Nets guard Cam Thomas shoots past Knicks center Jericho Sims...

Nets guard Cam Thomas shoots past Knicks center Jericho Sims for a basket in the first half of an NBA game at Barclays Center on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Nets’ last four losses have followed a similar script. Get a second-half lead, give it back by the fourth quarter then see their opponent execute better to win.

Groundhog Day isn’t until next month but the Nets feel trapped in a repetitive cycle of their own making. There’s been frustration mixed with a sense of just-play-through-it attitude, but the former crept out a bit at shootaround Thursday.

Cam Thomas was asked if the Nets’ struggles in Tuesday’s loss to the Knicks felt different than losing Sunday to the Clippers. His reply? “Same exact stuff.”

When asked to elaborate if it was more issues on offense or defense? Thomas simply said, “Ask the coach.”

The short replies, atypical for Thomas, reflected tension the Nets haven’t shown much publicly during this stretch of losing 16 of 20 games. Coach Jacque Vaughn chalked up Tuesday’s loss to lack of offensive rebounding and cold shooting despite good execution.

Thomas, who had 14 points Tuesday, also sat most of the final seven minutes of the game while the Knicks battled back from a seven-point deficit. Vaughn played Dennis Smith Jr. most of the period, a change from Thomas closing Sunday’s game.

For Vaughn, it’s another challenge with lineups late in games. He’s played Thomas at point guard but prefers to have another ball-handler with him for better facilitating and to free up Thomas’ responsibilities.

“I’ve tried Cam Thomas at the one. I would love for him to be able to do that,” Vaughn said Tuesday. “That would give him more minutes on the floor. I thought Dennis's ability to get downhill, his defensive ability throughout the course of the night, had me finish with him.”

The Nets’ problem isn’t who finishes games, it’s what they’re not doing - making shots or getting stops. They ended Tuesday’s game shooting 1-for-8 from the field, including two shots blocked on consecutive layups

It hearkened back to their 0-for-9 performance during the Clippers’ 22-0 closing run Sunday. While Thomas was frustrated, Royce O’Neale tried to take an even-keeled approach

“We make a couple of those shots at the end, a couple of things go our way, it's a whole different game, we win those games,” O’Neale said. “I mean, we're right there and coming to the last possession of every game, so I think we're doing something right to be in the game, at least.”

Being close, however, hasn’t cut it. Vaughn said before the season he expected the Nets to be in their share of close games because of the style they want to play.

But ahead of Thursday’s game hosting the Timberwolves, they’re 5-11 in games decided by six points or less. Their last such win came Dec. 26 against the Pistons and they’ve lost their last four games within that range.

“It’s not like we’re getting blown out,” Thomas said. “We’re in most of these games…then everything falls apart. I don’t know. It’s tough.”

O’Neale pointed out that the Nets are learning different things from each defeat. Against the Clippers, it was not allowing their opponent to dictate pace. With the Knicks, it was losing in transition.

It also was about keeping perspective. Almost every player, O’Neale said, has been through losing streaks before so it’s about to staying together and trying to fix the mistakes.

“I don't think that makes or breaks you,” O’Neale said of losing, “I think it’s just seeing how you can overcome it, build on it, and just keep getting better.”

For Thomas, it was harder hiding his emotions. Last Friday, he was praised for his 33-point game against the Lakers while the Nets won thanks to a strong second half.

Can the Nets lean on what they did right that game? Thomas didn’t seem sure as the Nets reverted to fourth-quarter struggles and more questions about lineups, lack of adjustments and player’s roles.

“I don’t know,” Thomas said. “We’ll see…we’ll see.”

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