The Nets suffered a very disappointing loss on Friday night to the Phoenix Suns, as they coughed up a 15-point lead late in the fourth quarter and lost in overtime, 108-100.
This was the Nets’ second straight tough loss at home, after a thrilling victory over Golden State on Monday night. It’s amazing how things can change in a few days, and that is always true with the Nets. Another thing that is always true is that if you play Bojan Bogdanovic in the fourth quarter and overtime, you deserve to lose.
The Nets fell to 25-35 and lost ground to the Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, and Boston Celtics in the playoff race. Charlotte beat the Toronto Raptors 103-94. The Indiana Pacers beat the Chicago Bulls 98-84. The Boston Celtics won on the road in New Orleans, beating the Pelicans 104-98.
The Hornets are now 27-33 and to move into 7th place, past the Miami Heat, who lost to the Washington Wizards, 99-97. Charlotte is now two games up on the Nets, while Miami is 1-1/2 games ahead of Brooklyn with a record of 27-34. The Indiana Pacers are now tied with Miami for eighth at 27-34. The Celtics tied the Nets for 10th place at 25-35.
The Suns led this one 50-46 at halftime, and they led 62-55 at the 6:43 mark of the third. The Nets then went on a tear, with an 11-3 run capped by a Brook Lopez tip-in at the 2:44 mark.
Momentum kept going the Nets’ way, as Bojan Bogdanovic drained three straight from behind the arc to give them a 75-69 lead with 1:05 left. They weren’t done there, as Jarrett Jack got a layup and Cory Jefferson got a three-point play to give them an 80-69 lead entering the fourth. The Nets outscored the Suns 34-19 in the third.
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins stuck with Bogdanovic and Jefferson for a good part of the fourth quarter. It worked initially, as the Nets jumped out to their biggest lead of the game, 15 points, at 91-76, on a Jefferson three-point play with 5:45 left.
On the Suns’ ensuing possession, PJ Tucker drained a three, which broke an 0-for-21 spell for Phoenix from behind the arc. That started a 7-0 run, capped by a Tucker hook shot, to pull them within eight, at 91-83, with 4:29 left.
Deron Williams hit one of two free throws at the 4:03 mark to make it 92-83 Nets. Incredibly, that was the last point of regulation the Nets would score, as they missed their final five shots and committed three turnovers. Part of that was Hollins’ fault, as he did not bring Joe Johnson in until there was 1:37 left, and Alan Anderson until the 2:15 mark. Anderson is a far better defender than Bogdanovic, and should have been in there far sooner.
Marcus Morris tied the game with a three with 1:02 left. On the Nets’ next possession, Deron Williams was called for an offensive foul. Phoenix wasted no time taking a shot for the lead, and Brandon Knight missed a three, and with no big man (Lopez or Mason Plumlee) on the floor at the time for the Nets, they got the offensive rebound. Markieff Morris missed an 11-foot jumper with 14.9 seconds left, giving the Nets plenty of time to get the winning shot.
Incredibly, Joe Johnson was left on the bench for this last possession, as everyone in the building knew it was going to the new Mr. Clutch, Jarrett Jack, fresh off a game-winner against Golden State on Monday. The inbounds went to Jack, as it always does, and he held it at the top of the key. He dribbled the clock out and shot it with around a second left and it rimmed out, forcing this one to go to overtime.
In the overtime, Johnson hit a couple of baskets and Jack hit a couple of free throws to tie the game at 100 with 1:42 left. Marcus Morris hit a short jumper with 1:30 left to give Phoenix a 102-100 lead. On the Nets’ next possession, they missed a golden chance to tie it as Williams missed a short jumper and Lopez missed the tip-in with 1:15 left. It was still a two-point game when Williams took a three with 41.9 seconds left that had the Barclays crowd ready to explode, but it rimmed out.
The Nets let Phoenix dribble the clock down, and Brandon Knight made a jumper with 17.5 seconds left to make it 104-100. On the Nets’ ensuing possession, an errant pass from Johnson went near the baseline, and it hit Williams’ fingertips before going out of bounds, so it was Suns ball with 14.3 seconds left. Eric Bledsoe was fouled and made both free throws, and after a Johnson missed three with 7.9 seconds left, was fouled again and made two free throws to make it 108-100 with 4.5 left, capping their 8-0 run to close the game.
Lopez led the Nets with a double-double, with 19 points on 6-for-16 from the field, and 13 rebounds. Jefferson also had a double-double with 12 points (4-6 FG) and 13 rebounds.
Bogdanovic had 11 points on 4-for-13 from the field, and did not score a single point in the fourth quarter or overtime. Aside from the three 3-pointers in a row in the third, Bogey shot a pathetic 1-for-10 from the field.
Williams had a dreadful game, shooting 2-for-16 from the field, 1-for-5 on threes, with 9 assists and 3 rebounds. Johnson finished with 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting, 1-4 on threes, with 7 rebounds and 2 assists. Alan Anderson had 8 points (3-7 FG, 1-2 on 3-pt) , 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. The other two members of the starting five did nothing, as Mason Plumlee had just 3 points (1-3 FG), and 2 rebounds in 13:23, and Markel Brown played just 6:39 and had 7 points (3-5 FG, 1-2 on 3-pt) and a rebound.
Bogdanovic said of what unraveled at the end, “We had many opportunities to finish the game before the overtime. It was a tough loss for us, but we have to stay positive and think about the next game.”
Thaddeus Young said of losing the lead at the end, “They picked up their defense. We got good shots; it was just a lid on the basket. Sometimes, players and teams go through spurts like that where we can’t make shots and everything is just rattling in and out, but like I said, they picked up their defense and they walked us down. They played every possession like it was their last.”
On whether he was surprised at how little Johnson played in the fourth, Bogdanovic said, “I mean, it surprised me a little bit because he’s one of our best players, but there are many other guys that should take responsibility for the last shot.”
Young said of that, ” We had a lot of different guys that were playing and we feel that anybody could go out there and make plays at any given time. It is what it is, but like I said, we have a lot of different guys that can go out there and make plays. It’s not about Joe, it’s not about me or anybody else. It’s about us going out there and just the key plan, which is going out there and playing as a team.”