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With first place on the line, Nets fell apart in the fourth quarter, lose to the Hawks 105-93

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN - With the New York Knicks losing earlier in the day, the Nets had an opportunity to move into a tie at the top of the Atlantic Division with a win over the Atlanta Hawks. And while P.J. Carlesimo downplayed the importance of a near-statistical tie, there was certainly a buzz elsewhere about what it would mean for the Nets to enter their forthcoming road trip tied with the Knicks for first place.

Reggie Evans seemed to think it was important enough to where he played his best game of the season, but with a questionable decision to leave him on the bench for most of the fourth quarter, the Nets let the game slip away late as they fell to the Hawks, 105-93.

Evans finished with 14 points and 22 rebounds, while Deron Williams went for 18 points and 8 assists.

Game Flow

Old friend Devin Harris picked up the start for the Hawks in this one, with Jeff Teague coming off the bench having recently dealt with an ankle injury.

Reggie Evans, believe it or not, had the hot hand early, scoring six of the team's first 12 points, and grabbing five rebounds in the first seven minutes of the game. For the Hawks, it was Kyle Korver who provided a lot of the team's offense early; seven points in five minutes.

The Nets had some nice ball movement in the first, leading to open looks and stretch offense. It's almost amazing to think,Brooklyn came out of the first quarter with a 3-point lead, 24-21, as Reggie Evans led the way with six points. Yes, Evans was the team's leading scorer in a quarter in which the Nets had the lead.

In the second, the Hawks went inside against the Andray Blatche-Mirza Teletovic frontline, running the offense through Al Horford which, well, is smart basketball.

It didn't help, however, that the Nets' bench turned the ball over four times in the first six minutes of the second quarter. The play was sloppy, as Brooklyn gave back the lead, before Carlesimo brought the starters back in.

Johnson opened up the offense, hitting back-to-back threes, as Evans was closing in on a double-double in the first half, with 8 points and 9 rebounds. He also had a great defensive stand against Josh Smith at the end of the half, which unfortunately resulted in a DeShawn Stevenson buzzer-beating three, giving the Hawks a 51-49 halftime lead. Still, Evans played a fantastic half of basketball.

Evans opened up the third quarter continuing to produce on both sides of the ball, shutting down Josh Smith on defense and cleaning up off the glass -- pulling down 21 rebounds after three.

Already, three quarters into the game, Evans had a season-high 14 points to go along with his 21 rebounds. His effort, along with Deron Williams scoring nine points in the third, gave the Nets a 73-71 lead.

In the fourth, the Nets bench was just terrible, playing sloppy basketball which turned into fastbreak points for the Hawks. Atlanta started to pull away, on the back of a 12-4 run to open the quarter.

The quarter itself wasn't a very good one for the Nets, especially head coach P.J. Carlesimo whose rotations were certainly questionable, to say the least. He left Reggie Evans, who was in the midst of playing his game of the year, on the bench for most of the fourth quarter.

We also didn't get a chance to see MarShon Brooks until this game was well out of reach, which while that isn't a make-or-break decision, when you consider this team failed to find an offensive rhythm throughout, he might have been able to light a bit of a spark on offense.

In the end, the Nets fell to the Hawks 105-93 and were unable to tie the Knicks atop the Atlantic Division.

For more on the Hawks, see: Peachtree Hoops