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Nets finish seven-game road trip with 123-110 loss to Sixers

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no place like home. Just ask the Nets.

The Nets lost five of seven games on the seven-game road trip, most recently a 123-110 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Thursday night. The Nets are now 38-38 on the season and currently own the seventh seed in the East — six games left.

Joel Embiid was a man among boys in this game. He scored 14 of Philly’s first 19 points — en route to a 39-point, 13-rebound, six-assist night. He led the Sixers on a 12-0 charge in the second quarter, which gave them a 20-point lead.

Down 48-31, Kenny Atkinson was in need of a spark. He inserted Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Hollis-Jefferson who changed the entire complexion of the first half, scoring six straight points in the midst of a 11-0 Brooklyn run. Suddenly a 20-point deficit dwindled down to nine entering the second half.

But, the Nets never got it going. They couldn’t come up with stops and their best player was essentially a liability out there.

The Nets trimmed the deficit down to 10 with 3:30 remaining in the game. D’Angelo Russell was off all night and committed his seventh turnover of the night, then followed it up with two missed free throws on the ensuing possession. It should’ve been a single-digit deficit, but instead it turned into a 13-point deficit with three minutes left.

No crazy shots. No improbable comeback. Just a loss.

Russell finished the night 6-of-19 from the floor with seven turnovers. In his place, back-up guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert picked up the slack and combined for 31 points. Off the bench, Hollis-Jefferson came in and gave the Nets some quickness and athleticism they so badly needed in a downhill game like this, and finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

The Nets committed 15 turnovers and shot 7-of-15 from the free throw line in the second half. They shot just 44 percent, but the main issue at hand was defense. They allowed Philly to hit 50 percent of their shots and 48 percent from three.

Other than Joe Harris (22 points), Brooklyn’s starters were nonexistent. Jarrett Allen was yanked after nine minutes of getting dominated by Embiid. Rodions Kurucs and DeMarre Carroll shot 1-of-8 and combined for just three points. We know the story with Russell.

The race is becoming exhausting and the wins aren’t coming easy.

... You just hope you don’t look back at a game like Portland and think what could’ve been.

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PLAYOFF RACE

It’s all way too close for comfort. Just 1.5 games separated the six-seed Nets and the nine seed. After Friday’s round of games, the Nets are in seventh place, a half game behind the Pistons and a half game ahead of the Heat. The Nets are also a game ahead of the Magic, who are in ninth place.

The Nets own the tie-breaker with both the Pistons and Magic.

If the season were to end today, the Nets would face the Raptors, but Brett Brown suggested any team facing them in the post-season should take note..

MAKING A CASE FOR DLO

You heard it here first. If Victor Oladipo won Most Improved Player last year, then D’Angelo Russell should win it this year. Not taking anything away from Pascal Siakam, but the standards were set last year. If Siakam wins, shouldn’t Dinwiddie have won last year?

Then, Richard Jefferson stood up for DLo on The Jump in an hilarious exchange with Zach Lowe.

DLO’S VIRTUAL TOUR OF BROOKLYN

It wasn’t quite what Adweek described— a tour of Brooklyn with Kevin Durant. Instead it was virtual tour, a video of Russell extolling Brooklyn to the Warrior superstar and soon-to-be free agent.

DINWIDDIE KICKS

LOOKING BACK ON THE ROAD-TRIP

From blowing double digit leads to improbable comebacks to disappoint endings, this road-trip has been a roller coaster. The Nets have been one of the most unpredictable teams in the NBA, and that’s what makes this final stretch so stressful.

Seven games. 17 days. 8,000+ miles.

Following Thursday’s game against the Sixers, Brooklyn closes out the season against Boston, Milwaukee, Toronto, Milwaukee, Indiana and Miami.

Sheesh.

***

The Nets will face the Boston Celtics on Saturday to a sold out crowd. It’s officially the playoffs in Brooklyn.

For a different perspective, head on over to Liberty Ballers, our 76ers sister site on SB Nation.