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Home woes continue for league-worst Nets

Drop Ninth in a Row at Barclays After Blowing 18-Point Lead Vs. Heat

January 26, 2017 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brook Lopez hit a career-high seven 3-pointers, but the Nets squandered an 18-point lead during Wednesday’s night’s 109-106 loss to the Miami Heat at Downtown’s Barclays Center. AP Photo by Julie Jacobson
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The Nets are finding new and excruciating ways to taunt and tease the home faithful.

On Wednesday night, Brooklyn blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead en route to its ninth straight defeat at Downtown’s Barclays Center, a hard-to-fathom 109-106 setback to Dion Waiters and the surging Miami Heat in front of 14,929 frustrated fans on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

“We couldn’t get stops,” Nets first-year head coach Kenny Atkinson lamented after watching his squad get outscored 38-17 over the final 12 minutes.

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“I thought we had a pretty good defensive game and then I felt like that fourth quarter, two things happened. I think we didn’t execute. Again, we started playing kind of [isolation] ball and they turned us over a few times … You can’t give up 38 points in the fourth quarter, that’s way too many.”

It was just enough for the Heat to pick up their fifth consecutive win, and for Waiters to deliver the crushing blow for a second straight game.

The 25-year-old shooting guard was just two nights removed from drilling the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining in Monday’s thrilling 105-102 home win over NBA-best Golden State.

With his team clinging to one-point lead at Barclays on Wednesday, Waiters again rose up and knocked down a high-arching 3-pointer from just to the left of the arc, giving Miami a 107-103 advantage with 6.8 ticks left on the clock.

“Oh man, I love that moment,” Waiters said. “You can never shy away from that. You just can’t be afraid of taking them shots. I just wanted to get it over with and fortunately I made the shot.”

As Waiters preened and accepted congratulations at half court, the league-worst Nets (9-36) were left to ponder what could have been following their 14th loss in the past 15 games overall.

Brooklyn has not won on its home court since the day after Christmas.

“They were definitely the aggressor down the stretch,” admitted Nets center Brook Lopez, who scored a game-high 33 points and hit a career-best seven 3-pointers.

“They rode the momentum they had,” he added. “They definitely had confidence. They got themselves back in the game to win the game.”

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 17 points and Caris LeVert added 12 off the bench for Brooklyn, which will have to wait until Feb. 1 against the East River rival Knicks to snap its home losing streak.

The Nets will now embark on a three-game road trip, beginning with Friday night’s visit to Cleveland to take on LeBron James and the defending NBA champion Cavaliers.

“We were leading the whole game,” said LeVert, who returned to action after taking a rest day during Monday’s blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs here at Barclays. “We were right there. If that’s the positive to take from it, then that’s what we’ve got to take from it.”

“I think we just ran out of gas,” added Brooklyn power forward Trevor Booker. “They grabbed the momentum and kept it and we slowed down.”

The epic fourth-quarter meltdown put a damper on the inaugural Pride Night at Barclays, which celebrated the LGBTQ community and featured a halftime ceremony honoring former Net Jason Collins, who became the NBA’s first openly gay player with the franchise back in 2014.

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The St. Francis Brooklyn women’s basketball team is clearly on the rebound, matching its Northeast Conference win total from a season ago with Monday’s 66-59 victory at Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck, N.J.

Junior Alex Delaney scored 15 points, drilling 5-of-8 3-pointers, and sophomore Maria Palarino amassed 13 points, 10 boards and five assists for the Terriers (6-13 overall, 4-4 NEC), who went a dismal 4-14 in NEC play last year after making history with a breathtaking run to the NCAA Tournament in March 2015.

“[There’s] something about this place; I always play well here, it’s crazy,” Delaney said of FDU’s Stratis Arena. “Once you have a few bad shooting games, you just come out and know they’re going to go in eventually. Just had to have trust in all the work I put in.”

“I think we came in with a lot of energy, and I think it fueled is in the first half,” Palarino added. “In the second half they came in with a lot of energy — we just needed to calm down and keep our poise. Most of our shots fell in the first half and not so much in the second half so we had to turn it up on defense.”

FDU will try to avenge Monday’s loss on Saturday at 1 p.m., when it visits the Pope Center on Remsen Street to battle the Terriers again.

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