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Nets’ fourth Brooklyn season comes to merciful end

Drop 10th Straight in 103-96 Defeat to Playoff-Bound Raptors

April 14, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Nets had to be relieved when it was over as their 10th consecutive loss brought a close to the fourth-worst season in franchise history Wednesday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center. AP photo
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Hours before Kobe Bryant’s 60-point farewell and Golden State’s historic 73rd win, the Brooklyn Nets finally got to wave bye-bye to their disastrous fourth season in our fair borough Wednesday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 29 points, drilling 7-of-10 3-pointers, and Sean Kilpatrick added 12 points off the bench as Brooklyn bowed out of the 2015-16 campaign with a 103-96 loss to the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors in front of 16,517 fans on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

“Would have definitely liked to have won more games, no question, any coach that’s running a team would like that,” ceded Nets interim head coach Tony Brown following his likely swan song at the helm.

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“But also I was challenged with trying to play a different way with the same group of guys, and ownership wanted a more entertaining style of basketball, and hopefully I fulfilled that,” he added as Brooklyn completed the fourth-worst season in Nets history at 21-61 with a 10th consecutive defeat.

With the franchise’s foundation pieces, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, watching from the bench for the last six of those losses, no one can blame Brown or even the remaining Nets players for failing to win a single game since a 120-110 triumph over Indiana here back on March 26.

Despite the disappointment of failing to reach the playoffs, or even come close, for the first time during their four-year tenure in Brooklyn, the Nets received a surprisingly kind sendoff from the Brooklyn Brigade, a smattering of their most loyal fans.

“Thank You Brooklyn!” the diehards chanted in unison as the final seconds ticked away on the arena’s last NBA game until November, giving those in attendance a chance to rush home and take in Bryant’s final game as well as the Warriors’ pursuit to upstage the Chicago Bulls’ 72-win 1995-96 season.

“It meant a lot,” Rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said of the impromptu but passionate tribute.

“For us to have a losing season and for our fans to still be here cheering us on, it means a lot to us, to the players especially,” he added after scoring eight points and blocking two shots. “For us, the outcome should have been different, but we fight, we fight hard every night and it’s definitely for the fans.”

Prior to Bryant even warming up for his long-anticipated final game at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, and the Warriors taking their place atop the all-time single-season win list with a blowout triumph over Memphis, the Nets were looking forward to the merciful end to their lost season.

Now, the organization can enter the offseason in earnest, searching for a new head coach, possibly pulling off a draft-day deal and looking to land a marquee player in free agency under the new leadership of general manager Sean Marks.

Billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov was in the building Wednesday, trying to put together a plan that would return the Nets to relevance.

Brooklyn fans were treated to three consecutive playoff berths upon the team’s arrival, getting as far as the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2013-14.

Prokhorov, who entered his tenure with a win-at-all-costs bravado, has since tempered his approach, insisting that patience will serve the Nets best in the coming years.

He has, however, fired four coaches in four years since the team got here, and Brown figures to be No. 5 any minute now, though it would be prudent for the organization to keep him in the fold as an assistant since he has become so acclimated with the Nets’ younger contributors.

“We look forward to building and getting better this summer,” Hollis-Jefferson told Nets nation.

“Stick with us.”

Nothing But Net: Rookie Chris McCullough had 12 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday’s loss, capping a campaign that saw him miss nearly 60 games with a severe knee injury suffered during his final year at Syracuse … Bogdanovic, the lone remaining starter from the unit that began the season, pulled down six rebounds and finished 10-of-17 from the field overall against the Raptors, who rested their starters in anticipation of this weekend’s playoffs … Thomas Robinson sat out the finale with a sore right knee … The Nets’ season coming to an end may benefit the New York Islanders, who will kick off their playoff run here on Sunday night. With the hardwood removed, Barclays Center workers can likely do a better job of maintaining suitable ice conditions for the Isles’ first postseason series in their new building.


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