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Nets waste Allen Crabbe's big night in loss to Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (1) and

Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. (1) and center DeAndre Jordan (6) defend Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth) Credit: AP/Michael Ainsworth

DALLAS — For most of this season, Nets sharpshooter Allen Crabbe had been missing in action, buried in a deep shooting slump for which there seemed to be no way out. But Crabbe finally discovered his rhythm in the midst of a furious fourth-quarter comeback in which he hit four three-pointers as part of a 27-point performance.

But that merely was the silver lining, the window dressing. The Nets cut a 10-point deficit to two, but the bottom line was they couldn’t get over the hump in the second game of a back-to-back, falling to 0-5 in that situation after a 119-113 loss to the Mavericks Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.

After trailing by as many as 14 points in the second quarter, the Nets clawed their way back to tie the game at 85 on an Ed Davis layup early in the fourth quarter. But production was coming from all parts of the Mavs’ roster as veteran guard Devin Harris warmed up to score eight straight points that restored a 95-87 Dallas lead, and that grew to 10 on a pair of free throws by Luka Doncic at the 5:16 mark.

That quickly shrank to a 103-99 lead with after Crabbe buried a pair of threes in his fourth-quarter barrage, and a Jarrett Allen layup made it a two-point game with 4:03 left. But that was as close as the Nets got.

Speaking of Crabbe’s effort, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said, “Oh man, huge. You could feel it coming these past couple of games. Even though he didn’t make every shot tonight, his game was fantastic. I still think he hesitated too much. We need him to shoot five more times a game. Hopefully, he’s woken up and in his groove.”

Crabbe shot 7 of 11 from three-point range and totaled 12 of his 27 in the final period. The Nets (8-11) also got 19 points and seven assists from Spencer Dinwiddie, 17 points (on 8-for-8 shooting) and nine rebounds from Ed Davis and 17 from D’Angelo Russell. Harrison Barnes topped the Mavs (8-9) with 28 points, Luka Doncic added 21, and J.J. Barrea and Devin Harris each totaled 18.

The Nets were coming off a great defensive effort in a 104-92 win the previous night in Miami. “Typical Brooklyn with how they play,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “They keep attacking, they’re relentless and they don’t get discouraged if they’re playing from behind. I’ve seen them do it many times. I’ve seen them do it against us. They hang in there.”

That’s exactly what they did after falling 14 points down in the second quarter. By the end of the third period, their deficit was down to three, and they finally tied the score twice in the fourth quarter at 85 and again at 87 before a 16-6 Mavs run made it a 10-point game. That’s when Crabbe buried two threes followed by a Jarrett Allen dunk that pulled the Nets within 103-101 with 4:03 left to play.

“It felt good, man,” Crabbe said. “It’s been a struggle the first [19] games. I’ve been doing all the things I needed to do. I knew if I stayed with the process, things would start to click. My teammates were finding me in the flow of the offense.”

But the Nets couldn’t keep pace with the Mavs at the end. It might have something to do with the fact they have played 12 road games (5-7) the most in the NBA. “There’s no way around the NBA schedule,” Atkinson said. “I think it’s going to help us improve in the long run. Having to fight through a tough schedule, tough travel, I think in the long run it’s going to make us a more resilient team.”

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