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Nets lose third straight preseason game to Boston, 100-97

NBA: Preseason-Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Thursday with a 1-2 preseason record, Kenny Atkinson emphasized that he wanted a better defensive effort from his guys, especially after giving up 121 points to Miami on Tuesday.

The defense got better but their luck did not change. They suffered a 100-97 loss to the Boston Celtics Thursday night at Barclays Center.

The Nets led by one with 41 seconds left on the game clock and 16 seconds on the shot clock. Greivis Vasquez forced a contested fadeaway jumper that missed and led to a Boston fastbreak bucket to put Brooklyn down one. On the following possession, Luis Scola missed another tough fadeaway, forcing the Nets to foul with seven seconds left. Boston hit both free throws and Vasquez again forced a shot, this one a bad three-pointer and the Nets lost its third consecutive preseason game.

“We could have managed it a little better,” Kenny Atkinson said after the loss. “I think communication and getting on the same page on what we’re going to do. It’s going to be a great thing for us to look at film and what we’re gonna do in certain situations. So you know, getting on the same page, coaches and players.”

It was a close game throughout up until Boston scored 30 points in the third quarter and found an eight-point lead. The Nets, however, jumped out on a 10-2 run in the fourth and prevented a runaway game.

Luis Scola led the way with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Jeremy Lin had a line of 12 points, seven assists and two steals. Bojan Bogdanovic, Brook Lopez and Trevor Booker all had 11 points apiece, while Booker also grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Nets two youngest players, Isaiah Whitehead and Chris McCullough, both 21, did not player after subpar games vs. Miami

The offense:

The Nets had averaged 33 3-point attempts in three preseason games thus far. Thursday night, they surpassed that and took 35. They made 10. On the flip side, they scored 40 points inside the paint. With Lin on the bench, the offensive flow slows down mightily. And as we know by now, Atkinson wants an uptempo style of offense and without Lin, the Nets lose sight of that style.

This might become an issue in the regular season.

“I think the process will definitely continue over the regular season,” Brook Lopez said about adjusting to the motion offense. “We have so many new guys, new faces that we are getting to know each other and know the system. We are learning on the fly, but we have lots of intelligent, smart and selfless guys here, so we are picking it up quick and we’re enjoying playing with each other.”

The defense:

The Nets held Boston to just 41 percent from the field —39 percent in the first half — and allowed the Celtics only eight three-pointers on 29 attempts. They also forced 16 turnovers, but ultimately the 30-point third quarter and inability to come up with a stop late in the game did them in.

“First of all, defensively, I was really happy,” Atkinson explained. “Just our energy, our activity and just the way the guys competed. It’s just a big improvement, and that’s what we’re looking for now is improvement from the last, especially the last two games.”

Al Horford led Boston with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Marcus Smart (plus-14) also chipped in 13 off the bench.

Next up: Monday at Boston