Talk about letting a victory slip away. The Nets did that in the most literal sense Monday night at Barclays Center. They blew a 16-point second-quarter lead with an unending series of ballhandling miscues in the second half that enabled the Wizards to pull out a 118-113 victory.
All told, the Nets committed 22 turnovers leading to 35 Washington points, and the last mistake sealed their fate.
With the Nets trailing by three, Joe Harris allowed his pocket to be picked by Bradley Beal with 11.9 seconds left. The turnover officially was credited to Trevor Booker, who passed to Harris, but he failed to protect the ball from Beal. Moments later, John Wall hit two foul shots with 5.5 seconds left for the final margin.
“We made a great defensive stop, and Trevor was pushing [the ball upcourt],” Harris said. “Coach wanted us to roll with it offensively. We had numbers going in transition. I probably should have set my man up a little bit more, got into Beal. I should have been a lot tighter coming off of [a screen by Booker] and know they were going to be putting their hand in there. He got a hand on the ball and knocked it loose.”
Wall was sensational with 25 points, 13 assists and three steals for the Wizards (7-12), who totaled 17 steals. Beal and Otto Porter Jr. each added 18 points.
Brook Lopez led the Nets (5-15) with 25 points. Sean Kilpatrick scored 21, Bojan Bogdanovic had 18 and Booker contributed 14 points and 14 rebounds.
In the first half, the Nets played about as well as they have all season. Kilpatrick scored six points in a 16-2 run that gave them a 64-48 lead, and they still led by 15 at halftime after shooting 56.5 percent from the field and recording 17 assists on 26 baskets.
But the Nets reverted to their season-long problems in the third quarter. Washington scored the first 10 points of the second half before Bogdanovic got the first Nets basket at the 8:29 mark. Taking advantage of a stretch in which the Nets committed turnovers on six of seven possessions, the Wizards extended their run opening the third quarter to 28-8 for a 79-74 lead.
“We played tremendous in the first half,” Kilpatrick said. “Guys were sharing the ball and we were getting our bigs involved and they were making the correct plays. You go up , and the next minute, it’s the third quarter and we tend to lax in the third quarter. That’s when teams come back and bite us. If we cut down the turnovers in that span, we could have at least been up 10 to 12 points. Once the turnovers started, that’s when they started to kill us.”