Brooklyn Nets: 5 takeaways from a horrific finish in New Orleans

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets’ troubles closing close games hit a new low Friday night, coughing up a late 5-point lead in a 117-115 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Brooklyn Nets were on the verge of a signature early-season victory Friday night. They had the host New Orleans Pelicans down for the count. But over the final 1:49, the Nets quite simply stuck the knife into their own gut and twisted repeatedly until the Pelicans stole a 117-115 win.

So instead of heading home with a 3-2 record after winning two of three on a road trip, the Nets fell to 2-3 with a game against the defending champion Golden State Warriors looming on Sunday.

New Orleans improved to 4-0 despite scoring 15 points less than their average coming in, despite Anthony Davis going just 6-for-19, despite being outrebounded 54-46 and despite giving up 19 3-pointers, the most they had surrendered since the Nets canned 21 on Feb. 10.

All Brooklyn had to do in the final minute was just hold onto the basketball. Nothing more elaborate than that.

But instead, the Nets committed three turnovers in the final 56.5 seconds and their only shot was a rushed 3-pointer late in the shot clock as the Pelicans scored the final seven points of the game.

The finishing sequence was quite simply horrific.

With Brooklyn nursing a three-point lead, Jared Dudley fouled Jrue Holiday with 21.9 seconds left, sending Holiday to the line for the penalty. Upside? The Pelicans couldn’t tie the game with a 3-pointer. Downside? Dude, 21.9 seconds is awfully early for that.

Holiday made both to cut the Nets’ lead to 115-114, but New Orleans elected not to foul. The Nets got the ball to the front court and just had to keep moving it around. Dudley found Jarrett Allen with a nice crosscourt look to get the defense shifting. Allen fed it to D’Angelo Russell up top.

Russell then opted for a no-look pass and, with Caris LeVert moving away from the basket threw the ball behind LeVert and out of bounds for a simply inexcusable turnover. With two seconds left, Holiday hit a pull-up jumper to give New Orleans its first lead since the end of the first quarter.

Then it got flat-out weird.

The Nets used their last timeout to move the ball into the frontcourt, but before their huddle on the sidelines broke up, Pelicans forward Solomon Hill sauntered right into the Nets’ bench. Ed Davis took exception and put up a forearm into Hill’s chest. Hill flopped to the floor.

The officials went to the replay and wound up assessing Davis with a technical foul. Holiday hit the free throw to put Brooklyn down two with two seconds left. Joe Harris couldn’t get the ball inbounds, trying to lob it over the head of Anthony Davis — who was guarding the inbounder.

Game over.

Brooklyn led for most of the final three quarters of the game, going ahead on the first shot of the second period and getting up by as much as 13 points.

But the Nets, once again, failed to close.

It spoiled a whale of a defensive effort by the Nets, who held the Pelicans — who entered as the best shooting team in the NBA — to 44.9 percent shooting and just 9-for-23 from deep.

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It also spoiled a big first half from Russell, who scored 18 of his team-high 24 points before halftime. LeVert finished with 21 points, Davis grabbed 11 rebounds and Spencer Dinwiddie went for 11 points and five assists. Jarrett Allen and Dinwiddie each blocked two shots.

Brooklyn shot 43.9 percent for the game, but was 19-for-40 from 3-point range (47.5 percent).

Holiday paced the Pelicans with 26 points. Davis had 18 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and five blocks and Elfrid Payton went for 17 points and six assists before leaving in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury to his left leg.

Julius Randle came off the bench for 14 points and two blocks.

The Nets, as mentioned earlier, return home to face the Warriors, who improved to 5-1 by squashing the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden 128-100 on Friday. That game tips Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern from Barclays Center.

Here are five takeaways from a loss that’s going to sting for awhile.