Nets fall short despite comeback in loss to Hawks

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Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray, left, dribbles against Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023, in Atlanta.
AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr

The Nets battled back from an 18-point deficit, but the Atlanta Hawks broke Brooklyn’s heart in the end with a 129-127 win on Sunday afternoon. 

It was Trae Young that broke the hearts of Nets fans with a last-second buzzer-beater to secure the win for the Hawks on a day when Cam Johnson put up 27 points and Brooklyn showed plenty of grit after an ugly loss in Chicago two nights prior. The loss was the Nets’ second consecutive since resuming play after the all-star break and their fourth in their last five games. 

“I think we solved some problems or we got a few answers tonight,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We’ll continue to get more answers as we go forward. I thought we were more physical and aggressive in our defensive stance and how we put our hands on people. We were just more aggressive at the end of the day and that allowed us to get some stops and get out in transition. 

“Get some really good looks from the field and it all started from our defensive stance.” 

While the Nets don’t have a closer as they did with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the roster, but Cam Johnson did his best to will Brooklyn to a win with a 27-point effort, which was the third-highest-scoring performance of his career. Still, it wasn’t enough in the end as the Nets couldn’t lock down the Hawks and Young’s basket proved to be the dagger. 

The Nets nearly pulled off the comeback late in the game as the scrappy team from Brooklyn pulled within three when Dorian Finney-Smith hit a three-pointer and then Johnson hit a corner three of his own to tie the game at 127. 

Johnson shot 10-of-15 from the floor, while Mikal Bridges had 24 in the loss and shot 8-of-16 from the floor. Spencer Dinwiddie had 20 for Brooklyn along with eight assists and four rebounds, and Cam Thomas had 22 off the bench. 

It was Thomas’ play in the second quarter that sparked the Nets’ rally after falling behind early. The Nets youngster had 11 of his 13 first-half points during an 18-7 run by Brooklyn to close out the first half. 

Brooklyn will now have to return to Barclays center on Tuesday to face the Milwaukee Bucks, who have won 14 straight going into the game. The loss has also now effectively put the Nets into a tie for the fifth seed in the east with the New York Knicks. 

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