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Pelicans, without Anthony Davis, defeat Nets 104-95

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — So, is this rock bottom?

The Nets (8-30) dropped their eighth straight game to the New Orleans Pelicans (16-24), 104-95, Thursday at Barclays Center.

The Pelicans played without Anthony Davis and the Nets still failed to capitalize, scoring a total of one point in the final 3:35 of action. The Pelicans finished the game on a 13-1 run and outscored Brooklyn 31-16 in the fourth, as Terrence Jones delivered the dagger. Jones finished with a game-high 24 points and 12 rebounds.

Brooklyn insisted on forcing the three ball when their best work came down low without Davis in the post. It ultimately did them in, along with their poor execution down the stretch.

Despite giving up 35 points in the first quarter, the Nets outscored the Pelicans 26-16 in the second quarter and controlled the opening half. Caris LeVert was a difference maker both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, leading the Nets to a solid second quarter and six-point lead at half. LeVert finished the night with 10 points, three rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes.

Their biggest issue, as mentioned, was the forced 3-pointers. They attempted 23 in the first half when their biggest strength came from inside the paint. After shooting 4-of-9 in the first quarter, the Nets finished the game just 9-of-42 from deep, 5-of-33 in the final three quarters.

Meanwhile, they had a field day inside the paint with 54 points behind 20 points from Brook Lopez.

This has been an issue for the Nets this season. Instead of playing to their strengths (aka Brook Lopez), they’ve forced the 3-point savvy, motion offense even when the shots aren’t going down. It’s fine and dandy when the shots are falling, but at some point there has to be a simple adjustment made.

“We’re confident in our guys when they have the open look,” Lopez said of forcing too many threes. “It is something we do in practice a lot. We feel that if we move the ball and it is an open, good look, then we are confident in it.”

That being said, games that could’ve been runaways for the Nets become closer than they should be. Hence the one that was played tonight.

Still, the Nets led 79-73 entering the fourth quarter and they’re 4-2 when leading after three.

As we know, nothing is ever simple or set in stone with the Nets. They owned a 94-91 lead with 3:35 remaining, but New Orleans answered with a 10-0 run and led, 101-94 with 46 seconds remaining. Game over.

“We really struggled to score the ball,” Kenny Atkinson said of the final three minutes of the game. “We had a few turnovers and just didn’t make the plays. We could’ve done a better job of executing down the end.”

“Just the same thing really, we just turn the ball over,” Brook Lopez said of the late-game collapse. “It’s kind of the story. That’s really it. You got to do a better job of taking care of it, myself first and foremost.”

Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Joe Harris chipped in 15 and Bojan Bogdanovic 10. Bogdanovic scored just two points in the final three quarters of action.

For post-game audio, click here.

WHITEHEAD HEADS TO LOCKER ROOM

Late in the third quarter, Isaiah Whitehead headed to the locker room in what the Nets called a sprained left knee. He was deemed “questionable” to return, leading one to believe it is not too serious.

Next up: Friday night at Toronto.