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Jimmy Butler hits game-winning shot to lift Sixers past Nets, 127-125

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The Nets are now 8-13.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — All eyes were on Jimmy Butler as the clock wound down with the Nets up by one. Butler took a step to his right, stepped back behind the three-point line and nailed the game-winning shot in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s face with 0.4 second left.

It capped off a 34-point, 12-rebound night for Butler who led Philly in beating the Nets, 127-125, Sunday night in Brooklyn. They out-scored the Nets 38-23 in the fourth quarter.

The Nets controlled the tempo most of the game. They led by 13 with 5:38 remaining, but the 76ers came storming back with a 16-2 run which gave them their first lead since 2-0. Joe Harris then answered with a three-pointer and it became a game of exchanging buckets late.

Only Butler and the Sixers got the last shot and the last laugh.

“My teammates have a lot of confidence in me to take those shots late,” Butler said. “So hopefully I make those shots late, as well, I got to the spot that I wanted, raised up and knocked it down.”

“It’s tough, we played 45 minutes of that game and lost it to that one shot, but we gave ourselves a chance,” D’Angelo Russell said after the game. “Ending it like that, you can’t really dwell on that type of loss. You have guys capable of making those shots day in and day out in this league.”

Kenny Atkinson expressed the same sentiments.

“It’s a shame. I thought our guys competed, they led for most of the game and it’s one of those you think you deserve to win it and they put it out in the end. Listen, credit to them,” Atkinson said. “They hit some tough shots, obviously (Jimmy) Butler’s shot at the end was a heck of a shot. We got our best defender (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) on him, so be it.”

It didn’t look like the Nets would be stopped. Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie both had their best games as Brooklyn Nets as both split the load and carried the Nets all throughout the night.

Russell scored a season-high and best as a Net with 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists on 16-of-28 shooting. It was his ninth career game with 30 or more points.

Dinwiddie also scored a season-high and career high-tying 31 points and five assists in 29 minutes. It was the second time this season that Dinwiddie and Russell scored 20+ points in the same game, the first time they each had 30.

Jarrett Allen also came through with 17 points (on 7-of-11 shooting) and 10 boards. RHJ, in his first start, finished with 13 and 6. But the Nets two wings, Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris shot 1-of-8 from deep.

The Nets led by as many as 20 in this game, but failed to close it out. They’re now 8-13 on the season and have lost three straight games and seven of their last nine.

Russell missed a three-point shot with 7:07 left in the fourth quarter and didn’t take another shot until the 2:02 mark when the Sixers had already trimmed the deficit to two. This isn’t to say one person, player or coach, is to blame, but rather a credit to the Sixers for denying him the ball and trapping every time he touched it. It’s on the team to make shots and capitalize on this, Russell explained.

“They trapped so that forced me to pass, but we have guys capable of making plays out of that, so I think it played in our favor. We just missed shots,” he said.

Otherwise, the Nets shot 40 percent from deep and 57 percent overall. The Sixers meanwhile, turned the ball over just nine times compared to 27 turnovers they had in the last matchup between the two.

MISSING LEVERT

Prior to Sunday’s matchup againt Philly, the Nets were 2-4 since Caris LeVert got injured, allowing opponents to score 112.3 points per game during that span. Two out of the four losses have been by double digits. They lost by double digits only three times prior to the injury (14 games).

Safe to say they miss Caris... a lot.

However, both DLo and Din have done their best filling the gap. Russell has averaged 21.1 points, 6.3 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 2.5 turnovers and shot 36.7 percent from three. Dinwiddie has averaged 19.5 points, 6.3 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 2.5 turnovers and shot 34.9 percent from three.

HISTORICAL NIGHT FOR DLO

How extraordinary was D’Angelo Russell’s line, 38/8/8, Sunday. Here are other other players 22 or younger who put up at least those numbers: Oscar Robertson 16 times; LeBron James five times: Magic Johnson twice; Russell Westbrook twice; and Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, Allen Iverson, Alvin Adams, Jason Kidd, Chris Webber, Jerry West, Isiah Thomas and now DLo, all one each.

Heady company.

BLESS THE BROOKLYN NETS

Assistant coach/scout Tiago Splitter met with Pope Francis and gave him a Brooklyn Nets’ basketball, as seen on his Twitter. Brazilian media reported that Splitter met the Pope on Wednesday as part of a delegation from an NGO (non governmental organization) he supports.

“The future is bright!” Splitter wrote.

Here’s the full picture of the Nets’ ball:

No disrespect to The Based God, but we’re going with the Pope’s blessing on this one.

JUST BECAUSE...

DINWIDDIE’S KICKS

For another perspective, head on over to Liberty Ballers, our 76ers sister site on SB Nation.

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NEXT UP: The Nets will face the Utah Jazz on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.