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Nets Blow Another One

Once again, the Nets led for most of the game. And once again, they failed to get enough stops or enough baskets down the stretch to hold on to their lead. This time, it was a 14-point first-half lead and an eight-point fourth-quarter cushion that were lost in Portland Wednesday night. It was 88-82 Nets when the Blazers went on a 12-2 run (at one point scoring on 10 straight possessions) to take a four-point lead with a little over a minute to go. After a bucket and a stop, the Nets had a chance to tie, but Richard Jefferson was called for an offensive foul on the break. Four Zach Randolph free throws and a Vince Carter three-point play later, the Nets had a chance to tie with a three on the final possession, but attempts by Carter and Jefferson to do just that were both off the mark. The Nets out-shot and out-rebounded the Blazers while only committing 10 turnovers, but Portland beat them at the free throw line, converting on 21 of 28 attempts from the stripe while New Jersey got there just 15 times. Carter finished with 35 points on 15-of-23 from the field.