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Nets can’t complete fourth-quarter rally in loss to Pistons

Allen Crabbe scored 19 of his game-high 34 points in the final period to lead the Nets, but it wasn’t enough.

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie drives around Pistons guard

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie drives around Pistons guard Ish Smith during the first half on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Detroit. Photo Credit: AP / Carlos Osorio

DETROIT — Spencer Dinwiddie was a hero when the Nets last visited Little Caesars Arena just over two weeks ago and he hit a last-second, game-winner. On Wednesday night, it was Allen Crabbe who donned the hero’s cape, scoring every Nets point in a 16-8 run that trimmed an 11-point deficit to three with 5:23 left to play.

But neither Crabbe, who scored 19 of his 34 points in the final period, nor the Nets could get their comeback bid across the finish line. Since the Nets’ last visit, the Pistons added All-Star Blake Griffin to their arsenal, and he scored 11 of his 25 in the final period to drive the Pistons to a 115-106 victory.

“Blake was a load in there,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “DeMarre [Carroll] got in some foul trouble, and we had to switch that matchup. It’s a game-changer. The one thing we didn’t do is value the ball. We just gave it away too many times. It’s frustrating. They had 24 points off our turnovers.”

The Nets (19-37) committed 20 turnovers, including six by D’Angelo Russell off the bench and five by Joe Harris, who joined the starting unit with forwards Quincy Acy (sprained finger) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) sidelined by injuries. The Nets’ normally high-scoring bench produced only 15 points as they lost their fourth straight and eighth in the past nine games.

In addition to Griffin’s contribution, the Pistons (27-26) got 19 points from Stanley Johnson and 17 points and 27 rebounds from center Andre Drummond. Harris scored 18 for the Nets, and they got three double-doubles from Carroll (14 points, 12 rebounds), Jarrett Allen (13 points, 14 rebounds) and Dinwiddie (12 points, 11 assists).

Despite the loss, Crabbe’s breakout performance underlined why the Nets traded for him last summer despite a contract worth $57 million over the next three seasons. The Pistons led 89-78 when Crabbe got going in his 16-point run that included three three-pointers, a three-point play and two two-point jumpers to pull within 97-94. He had a 7-for-9 shooting effort in the final period, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, but the Nets got no closer.

“I hope it releases Allen because that’s the Allen we want,” Atkinson said. “Just more aggressive, more assertive. And if that means he’s going to take a few bad shots a game, we’re OK with that. With his size and how fast he gets his shot off, I just loved how he played tonight.”

Crabbe finished second in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage last season but came into the game with a mundane 35.3 three-point percentage. His shooting performance relieved some personal frustration.

“I kept shooting the ball and my teammates kept finding me,” Crabbe said. “I got out on the break, my teammates were moving the ball well and they found me in good spots and I made some shots, finally, man.”

Crabbe admitted it’s against his nature to put up 22 shot attempts, but he’s still adjusting to the gunner role with the Nets. ‘I look at all the other guys in the league who go out and get big numbers every night,” Crabbe said. “Those are the guys that don’t have a conscience. That’s what I have to work towards doing. I have to understand that’s what they’re allowing me to do over here.”

Notes & quotes: Caris LeVert (concussion, knee) did not make the trip with the Nets after suffering his injuries and a cut lip in a collision with Houston’s Nene the previous night. Asked for his take on the hit by Nene, Atkinson said, “I don’t want to comment on it. It’s a referee’s decision. The league looks at that. I’ll be interested to see what they come back with. We’ll get a judgment on it. I know that. We get that report. I don’t think it’s come out yet.”

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