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David Nwaba suffers Achilles injury as Nets’ 16-year curse in San Antonio continues, 118-105

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

June 6, 2003. Final score: New Jersey Nets 87, San Antonio Spurs 85.

That was the last time the Nets beat the Spurs in San Antonio. Thursday night made it 17 straight losses, which as it turns out was not the worst nightmare that occurred during the course of the game. Yes, they lost 118-105, but that wasn’t the half of it.

Brooklyn lost David Nwaba for the rest of the season after he suffered a non-contact injury in the third quarter. Shams Charania reported that Nwaba tore his right Achilles. The Nets confirmed the injury and Ian Eagle confirmed he will undergo surgery Friday.

“We can talk about the game, but I’m concerned about David Nwaba who hurt himself out there tonight, “ said Kenny Atkinson after the game. “That’s really where our thoughts are, tough to focus on the game right now... We’ve been here with injuries. But like I said, a young guy like that who was playing great... just really feel for him.”

So what’s next?

There’s no way of sugarcoating this. It’s devastating news for Nwaba and the Nets. The 26-year-old just seemed to be finding his niche in the league with a team known for appreciating guys like him. He found himself on the bench early, but then emerged as a solid two-way player, averaging nine points on 53 percent shooting in the past nine games.

After he went down, players and coaches surrounded him. The Nets trailed by four late in the third quarter. It was really just ... a stumble but after that, the players seemed distracted.

Over the last several years, we’ve written a lot about the Nets players watching gruesome non-contact injuries. The faces have said it all and this picture speaks volume.

And it’s just another time where we’ve written... They still had to play the game.

The Nets started the game on a 12-2 run and hit 11 of their first 15 shots. They took a 56-42 lead late in the second quarter. Spencer Dinwiddie was dominating, as were the Nets with their downhill style of play. But it was unsustainable, especially when Dinwiddie was on the bench.

The Spurs turned around and finished the final 2:20 of the first half on an 8-0 run, cutting the 14-point deficit down to six. Throughout the third, the Nets still had control of the tempo and dictated the game behind Dinwiddie’s attack.

He checked out with 4:07 left in the third, Nets up by 10. He checked back in with 58 seconds left, Nets up by only three. By the end of the third quarter, the Spurs had their first lead of the game at 83-81 following a 15-3 run.

They carried a 19-0 run over into the fourth quarter — a nine point lead with 9:02 remaining. I don’t toss blame at Kenny Atkinson very often, as he’s done everything he possibly could with circumstances thrown at him. But in this instance, he only called one timeout during the 19-0 run and it was during Nwaba’s injury. He has to burn one to maybe kill San Antonio’s momentum.

The Nets went more than five minutes without a field goal. They couldn’t hold onto the ball and committed 18 turnovers to just 16 assists on the night.

They made their run — and it was on one play. Taurean Prince got a flagrant foul from three, which gave the Nets a five-point possession and a two-point deficit. Dinwiddie scored nine straight points to close things out for Brooklyn, but the Nets simply couldn’t get the stops they needed down the stretch.

The dagger came in the final minutes. Prince turned the ball over and handed the Spurs an eight-point lead. The Nets failed on the ensuing possession and Mills made them pay with a three-pointer to go up 11 with 1:37 left.

Dinwiddie wouldn’t quit, but San Antonio’s following possession was a poetic ending to the game. The Nets, down nine, pressed up and blitzed Mills, forcing him into a tough layup, but LaMarcus Aldridge grabbed the offensive board and put San Antonio back up 11 with 1:13 left.

Game over.

The Nets were out-scored 68-49 in the second half. Mills dropped 27 off the bench, while Aldridge finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Spurs nailed 13 three-pointers and shot 45 percent from the floor.

The one silver lining for Brooklyn was the continued stellar play from Dinwiddie. He finished with a career-high 41 points on 14-of-29 shooting and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Given the way he and the Nets have played, there’s zero doubt he’s an All-Star through 28 games.

He’s averaging 35.5 points per game over the last two, 28 over the last six. Over that period, he’s scored 24+ points in six straight games and he’s scored 20+ points in 15 of the 17 games he’s started.

The Nets are 15-13 on the season, 11-6 since Kyrie Irving went down. The Nets weren’t perfect by any means on Thursday. Garrett Temple struggled yet again (2-for-12), as did Prince (3-of-9). Atkinson wasn’t perfect, either.

But like he said, their focus is shifted to David Nwaba, who will miss the rest of the year and may have to be cut for the Nets to add a replacement. It’s just another player to add to the injury list. It’s become the theme of this season. This one, perhaps the most heartbreaking.

Click here for Pooch’s thought’s on Periscope.

WARNING SIGN FOR ACHILLES INJURY?

John Schuhmann of NBA.com (and founder of this site), noted the increase in Achilles issues and suggested there may be a warning sign.

Indeed, Nwaba was listed as probable with a sore right ankle prior to being cleared in a game-time decision. That’s the same leg where he suffered the Achilles tendon rupture.

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JARRETT ALLEN GETS HIGH SCHOOL JERSEY RETIRED

Back in Texas, Jarrett Allen visited St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School where they retired his no. 35 jersey. The ever-so-humble Allen seems like he hasn’t changed. From back home to a rising star in the NBA.

Hats off to him.

MUSA, PINSON FALLING OUT OF ROTATION?

The Mus isn’t loose. Instead, he’s in the doghouse for right now with Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarrot (and until Thursday Nwaba) playing well. Musa, 20, is out of the rotation yet again. He’s shot a 31 percent clip this year for 4.4 points per game.

He —and Theo Pinson — played in garbage time Thursday after a DNP-CD Tuesday. Garrett Temple has been slotted in the backup point guard role the past couple of games, and it’s worked slightly better. Pinson is shooting 28.6 percent from the field this season. Not a typo.

Musa is 20 and Pinson is 24. They played with Long Island most of last season and, well, they haven’t taken advantage of their opportunity this year with a depleted roster.

POP ON DEMARRE CARROLL

The Spurs acquired DeMarre Carroll in a three-team sign-and-trade last July. The Nets got two stashes in return for a player who they liked but who didn’t fit into their long-term plans. He hasn’t played much in San Antone, but Gregg Popovich had positive words about the 33-year-old.

“He’s been great. He’s kept himself in shape,” said Pop. “It’s a new program for him and he’s got a couple guys ahead of him at that position so its been tough for him to get minutes but he’s been real professional about it and has done everything I can ask.”

TIME CHANGE/NETWORK CHANGE

The Brooklyn Nets announced Wednesday that the game against the New York Knicks on Thursday, December 26, at Barclays Center that was originally scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. will now tip off at 7:30 p.m ... It means the Nets are not on TNT. It’s back on YES.

For a different take, head on over the Pounding the Rock, our Spurs sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: Atlanta on Saturday, 6:00 PM ET.