December 13, 2018

The Nets Lose Composure and Bow to the Philadelphia 76ers 127-125

Brooklyn Nets guard, D’Angelo Russell moving past Philadelphia 76ers guard, Ben Simmons at the Barclays Center on Sunday, November 25, 2018. Brooklyn Nets guard, D’Angelo Russell moving past Philadelphia 76ers guard, Ben Simmons at the Barclays Center on Sunday, November 25, 2018. Photo Credit: Nicole Sweet/USA Today

Despite D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie scoring 38 and 31 points respectively against the 76ers, the Nets lose their Brooklyn grit and the game in the fourth

The Barclays Center was rocking with enthusiasm for the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday from tip-off until the buzzer sounded signaling the end of the game. For the first three quarters, it looked like the Brooklyn Nets would get another victory at home against the Philadelphia 76ers this season. Brooklyn led by as much as 20 points at 1:22 in the second quarter, ultimately ending the half up by 14 with a score of 68-54. Things were even looking pretty good for Brooklyn in the proverbial third quarter, as the team was up by as much as 19 points at 6:20 and ending the third with a 13-point spread.

However, the Sixers went into a turbo-charged gear in the fourth quarter. The Nets lost their double-digit lead after an Allen Crabbe foul and Sixers Joel Embiid hits two foul shots with 4:50 left in regulation and the score resting at the moment at 118-110. Over the next few minutes, Philadelphia chips away and takes the lead at 1:03 on a JJ Redick three-point jump shot and now the score is 121-120. Brooklyn takes a slim one-point lead (125-124) on a Spencer Dinwiddie pull-up jumper at 26.8 seconds left in regulation.

Now, here is where it really gets interesting, at 19.7 seconds, Redick misses a jump shot, Jimmy Butler rebounds, there’s a tussle, and a jump ball is called between Butler and Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Butler tips the ball to Embiid and Philadelphia calls a timeout. At 2.3 seconds, the game resumes and Butler hits a step-back three putting Philadelphia in a game-winning position with a score of 127-125. Timeout is called. Game resumes. With .4 seconds on the clock, Nets forward DeMarre Carroll throws a bad pass, Ben Simmons intercepts the ball and its game over.

Postgame in the locker room, Butler reflects on the game-winning shot for Philadelphia.

“Another play drawn up by coach,” Butler said to the media. “My teammates have a lot of confidence in me to take shots late; hopefully I make shots late as well. But I mean I got to the spot that I wanted to get to, raised up, and knocked it down.”

Butler, confident and somewhat humble, didn’t put himself out there as “the guy” since joining the Sixers after a tumultuous early start to the season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“To tell you the truth, it could have been anybody,” Butler said regarding taking the last shot. They do have a lot of confidence in me but I got so much more confidence in those guys. They really got us back in the game. Joel throwing the ball off the backboard, and; everybody else making shots, it’s so fun to play that way. Then, in the end, I just made one play out of the many that were already made as well.”

A winnable game for the Nets, but instead they go down in defeat by a small margin 127-125.

With this loss, the Nets fell to 8-13 overall and 3-6 at the Barclays Center, while the 76ers improved to 14-8 overall and 4-7 on the road with the win.

Looking at the way Brooklyn competed, there were some things for the Nets to feel good about, particularly compared to last season. This team competed and played defense. Overall, Brooklyn out-rebounded Philadelphia by a slim margin 43-42. The 33-29 defensive rebounding score is where the Nets saw some daylight and went into darkness with allowing Philadelphia to beat them on the offensive boards 13-10.

D’Angelo Russell led all scorers with a season-high and Nets career-high 38 points with eight rebounds and eight assists in 34 minutes.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and recorded a career-high-tying 31 points along with three rebounds and five assists inside of 29 minutes within regulation. The first time Dinwiddie scored 31 points, it took an overtime session against the Toronto Raptors earlier this year on January 8, to accomplish this feat.

Other Nets leading scorers were center Jarrett Allen, who is in his second year with the NBA. Allen had a good night, posting his seventh career-high double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes. Allen’s seven double-doubles are the second-most for all second-year NBA players (behind Ben Simmons’ 14 double-doubles). Hollis-Jefferson also scored in double figures, tallying 13 points with six rebounds in 30 minutes in his second start of the season.

Unfortunately, once again, Allen Crabbe, who is part of the starting five, disappeared. Crabbe scored zero (0) points, donuts for rebounds, and one assist in 25 minutes of play.

By contrast, all of Philadelphia’s starters scored in double digits. Butler scored 34 points, 12 rebounds, and four steals. Embiid registered 32 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists; Redick tallied 15 points and four rebounds; Simmons added 13 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals, and; Wilson Chandler chipped in 10 points, five assists, and three rebounds.

Landry Shamet, a member of Philadelphia’s secondary unit and a rookie, got into the double-digit scoring action by posting 16 points.

“It’s a shame,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said to the media postgame. “Heck of a basketball game. I thought our guys competed. They led for most of the game and it’s one of those you think you deserve to win it and they pull it out at the end. But listen, credit to them. They hit some tough shots. Obviously, (Jimmy) Butler’s shot at the end was a heck of a shot. We got our best defender (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) on him, so be it.”

Understand the disappointment, but so be it?

The Nets were up by as much as 20 points in the second and 19 in the 3rd and so be it. What!?

But upon further reflection, Atkinson added: “Listen, we lose the free-throw battle again and I think it seems like every game it’s a 13 free-throw differential, 20 free-throw differential. “That’s not a complaint about the referees, that’s on us. We have to learn how to be active and play physical but without fouling. We lost the free-throw battle, I thought that was big.”

Atkinson is right on the free-throw opportunities. Philadelphia had 33 occasions to get to the free-throw line, making 27 of them. Meanwhile, Brooklyn made 15 out of their 20 free-throw chances.

And, down the stretch, Nets center Jarrett Allen missed an eight-foot floating shot at 4:30 in the fourth that would have put the score at 120-110 giving the Nets a 10-point lead instead of keeping them at 118-110. Then, Allen missed two free-throws at 3:21 when the Nets had a slim 118-114 lead, an ominous sign that this game would probably not be a win for the Nets.

And, Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris summed it up best.

“I think it was how they slowly chipped away at it,” Harris said about how the Sixers were able to get back into the game. “Obviously they have a lot of capable guys, whether it’s JJ (Redick) coming off the screen, (Ben) Simmons getting downhill, (the) ball going to the post to (Joel) Embiid, or now, Jimmy (Butler) being able to go and get buckets for them. So, it poses a lot of difficult matchups and I think a lot of it came down to individual pride, ownership on the defensive end, and us being able to go with the lead when we had it and capitalizing on where we were at 15, 16, 17, 18-point lead. Being able to execute and make the right plays in those scenarios instead of (a) turnover, bad shot, they come down and get a bucket. That’s basically what ended up happening with them slowly chipping away at it.”

The Philadelphia 76ers play the New York Knicks on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at home in Philadelphia.

Next up for the Brooklyn Nets is the Utah Jazz at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

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