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Nets blow a 23-point lead and lose to Hornets, 111-105

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They didn’t hit a shot in the final 4:11 of the game.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

It’s actually impressive how the Nets found a way to lose this game.

They led by 23 in the second quarter. They led by 23 late in the third quarter. Then it all went downhill, as they watched Dwight Howard absolutely chew them up inside, finishing the night with 32 points and 30 rebounds.

They failed to hit a shot in the final 4:11 of the fourth, losing to Charlotte, 111-105, Wednesday night in Brooklyn.

The Nets missed 13 of 15 shots bridging from the third to fourth quarter and saw the 23-point lead turn into a six-point lead. With 23 seconds left, Kemba Walker spun the lane and finished an and-one to put Charlotte up two with 18 seconds left.

It was their first lead since 16-15, which proved to be the dagger.

The Nets trailed by four with 11 seconds left and Quincy Acy committed an offensive foul, negating any final chance the Nets had. They were outscored 36-18 in the fourth.

Howard became the third player this season to record 20+ points and 20+ rebounds against the Nets this season. The other two were Andre Drummond and Enes Kanter. And Howard’s 30/30 game was the first against the Nets in 40 years. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 37 and 30 in 1978. It is also one of only 31 in league history.

Howard destroyed the Nets all night, but no adjustments were made. It was simple complacency because the initial game plan worked in the first half, but not the second. Only one player taller than 6’8” covered Howard and it was rookie Jarrett Allen, who fouled out late in the game.

Watching from the bench was Jahlil Okafor – somebody who could have potentially helped get a basket in the final 4:11. Somebody who could have maybe, just maybe, given Howard a little difficulty. I mean, it couldn’t have hurt considering how they played.

But hey, we’ll leave it there. They insist on playing small ball and making teams pay from the 3-point line. They shot 35 percent from deep on 13-of-37 shooting. They had a 38-14 advantage inside the paint in the first half. They finished with six points in the paint in the second half.

The Nets are now 23-49 on the season. They’ve yet to win three straight games this season and they might struggle to get one with only 10 games left this season.

D’Angelo Russell led the team with 19 points, while Caris LeVert chipped in 14 off the bench. Jarrett Allen matched a career-high with four blocks.

MAKE WHAT YOU’D LIKE OF IT

“Got to be better,” Crabbe did say, post-game. “Got to be better down the stretch and keep going to what was working, what got us the 23 point lead and stick with that. We didn’t do that, so that’s happens. We lost, so those are the results you get.”

CUNNINGHAM RETURNS FROM CONCUSSION PROTOCOL, DOESN’T PLAY

On Friday, Dante Cunningham left the Nets-Sixers game early after taking a whack to the face from Joel Embiid. After further evaluation the following morning, Cunningham indeed suffered a concussion and was forced to sit out the past two games.

He’s been an integral part of Atkinson’s rotation since he joined the team after the trade deadline. His 48 percent 3-point shooting has helped the Nets spread the floor and play position-less basketball. He was active but did not play.

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY

Miss you, Brook.