Blow 22-point second-half lead in OT loss to Pelicans
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Nets were absolutely giddy with themselves following Sunday’s come-from-behind victory in Dallas.
So much so that they forgot to slam the door shut on what was shaping up as an easy win in New Orleans Monday night.
“It’s a very disappointing loss,” admitted reigning NBA Player of the Week Joe Johnson after Tyreke Evans torched Brooklyn for 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Pelicans overcame a 22-point, second-half deficit en route to a stunning 109-104 overtime victory at the Smoothie King Center.
"For whatever reason, we gave the lead up a couple of times,” added Johnson, who went 4-of-14 from the floor en route to 15 points. “So it's very unlike us, especially coming off a pretty good game [in Dallas]. This would've really validated [that win], but we came up short.''
The Nets (37-32) had a four-game winning streak snapped, and blew an opportunity to close within one game of first-place Toronto in the hunt for the Atlantic Division title.
They also remained two games behind fourth-place Chicago in the race for home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
"We let our guard down in the third [quarter],” Paul Pierce, who led Brooklyn with 24 points, lamented. “[There’s] no excuse. We went up. That's when you've got a chance to really put a team away.”
Instead, the Nets may have put away their best last chance to climb into the No. 3 seed in the East as they enter the season’s final 13 games still looking up at the Raptors.
"Once [the Pelicans] got their confidence, it's a ballgame.'' Pierce noted.
Deron Williams scored 23 points and Andray Blatche added 12 off the bench for Brooklyn, which made only 10 of its franchise-record 40 3-point attempts.
Now, the Nets will visit Charlotte on Wednesday, hoping to put this devastating loss behind them much better than they managed to forget about their inspiring win against the Mavericks before showing up in The Big Easy less than 24 hours later.
''We had an opportunity to win the game,'' Nets first-year coach Jason Kidd said. ''It went into overtime, and we just couldn't get it back. … They got good luck. They made it and we didn't, so that's something that we can learn from."
To their credit, the Nets almost got out of the Crescent City without receiving their sobering lesson.
After giving away their huge double-digit advantage late in regulation, rookie Mason Plumlee’s thundering dunk and a 3-pointer by Pierce forced the extra session.
But Brooklyn got only two baskets from Pierce and one from Shaun Livingston, who finished with 10 points, during overtime, getting outscored, 11-6, by the rejuvenated Pelicans, winners of a season-high three straight.
“It’s all on us,” Livingston admitted.
Billionaire owner Mikhail Prokorov is taking his Nets business to Russia.
Prokhorov confirmed this week that he is moving ahead with plans to transfer the NBA team's ownership company to his native country, the Associated Press reported.
Prokhorov, who has only appeared in person at two Nets games in Brooklyn this season, first announced last year that he wanted to shift control of the team to a Russian-based company after the Kremlin passed a law regulating foreign holdings for public officials.
However, according to the AP, the move would also be in line with Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent call for billionaires to register their businesses at home in the wake of U.S. sanctions following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Prokhorov said in remarks carried by Russian news wires Monday that the process of shifting ownership ''is slowly going on.''
Asked if he thinks potential U.S. sanctions could hurt him, Prokhorov said ''it's still unclear,'' but ''we are currently looking at it.''
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the league has not received an application to transfer ownership of the Nets.
Nothing But Net: The Nets fell to 16-12 this season against Western Conference opponents with Monday night’s loss. … The Nets missed all but four of their final 23 attempts from beyond the arc against New Orleans. … Brooklyn was also beaten badly in the paint, 56-34, as C Anthony Davis amassed 24 points and 14 rebounds. … F Andrei Kirilenko sat out Monday with an ankle injury, upping his games-missed total for the season to 32. … F-C Kevin Garnett remained sidelined for the 12th straight game with a troublesome back. … Pierce was one of the few Nets who was on target with his shot Monday, going 7-of-16 from the floor, including 4-of-11 from 3-point range. … Brooklyn is 14-21 on the road this season after setting a franchise record with 23 road victories in 2012-13, their inaugural campaign in our fair borough.