If this keeps up, the Nets might want to strongly consider getting a patent on this whole second-half collapse thing.
They have it mastered.
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"It's bad habits," Deron Williams said. "It's a bad habit that's forming. We can't keep giving leads away. We have to be mentally tougher than that."
The script Tuesday night was the same as it has been virtually all season, particularly at the Barclays Center. The Nets built a double-digit lead -- this time it was as large as 13 points -- but then went into zombie mode. They coughed up a four-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter and succumbed in a disheartening 92-90 loss in front of a disappointed crowd of 15,835.
Gerald Wallace missed a potential game-winning three-pointer with 4.8 seconds left and Reggie Evans' desperation putback clanked off the rim at the buzzer, sending the Nets to their fifth defeat in their last six games at home. So rather than feeling some good vibes heading into their showdown with the Knicks at the Garden Wednesday night, the Nets (13-11) could only lament their latest belly flop in Brooklyn.
They can blame it, in part, on their nine second-half turnovers and their awful shooting after halftime, in which they made just 10 of 32 attempts from the floor.
"I've never really seen anything like it," said Joe Johnson, who paced the Nets with 21 points. "When you are at home, this is where you are supposed to be the strongest at. I was just hoping we could just kind of blow a team out so us as starters could get a rest for tomorrow. But it just seems when we have those leads, when we are up 15, 17, the game is never over because we always shoot ourselves in the foot with turnovers."
Even so, they still had a chance to steal this one back in the final frantic minute, aided by a critical turnover by Utah (14-12). The Jazz, which was led by Mo Williams' 19 points, had trouble inbounding the ball with 14.5 seconds left and Johnson stole it from Al Jefferson near halfcourt. He raced toward the Nets' basket, but he didn't want to shoot a three-pointer.
So he drove along the baseline and found C.J. Watson parked behind the right corner beyond the arc. Watson hurled a pass to Gerald Wallace as he stood behind the three-point line a few feet left of the top of the key. Wallace unleashed it, but it was off the mark. Evans' 9-footer was short.
"Shot just didn't fall," Wallace said.
Avery Johnson went to his old starting lineup for the first tine in nine games, reinserting Kris Humphries at power forward and bringing Evans off the bench. Still, those same problems that have bedeviled the Nets in all of their second-half swoons were at the forefront again.
They didn't take care of the ball in the third quarter, turning it over a whopping seven times. Their shots suddenly were off target; they hit only 6 of 17 attempts from the floor and scored 17 points.
"We were awful to start the third quarter," Avery Johnson said. " . . . That doomed us for the rest of the game."