Nets fall apart, asleep as Pelicans steal win

Posted on: March 25th, 2014 by Devin Kharpertian Comments
Tyreke Evans, Paul Pierce

Tyreke Evans scored at will as the Pelicans erased a 22-point Nets lead. (AP)

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Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivities.

What happened: The Nets let a 22-point lead evaporate, barely holding on in regulation thanks to a Paul Pierce three-pointer to tie the game at 98, before a barrage of three-pointers from Brian Roberts and former Nets guard Anthony Morrow buried Brooklyn in overtime, 109-104.

Where they stand: Tonight was a rough night for Nets seeding: they now stand at 38-32, moving them to two games behind the Toronto Raptors for the Atlantic Division, and with the Chicago Bulls upsetting the Indiana Pacers at home, the Bulls also move two full games ahead of the Nets with 13 games left to play. The Bulls own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Nets, making the lead effectively a three-game lead unless the Nets win the division.

That Was... A total collapse from Brooklyn, who fell apart in the second half of a back-to-back game and in their second consecutive overtime game. Fatigue was certainly a factor; three-pointers began falling short, layups looked wilder, and the Nets were steps slow on help defense as Tyreke Evans carved into the lane with little resistance.

But fatigue shouldn't beget a 22-point collapse, one that needed Paul Pierce heroics to even push the game to five extra minutes. After the Nets took a 66-44 lead on two Joe Johnson free throws with 10:02 left in the third quarter, the Pelicans outscored them 65-38 in the final 27:02. The Nets shot 13-47 in that timeframe, hitting only 4 of 23 three-pointers, allowing 65 points in 27 minutes from a team that's not known for pushing the pace. Evans scored a game-high 33 points, 22 in that 27-minute frame, adding ten rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in 43 minutes.

Game Grades: Read 'em here.

Before it all went wrong: The Nets hummed early, rushing out to a sixteen-point lead at the half behind a balanced, smart offense. They committed just three turnovers in the first 24 minutes, had five players score six or more points, and looked primed for another big victory against a decent (albeit sub-.500) team.

That's part of why fatigue looks like it was a factor: the Nets didn't look bad all game, they just got progressively worse as the game went on.

Paul Pierce Has No Time For Alexis Ajinca's Shenanigans:

Inadvertent or not, Ajinca threw an elbow in the vicinity of Paul Pierce's face, an elbow Pierce did not appreciate. The two were separated before things escalated, but Ajinca gave Pierce quite a stare after Pierce's initial complaint. It could've gotten ugly.

Return Of The Marck: Baton Rouge native Marcus Thornton played in front of friends and family in New Orleans tonight, and you could tell from the get-go he wanted to put on a show, firing shots left and right in his few minutes. Unfortunately for Thornton, a bad landing in the second quarter left him with a bruised lower back, and he didn't return for the second half.

My Thoughts At The Half: If the Pelicans can't keep the game close with Anthony Davis playing like this, they're toast.

Welp.

Third Quarter: A wild third quarter ended with Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans, not known for his long-range shot, burying a three plus a foul to cut what was 22-point lead to three heading into the fourth quarter, setting the stage for the Nets collapse. The Nets pushed the lead once again to start the fourth, leading by as much as nine points, but couldn't close out the win.

Anthony Davis Is Really Good:

Davis finished with a big 24 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, at least one gravity-defiant alley-oop, and one embarrassment of Mason Plumlee's dunk attempt.

No, really though. He's good.

No, really though. He's good.

Kirilenk-No: After spraining his ankle Sunday night, Andrei Kirilenko was a pre-game scratch by Jason Kidd. Interestingly, he could've been the team's best chance at defending Anthony Davis if he played, but it's hard to imagine him slowing down Davis any more -- even when the Pelicans were rolling, it wasn't because of Davis's offense.

Shout out to Sky Kirkland:

If you were a Nets fan last year, you might remember Sky Kirkland, the high-flying referee that eschewed social norms and whistles when he blocked Kris Humphries's free throw to get him to stop shooting. Now, Sky Kirkland's back, this time owning up to bad foul calls on Deron Williams in front of giggling fans. We can only wonder what his next Nets folly will be, but I really hope it involves Andray Blatche somehow.

Franchise History: The Nets attempted a franchise-record 40 three-pointers, including three in the last eight seconds that all missed to push them over their previous franchise high of 38, set two months ago against the Knicks on January 20th.

They also, more ignominiously, set a franchise record for lowest three-point percentage when taking more than 30 attempts (If you include 30, they shot 4-30 from three-point range on March 7th against the Boston Celtics), and the most missed three-pointers in a game (30).

Shaun Livingston, Doin' Things:

Livingston didn't have his best game, going cold after hitting his first three shots and throwing a bad layup off the bottom of the backboard near the end of regulation. But he did beat the gangly, unibrowed pterodactyl in a jump ball, which might get him more than the mini-MLE in the offseason alone. Props.

Across the river: The New York Knicks had the night off but still made moves in the playoff standings: after the eighth-seed Atlanta Hawks fell at home 102-95 to the Phoenix Suns, the Knicks are now just 2.5 games back from the Hawks for the eighth spot.

Next up: After this back-to-back road trip, the Nets play one more road trip before returning home, taking on the Charlotte Bobcats at The Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte Wednesday night.

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