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Nets fall apart in the third quarter; Late run not enough as they lose to the Mavs, 98-90

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN - The good news tonight for the Brooklyn Nets was that they had Joe Johnson back in the lineup, after he missed the last three games with plantar fasciitis. The bad news, his return wasn't nearly enough, as the Nets played a sloppy game, turning the ball over 19 times (to just 18 assists) and letting the Mavs give themselves enough of a cushion to pull away late.

A poor, poor third quarter performance by the entire team, top to bottom, did the Nets in. And despite a late run, It was too little, too late. The final result, a 98-90 loss.

With Dirk Nowitzki healthy, and Dallas coming off a tough loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in which they were simply embarrassed for an entire half of basketball, the Mavericks put the Nets on their heels early, working the inside-outside game and pushing the pace any chance they could get. It wasn't until late in the quarter when the Mavs rotated in bench that the Nets were able to get the game back to a slower, more comfortable pace.

After one, the Nets trailed 22-21 -- having turned the ball over six times in the quarter.

Nowitzki found his rhythm in the second quarter, hitting back-to-back jumpers, and as the Nets cheated to double he twice hit Elton Brand in the post for easy lay-ins.

For the Nets, it was Andray Blatche who carried the offense. From step-out jumpers to strong fake-and-drives, Blatche scored eight second-quarter points.

Deron Williams had 17 first-half points, but that was accompanied by five turnovers. The Nets, at the half, led 49-48.

The Nets were working on another sub-par third quarter, shooting 29.4 percent from the floor and scoring 14 points -- to Dallas' 29 points. The story, turnovers. Nets had five of them in the quarter, which coupled with a disastrous shooting performance, essentially ended the game after three quarters.

From there it was all Dallas, pulling ahead by 19 points while the Nets continued to cough the ball up to the point where the Brooklyn fans went pretty hard with the 'boos.' The Nets made a nice run in the fourth, but the mountain was just too much to climb. It's difficult to overcome a 20-point deficit, let alone to do so in under 12 minutes of play.

Vince Carter scored 20 points off the bench, while Nowitzki matched him with 20 points of his own.

D-Will had a game-high 24 points, while Mirza Teletovic scored five points in the fourth quarter.