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The Nets shot the hell out of the ball Sunday. Problem is they still haven’t learned to value it. Or early-season wins.
Brooklyn suffered a 123-122 loss to woebegone Washington at Barclays Center, a game the Nets bumbled and fumbled away as much as the Wizards won.
“When we make shots, we’re really tough to beat, no matter if we clean the glass or not,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash had said beforehand. “But when we don’t make shots, we have to find ways to win.”
The Nets hit shots but couldn’t find a way to win mainly because they couldn’t find a way to hold onto the ball. As a matter of fact, thy found a surefire way to lose — bobbling the ball away like a live hand grenade, committing 23 turnovers while Washington had only seven.
Kevin Durant had a complete game with 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Kyrie Irving had a game-high 30 points and 11 assists. But the duo had 11 of the Nets’ turnovers in a sloppy night for all.
“It’s the ebb and flow. It’s early,” said Nash. “We have a group of guys that work on their individual games, so I don’t worry so much about that. We haven’t shot the ball well in a couple games this year, but that’s going to happen. We have to figure out ways to combat and win ugly sometimes.”
This one was plenty ugly.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook added 24 albeit on 7 of 25 shooting.
“Yeah, great, great challenge,” said Nash. “Russ … his force to the basket and playmaking ability make him a handful. And Brad is just such a versatile player, score, can playmake for his teams when he’s loaded up on. But his form, technique, touch and shooting in an array of shots from all three levels is phenomenal.”
With the Nets up 114-111, they gave up a 7-0 run on Davis Bertans’ 3-pointer and buckets by Thomas Bryant and Westbrook to fall behind by four.
Joe Harris answered with a 3-pointer of his own to get them within one, and Durant’s free throw with 1:56 to play put them back ahead. Rui Hachimura knotted it at 119-all.
Durant made just one of two at the stripe, and a Beal basket left Brooklyn down 121-120. But when the Nets forced another Westbrook miss, Durant snatched the rebound and found Luwawu-Cabarrot leaking out for an easy go-ahead layup with 28.2 seconds remaining.
Brooklyn forced Beal into a tough stepback and a miss, but once again their defensive rebounding Achilles’ heel reared its head. Thomas Bryant grabbed the board and his putback dunk left them trailing 123-122 with 14.9 seconds left in regulation.
Misses in the final possession by first Irving and then Durant ensured that’s the way it stayed.
It had been a toot-and-nail affair. Down just 29-28 after one, they surrendered 11 unanswered points to open the second, the run all Westbrook on one end, and Taurean Prince on the other.
Westbrook opened the period with a 3-pointer; and after a Prince offensive foul for a turnover, Davis Bertans hit another for a 35-28 Wizards edge.
Prince saw his bad pass stolen by Robinson, who hit Westbrook for a transition layup the other way. And after Prince missed a turnaround fadeaway, Robin Lopez’s 3-pointer ended the blitz and left Brooklyn in a 40-28 hole just 1:15 into the second quarter.
It took most of the period to climb out of it. Brooklyn mounted an extended 27-15 run, Luwawu-Cabarrot’s 3-pointer pulling then even at 55-all.
Brooklyn led 85-80 midway through the third on a Durant three-point play. But they coughed up a 14-2 run to lose the momentum. A Beal basket found them trailing 94-87 and they spent the rest of the quarter chasing.
The Nets had 18 turnovers through three, Washington only five. It was staggering that Brooklyn trailed only 94-93 to that point considering the disregard the Nets had for the ball. But a desperate Nash had no choice but to play Durant and Irving for the entire third to keep the Nets in it, and opened the fourth with the second unit.
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