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Nets let one slip out of their hands; lose to Houston, 102-98

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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets found a new way to lose another game they had in their hands, this time coming against the Houston Rockets with a final score of 102-98.

It came with Dwight Howard sitting out for Houston.

James Harden, the NBA's leading scorer, shot 4-of-15 from the field but hit on a crucial shot down the stretch to put Houston up three with 27 seconds left. It appeared to be the icing on the cake for Harden, who struggled from the floor but finished with an impressive statline of 15 points, 12 rebounds, five rebounds and a poor four turnovers.

Joe Johnson intentionally missed the second free throw on an attempt down three with 11.5 seconds left. The Nets had no timeouts left so the miss was understandable. Terrence Jones -- the games leading scorer (26 points, 11 rebounds) sealed the deal at the line.

The momentum shifted when the Nets were up five with two minutes remaining. They surrendered a bucket,  then Jarrett Jack forced up a three-pointer with plenty of time remaining on the shot clock. Patrick Beverley nailed a three on the following possession, tying up the game and eventually finishing the game with a 7-3 advantage from that point on. They finished the game on a 12-3 run.

It's the second straight game that Jack forced up a three-pointer up at an unnecessary time. His selfishness has hurt them.

The lineups for Brooklyn were puzzling. Jarrett Jack & D-Will are known to be notoriously bad when playing together -- outscored by 12.1 points per 100 possessions -- and closed out the game together and it failed yet again. Thaddeus Young (nine points, 16 minutes) received zero minutes in the fourth quarter. Mason Plumlee also sat out the entire fourth quarter after scoring 15 points in 22 minutes on 7-of-10 shooting.

Markel Brown looked good for Brooklyn -- scoring a career-high 14 points in 35 minutes. Not to mention, Brown had the defensive assignment against James Harden. The 35 minutes signify the trust Hollins has in Brown, who played the last few minutes of the game along with fellow rookie, Cory Jefferson.

The Nets shot just 44.7% from the field after finishing the first quarter 63% and committed 16 turnovers which led to 14 points for Houston. The Rockets finished with 26 assists, the Nets with 17. Brooklyn also shot 4-of-17 from three.

Deron Williams finished with 15 points, five rebounds and just three assists in 35 minutes. Joe Johnson finished with 13 & 9 rebounds and Alan Anderson with 13 points. The entire starting lineup finished in double figures. Brook Lopez scored 12 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, with eight being offensive and eight coming in the fourth quarter.

Trevor Ariza was the second man in line for Houston with 20 points and five rebounds in 37 minutes. Josh Smith chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

It doesn't get any easier. The Nets face off against the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow night, ending their eight-game road-trip which will be followed up with a home game vs. the West's best, Golden State Warriors. The Nets let one slip away vs. the Davis-less Pelicans and they let one slip away vs. the Howard-less Rockets.

Quarter by quarter summary:

First quarter ... What a quarter it was for the Brooklyn Nets. One of the best they've had all season. The guys looked good from the start as they hit on their first four shots and jumped out to a 12-2 start. They kept it going throughout, finishing 15-of-24 from the field and 2-of-6 from three. Mason Plumlee had a phenomenal opening quarter with 11 points and three rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting. Houston shot 50%, but James Harden scored only two points. Brooklyn led, 36-25.

Second quarter ... The Nets shot 7-of-19 in the second quarter and surrendered their 13-point lead after the Rockets outscored them 28-21 in the quarter. Still, they led by four at the half while holding James Harden to four points on 1-of-6 shooting. Markel Brown had the defensive assignment on Harden and he played just about as good as it gets against the MVP candidate. Brown also notched a career-high 11 points in the half and led all Nets' scorers.

The score at the half: Nets 57, Rockets 53.

Third quarter ... Terrence Jones picked up the slack of James Harden who was 3-of-12 from the field to finish the third. Jones had 20 points and 10 rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting, and gave Houston a 21-16 advantage in the quarter. The Nets offense looked bad and only dished out two assists in the quarter. They needed some type of boost to get them past Houston as they trailed, 74-73.

Fourth quarter ... The momentum shifted when the Nets were up five with two minutes remaining. They surrendered a bucket,  then Jarrett Jack forced up a three-pointer with plenty of time remaining on the shot clock. Patrick Beverley nailed a three on the following possession, tying up the game and eventually finishing the game with a 7-3 advantage from that point on. They finished the game on a 12-3 run.

Final score: Rockets 102, Nets 98.

For more on the Houston Rockets, check them out at The Dream Shake.