The Nets lost Kevin Durant on Sunday in Miami. Then they lost a heartbreaker.
The Nets blew a seven-point lead in the waning minutes of the game, and got beat by a Bam Adebayo pull-up shot that rattled around and in. It was a 109-107 loss at AmericanAirlines Arena on a day they’ll rue for some time.
Landry Shamet had a season-high 30 points and Kyrie Irving added 20 for the Nets (38-19), who lost Durant after just four minutes to a left leg injury.
After Jimmy Butler — who sat out the game — had called his Heat team soft, Miami proved just a bit tougher on this day. The Nets had led 99-92 with under seven minutes left, but surrendered a 17-8 run, capped by Adebayo’s game-winning shot.
The Heat big man worked on Jeff Green and hit a turnaround at the buzzer. The Nets gave up the final eight points over the last 3 ½ minutes.
After a series of slow starts, this time it was a late-game implosion that cost them.
“No, we definitely haven’t started well since the All-Star break, minus one or two games,” coach Steve Nash had admitted beforehand. “We definitely take our foot of the gas when some of the stars or usual suspects aren’t in the lineup. I think it’s important for us to take a challenge here to find the motivation to start well.
“We get it when we’re down 12 or 15, but can we start with the mindset to be crisp, sharp, clean to start the game? The ball’s not always going to go in the basket, you’re not always going to play well, but you can have the right mindset. So I think that’s the challenge for us [against Miami].”
The Nets had a horrible start, but it wasn’t about the scoreline but the injury list.
Durant came out aggressively and scored eight straight points, but left the game with 7:57 left in the first with a left thigh contusion after being fouled by Trevor Ariza.
The Nets fell behind 14-8 just moments later on an Ariza 3-pointer, and after they had some sloppy turnovers against Miami’s confounding zone, allowed eight unanswered points to fall behind 42-35.
It was 44-37 with 7:15 in the half on free throws by Dewayne Dedmon. But that’s when the Nets responded with a 10-2 run, edging ahead by one on a Shamet 3-pointer.
The rest of the contest was a seesaw affair.
Bruce Brown’s 6-foot turnaround put the Nets up 90-89 with 8:48 remaining. Another 10-2 run, this time by Miami, put Brooklyn in a seven-point hole on a driving reverse by Goran Dragic.
The Nets and Shamet responded again. Trailing 99-92 with 6:50 to play, Brooklyn reeled off 13 unanswered points. The Nets held Miami scoreless for three minutes, going 0-for-3 with a pair of turnovers.
Back-to-back corner 3s by Shamet put them ahead by four and sent Miami into a timeout. A Joe Harris drive made it 105-99 with 4:04 to play, but the Nets couldn’t hold on.
The Nets saw Miami pull even with a 10-2 run, a Dragic transition layup knotting it at 107-all. Then Adebayo won it.