Well, that happened.
Trailing the Los Angeles Clippers by ten points with under a minute to go, the Brooklyn Nets faced certain defeat. But in a season full of miracles, the Nets never gave up hope.
Capped off by a Jarrett Allen dunk, the Nets tied the game with five seconds left in regulation. But Brooklyn’s unreal comeback ended at the hands of Lou Williams — who drained a heavily contested game-winning three.
The Nets — no matter how hard they fight — cannot catch a break.
First, though, it’s time to rewind a bit.
After last night’s blowout loss to the Jazz, the Nets desperately needed a hot start tonight — thankfully, they got one.
Following a strong first quarter, the Nets came out firing in the second quarter, even extending their lead to 19 at one point. Caris LeVert — who struggled mightily in last night’s loss to Utah — played like his old self. Despite going 3-for-9 from the field, LeVert’s shots weren’t too long or too short. Ultimately, LeVert was accurate as he has been since returning from injury.
But the Clippers stormed back in force, taking their first lead of the game with under a minute remaining in the first half. LA ended the quarter on a 33-9 run and entered the half up 60-55. The Nets built their lead by playing stingy defense and hitting the three at will. The Clippers adjusted mid-way through the second. LA got the ball to Montrezl Harrell in the paint, which proved too much to handle for Brooklyn.
Spencer Dinwiddie has been the Nets’ best player as of late. But he couldn’t get anything going in the first half. Dinwiddie missed all nine of his shots and finished with a negative plus-minus of 13. If the Nets had any hope of winning tonight, they would need to get Dinwiddie going.
The third quarter began as ugly for Brooklyn as the second quarter ended.
Behind Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers extended their lead to double-digits early in the third. Los Angeles’ second-chance points killed any momentum Brooklyn managed to accrue.
But the Nets didn’t go away.
A 17-3 run — led by Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, and D’Angelo Russell — put the Nets back in front.
In a hard-fought third quarter, the Nets and Clippers entered the fourth tied at 87. The Clippers had full control of the boards, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds. Ed Davis and Jarrett Allen would need to be more significant presences on the glass for the Nets to pull out a victory tonight.
Los Angeles got off to a hot start to begin the fourth. A Shai Gilgeous-Alexander three made it an eight-point game — and 21 second-chance points — with 8:44 to go in the game. Still, down by as much as 14, the Nets still wouldn’t quit.
Timely threes from Russell and Dinwiddie cut the Clippers’ lead to four with under six minutes left. Up by ten with 58 seconds remaining, the game looked to be over for Brooklyn.
But the Nets had other ideas.
Brooklyn went on a miraculous 10-0 run to tie the game at 116 with 5 seconds left in the game.
Then, as if on cue, Lou Williams — the NBA’s all-time leading scorer off the bench — broke the hearts of Nets faithful by hitting a deep contested three.
With the loss tonight, Brooklyn fell back to .500 (36-36). They have now dropped three straight, after winning their previous four. The Pistons now lead the Nets by 1.5 games for seventh place in the East.
Fortunately for the Nets, they will face an easier opponent in the Kings on Tuesday in Sacramento.
The stats: 32 PTS, 13-25 FG, 6-12 3PT, 0-1 FT, 5 REB, 10 AST, 1 STL, 3 TO, 32 MIN
With the playoffs in sight, D’Angelo Russell cannot afford to go cold on offense.
Russell broke out of his slump in force tonight, leading Brooklyn in scoring with 32 points. His shooting tonight was reminiscent of his hot February but it was not enough to pull out the win tonight.
Hopefully his success tonight continues throughout the road trip. Of note, Russell also got his ninth double-double of the season tonight.
DLO WHAT pic.twitter.com/1Pc942RGeO
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 18, 2019
The stats: 12 PTS, 6-15 FG, 0-4 3PT, 0-1 FT, 4 REB, 7 AST, 2 TO, 31 MIN
Caris LeVert’s journey back from injury has not been easy.
The fruits of his labor were in full view tonight.
LeVert scored 12 points, but looked fluid doing so, which is the most important part of his recovery process.
The stats: 13 PTS, 2-16 FG, 1-7 3PT, 8-12 FT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 33 MIN
Nothing worked for Spencer Dinwiddie tonight.
Nothing at all.
In a battle against Lou Williams — Spencer Dinwiddie’s leading competition for Sixth Man of the Year — the 2018 winner came out on top.
Dinwiddie would have been better off passing than hoisting up contested threes and driving for difficult layups.
But shooters shoot, right?
The stats: 12 PTS, 4-10 FG, 3-6 3PT, 1-1 FT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 29 MIN
Joe Harris hasn’t been getting the same looks as he did before beating Steph Curry in the Three-Point Contest.
Tonight, Harris knocked down a couple of clutch threes — a really good sign for the shooter.
But Harris will need to limit his turnovers and play better defense if the Nets want to remain in the playoff race.
The stats: 22 PTS, 7-13 FG, 3-6 3PT, 5-5 FT, 7 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO, 33 MIN
DeMarre Carroll was nothing short of excellent tonight.
With Dinwiddie struggling, the veteran led Brooklyn’s bench in scoring and kept them in the game tonight. Carroll played well throughout the entire contest. While his And-1 in the final minute kept Brooklyn’s hope of a win alive.
Carroll will need more games like tonight if the Nets are serious about their playoff push.