WASHINGTON -- Looks as if the Nets are in dire need of an antidote. Otherwise, this Jekyll-and-Hyde syndrome might turn into a full-blown epidemic. Particularly on the road.
With their eyes set on picking up their first victory in three tries away from home this season, the Nets instead found a way to cough it up late. They blew an 11-point lead with 4:46 left in regulation and dropped a 112-108 overtime decision to the Wizards, a loss that had them shellshocked as they left the Verizon Center Friday night, headed back home for Saturday night's game against the undefeated Pacers.
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"It stings. We were looking forward to getting our first road win," Deron Williams said. "We had control of the game several times and just let it slip away. It's been kind of a trend for us to not close out quarters, not close out halves. We've got to find a way to close out games on the road, and so this is definitely disappointing.''
The Nets (2-3) led only once in overtime, taking a 106-105 edge on Williams' three-pointer with 2:14 to play. But the same problem that cropped up during the second and third quarters -- when the Wizards bombed away from the perimeter and erased a 14-point deficit -- happened yet again.
Trevor Ariza swished an open three-pointer to give the Wizards (2-3) a 108-106 advantage with 40.9 seconds left, a lead they never relinquished. And the Nets were left scratching their heads.
"I don't know. If I had an answer, I'd tell you," said Joe Johnson, who had 16 points. "I have no idea. It's a little mind-boggling but, hey, we'll figure it out."
Brook Lopez paced the Nets with 23 points but wasn't overly involved in the second half, something that's becoming a trend.
Paul Pierce, a game-time decision after coach Jason Kidd said he became ill Thursday night, was scoreless before draining a jumper with 2:50 left in overtime. He had four points, shooting 1-for-5 from the field.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 29 points.
It appeared as if the Nets had it sewed up late in the fourth. Kevin Garnett nailed a short jumper with 37.9 seconds remaining for a two-point edge, and with help from Garnett, Williams stole John Wall's errant pass on the Wizards' ensuing possession. But inexplicably, the Nets didn't use up a lot of the shot clock on their possession and Garnett misfired on a long jumper with 14.9 seconds left.
Still, all the Nets had to do in the waning seconds was make one last stand. Wall missed, but Lopez didn't block out Nene, whose putback with 1.2 seconds left tied it at 99.
"Obviously I thought about that play a lot, you know?" Lopez said. "I felt it was my job to go help D-Will and contest Wall's shot. I keep thinking I could have stayed back and boxed Nene out. But I feel like I try to be the last line of defense on this team. I feel like it's on me. But I feel like it is what I do as well. I am going to go in there and try to protect our guys if they get beat."
The Nets know something's going to have to change for them to become one of the league's elite. "We're dealing with multiple things here," Garnett said. "When we win, obviously it looks good. But teams are making adjustments to us as far as systematically defensively. Offensively, I don't think we're in a rhythm. . . We have to have better thirds. That's the priority."
So is a strong bounce-back effort against the Pacers. Said Garnett: "We've got to be ready. Bottom line, we've got to be ready.''