By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
The Nets nearly pulled off a comeback win against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night, but a dispiriting final couple of minutes resulted in a 93-86 loss.
The Nets were down 11-2 in the opening minutes, but got back into it to pull within three, at 49-46 at halftime.
They fell behind by as many as 11 in the third, but cut it to a one-possession game for the duration of the fourth. An Andray Blatche layup tied the game at 86 with 1:36 left.
On the Warriors' ensuing possession, Blatche was defending Jermaine O'Neal, who had one of his best games in years (more on that later). They were jockeying for position, with their arms locked. and Blatche was surprisingly called for a foul. This was not worthy of a call with 1:23 remaining in a tied game. It barely would have warranted a whistle in the first quarter.
O'Neal went to the line and hit the first free throw. As he put it up, it was obvious that he held the ball a bit too long on the release point, which is very unusual. O'Neal did it again on the second attempt, which he missed, and because of his stunt, the Nets were called for a lane violation. Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd argued that he took longer than the 10-second limit to take a foul shot. Because it was a lane violation, O'Neal was awarded another foul shot and made it to give Golden State a two-point lead.
Joe Johnson missed a jumper on the Nets' next possession, and Stephen Curry expanded the Warriors' lead with a three that he banked in with 37 seconds left.
On the Nets' ensuing possession, Johnson drove the lane under the hoop, tossed it back to Williams at the top of the key, and it was tipped around into the hands of Draymond Green. That sent Green to the line for a couple of free throws and that made it 93-86 Warriors and sealed the win.
Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd was asked about the decision-making behind Johnson's pass, "He's making the right play. He caused the problem, someone tipped the pass, Deron tipped it, but I thought it was the right play."
Deron Williams led the Nets with 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting and 6 assists. Johnson had 15 on a dismal 5-16 from the field. Paul Pierce had 11 points, and was 3-of-11 from the field, and did not make a three-pointer in five attempts.
With David Lee and Andrew Bogut out for the Warriors, they turned to veteran Jermaine O'Neal, and he stepped up big time. O'Neal had 23 points on 10-for-13 from the field, most of which were dunks, to lead Golden State. Draymond Green had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Steph Curry had 17 points and 8 assists.
The Nets fall to three games under .500, at 25-28, and visit old friend MarShon Brooks and the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.