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Nets fight and claw but lose Game 4 in disappointing fashion, 112-108

It’s a 3-1 Sixers lead.

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NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Down 2-1 in the series, the Nets were fighting for their lives. Maybe even literally.

Unfortunately, the Nets lost 112-108, and are now down 3-1 with this season’s lifespan may be determined in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. It’s win-or-go-home in this best-of-seven series.

“There’s a disappointment losing any game – whether it be home or on the road – especially, when you’re up, five minutes left to go in the game,” said Caris LeVert afterwards. Indeed, the Nets were up by one with 50 seconds left, but turnovers and what the Nets saw as a missed call undid them.

The Nets and 76ers had gone head-to-head the entire game, just as they have all series long. Jared Dudley even had some fun with Bill Simmons in the second quarter...

Then, it all blew up in the third quarter with a scrum that careened into the front row. Joel Embiid laid (another) flagrant foul on Jarrett Allen, with Brooklyn up six and Jared Dudley was having none of it.

Dudley, who’s gone from a buyout candidate to a fan favorite, came flying in to defend his teammate and he and Jimmy Butler got into it. After a long review, both ended up getting ejected and Embiid was assessed a Flagrant 1, his second in four games.

Here’s a couple of angles...

Dudley’s teammates offered their support.

“We’ve definitely got to protect ourselves out there,” said Russell. “You guys watched the game. You see what’s happening and the intensity. Two teams fighting their tails off to compete and as simple as that is – that’s all it is.”

“I love that he did that,” said Allen. “I don’t think he needed to go to that extent but I think Jared Dudley wanted to show that we’re here, we’re here to stay, and we’re not going to give up and we’re going to fight to the end.”

Dudley, asked after the game if he regretted getting tossed, was having none of it. “No. If anything I probably would’ve gotten my money’s worth a little bit more on that push.”

He explained: “When you have a guy giving flagrant fouls — Joel Embiid’s second in the league in flagrant fouls, and for that elbow he had before just to have a Flagrant 1, no fine, laughing in the media. If you think that a team I play on is going to have that that’s another thing coming.”

Dudley’s teammates weren’t the only Nets personnel who approved of his actions...

The fight seemed to energize the Nets who owned a 99-93 lead early in the fourth, but the 76ers answered with a 11-4 run and regained the lead, 104-103, with 2:15 remaining. D’Angelo Russell, who had been cold all night, still pulled up from three and knocked it down to take a two-point lead, 1:30 remaining.

On the ensuing possession, the Nets forced Ben Simmons to miss but a slight push-off led to an offensive rebound and J.J. Redick hit a three-pointer to put the Sixers back up one. After turning it over on the inbound pass, Caris LeVert made up for his miscue by intercepting a pass with 34 seconds left. Russell then hit Joe Harris on backdoor pass and the Nets regained the lead with 25 seconds left.

Barclays Center was as loud as it’s ever been since it opened in 2012. Fans rallied behind the team. Now, it was time for the team to rally behind them.

But, the Sixers had other plans. Brett Brown drew up a great play out of a timeout and Mike Scott hit what would be the game-winning three with 18.6 seconds left. The Nets went to Jarrett Allen and the Sixers swarmed him and the Nets fouled him, but no call.

Turnover. It was their fifth in the final 10 possessions. Game over. Potentially... season over.

Asked after the game if he was tired of poor officiating, Spencer Dinwiddie replied, “I’ve been fed up [with the officiating] since last year!”

Final score: 112-108.

Embiid torched the Nets for 31 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes. He was a game time decision. Tobias Harris had another big game with 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting.

For Brooklyn, inserting Caris LeVert into the starting lineup was a game changer. LeVert got whatever he wanted and finished with 25 points in 42 minutes.

“Yeah, it looked like it had some effect,” said Atkinson. “I thought it boosted our energy – obviously getting Caris (LeVert) more involved in what we’re doing and we got J.D. (Jared Dudley) at the five a little bit. I just felt like it was time to change, and I thought it helped us.”

Jarrett Allen was a force down low with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Dinwiddie chipped in 15 off the bench.

Russell was 6-of-19 from the floor and Harris was 4-of-14 (but 0-for-6 from three). As a whole, the Nets shot 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from three. They were out-rebounded by 14.

“I think that’s part of the game plan,” Russell said of Embiid clogging the paint. “When these big guys are clogging the lane like that, we’re able to throw over the top and get in and kick it out. When there’s three guys in there, it works in our favor. Like I said, we’ll look at the film, see where the help’s coming from, see where their scouting help is coming from and we capitalize on that. Simple as that.”

The season isn’t over, but the Nets couldn’t get it done on their home court and they’ll enter a hostile Philly environment on Tuesday. But, like Atkinson said after Game 2, “One thing about these Brooklyn Nets is that they always bounce back.”

They better or else this thing is done.

“It was frustrating, but we’ve got another game,” said LeVert.


Head referee Ed Malloy was asked after the game why his crew made the calls. He spoke with AP writer Brian Mahoney.


Howard Beck put it best...

And he added, his NBA reporting colleagues had a good time...

Sarah Kustok agreed...

It was the Nets sixth straight sell-out — the last four regular season games and the two first round playoff games— but Saturday, with its obvious do-or-die implications, was different. A win would have been great, but the Nets and their fan base passed a milestone this week. This was a Brooklyn crowd, proud of their team and ready to use their weary lungs and chapped hands to show it.

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


Game 5 will be at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo, at 8:30 pm, Tuesday.