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Lou Will hits buzzer beater to hand Nets their third straight loss, 119-116

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Clippers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

There was 5.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter, arguably the most important game of Brooklyn’s season. The Nets are slipping and the schedule isn’t getting any more promising. A win would go a long way.

The Nets seemed desperate. They trailed by 10 with 1:02 left in the fourth. 57 seconds later, Jarrett Allen slammed home a bucket that would cap off a 10-0 Brooklyn run.

But... 5.3 seconds left

It felt like it would be another feel-good Nets comeback story. But Lou Will had other intentions.

Lou Williams stepped in and hit the game-winning buzzer beater. The Nets tried to deny, but it didn’t work. Williams caught the pass clean and took a bold 28-footer that crushed the hearts of the already-aching Nets, with a final score of 119-116.

“The plan was to get it out of his hands [Lou Williams], but their alignment was such where we couldn’t get it out of his hands,” Kenny Atkinson said after the game. “The Utah game stung more.”

It’s Brooklyn’s third game and third straight loss on the road. They slip to 36-36 on the season — tied in the loss column with the eight-seed Miami Heat.

It was a game of runs capped off by a magical shot for the Clippers.

The Nets were down 116-106 when Spencer Dinwiddie knocked down a pair of free throws followed by a three-pointer from D’Angelo Russell, his sixth of the night. The Nets forced a Clips timeout and then came up with a five-second violation, down five with 44 seconds left.

DeMarre Carroll (22 points) drove the lane and put home an and-one to put Brooklyn down two. Patrick Beverley missed a corner three and Jarrett Allen made him pay with a game-tying slam on the other end.

“I think at this point in the season, you know, overcoming a lot earlier in the season... I don’t believe in moral victories, so to me this is a tough loss,” said Carroll after the game.

Dinwiddie had a night to forget back in his hometown, finishing with 13 points on 2-of-16 shooting. Rodions Kurucs, too. He fouled out in 13 minutes of action with three turnovers to his name.

The Clippers were led by Williams, who finished the night with 25 points and six rebounds on 8-of-16 shooting. Montrezl Harrell was a difference-maker with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

The Nets shouldn’t have been in that position. They turned the ball over far too many times (14) and allowed way too many second-chance opportunities. They even led by as many as 19 in the second quarter... then it was erased seven minutes later.

It’s things like this that haunt the Nets. It mostly falls on the players, but the coaches sometimes too. The Nets like analytics, but when Russell is cooking — you don’t take him out. It’s apparent enough. He scores in large masses in a short amount of time. Whether it’s a teaching moment or not, he should not be playing the same amount of minutes as Treveon Graham.

The coaching staff has gotten them to a point where the progress they’ve made is enough to support their credentials. But for them — their culture — finishing what they started, and that’s a winning season, would be enormous for an up-and-coming team like the Nets.

Hopefully for their sake, they aren’t content with falling out of the playoffs.

Russell kept the Nets alive most of the night and finished with 32 points and 10 — the first time in his career in which he scored more than 30 points and assisted more than 10 times in the same night.

REWIND

The Nets found themselves down 11 in the third quarter when Kenny Atkinson implemented to 2-3 zone to try and slow L.A. down. The Nets answered with a 12-2 run, then a 7-0 run which gave them an 82-75 lead. The Clippers closed out the quarter on a 12-5 run and it was all knotted up at 87 apiece entering the fourth.

It almost seemed fitting that this game came down to the final shot.

***

The losses are piling up and they’re dropping in the standings. With only 10 games left this season — anything short of the playoffs will be hard to overlook the improvements versus looking over what would be a pretty bad collapse to the end of this season.

Considering the improvement, the Nets are absolutely fortunate to be in this position.

Anybody will tell you that.

But they’ve been a playoff team all year. It’s only appropriate to hold them to the standards they’ve reached and goals they’ve set.

DINWIDDIE KICKS

PLAYOFF RACE

Brooklyn’s mini skid put them in an uncomfortable position entering Sunday. They came in a full game away from the six seed and two games ahead of the Miami Heat for the seven seed. The ninth place Magic are only three games back.

***
Next up: Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET.