What happened: After deficits of 10-0, 16-3, and 90-76, the Brooklyn Nets nearly turned listless misfortune into victory. But Brook Lopez missed a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation, and the Nets couldn’t manufacture enough stops to finish off the Toronto Raptors, falling in overtime 127-122.
Where they stand: The loss dropped the Nets to 18-28, one full game behind the Charlotte Hornets for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race and 13.5 behind the Raptors, who have had the division sewn up since day one.
That was… A moral victory, from a team that needs real ones. The Nets put forth one of their strongest all-around efforts of the season after their early woes, outscoring the Raptors 37-22 in the final 15 minutes of regulation to knot the game at 113.
Then, after Jarrett Jack lost the ball out-of-bounds off a Raptors defender, the Nets inbounded the ball with 1.3 seconds left, setting the stage for the Nets to get one final look for the victory.
Jack thought the game was over.
“That’s a shot Brook has hit time and time again for us throughout the course of the season,” Jack said. “I’ll take that shot 10 out of 10 times, no matter the situation. He shot it, hit the front of the rim, but it was a tremendous look.”
It was a perfect look for Lopez, who was left open when the Raptors dove to double-team Joe Johnson (likely on a miscommunication), but the shot fell short.
“It was rough,” Lopez, who finished the game with a season-high 35 points, said of the loss. “I thought that the last shot felt good. I was happy with the look but it just didn’t go down.”
It was the last and best chance for the Nets, who were out-scored 14-9 in overtime and missed all five of their three-point attempts in the extra frame. The Raptors came up with some big offensive rebounds, none more deflating than a putback after an emphatic Mason Plumlee block.
Johnson may have traveled on that play, but it’s not a travel often called in that situation.
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
Fifty Two Minutes And Thirteen Seconds: Hollins didn’t even let the reporter finish the question.
“What are you gonna do?” He deadpanned. “It is what it is.”
Considering the gravity of the Nets’ point guard situation — Darius Morris is their only other healthy point guard, and he’s played well below NBA replacement level this season — it’s almost surprising that Jarrett Jack even sat for 47 seconds tonight. Jack played 52:13 of a possible 53 minutes this season, the highest total of any player this season in games that didn’t finish in triple-overtime.
Hollins said he “couldn’t afford” to rest Jack. “I thought about taking him out. I rested Joe for a minute. I rested Brook for a minute. I tried to piecemeal resting people. But I knew that I couldn’t afford to rest him. Because he was making plays.”
Jack was unperturbed by the assumed fatigue.
“I’m cool,” Jack said when asked about his remaining strength. “I know it sounds funny, but when I look at these other guys in the locker room, I can’t let fatigue be factor. It wouldn’t be fair to me, and it’s not fair to them with how hard they work, and our hard-working coaching staff. Fatigue is the number one thing I never give into.”
Jarrett Jack was makin’ plays, all right:
Jack finished with the best statistical game of his career, putting in 35 points (13-30 FG), 13 assists, and eight rebounds in his 52 minutes, scoring a team-high 12 points during their 15-minute stretch to close regulation.
Like any game that ends in a deadlock after 48 minutes, it’s easy to point to one or two missed opportunities. A missed free throw here, a second-chance bucket there. But the same goes both ways; if one Jack mid-range pull-up bounced sideways or one and-one layup doesn’t fall, the Nets don’t see overtime.
Home Cooked: The Nets dropped their seventh straight game at home, and racked up their first winless month at home since February 2010, the year the Nets finished 12-70. They have not won a home game since December 29th, when they beat the Sacramento Kings 107-99. They’re 8-15 at home on the year, as opposed to 10-13 on the road.
The future gets worse: With their 18th straight victory, the Atlanta Hawks now have the best record in the NBA at 39-8. The Nets & Hawks will swap picks in the upcoming NBA draft. If the season ended today, the Nets would trade a lottery pick for the last pick of the first round.
Good Thing He Wasn’t Mic’d Up:
Don’t sleep on: The Cory Jefferson-Brook Lopez combo. Plumlee-Lopez got the majority of the minutes, but the team played well with the springy, athletic Jefferson flanking Lopez, controlling the paint on both ends of the floor. Jefferson fell backwards into his starting spot and doesn’t have much upside at 24 years old, but he’s a talented forward who belongs in the rotation.
KG: Played fewer than 10 minutes and sat all of crunch time.
Next up: The Nets have Super Bowl Weekend off, before taking on the Los Angeles Clippers at Barclays Center Monday night.