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Nets did everything they could... besides finish: 120-116

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Another winnable game lost in the final minutes. Sigh or, as we’re likely to say next year, Tsai.

All looked good from a Nets perspective early on. They owned a 56-43 lead behind a balanced attack in the second quarter. However, If you went to grab some popcorn, maybe a drink during the break, you’d come back and notice the Nets trailed 68-63 in no time.

Typical.

The Sixers led by five entering the fourth, but the Nets stayed persistent. They battled Philadelphia all throughout the fourth quarter and took a 113-110 lead with two minutes remaining. A couple bad turnovers and a Robert Covington 3-pointer put Philly up one with 35 seconds left.

The Nets went with an isolation for Spencer Dinwiddie, who took it to the hole and turned it over. It looked like his right arm was hooked on the play, but we aren’t going there. Not until the L2M report comes out, that is.

It was 118-115 Philly, 18.1 seconds left.

Dinwiddie forced up a tough fadeaway three that missed short. The Nets got possession back on a jump ball, but Philly put Dinwiddie at the line with 5.8 seconds left and no timeouts remaining. Joel Embiid sealed the deal at the line.

FINAL: Philadelphia 120, Nets 116.

To make matters worse, Caris LeVert limped to the bench late in the fourth holding his knee. He finished with 16 points.

It was a 17-2 run that bridged from the second to third quarter, which helped lift the Sixers to a five-point lead entering the fourth. Joel Embiid finished the night just 6-of-23 from the floor, but the Nets failed to capitalize off that. He put up 24 points and 19 rebounds.

After starting the night 2-of-3 from the floor, D’Angelo Russell went on to miss nine of his next 10 shots. He started the game hot but finished cold with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting. Dinwiddie finished with 14 off the bench.

Everybody contributed, everybody had a role, but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll really stepped up. RHJ finished with a team-high 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Carroll recorded a team-high 11th double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

The Nets shot 50 percent from three and out-rebounded Philly by five. Six players finished in double figures – including Jahlil Okafor who had 10 points in 13 minutes. But they simply cannot finish out games.

“We didn’t make the play to close it out,” Atkinson said. “Credit to their defense. They switched everything, and we didn’t make the play. On the flip side, we struggled to get a stop. [Covington] made the big three. Our defense was good in stretches, but it let us down a little bit toward the end.”

That’s a big reason why they’re 21-48. They’ll face off against Charlotte tomorrow at Barclays Center.

DINWIDDIE HEADS TO THE BENCH

Prior to the game, Kenny Atkinson told reporters that Spencer Dinwiddie would come off the bench after starting 55 straight games. Dinwiddie is averaging just nine points on 34 percent - 17 percent from three- since the All-Star break. The Nets are reeling and Atkinson is/was looking for answers.

So, Russell got the nod as the starting point guard without sharing any duties with anybody else. The Nets started Russell, Harris, Carroll, Hollis-Jefferson, and Allen.

“We’ve been bleeding points in the paint,” Atkinson said post-game. “I’ll get Rondae and get some length and some rebounding in there and move D.C. back to the three. We’ve got to do a better job of patrolling our paint, rebounding, so it’s a little bit of a defensive shift.”

PHILLY, STARTERS WELCOME BACK RHJ

Michael Grady said in the YES pre-game that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was hyped up before the game because he got to return close to home in Philadelphia. Grady said RHJ had close to 200 people in the stands.

It wasn’t his only return of some sorts. He returned to the starting lineup for the first time since January 26 at Milwaukee. Hollis-Jefferson is averaging 14.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists as a starter this season.

OKAFOR RETURNS TO PHILLY

Friday was the first time Jahlil Okafor returned to Philadelphia wearing another team’s uniform and he played well ... enough. In 13 minutes of action, all of it after Dante Cunningham had to leave the game following a head slap by Embiid, he scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds, blocked two shots, stole the ball twice and registered a +/- rating of +4. He got booed by the Sixers fans, but hey, it’s Philadelphia.

For a different perspective, head on over to Liberty Ballers, including their interview with Pooch.