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After 'rain delay,' Nets rally, but can't dig out of hole against undermanned Heat

Joe Johnson #7 of the Brooklyn Nets walks

Joe Johnson #7 of the Brooklyn Nets walks to the bench in the first half against the Miami Heat at Barclays Center on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The absurdity of it all had the makings of a Snickers commercial, given the unlikeliest of scenarios that was unfolding. The Barclays Center was not itself when it was raining.

A billion-dollar arena that's barely 3 years old had sprung a leak late in the first quarter, causing droplets of water to fall onto the herringbone court near the sideline opposite the Nets bench. Unable to quickly detect the problem, which was attributable to the construction and installation of a "green roof" that's supposed to muffle some of the noise emanating from the building, two garbage buckets were placed on the floor to collect the water, leading to an unusual 31-minute delay.

Maybe it would've been wise for someone accidentally to overturn one of the buckets, transforming the court into a makeshift slip-and-slide instead. At least then the Nets could have had a valid reason to suspend the game, which would have spared them the embarrassment of losing to the injury-ravaged, undermanned Heat.

Unable to get their offense in gear on a night Dwyane Wade had the touch, the Nets fell behind during the first quarter and played catch-up all game. They couldn't climb out of a 15-point hole, losing, 95-91, to Miami Tuesday night and squandering yet another opportunity to upend a team missing key players.

"We talked about it before the game. No matter who they put on the floor, we've got to worry about us and getting better," said Deron Williams, who scored 15 points with 11 assists, but also had a pair of critical turnovers in the waning minutes. "I don't think we played as well as we should've and wanted to tonight."

Mason Plumlee scored a season-high 21 points and had nine rebounds to lead the Nets (10-13). Brooklyn connected on 39 percent of its shots, certainly not good enough to get it done against Miami, which was without Chris Bosh (strained calf), Danny Granger (illness) and Josh McRoberts (torn meniscus).

Wade paced the Heat (12-13) with 28 points, getting his team off to a fast start that helped to keep the Nets trailing for the final 38:44.

"The margin for error is slim when you are coming down from 10 in the fourth," Plumlee said. "We fought hard. I thought it was a great effort, but we just put ourselves in a hole going into the fourth and [had] a lot of opportunities, missed opportunities in the first half."

The Nets scrambled and clawed to within 93-91 behind an 8-0 run punctuated by Bojan Bogdanovic's three-pointer with 35.1 seconds left. Wade missed a long jumper with the shot clock about to expire on the ensuing possession, but referee Scott Twardoski called Bogdanovic for hooking Luol Deng.

Deng, who had 18 points, nailed both free throws to hand Miami (12-13) a four-point edge.

"Tough call to make at that time like that, man, and give them two free throws," Joe Johnson said. "But we turned the ball over and had too many unfortunate turnovers down the stretch, and it was very uncharacteristic of us."Once Jarrett Jack blew a wide open layup seconds later that would've whittled the Nets' deficit to two points, it perfectly capped off a wild and crazy night, ensuring that the Nets weren't going to string together more than two wins for the first time this season.

"We are not good enough," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "You have to be good enough to win multiple games. You win two, then you lose. Win one, and you lose. You've got to be a good team and we are struggling to be that right now. We are trying to be, we are working at it, we've made progress, but we are not there yet."

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