The Brooklyn Nets put themselves in position to win Thursday night, but the San Antonio Spurs made the plays down the stretch for a 117-114 victory.
The Brooklyn Nets appeared to be in position to end an 0-for-forever losing streak during regular-season play at AT&T Center, but the San Antonio Spurs came from behind late and gutted out a 117-114 victory.
For the Nets (28-25), it was their 16th consecutive loss at San Antonio. Their last regular season win was Jan. 26, 2002, when the Spurs (31-22) still played at the Alamodome, with the Nets’ lone victory at AT&T Center coming in Game 2 of the 2003 NBA Finals.
LaMarcus Aldridge was named to his seventh career All-Star Game Thursday night and in the fourth quarter demonstrated why he was named, as he scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in the final period.
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After Brooklyn took a 109-106 lead on Joe Harris‘ second straight 3-pointer with 2:46 remaining, Aldridge scored seven of San Antonio’s last 11 points during an 11-5 burst to close out the game.
The Spurs took the lead for good on two free throws by Derrick White with 2:07 remaining. The Nets got back to within one twice afterward, but could never quite close the gap.
The ending wasn’t without some controversy as Shabazz Napier‘s final 3-point attempt missed everything as it appeared he was bumped from behind by Aldridge on the shot.
According to Ryan Ruocco on the YES Network broadcast, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich mouthed the phrase, “That was a bad no-call,” to Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson after the buzzer.
Ultimately, the game came down to missed opportunities by Brooklyn to put the Spurs away. The Nets were just 19-of-29 from the free throw line and surrendered 18 points off 14 turnovers.
While Brooklyn had just two turnovers in the fourth quarter, they both led to points at the other end. Rodions Kurucs took a potential basket off the board when he tipped a shot by D’Angelo Russell while it was still on the rim and later Russell tried to force a pass through heavy traffic.
Russell, who has been such a deadly closer for the Nets of late, did not have any late-game magic on Thursday. He was just 1-for-8 with four points in the fourth quarter and missed his final two attempts in the closing seconds.
The Nets shot 47.2 percent (42-for-89) overall, but made only 11-of-34 (32.4 percent) from 3-point range. Brooklyn had a sizable 54-38 edge in paint scoring and a 26-4 edge on the fast break, but were outrebounded 50-46 and lost the second-chance points tally by a 17-14 count.
San Antonio had a very poor shooting night, as the Nets did a terrific job of defending the Spurs’ mid-range heavy attack. The Spurs shot only 40 percent (40-for-100) and were 12-for-33 (36.4 percent) from deep, but feasted at the foul line, making 25-of-29.
Russell had 25 points and nine assists for Brooklyn, but was just 10-for-26 from the floor and had four turnovers. Ed Davis grabbed 11 rebounds and Kurucs added 10 boards — his first double-digit rebounding game since he had 12 against the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 26.
Napier added 15 points, seven assists and two blocks — including one on 7-foot Spurs center Jakob Poeltl under the basket.
The Brooklyn bench outscored its San Antonio counterparts 45-30.
White finished with a career-high 26 points to go with six assists and two blocks for the Spurs. Aldridge had 20 points and 13 rebounds and DeMar DeRozan — returning after missing three games with a sore left knee — went for 15 points and 10 boards.
The Nets have won seven of their last nine games, but lost two of their last three. For the Spurs, it was their fourth consecutive win.
Brooklyn closes out its two-game road trip Saturday night against the Orlando Magic — the third and final meeting of the season between the teams, all in a 16-day span. The Magic (21-31) beat the Indiana Pacers at home Thursday, 107-100. Tip off Saturday is 7 p.m. Eastern.
Here are three takeaways from a missed opportunity for a rare win at San Antonio.