Brooklyn Nets: Shabazz Napier provided late spark

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

In a game the Brooklyn Nets never led, reserve guard Shabazz Napier sparked the last run the Nets were able to muster against the Miami Heat.

The Brooklyn Nets, in their first game since leading scorer Caris LeVert was injured, fell flat in a 120-107 loss to the Miami Heat Wednesday night at Barclays Center.

The Nets never led while falling to 6-9 on the season and dropping to 3-3 at home. It was also Brooklyn’s third consecutive loss.

Their last, best shot at making it a competitive game came in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter and was led by an unlikely source, reserve guard Shabazz Napier.

Napier was one of the players who picked up extra minutes with LeVert out for the next couple of months at least with a dislocated foot. Napier played a season-high 26 minutes on Wednesday.

Napier scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, where he was 5-for-6 and hit his only 3-point attempt, after missing his first seven shots through the first three quarters.

Wayne Ellington‘s baseline jumper put Miami up 103-83 with 7:08 to go before the Nets made their last charge.

Allen Crabbe hit a 3-pointer off a quick feed from Napier and after Napier picked off a pass by Miami’s Kelly Olynyk, Napier took it the length of the floor for a layup to cut the margin to 15.

The teams exchanged missed shots before Napier connected on a mid-range pull-up and with 5:36 to go, it was a 13-point game and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was calling a timeout to get his group put back together.

DeMarre Carroll got the deficit to 11 with a putback tip-in and Napier fed a cutting Rondae Hollis-Jefferson the next time down the floor to get it to a 10-point game.

After Goran Dragic pushed the Miami lead to 12, Napier banged down a 3-pointer above the break to get the game back into single digits for the last time at 106-97.

Napier, who signed with the Nets to a two-year deal last summer at the veteran’s minimum, had a couple of assists and a pair of steals in the game and provided a lift for Brooklyn at a time when it looked like the game was already out of reach.

It was the type of performance the Nets could have used earlier in the game, when they came out flat and just kind of remained that way except for a couple of bursts in the second and fourth quarters.

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But on a night during which Brooklyn had very little going its way, Shabazz Napier provided a nice spark, regardless of it being a case of too little, too late.