The Nets got slimed.
Friday night at Barclays Center was an homage to ’90s nostalgia — a night dedicated to Nickelodeon shows of old, rife with Rugrats and temple guards, pie-eating contests and obstacle courses. They even doused Brook Lopez with the network’s signature green goop on the Jumbotron.
It was almost enough to distract from the disappointment on the court, and the reminder that the Nets, much like many of their teams in the ’90s, are struggling to finish games and get those ever-elusive wins.
“We had a little rhythm there but it was a little bit too late,” coach Tony Brown said. “They’ve got a good group of young talent out there and it was just a tough night trying to get those guys under control.”
Allen Crabbe’s baseline three-pointer with 6:42 left erased the Nets’ hard-fought fourth-quarter lead and ignited a 12-1 run as the Trail Blazers won, 116-104.
The Nets trailed for most of the game but surged at the beginning of the fourth quarter and looked primed for their first back-to-back wins since Dec. 10. Instead, it was their sixth loss in their last seven games, their 11th loss in their last 12 home games and a failure to capitalize on the emotional high of defeating the Knicks on Wednesday night.
Portland’s Damian Lillard had 33 points, including four in that pivotal run. He added 10 assists. Lopez led the Nets with 25 points and Donald Sloan fell just shy of a triple-double: 15 points, nine assists and nine rebounds. Joe Johnson had 15 points and Thomas Robinson added 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Trail Blazers shot 50.5 percent from the floor and were 15-for-35 on three-pointers.
“He’s very poised,” Johnson said of Lillard, who was 5-for-10 from beyond the arc. “He’s never going to rush. He’s shooting three, four feet behind the three-point line. I don’t think there’s much you can do about that.”
Andrea Bargnani’s jumper got the Nets within one and Robinson muscled in a layup and completed the three-point play with 9:56 left to put them ahead 88-86. He followed with a hook shot and a fist pump as the Nets put together a 9-0 run to erase a 10-point third-quarter deficit and take their first multi-point lead since the first quarter.
The Trail Blazers led by 12 in the second quarter before the Nets cobbled together an 11-3 run to draw within two on Sloan’s jumper with 1:11 left in the half. But Lillard hit a three-pointer and banked a jumper in the closing minute to give the Blazers a 56-49 lead going into the break.
“They were just making shots,” Johnson said. “They made a lot of tough shots, too. Give them credit. They played a great game.”
The Trail Blazers looked to be in control until Johnson found his downtown stroke. Johnson hit three threes in a span of 1:09 to tie the score at 74 with 4:41 left in the third.
Former Net Mason Plumlee responded with a reverse slam to put the Blazers ahead as the Nets struggled to make any significant stops for the rest of the quarter.
“We learned a lesson for a lot of our guys,” Brown said. “Sometimes you get caught watching and you’re two, three steps behind.”