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Nets drop their 10th-straight, losing in final seconds to Wizards, 113-112

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Make it 10 straight losses for the Brooklyn Nets.

After a blockbuster at the trade deadline, the Nets losing streak reached double figures Thursday night, losing to the Wizards, 113-112. With the defeat, Brooklyn falls to 29-25 on the year. Although it was yet another loss for the league’s slumpiest team, it came on a more promising note.

‘We didn’t get enough stops. Our defense wasn’t good enough,” said Steve Nash after the 113-112 loss to the Wizards. “That was the bottom line. Without going into too many details, we got to defend better. We started the game pretty good down there, and then gave up too many points.”

Brooklyn, playing without James Harden (traded) and DeAndre’ Bembry (waived), entered the final 12 minutes of play trailing by seven points with a 10th straight loss on the brink. The Nets continued to claw late, forging a 16-7 run to cut the deficit to four with two minutes left.

Cam Thomas, who finished with his seventh 20+ point game of the year (27 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field and 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range) hit a huge four-point play from the left wing to trim the Wizards lead to two points with 1:06 left. Then, in the following Wizards possession, Patty Mills was called for a foul while attempting to get a jump-ball on the floor, resulting in two free throw makes for Washington.

Following a one-out-of-two trip to the free-throw line by James Johnson and a key defensive stop by Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving — game-high 31 points, five rebounds, six assists and a steal in 38 minutes — went hard to the rim, getting the foul call and hitting his pair of free throws to make it a one-point game (111-110) with 7.3 seconds left. After an intentional foul call, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit two big free throws to bring the lead back up to three with 6.3 seconds remaining. With one last hope, Thomas missed a deep 26-foot three that would have sent the game into overtime and instead, sent Brooklyn into the locker room with another loss.

Other than Irving and Thomas, the depleted Nets had little offense. Blake Griffin ended the night with a near double-double of 15 points, nine boards and three assists in 27 minutes of play. James Johnson led the 32-point bench with 13 points in 27 minutes of play.

The Nets started Irving, Mills, Thomas, Griffin and Kessler Edwards. Brooklyn got early scoring punches from Thomas and Griffin, who combined for Brooklyn’s first 12 points, leading an early 12-8 advantage in the opening minutes. Out of the timeout, Deni Avdija forged a 7-0 run for the Wizards to take a one-point lead (21-20), but the Nets answered, closing out the frame on a 7-3 burst for a 27-24 lead.

Brooklyn extended their run to open the second, growing a nine-point lead. Irving, who served as the main facilitator in the period (and may wind up with the role after the trade), dished a series of nifty inside passes and packed a scoring punch of 17 points at the break. Thomas continued to hit tough shots, tallying 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting overall. Brooklyn cooked up six threes in the two quarters of play, going 60.0 percent from 3-point range. The bench was the difference maker, combining for 24 points to boost a 59-55 lead at the break.

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Kevin Durant, after finishing the All-Star Draft, came out and sat on the Nets bench a few minutes into the third quarter. With KD watching, Thomas continued to stay aggressive and looked to score, keeping the Nets in front of the Wizards while Irving was on the bench getting a breather. When Irving was on the court, the Wizards ran a second defender at the guard — an effective defensive adjustment that lingered throughout the remainder of the contest.

Washington took their first lead of the game with five minutes left in the third. Brooklyn responded with a small burst, but Washington had the upper hand to conclude the period, forging an 8-0 run to take a 86-79 lead into the fourth quarter.

Despite forging a 16-7 run late in the fourth to make it a single-digit contest, Brooklyn fell short with their last-second heave by Thomas from 3-point range.

For the Wizards, seven players finished in double figures, led by Raul Neto’s career-high 21 points followed by Kyle Kuzma — who had a triple double — and Anthony Gill’s 15. The Wizards were without Bradley Beal (out for the season), Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans (both traded to Dallas for Kristaps Porzingis)

Milestone Watch

Cam Thomas is in a zone. The 20-year-old guard has now scored 94 points in the last four games (23.5 points) while shooting 51/38/72.

Thomas recorded his seventh 20-point game of the season (all in 2022). Thomas leads all rookies in 20-point games since the start of the New Year. His seven 20-point games are the most for a Nets rookie since MarShon Brooks (nine) in the 2011-12 season.

Kyrie Irving registered his fourth 30-point game of the season and his second 30-point performance in as many games against the Wizards this season.

Roster Math

After the 76ers trade and the decision to waive DeAndre’ Bembry, the Nets stand at 17 players, 15 on standard deals and two two-ways — Kessler Edwards and David Duke Jr.,

Edwards, who again started (for the 17th time), cannot play in the post-season unless he’s upgraded to a standard deal. The Nets also are expected to look at buyout candidates before the March 1 deadline. At halftime, Frank Isola of YES Network, said the Nets could be interested in signing Goran Dragic, the veteran point guard, if he’s bought out, as expected, by the Spurs. Dragic was traded Thursday by the Raptors to the Spurs. The Slovenian point guard averaged eight points over five games with Toronto before leaving the team early this season.

Among other possible buyout candidates: Tristan Thompson, the 30-year-old Pacers big, and Gary Harris, the 27-year-old Magic swingman.

As Sponge Bob might say...

What’s next

Miami Heat v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets will travel to South Beach to play the Miami Heat on Saturday, February 12. The game is slated to tip at 8:00 p.m. ET. Ben Simmons will join the Nets in Miami, but is highly unlikely to play, but the two other new Nets, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond, are expected to take the court.

For a different perspective on Thursday night’s game, check out Bullets Forever — our sister site covering the Wizards.

The franchise record for consecutive losses is 18, set in 2009.