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Nets can't control paint, lose to Sacramento Kings in overtime

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, left, holds the ball

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, left, holds the ball away from Kings guard Frank Mason III during the first quarter on Thursday, March 1, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. Credit: AP / Rich Pedroncelli

SACRAMENTO — One year ago, the Nets began a season-ending upswing with a win at Golden 1 Center, and they were hoping for a repeat performance Thursday night against the Kings, who came in tied for the NBA’s worst record. But the Nets failed to keep Sacramento out of the paint and to execute on offense in overtime, which is what made their 116-111 loss extra painful.

It was the fifth loss in overtime for the Nets this season in as many attempts, and they are 2-14 in their past 16 games.

The Nets took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Kings opened with a 15-3 run, including seven points from Bogdan Bogdanovic, to gain an 88-82 advantage.

The Nets went ahead 100-98 with 6.1 seconds left in regulation when Spencer Dinwiddie hit two foul shots. However, the Kings’ DeAaron Fox sank a baseline jumper at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.

The lead changed hands five more times before the Kings went up 112-111 on Bogdanovic’s drive. The Nets then committed an offensive foul by Jarrett Allen, and after a Kings turnover, they nearly let the shot clock expire before D’Angelo Russell belatedly passed to Dinwiddie for a failed three-point attempt. Then they had to foul, and the Kings converted all four attempts to put the decision away.

“We didn’t execute in overtime,” said DeMarre Carroll, who led the Nets with 22 points. “It’s been a repetitive thing. This hurt because we had ample opportunity to win this.”

The Nets (20-43) got 20 points from Allen Crabbe and 15 apiece from Russell and Allen. Bogdanovic had 23 points, Fox 21, Willie Cauley-Stein 17 and Buddy Hield 16 for the Kings (19-43).

The Nets took a nine-point lead after the opening quarter, saw it evaporate, but then held the Kings to 20 points in the third quarter to build a 79-73 lead. The Kings then opened the fourth quarter with a 19-6 run to gain a 92-85 advantage. The Nets allowed the Kings to dominate inside and committed eight turnovers in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“In the fourth quarter and overtime, we struggled to stop them,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “They were in our paint way too much . . . I give our guys credit. We were down [seven] and made a darn good comeback to put it in overtime. We just couldn’t close the deal.”

Atkinson’s clear message to the team starting the final 20-game push is to close the season on a positive note. The Kings offered the perfect launching pad, but the Nets failed to take advantage.

“At the end of the day, I feel like we shouldn’t even be in this predicament,” Carroll said. “When we get a lead, we have to learn to keep a lead. I think we were up [nine] and we had a chance to put our imprint on the game and you could tell they kind of lost their energy. But we let them back in the game, and you can’t let any team on their home court get back in the game.”

Atkinson acknowledged that the Nets had problems with ball movement in the fourth quarter and overtime. There were several critical plays in which they went deep in the shot clock and settled for poor shots rather than driving to the rim.

Russell faulted himself for a couple of key turnovers in the fourth quarter and OT. “I just turned the ball over in general,” he said. “No excuse. This one hurt. They all hurt, but this one had a different feel.

“We knew what we had to do, and we didn’t do it.”

Notes & quotes: Atkinson said Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s minutes will “ramp up,” but rejoining the starting lineup is “down the line.” . . . Jahlil Okafor missed his third straight game with flu symptoms but is expected to rejoin the Nets on Sunday against the Clippers.

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