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Nets grind late and scratch out victory against Washington, 103-98

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Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

#FreeJah? Not so fast.

The Nets didn’t need him just yet. While all the hype was around Jahlil Okafor’s debut with the Nets, they handled business quite well against Wizards, beating Washington, 103-98, Tuesday night at Barclays Center. The Wizards played without John Wall and the Nets capitalized and won their third game in the last four. They’re 11-15 on the season and remain 2.5 games back of the eight seed.

The two teams were knotted up at 51 apiece at half when the Nets came out of the gates with an 11-0 run, ultimately taking a 14-point lead, following a 11-0 run. However, Washington cut the deficit down to one following a 14-2 run of their own.

The Nets struggled to hold a big lead, as they have all season, but they were resilient down the stretch, which has slowly become their identity.

It was a one-point game for most the fourth quarter, as both teams exchanged buckets throughout. The Nets went almost seven minutes without a field goal – from the 9:05 mark to the 2:06 mark. Washington wasn’t much better, as both teams combined for 12 straight empty possessions.

The end was ugly, then very, very pretty. Down one with 51 seconds left, Allen Crabbe nailed a crucial 3-pointer to put Brooklyn up 100-98. They made a stop, missed on the other end, then watched as who else but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson corral the offensive board. Spencer Dinwiddie made 1-of-2, which gave Washington life, but they committed a 5-second violation in the face of the Nets tight defense and Caris LeVert sealed the deal.

The Nets assisted on 26 of their 34 made field goals, despite shooting a poor 10-of-43 from deep. Dinwiddie (1-of-11) and Crabbe (2-of-13) struggled from deep, but both came up big in the final moments. Dinwiddie posted a career-high 12 assists, adding 11 points, six rebounds and two steals to his line.

Hollis-Jefferson finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds while LeVert ended up with 16 points and eight assists. DeMarre Carroll chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds.

For Washington, Bradley Beal led the way with 28 points but was held to just three in the fourth quarter.

WELCOME TO BROOKLYN? NOT SO FAST

Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas were introduced by the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. It was clear from the start that Jahlil Okafor wanted to play, despite having to adjust to the fast-paced offense.

“I’m definitely ready [to play] and I’m tired of sitting,” Okafor said.

Neither played. Maybe Thursday against the Knicks. The crowd surely wanted him, as they chanted, “OK-A-FOR” throughout the second half.

PROHOROV IN TOWN FOR WIN

Mikhail Prokhorov is in town again, watching from his suite while two other members of the team’s board of directors, Dmitry Razumov and Sergey Kushchenko sat courtside. Prokhorov, who’s about to close on the sale of a $1 billion minority stake in the team, has been in Brooklyn more this year than in recent years. And why not? He’s a fan of good basketball!

“I think we are in the right way, because the team is improving. Of course we have injuries. But it’s a part of the NBA game. But still it is also the chance for the other players for some minutes,” Prokhorov told The Post. “Still, we have a long bench, so it’s part of a competitive team.”

The owner told Brian Lewis that the sale to Alibaba executive vice chairman Joe Tsai is close. “I think Joe is a great partner and will help the game and help the NBA,” said Prokhorov.

For a different perspective, head on over to Bullets Forever.