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You guessed it: Nets collapse late, lose to Clippers, 123-120

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Clippers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have won a single game since the beginning of February. It’s now March 5 and the Nets are tied for the worst record in the Eastern Conference, dropping to 20-44 as a result of Sunday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

In a game where the Nets were up eight late in the fourth, a series of miscues and bad shots, plus some tough play by the Clips beat Brooklyn.

With less than a minute left, Austin Rivers put home a huge 3-pointer to put Los Angeles up 121-120. Caris LeVert, who had the best of his two-year career, drove and turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, separating the game and shot clock by six seconds. Then, Lou Williams drained a mid-range fallaway jumper in LeVert’s face, putting L.A. up 123-120 with 8.9 seconds left.

On the Nets final chance, L.A. native Spencer Dinwiddie picked-up his dribble near half-court but found an oncoming Joe Harris, who had been blocked by rookie Sindarius Thornwell while attempting a contested 3. Dinwiddie hoisted his own desperation three that came up just short. As the Nets have all season. they lost.

FINAL: Clippers 123, Nets 120

Ultimately, the Nets had no answer for the Clippers, who are fighting for a Western Conference playoff spot, and shot nearly 60% in the first half against Brooklyn, falling to a still very respectable 52.4% prior to the game’s conclusion.

THE GAME:

A 10-0 start forced an early Kenny Atkinson timeout just minutes into the game. 27 points later, the Nets only trailed by 5 after the first period, allowing the Clippers to break 30, a common theme opposite of Brooklyn this season to begin games.

The Clippers led 65-53 at halftime after another 30+ point quarter against Brooklyn (33 to be exact) in the second. The Clippers quickly grew their lead to 69-55 just over a minute into the quarter before a 10-2 run brought Brooklyn within 6 points with over 7 minutes remaining.

The Nets stayed in reach of the Clippers, only trailing 91-86 after 3 quarters, and their offense had garnered a substantial rhythm as the team assisted on 22 of their first 30 field goal makes. Since the All-Star break, the Nets have been +23 in third quarters.

To begin the fourth, the Nets amassed an 8-3 run, tying the Clippers with 10:38 to go thanks to a 3-pointer from Joe Harris in transition. After a bucket from L.A., Dante Cunningham drained a deep one to give the Nets their first lead, 97-96 with 9:41 left.

After finding themselves in a 110-110 tie with over four minutes to go, the Nets put together an 8-0 run over a near 2-minute span, resulting in their biggest lead of the ball game. Leading 120-118 with less than a minute left, the Clippers regained possession, and found a red-hot Austin Rivers, who drained a 3 with 33.5 seconds to go, giving Los Angeles a 121-120 edge.

Lou Williams drained a mid-range fallaway jumper in the face of Caris LeVert, forcing a 123-120 lead with 8.9 seconds left, and an Atkinson timeout, his last of regulation.

On the final play, Spencer Dinwiddie picked-up his dribble near half-court but found an oncoming Joe Harris, who was blocked by rookie Sindarius Thornwell while attempting a contested 3. Harris recovered the loose ball and hoisted another, eating the front of the rim, where the Nets efforts landed yet again, coming up short, losing by 3.

MISSING IN ACTION:

D’Angelo Russell, like most of the starters, began slowly and as Caris LeVert started showing that he was hot, Kenny Atkinson moved DLo to the bench. And in the end, Russell was glued to the bench in the fourth. No minutes, no seconds.

“Caris was great. That’s it. There was no way with the game he was having [that he was coming out],” Atkinson told reporters post-game. “There’s only so many spots out there. So, we felt like we had to go with Caris.”

No loss pointed up the Nets continuing —and perhaps increasing— problem with its roster imbalance than Sunday’s. The team has a surplus of players, good players, at the 1, 2 and 3, with limited minutes. And this is without Jeremy Lin, who will be back next year, and Isaiah Whitehead, who played in Long Island.

MOB MENTALITY:

In the city where Ice Cube founded the Lench Mob 28 years ago, it was the Nets’ Bench Mob who brought the team back into the game, and ultimately propelled Brooklyn in the nearly triumphant win. Although it was not to be, it was still widely impressive.

The Nets received 75 points from their bench, as follows …

  • Caris LeVert: 27 points (career-high), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 5-7 from three (career-high), 2 steals
  • Joe Harris: 19 points, 6-11 from field goal, 3-7 from three, 4-4 on free throws
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
  • Dante Cunningham: 14 points, 5-8 from the field, 2-4 from three

The Net reserves collectively shot 53.8% from the field and 52.6% from downtown.

DIME DROPPIN’:

In the loss, the Nets assisted on 30-of-40 of their field goals conversions, ending at 75%.

OTHER NOTABLES:

  • DeMarre Carroll: 20 points, 7 rebounds, 6-11 from three (career-high)
  • Spencer Dinwiddie: 6 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 6-6 on free throws
  • D’Angelo Russell (zero fourth quarter minutes): 6 points, 3 assists, 1-6 from field goal
  • Austin Rivers: 27 points, 5 rebounds, 10-15 from field goal, 4-8 from three
  • Tobias Harris: 26 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals

KILPATRICK FINDS A NEW HOME:

Sean Kilpatrick believes all things happen for a reason and his faith was rewarded Sunday when the Clippers signed the former Net guard to a 10-day contract. After he was cut by the Nets following the Jahlil Okafor/Nik Stauskas trade, Kilpatrick was picked up by the Bucks, but cut by Milwaukee. Now, he has a chance to make with a team on a playoff hunt.

“We just need downhill guards that attack,” Doc Rivers said. “We went through the whole list, and we think that’s what Sean does well. He kind of matches our DNA a little bit in what we’ve had this year, guys who are tough, who have an edge. Those are the types of players we’re looking for.”

The White Plains native was in uniform Sunday and had two points in 11:25 minutes of playing time.

Kilpatrick, of course, had his career game vs. the Clippers last season when he led the Nets to a big double overtime win at Barclays Center, scoring 38 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

HOME CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH:

The encounter with Los Angeles on Sunday marks the Nets’ third straight road contest of the 5-game trip. The Nets will face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday and Charlotte Hornets on Thursday before returning to Brooklyn for back-to-back home games against the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors on Sunday, March 11 and Tuesday, March 13.

For a different perspective, head on over to Clips Nation.