most against teams he's played more than twice - on 61.3 percent shooting, 9.0 assists and 7.5 rebounds. Harris against Boston averaged 16.3 points, on 38.5 percent, 5.0 assists and 0.8 rebounds.
Individual defense and team defense is one of the reasons the Nets' season officially came to an end on April 8.
Now that it has, here are some things that went wrong this season, some observations and some second-guessing:
What Went Wrong
The Nets never established themselves at home: First losing season at the Meadowlands since 2000-01.
The Nets never established a defensive presence or mindset: If the Nets yield 411 points in the final four games they will have their worst scoring defense since the 1996-97 season.
The Nets didn't win enough close games: Since March 1, they're 3-11 in games that could have gone either way in the fourth quarter, like last night's against the Celtics.
The Nets didn't come to play every night: Their record against teams currently with worse records than they have is 15-12.
Harris made too many mistakes late in games: You love his shot-making ability, but he turns the ball over late too much. He needs to make winning plays.
Carter deferred a little to Harris and others: Last year I thought the Nets would be better with Carter leading them in scoring and not Richard Jefferson and I feel the same about Harris and Carter. Harris will get his points, but Carter should shoot and score more.
The offense runs better with Keyon Dooling: Harris got better as the year went on as a distributor and playmaker. That's what he needs to be. He's not Chris Paul. But at the start of the season the Nets were running so much dribble-drive stuff with Harris at the top so you can't blame him. The offense was for him. Dooling is a passer first. The ball just moves more and better with him.
Management had a good offseason: If Yi and Bobby Simmons were better management would have had a great off-season. Simmons got better as the year went on but that trade doesn't look good right now. But drafting Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts and signing Dooling and Jarvis Hayes: those were some good moves
Frank stayed too long with Yi and Trenton Hassell in the starting lineup: I'm not sure I would have taken Yi out of the rotation altogether. Maybe the best thing would have been to bring him off the bench and let him get his confidence back that way. As for Hassell, he's probably the Nets' best defender, which is why Frank relied on him. He needed defense. But, with all due respect, he was basically a dead spot on the floor. And when Yi was going 1-for-6 every night it was almost like having two Jason Collins out there from an offensive standpoint. Maybe Hassell should have been used as a specialist, to lock down players from time-to-time.
Too many ins and out: Don't understand why players go from starting to entirely out of the rotation. Like I said about Yi, when Anderson no longer started he still should have gotten a shot off the bench. The young guys bring energy. Just tell Anderson and that's what he would have done. Plus he rebounds well.
Play conventional: There are times when the small lineup works and times when it doesn't. You understand why Frank went there because he wanted his most experienced players on the floor late in games. He was playing for a playoff berth after all. It helped him win some games, but cost him some, too.
Feed the post: Lopez looks like he's going to be a star. The Nets should have tried to establish him early every game to give him an inside presence and perhaps open things up on the perimeter if the rookie had it going.
Team president Rod Thorn did not attend the Nets' final road trip of the season. He's scouting college players at the Portsmouth Invitational
The Nets will give out "Brookie of the Year" T-shirts to the first 5,000 fans who attend Saturday's game versus the Magic.