Avery Johnson didn't recognize the guys who were running up and down the floor in the first half Tuesday night, leading him to light up his team at halftime.
"We were playing like we were giving them too much respect," the Nets coach said. "I didn't see the Brooklyn Nets . . . I just thought we were kind of playing on our heels. I know our team. That wasn't the team that I saw in Boston, or in Orlando. That's not the team that I saw against the Clippers.
Latest Nets stories
"Sure, we were missing some guys, but I didn't see that look in our eyes."
It reappeared in the second half. Just not in time enough to pull out a comeback win over the defending Western Conference champs. The Nets' furious rally fell short as they dropped a 117-111 decision to Oklahoma City at Barclays Center.
The Nets (11-6) fought back from 15 points down in the third quarter and got within two on a couple of occasions in the fourth, the last coming when Joe Johnson sank a jumper with 2:14 remaining to claw within 108-106.
But they were unable to get the big bucket when they needed it, missing three consecutive shots. Oklahoma City (15-4) shot 60.6 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range, essentially getting any kind of shot it wanted.
"We can't let a team like this shoot 60 percent in our building and have a chance," said Deron Williams, who scored a season-high 33 points. "We did have a chance, but we got down early 15 points and were pretty much playing uphill.''
The Nets were hurt by a crucial call late in the fourth.
With the Thunder leading 108-106, Kevin Durant drove to the hoop and tossed a layup up toward the basket. Kris Humphries appeared to get a piece of Durant's attempt just before it hit the glass. But he was whistled for goaltending with 1:52 left and the Thunder took a four-point lead.
That's as close as the Nets got the rest of the way.
"I felt I pushed it into the backboard," Humphries said. "One of the refs told me it was as close as can be.''
Oklahoma City (15-4) threatened to run away with it in the third quarter, coming out strong to start the second half after a 61-point outburst in the first half. But the Nets scored 39 points in the third, a season high for a quarter, finding the touch from beyond the arc.
Gerald Wallace hit four threes in the quarter, igniting an offense that needed a serious spark.
"You just have to mentally be prepared to just, if you are open, shoot those open shots," Wallace said. "I missed some easy shots, some shots I feel like I should have made in the first half. But my teammates did a great job of keeping my confidence up and telling me to keep shooting when it's open and it's something I've been able to do for a couple of games.''
Durant paced the Thunder with 32 points and Russell Westbrook had 25 points and nine assists.
"This is a game we should have won, man," Joe Johnson said. "A few big plays or a big play here and there is what cost us the game."