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Nets pick up their play but suffer last-second loss

New Orleans Pelicans forward Alonzo Gee, right, gets

New Orleans Pelicans forward Alonzo Gee, right, gets to the rim against Nets center Brook Lopez, had 33 points and 10 rebounds in the 105-103 loss Saturday night in New Orleans. Credit: AP / Gerald Herbert

NEW ORLEANS — Mardi Gras revelers on Bourbon Street weren’t the only ones who had a good time in The Big Easy on Saturday night.

Fans who wandered into the Nets-Pelicans game at Smoothie King Center also had a ball — without the inevitable Bourbon Street hangover Sunday morning.

Even interim Nets coach Tony Brown and center Brook Lopez admitted they enjoyed the game. Unfortunately for the Nets, the funfest ended in a 105-103 loss when New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday hit a game-winning fallaway jumper with 1.3 seconds left.

Actually, it wasn’t over until it was over. Following Holiday’s tough shot over Thomas Robinson, Joe Johnson launched a one-handed prayer from well beyond halfcourt. The straight-on heave hit the back of the rim before bouncing away as the generously counted sellout crowd of 18,037 erupted.

Brown, whose voice is fading as he lives with life in the big interim chair before the Nets hire a new general manager and coach, pogo-sticked into the air as Johnson’s shot fell away.

As they have many times in this inglorious season, the Nets played hard and came up short. At least this one was entertaining.

“Helluva game,” Brown said. “Came down to possessions late. I thought both teams executed pretty good . . . Got no fault with the effort. I thought we played well. Came down to one shot.”

And what a shot it was. Holiday, who led New Orleans with 26 points off the bench, had just given the Pelicans a 103-100 lead on a step-back three-pointer over Robinson with 9.3 seconds left.

Johnson, who finished with 10 points, gave the Nets their final tie of the night when he responded with a three from the top of the key with 6.9 seconds to go. That set up the final basket. It’s not as if Robinson could have done more than he did defending Holiday on the winner.

“I don’t know,” Brown said. “Falling back. Almost looked like a prayer. Hey, he made a tough shot. I thought defensively we tried to make it as tough as possible. Tip your hat to him. He made a tough shot. When you see Joe’s shot hit back rim . . . hey, that’s the way it goes.”

Lopez led the Nets (12-36) with 33 points and 10 rebounds. Wayne Ellington scored 18, Thaddeus Young had 16 and reserve Shane Larkin contributed 13 points and six assists one night after the entire Nets bench scored two points in a loss in Dallas.

So, yes, the Nets lost on back-to-back nights. At least Brown enjoyed the free-wheeling style his team employed in the second one.

“Like I told them after the game, I like playing like this versus the other stuff,” Brown said. “That’s how I would like to play. I hope they enjoyed it. I know they don’t enjoy losing, but I liked the way we played and I hope they enjoyed playing that way.”

Said Lopez: “It was a fun one. We need to play each and every game the exact way. We gave ourselves a chance the whole way though. We were fighting and had a constant effort.”

New Orleans (18-28), which is trying to get back into the Western Conference playoff race after a poor start, got 24 points off the bench from former Net Ryan Anderson.

Anthony Davis, who was cleared to play just before game time after suffering a concussion Monday, had 20 points (all in the second half) and 16 rebounds.

New York Sports