File 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.).
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – We know one thing the Nets didn’t get for Christmas — an alarm clock.
The Nets waited until late in the third quarter before they realized they better start playing and found out once again that if they don’t play hard and smart from the beginning they can lose to anyone — even the East’s second-worst road team and the lowest-scoring team in the league.
This time it was the Charlotte Bobcats that came into the Izod Center and hand ed the Nets an embarrassing loss.
The final was 95-87, but it was embarrassing because the Nets let Larry Brown’s bunch shoot 50 percent from the field and build a 15-point lead before it kicked in that they were on their way to another double-digit home loss.
It was embarrassing because it’s a recurring theme. The Nets win tough, hard-fought games on the road. Show passion. Show fight. And then when they’re at home they barely show up.
Veteran forward Jarvis Hayes was asked if he thought teams were coming into the Meadowlands with extra confidence because of how poorly the Nets have played here.
“I would,” he said “if I see the energy we come out with at home, if I was the visiting team. That’s something we’ve got to change because more and more teams are going to come here with the same mindset if we don’t change our approach and pick up the energy level.”
The Nets have played 16 home games and have won five. Imagine if they had a decent home record, like 9-7 — they would have the fifth best record in the East.
Instead, they’re 14-15 and continue to be the only team with a winning road and losing home record. You have seen that in print before and probably will continue for a while since it will be a while before the Nets have a winning home record. They just have to hope they keep winning on the road.
“You get tired of losing altogether, whether it’s home or on the road,” Devin Harris said. “Things can be corrected. It’s not like it’s not in our control. That’s what the season is for – to get better.”
It used to be that the third quarter doomed the Nets in this building, but lately no quarter is their friend. They started slowly, showed a burst in the second period to go up seven and then allowed a 16-point swing and went into the break down nine.
Then they had a bad third until just under three minutes were left. By then they were down 15 to a team that had won two games on the road prior to this and had three double-digit victories all season.
This loss is on everyone, but it’s mostly the starters because the bench was the ones providing lifts all night.
Keyon Dooling injected the Nets with energy and life in both halves and Josh Boone, Bobby Simmons and Hayes did it in the fourth period.
The Nets got little from their starting forwards – seven points total for Yi Jianlian and Trenton Hassell – a solid game from Brook Lopez (14 points, seven rebounds) and not enough from the two stars: Vince Carter and Harris.
Carter started fast with 14 points in the first half, but finished with 19 and was 2-of-9 after halftime. Harris had 14 total on 4-for-15 shooting.
One positive for the Nets is they got on an airplane and went to Charlotte after the loss. This loss will stick with them and they do play better on the road.
Also, Carter and Harris seemed to take it badly. The two usually bounce back quickly and help the Nets get bad losses out of their system right away.
The Nets better hope they do because the next game after that is at home. Maybe they should put in for a wake-up call now.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)