ORLANDO, Fla. – The nets became allergic to the fourth quarter and conjured up another late collapse against magic.
The Nets took the lead in the final phase on Monday with a 101-89 lead over Amway Center. That was the sixth loss in a row.
In the defeat, the Nets fell behind Orlando (17-20) to the eighth and last playoff place in the Eastern Conference. But if you don't correct the way you fidget this regular season, you don't have to worry about post-season.
"We didn't get stops at critical moments, no rebounds at critical moments, not the 50-50 balls we needed at critical moments, and a lot of that is in the first session," said Joe Harris. "We have to do a better job by shooting down the track."
Over this distance …
After gaining a 78:76 lead, the Nets (16:19) suffered a goalless drought for three minutes, scoring eleven unanswered points. They walked without a basket for over six minutes in a 15: 1 magic run led by Markelle Fultz, which turned a two-point defeat into a cutting defeat.
The Nets ended up shooting only 33.3 percent, including 10 out of 47 when they missed 17 in the third and fourth quarters. They looked like a car bubbling uphill.
"Listen, [the starters] were really good and this is just one track on which I would say that the whole group is struggling a bit, ”said coach Kenny Atkinson. "So we will all need to get out of this rut. I thought the bank was up and doing a good job.
"Sure, I think there is a bit of a crisis of confidence, there is no doubt about it… But that only happens during an NBA season. We're in a fear right now. We shot the ball really well at the beginning of the season, where we were not shooting well now. It will come back. I trust these guys. "
Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie share the best team award with 16 points. But Harris only had three points in the second half, while Dinwiddie had a dozen in the third quarter when the Nets reduced a 52-39 deficit to just four. They passed 78-76 on Wilson Chandler's floater at 8:57 to play.
But then they forgot how to score. The Nets won the 15: 1 run, including the 11 unanswered Orlando points.
"We have to stop," said Dinwiddie. "Of course we don't fire shots as a unit, so we have to rely on our defenses."
Fultz looked like Orlando's recultivation project could be completed, with seven of his 25 game-winning points in this run, amid MVP chants! MVP! Nikola Vucevic had 24 ricochets when the magic hit nets 60-46 on the glass.
After Evan Fournier knotted it at 78, Fultz had a layup, a finger roll, and a dagger 3 in succession. After his theft, Wes Iwundu's free throws were able to limit the barrel and drop nets 87-78.
Dinwiddie's only free throw finally broke the drought at 3:55. However, the nets were missing a dozen straight shots – an incredible six of them – before Garrett Temple finally hit a 3-pointer. They had gone 6:01 without a bucket and let the game slide away.
Taurean Prince and Temple completed a combined 4-for-24. But Dinwiddie said it was just about staying focused and not panicking.
"We could do a 7-0 run like last year and then everyone will say we are one of the best teams in the league," said Dinwiddie.
"It just sticks to it, pounding the stone and finally the stone breaks. It won't be the first time you swing. It will be one of the next times."