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SAME SCRIPT, DIFFERENT DAY! Nets choke in final seconds and lose to Heat, 116-113

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Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

If cool is repeatedly getting your heart broken, consider the Nets Miles Davis.

For the third time this week, the Nets found another way to lose in the final seconds of the game. The Nets came storming back down 14 in the fourth quarter, cutting Miami’s lead down to two with nine seconds left.

Recent memories haunted the Nets: A missed 3-pointer against Orlando on Monday after leading by 18, and a missed step-back 3-pointer against the Wizards on Wednesday after climbing back from an 18-point deficit.

Spencer Dinwiddie had the game in his hands with 9.7 seconds left. He waited, and waited, and waited, hoping for Joe Harris to get open following an off-ball screen, right-wing extended. Harris was covered and Wilson Chandler trailed behind him. Instead of driving, Dinwiddie, looking quite indecisive, sailed the pass out-of-bounds with 1.7 seconds left.

“We had basically a drawn-out double-screen away for Joe and obviously they switched everything, which created a loaded side on the drive,” Dinwiddie said post-game. “Jimmy Butler was in help position. So I was gonna throw it to Wilson (Chandler).

“Technically, right read, errant pass on my end. Gotta take full responsibility for that. Those were basically the looks. If they switch out and take Joe away with the loaded side, there’s not gonna be much driving lane so threw it to Wilson for the win, going for three.”

The Nets lost their fourth straight game, 116-113, Saturday night in Miami. They’re 18-21 against Eastern Conference teams and 10-20 on the road this season. There are four losses separating them and the nine-seed Wizards and the upcoming schedule isn’t very encouraging, with four of the next seven coming against the Celtics, Grizzlies, Lakers and Clippers.

Dinwiddie and Harris brought the Nets back into this game. The Nets closed in on the Heat, cutting their 14-point deficit down to six. Miami grabbed two offensive boards in one possession, milked the clock, and hit a 3-pointer to go up nine with 2:44 remaining.

Then, Harris hit a 3-pointer and Dinwiddie made an elite move to the rim to bring the Nets within two, capping off a 7-0 run with 1:20 left. Fist pump time.

Brooklyn then came up with a stop and had a chance to take the lead, but Taurean Prince missed on an open 3-pointer.

Goran Dragic hit a midrange jumper with 14.7 seconds, which was then answered by a 3-pointer from Harris to bring the Nets within one point with 11 seconds left. Jimmy Butler missed one of two free throws, and the Nets had a chance to tie or win the game.

They didn’t even attempt a shot.

Harris finished the night with 20 points and five 3-pointers on nine attempts. Dinwiddie finished the night with 25 points and 12 assists. As a whole, the Nets took good care of the ball with just 10 turnovers on the night. They hit their 3-pointers with 16 total on the night — 46.5 percent from the field.

It was their struggles on the defensive end that put them in a bad position.

Miami asserted themselves in the second and third quarters, scoring 33 in the second and 34 in the third. Seven players finished in double figures, led by Kendrick Nunn who had 21 points. Dragic, a usual Nets killer, notched a double double with 19 points and 10 assists. Butler was contained to 5-of-14 shooting, but finished with a near triple double.

We talk so much about the Nets and their lack of identity this season, especially with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sidelined for the season. With that being said, just one week ago it seemed like Brooklyn was coming into their own thanks to their defensive prowess, where they stood seventh in the NBA for defensive rating.

However at this point in the season entering March, the Nets, at 26-33, have only one identity that’s separating them from being a bad team and a good team: Their inability to close out games.

It’s simply appalling. Still, Kenny Atkinson thinks he sees some light at the end of the tunnel, noting the success of the late game comeback ... on the road ... at the end of a back-to-back ... third game in four days.

“We’ve gone through stretches like this before. We lost seven in a row. This is part of the NBA. It’s a long season. We’ve had opportunities. We’ll get it back. We’ll get it back down the road. Obviously, we have a tough game in Boston and then we have home games where we’ve got to get some games back. I’m confident in the group. They’re together, playing hard. I feel good about it going forward.”

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CARIS LEVERT NOT AT 100 PERCENT

Caris LeVert contributed last night with 15 points, four assists and three rebounds but he shot 6-of-17 and had his right hand wrapped after suffering a right hand contusion vs. Atlanta. Afterwards. both he and Kenny Atkinson admitted he was not 100 percent.

“Yeah, I was going to play regardless unless I couldn’t hold a basketball,” LeVert said. “It’s my shooting hand, so it’s definitely not 100 percent. But if I’m out there then I’m OK. … If I’m out there, then I’m out there.”

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent. I definitely think there is some [pain],” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “But you know, he’ll tell you nothing is wrong. So, listen to him, not me.”

Joe Harris agreed.

“Yep, Caris has battled through a lot his entire career. This is nothing different for him,” Joe Harris said. “He’s one of our toughest players, and everybody knows that.

LeVert wouldn’t say what percentage he’s at, but noted that the injury hasn’t required an x-ray.

STANDINGS

Nets are still four and a half games ahead of the Wizards for the eighth seed with 23 games to go. The Wizards would have the tiebreak if the two finished with the same record. The Nets are now a half game behind the seventh seed Magic. It seems increasingly likely that the seventh and eighth seeds in the East will have losing records.

BUYOUT DAY

Any player who’s waived or bought today can hook up with a contender. As of 9 a.m., there are two two players who’ve been waived but have yet to hook up with another team: Anthony Tolliver and Allen Crabbe. Neither would seem a candidate for the Nets and of course before signing anyone, the Nets would have to waive a player.

A player waived today can sign with another team up until April 16, the day after the last game of the regular season, and be eligible for the playoff roster.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TOM LORENZO

NetsDaily’s site manager, Tom Lorenzo, is a Leap Year baby and turned 10-years-old today. Tell me how many 10-year-olds can do this? That’s right. None. Happy birthday, Tom!

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For a different perspective, head on over to HotHotHoops, our Heat sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: Nets at Celtics on Tuesday.