Nets stage strong rally from 27-point hole, but fall to Lakers

Nets forward Kevin Garnett looks on from the Nets forward Kevin Garnett looks on from the court at the end of action against the Los Angeles Lakers. (Nov. 27, 2013) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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It's almost as if they were out scouring for some early Black Friday deals, making them fashionably late for tipoff.

The Nets were getting manhandled, allowing a flurry of wide-open shots that had the sellout crowd collectively moaning every time one of the Lakers raised up and fired from the perimeter. Jason Kidd even had to burn a quick timeout, obviously bothered by a lethargic effort that's typically reserved for their trademark atrocious third quarters.

If only the Nets pressed the snooze button earlier and didn't expend so much energy charging back from a 27-point first-half deficit. That extra helping of Thanksgiving turkey topped with gravy would surely taste a whole lot better Thursday.

Short-handed once again with four of their key players out, the Nets never got that breakthrough bucket in a tight fourth quarter, succumbing to the Lakers, 99-94, Wednesday night at Barclays Center.

Paul Pierce's potential game-tying three-pointer clanked off the back rim with 2.2 seconds left, sending the Nets (4-11) to their ninth defeat in their last 11 games. Just having the opportunity to tie it during the closing minutes was heartening to the Nets after yielding 34 points in what Pierce termed a "disastrous" first quarter.

Nick Young scored 26 points and Pau Gasol had 21 to lead the Lakers (8-8). Jordan Farmar was 5 of 7 on three-pointers and finished with 15 points.

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"It's a tough loss because you come in knowing if we don't give up that many points in the first quarter, we've got a really good chance of winning the game," said Joe Johnson, who paced the Nets with 18 points. "So that's probably the most discouraging thing about it."

There were things to be encouraged about: Mirza Teletovic's career-high 17 points, 14 of which came in the critical second half. Winning the third quarter for the second straight game, outscoring the Lakers (8-8) by a 28-23 margin.

Still, none of that was good enough to put the Nets on track for their second win in as many nights. After Jodie Meeks sank two free throws with 8.3 seconds to play to hand the Lakers a three-point cushion, the Nets drew up a play that got Pierce a great look from the top of the key. However, his shot was too long, bouncing off the back rim and ending the Nets' spirited comeback bid.

"I'll take that shot anytime," said Pierce who was 4-for-17. "I've made a lot of those shots in my career. There's not much more you can ask for. Most teams tend to foul and send you to the line. But for us to get a shot off a straightaway look, I'll take that every time."

Pierce's misfire was one of several the Nets had in the closing minutes that could've gotten them over that proverbial hump. Following Pierce's critical turnover that Wesley Johnson cashed into a fast break dunk for a 94-92 advantage with 1:33 remaining, the Nets clanked their next four shots that could've squared it.

Kevin Garnett probably had the best look of them all, his 17-footer bouncing off the back rim with 18.9 seconds left, a shot he expected to make.

"I did," Garnett said. "One dribble pullup, I work on that. The one thing I told the team, man, is to trust the work you put into your craft. And I have a lot of confidence in what I work on. I work on that shot every day and when I dial up that number, I expect for her to pick up and she didn't pick up today."

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