‘Same Old Story’ for struggling Nets
Another Fourth-Quarter Collapse Costs Brooklyn in Loss to Toronto
Whether he was perched on the bench as one of Lionel Hollins’ assistants or on his feet screaming his lungs out as the Brooklyn Nets’ newly named interim head coach, Tony Brown has witnessed what took place in Toronto Monday night time and time again this season.
“It seems like the same old story,” Brown lamented after watching the Nets play a putrid fourth quarter en route to a 112-100 loss to the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors in front of 19,800 fans at the Air Canada Centre.
“We get down late in stretches of the game, some of the things we were doing really well, [but] we started turning the ball over late,” added Brown after Toronto used a game-deciding 14-0 run in the final period to hand Brooklyn its 16th loss in 20 road contests this year.
Brook Lopez poured in 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Joe Johnson added 22 points, seven assists and five boards for the Nets (11-31), who pulled even at 98-98 on Thaddeus Young’s turnaround hook shot with 6:34 to play before the Raptors buried Brooklyn’s hopes of earning a split on their two-game sojourn through Atlanta and Toronto.
“Our turnovers really hurt us and obviously they got a lot of buckets off those,” said Lopez, pointing to the 20 points the Raptors accumulated off 14 Nets giveaways.
Net nemesis Kyle Lowry scored 13 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter and DeMar DeRozan, a player the Nets may covet highly in free agency come the offseason, added 30 points for Toronto (26-15), which won its fifth in a row, including a 91-74 victory in Brooklyn on Jan. 6. Donald Sloan had 13 points and Young finished with 11 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, who were outscored 31-16 over the final 12 minutes.
Brooklyn will be back at the Barclays Center on Wednesday night to kick off a four-game homestand against LeBron James and the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets, who have lost eight of nine overall and are 1-4 since Brown replaced Hollins, will then welcome Utah (Friday), Oklahoma City (Sunday) and Miami (next Tuesday) to Downtown Brooklyn.
Nothing But Net: Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is reportedly interested in former Toronto and Phoenix general manager Bryan Colangelo as a strong candidate to replace “reassigned” executive Billy King. The 50-year-old Colangelo has already earned two NBA Executive of the Year awards, including in 2007 with the Raptors. … Season ticket holders won’t be the only ones filling the seats at Barclays Center Wednesday night to see James and the Cavs. The Nets will be hosting a special group from Sports United: Basketball Ambassadors of Today and Tomorrow program, designed to promote peer-to-peer exchange between young basketball players and coaches in the US and Russia. The group of 14 non-elite high-school basketball players (male and female) and three high-school basketball coaches will spend 10 days in Russia, enjoying basketball and cultural experiences designed to promote greater understanding. A group of 31 Russian non-elite coaches will then travel to the United States for professional exchange with their American counterparts. “We are delighted to host the Basketball Ambassadors at [Wednesday’s] game,” Prokhorov noted. “The importance of cross-cultural exchange cannot be underestimated. We need to spend time talking with one another, formally and informally, and a shared love of the great game of basketball is the perfect place to start. I wish the American coaches and young players a wonderful trip to Russia and look forward to hosting the Russian participants in March.” … The Nets rank 28th in home attendance this season, drawing an average of 14,940 fans through the first 20 contests on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues. During their first three seasons here, all of which ended in a trip to the playoffs, Brooklyn averaged better than 17,000 fans per night at Barclays.
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