Nets done in by third-quarter woes

Marcus Henry | 4/12/2011, 4:45 p.m.

Young teams that lack veteran leadership often suffer the types of second-half woes in games that lead to losses. You can count the Nets among those young teams. Saturday's 103-88 loss to Minnesota was a perfect example.

The Timberwolves outscored the Nets 23-9. The Nets led 55-54 at the half. It was another example of how the Nets have yet to learn how to finish games.

The Nets avoided a sixth straight loss with a 96-94 win over the Bulls on Wednesday night. The win was sparked by a 32-18 third quarter. It was the first third quarter won by the Nets since a 101-94 win over Memphis on December 21. The Nets were outscored, 134-89, in the third quarter during the five-game losing streak.

"For us to score nine points in a quarter, that's not good at all," Nets coach Avery Johnson said of the loss to the Timberwolves. "We tried changing the lineups and shuffling guys in and out. We just couldn't get it done."

Although no one wants to hear excuses, enduring gut-wrenching loss is all part of the rebuilding process. Young players tend to hit a mental and physical wall late in games.

The Nets have just two players with eight or more years of experience on the roster. Several of their key players -Brook Lopez, Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar - have fewer than five years. Even Devin Harris, a seven-year veteran, is young by league standards.

"It's amazing sometimes how we come out of the locker room," the coach said of his young team.

Unfortunately, it won't get any easier for the Nets, who after a home game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, embark on a four-game, five-night west coast road trip.

If there's any consolation, the Nets could learn a lot watching some of their opponents, including the Lakers, get it done down the stretch.