The New Jersey Nets are going to be kicking themselves for losing to the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night.
Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki shook off a very poor shooting night (seven of 24 from the field) to hit the game-winning bucket with six seconds left. It's what All-Stars do.
The Nets had a chance to win it with a basket of their own as the buzzer sounded. They ran a play with Devin Harris getting the ball outside the three-point arc and Kris Humphries setting a screen a few feet beyond the free throw line that Harris utilized.
It seemed as though Harris was then expecting Humphries to roll to the basket, which he did not, and the point guard ended up forcing a pass to Jordan Farmar, who was unable to get a shot off in time, resulting in a Dallas win, 87-86.
After the game, coach Avery Johnson said the play was designed for Brook Lopez, but Harris did not appear to ever look at the center.
Harris could be seen talking to Humphries as they walked off the court and to the locker room, so there must have been some sort of miscoummunication on the play between those two.
Although execution in that situation would have led to a New Jersey win, the Nets will feel as though they should not have even been in that position in the first place.
The Nets put forth a fantastic defensive effort in holding Dallas to 35 percent shooting, but they were ultimately undone by four untimely miscues that preceded the events of the final seconds, and were really a microcosm of the game in terms of New Jersey not taking advantage of all their opportunities.
Harris and Lopez missed three free throws down the stretch and there was a strange play where Lopez thought Harris was throwing him a lob when, in actuality, he was putting up a shot.
The ball looked to be on it's way to going in before Lopez touched it, resulting in offensive interference and negating the basket.
The Nets also failed to come up with a loose ball after a blocked shot on the Mavs' second to last possession. The sequence would result in Dallas center Tyson Chandler hitting a free throw to bring his team within one.
As they say, the rest is history.
Throughout the game, New Jersey should have been able to bury their opponent, but failed to do so, mainly because of their high number of turnovers (17), inability to box out, resulting in 11 offensive rebounds for Dallas, and their allowing the Mavericks to get to the free throw line 29 times.
The loss is certainly tough. Even though it brings back memories of the Nets' failure to execute in fourth quarters throughout the season, the team is clearly moving in the right direction.
They played two of the top teams in the league this week in Utah and Dallas, beating the Jazz and just missing against the Mavericks.
It's possible this team is not as far away from being as good as their record indicates.
Of course, they will need to keep up this type of play for that to be the case. They simply need to avoid being inconsistent.
As for individual statistics, Lopez led the way in scoring with 25. He also managed three assists, but his measly six rebounds and equal number of turnovers dampen his offensive production.
Harris finished with 15 points and 11 assists, as he has drastically stepped us his play on both ends of the floor over the last few games.
No other Net made much of an impact in the scoring department, although Humphries continued to be a monster on the boards with 15 rebounds and Farmar totaled seven assists coming off the bench.
Nowitzki put in 23 points for the Mavs, although Chandler was much more efficient, hitting seven of his 11 shots and scoring 19 points.
Former Net great Jason Kidd was relatively quiet with five points and eight assists.
New Jersey will be off on Sunday before returning to action Monday night when they host Cleveland. Hopefully they can enjoy the NFL's Championship Games while keeping up the intensity once they return to action.
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