Sloppy final minutes push Nets to bring as 76ers rally in Game 4

The Nets gave away Saturday’s must-have Game 4 to Philadelphia, and might have given away their first-round playoff series hopes with it.

Or maybe the 76ers just punched them in the face and took it.

Either way, after the Nets’ 112-108 loss to Philadelphia before a sellout crowd of 17,732 at Barclays Center, their postseason hopes are on life support and are going to need an Easter miracle.

Joel Embiid had 31 points and 16 rebounds, and Long Island native Tobias Harris — a likely Net free agent target this summer — added 24 points, eight boards and six assists.

Caris LeVert got a start and poured in a team-high 25 points, six assists and five boards. Jarrett Allen added 21 points and eight rebounds. But Brooklyn blew a 101-94 lead with five minutes left, coughing up an 18-7 run to close the game.

The Nets — who fought hard in a testy affair that saw Jared Dudley and Jimmy Butler ejected after a confrontation, and blew a double-digit cushion — are down 3-1 going to Philadelphia facing elimination in Game 5.

A desperate Nets coach Kenny Atkinson juggled his lineup, benching DeMarre Carroll and Rodions Kurucs for Dudley and LeVert. And the Nets responded largely behind those two.

LeVert — starting for just the second time since March 19 — got whatever he wanted out on the floor. And Dudley provided both inspiration and irritation, making savvy winning plays, getting under the 76ers’ collective skin and finishing a plus-12 in just 19 minutes.

Dudley and Butler both got thrown out with 7:42 left in the third.

Embiid, who had thrown a Flagrant 1 elbow to Allen’s face in Game 2, committed another dangerous foul Saturday on the young Nets center. Dudley rushed over and chest-bumped Embiid, and the All-Star center walked away, but Butler shoved Dudley in the back.

The situation escalated, with Ben Simmons restraining Dudley from going after Embiid and the pair eventually tumbling into the first row.

After the referees sorted through the entire fracas to see if Embiid’s foul constituted a hostile act, they eventually hit Embiid with a Flagrant 1 and Dudley and Butler with technicals, ejecting both.

Dudley shot 3-for-4 from the floor and 2-for-3 from deep. He had eight points, five assists, a steal, a Maximus-style taunt of Simmons and one big confrontation.

“He has a history of flagrant fouls. Hopefully we don’t get called for any flagrant fouls if we accidentally hit him with an elbow in the chin,” Dudley had forewarned.

“I know Kiki [Vandeweghe, NBA executive VP of basketball operations] has probably got his hands full because I’ve been fined by him a couple times for a bump. For my $35,000, I should’ve elbowed a guy in the face like that.”

Behind youngsters Allen and LeVert — and a frenzied crowd — the Nets stormed out to a quick lead.

The Nets led 33-24 after a first quarter that saw LeVert and Allen each have 11 points. They started the second using three guards: D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and LeVert alongside Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, going small.

Joe Harris’ layup gave Brooklyn the biggest lead of the day at 63-53, and it was 69-61 after Allen hit the free throws following the melee.

But the Sixers weren’t done. Even with the Nets up 101-94 on a LeVert free throw with 5:20 left, they scored eight straight points. Consecutive Embiid buckets put Philadelphia ahead 102-101.

The Nets still trailed 104-103 when Russell put them ahead on a 3-pointer.

After JJ Redick answered with a 3 of his own, Joe Harris scored off a Russell feed to put Brooklyn back up 108-107 with 25 seconds remaining.

But with all the Sixers firepower on the court, it was Mike Scott who got free with 18 seconds remaining for a corner 3-pointer and a 110-108 edge.

Brooklyn went inside to Allen, but Simmons and Tobias Harris collapsed on him to bottle him up and force a turnover. Harris then iced the game at the line.

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