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Ugly: Nets blown out in Atlanta, drop third straight, 141-118

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Brooklyn Nets v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

This whirlwind of a season turned even treacherous Friday night.

The Nets fell to the Atlanta Hawks, 141-118, dropping their third straight game while falling into the eight seed in the East. They’re 10-19 on the road and 18-21 against Eastern Conference opponents. It’s also the most points the Hawks have scored against the Nets, ending an eight-game losing streak against Brooklyn.

The Nets are infamous for blowing double digit leads this season. They did that all throughout the first half, leading by 13 then leading by 10 — both at different points of the half. Each time, the Hawks answered with a run to stick within striking distance.

At one point, the Nets held a 43-33 lead but the Hawks answered with a 13-0 run (20-7 extended) and took a six-point lead entering the half. Caris LeVert exited with 7:37 remaining in second quarter, Nets leading 43-38. They trailed 68-62 at half.

Atlanta scored 39 points and it was just a preview of what was to come.

In the third, Cam Reddish scored 11 points en route to an Atlanta 40-point quarter for the home team. The Nets had no rhythm on either end, and a 13-point lead turned into a 14-point deficit following a 12-2 Hawks run. they hit eight 3-pointers, dropped 40 points in the quarter and scored 108 points through three quarters.

Kenny Atkinson did everything he could regarding defensive adjustments, but nothing worked. He went with a box-and-one on Trae Young for a brief span of time, but that didn’t work. He then went to a 2-3 zone, but that didn’t work. They gave up the most 3-pointers through three quarters this season at 17, while Atlanta finished 19-of-39 on the night despite being the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA.

“[Defense is] our identity. We’re seventh in the league in defense, and [Friday] we looked like 800th in defense,” Atkinson said. “We lost our defensive identity.”

Defense wasn’t the only issue. The Nets went over five minutes in the fourth without a field goal. During that span, the Hawks went on an 8-0 run and took a 16-point lead following a Trae Young up-and-under. It was over after that. And probably the worst loss of the season.

Young finished with 22 points but shot just 6-of-18. John Collins was the anchor for Atlanta, finishing with 33 points and 13 rebounds on 11-of-15 shooting. Reddish finished with 26. All five starters scored in double figures.

For Brooklyn, Spencer Dinwiddie led the way with 24 points and 13 assists.

“If we continue playing like we’ve been playing, we won’t be in the playoffs, period, point-blank,” Garrett Temple said. “That’s our goal, to make the playoffs. But we have to change something. We have to compete at the end of the day, or we’ll be sitting at home watching.”

There isn’t much else to be said. The Nets look like a lost team with zero identity. Every time they get hot, they go on some sort of losing skid. It’s almost as if the games serve as a microcosm for the season.

Where’s that headed? Right towards a first-round battle with the Milwaukee Bucks. Yikes.

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2ND ROUND STEAL?!

After having played three solid games for Long Island, Claxton was called on Friday. He scored four points in three minutes and looked like an NBA player, if a bit thinner.

GARRETT TEMPLE’S STORY

For a different perspective, head on over to Peachtree Hoops, our Hawks sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: Nets at Heat, 7:30 PM ET.