Nets waste another golden opportunity

carter250_031309.jpgFile this one under another opportunity wasted.
It was another night where things went the Nets’ way, as the teams ahead of them lost. It was another night that all the Nets needed to do was win and they would pull into eighth place in the East.
The situation was similar to Wednesday in Golden State and the result was the same.
The Nets played better, but still lost. This time they fell, 109-100, to the Blazers and are now in a three-way tie for 10th with the Knicks and Bobcats.
Yes, the Nets have the same record as the Knicks. That’s not the story. Not yet anyway, although with three straight wins the Knicks are playing like a team that wants that No. 8 seed.
The story for the Nets is how many more of these close late-game defeats can they take.
This was the seventh straight game that came down to the final minute or final seconds. The Nets are 2-5 in those games. They were up in the fourth quarter in all of them except for the Warriors’ game, which they led by 14 midway through the third.
It’s obvious the Nets don’t know how to close out teams. They can do buzzer beaters. They can’t seal games. Ultimately, that could be what costs them a playoff spot.
The Nets remain only one-half game out with 17 to play, but these losses add up, mentally, physically and in the standings.
“It’s hard,” coach Lawrence Frank said on the YES Network. “We’re in this to win this thing. It’s not about consolation prizes. It’s about continuing to fight through this. This is a study of perseverance.”
Forget a 3-1 West trip now. The best the Nets can hope for is 2-2, but they have to beat the Clippers on Sunday or they will be in trouble. Their season won’t be over, but you wonder the effect a loss to them would have.
The Nets played much better than they did against Golden State when they kicked that game away. It was going to take a very good effort to win in Portland, where the Blazers have now won 16 of their last 18. The Nets put forth the effort, but once again fell apart late.
They led by 12 in the second period, let it dwindle to two before the break and then pushed it back to 11 in the third. The Nets were up eight early in the fourth and from there, their defense and defensive rebounding were the problems, along with late-game execution.
These are areas that have hurt the Nets all season.
The Blazers outscored the Nets, 38-21, in the final 10:30. Brandon Roy, the Blazers’ All-Star guard had a big fourth, as you would expect. He scored 16 of his 31 in the final period and finished 8-of-21 after starting 0-for-8.
“Roy is a special player,” Frank said. “Roy is like a Dwyane Wade in that he’s got poise and great vision.”
The Nets got solid games from Devin Harris (27 points, eight assists) and Brook Lopez (22 points). Vince Carter also seemed to bounce back from his off game at Golden State, but fouled out with 1:54 left. The Nets were down, 96-94, at the time
Without Carter, the Nets had a chance to tie or take the lead with under a minute remaining, but Jarvis Hayes’ pass was stolen by Roy and led to a Nicolas Batum three with 29 seconds left that made it 101-96. And that was basically the ball game.
The Nets have off today, but Charlotte and Chicago are in action so they could drop a little more. They can’t move up. Seems to be a theme.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).

One comment

  1. yanks893

    This isn’t really related to your last post but it is really starting to annoy me that A) Trenton Hassell is starting over bobby simmons, who is deadly from 3 and B) Yi is starting even though he can’t shoot at all and his defense isn’t anything special. Don’t you think the Nets would be better without Hassell and Yi in the lineup?

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