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Nets late surge not enough, as they fall to the Wizards, 113-107

Maddie Meyer

BROOKLYN - Brook Lopez returned to the lineup for the Brooklyn Nets, after missing two-plus games with an ankle injury, as the Nets tried to win back-to-back games and their fourth straight at home with the Washington Wizards in town.

Although Lopez's return was welcome, and he scored easily when given the ball, he grabbed only five rebounds and the Nets wound up with a 20 rebound deficit (51-31) losing, 113-107. The Nets leading rebounders were wingmen Joe Johnson with seven and Paul Pierce with six.  The lack of rebounding --and sloppy defense-- started in the first quarter. .

The Wizards hit six threes in the first quarter, making 52.4 percent of their attempts. The Nets connected on 58.8 percent from the floor, but still trailed.. After one, the Wizards pulled out to a 30-28 lead.

Paul Pierce came alive early, once again coming off the bench for the Nets. He led the second unit making his first four shots of the game, including two threes, and looking as mobile as we've seen him in quite some time. Pierce scored 13 first-half points.It was Pierce's first 20 point game for the Nets. Last year in Boston, he had 31. A year ago this week, Pierce had back-to-back games of 35 and 40 points.

"It's easy to sit here and talk to you guys about what kind of night I had, but bottom line, I don't care. We lost the game," said Pierce who termed the game a big one despite the opponent. "This is a tough loss for us. This is team we feel like we should have beat, but unfortunately they've beaten us twice."

Lopez was once again dominant early, scoring 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor in the first half.

Brooklyn, however, wasn't getting many stops on the defensive side of the ball. As the Nets adjusted and extended the defense to stop the Wizards from the three-point shooting onslaught, the Wizards began looking inside and also were cleaning up off the glass. They out-rebounded the Nets 24-16  and scored 14 points in the paint in the first half.

At the half, the Nets trailed the Wizards, 59-53.

It's been a while since the Nets showed their third quarter struggle face, but tonight they did again.  They scored just three points in the first four minutes of the quarter while the Wizards kept pushing. Thankfully, Johnson started to heat up again.

Johnson scored seven quick points to keep the Nets from making a complete third quarter collapse. Pierce came on as well, picking up where he left off in the first half. Once again, though, defense was an issue for Brooklyn. As they found their offensive rhythm, stops were few and far between. It also didn't help that Lopez picked up his fourth foul midway through the quarter.

Pierce was 7-for-7 from the floor after three and had a season-high 21 points. Still, the Wizards had a 8-point lead heading into the fourth, 85-77.

Kidd went with the "old starters" to start the fourth, putting Lopez back into the game and leaving the hot-handed Pierce in the game. Pierce continued his tear. He had what was, without a doubt, his best game as a member of the Brooklyn Nets. Pierce finished with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor.

Problem was, the Nets struggled mightily off the glass. They were out-rebounded 51-31, giving the Wizards 23 second chance points. The Nets had just three second chance points.

Brooklyn just couldn't get over the hump, pulling to within one point with two minutes remaining, that was as close as they would get, as the Wizards beat the Nets, 113-107.

Deron Williams had 13 assists, while Lopez and Johnson each finished with 22 and 20 points, respectively.

John Wall scored a team-high 21 points. Again, the big issue was rebounds, and the Nets couldn't grab any.

Next up, Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers on the road.

For more on the Wizards, see: Bullets Forever