The New Jersey Nets West-coast trip mercifully ended with a 1-3 record and an all too familiar finish.
The Nets hung tough with the Denver Nuggets but still found a way to lose in the end. Trailing 105-103, Brook Lopez missed a lay-up with 13 seconds left that potentially could have sent the game into overtime.
Another moral victory, but another loss in the record book as Carmelo Anthony knocked down his free-throws to give the Nuggets a 107-103 win at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
Lopez’s lay-up rolled out, and the Nets big man second-guessed his decision to lay the ball up rather than finishing strong.
“It was a great look, I just didn’t finish,” Lopez said. “I think I (should’ve dunked it). Avery’s been constantly telling me to hook dunk it, hook dunk it, and I wish I had.”
Anthony scored the Nuggets’ final six points and poured in a game-high 28 points.
He had help, though. Nene scored 22 points in the middle while Denver’s bench combined for 42 points.
The Nets received double-digit contributions from seven players, including a career-high 14 points from rookie Derrick Favors. Favors, who has been the focal point of trade rumors involving the Nuggets and Nets, put on his best performance as a pro. He went 4-of-6 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.
The team effort wasn’t lost on Avery Johnson.
“Our fans should be really proud of our guys because I know I am,” Johnson said of his team coming off back-to-back games. “I’m going to sound like a worn-out record,but we’re close. We really are close.”
Lopez scored a team-high 20 points and Travis Outlaw added 15 points. In addition to Favors, Jordan Farmar added 14 points off the bench.
The balanced scoring wasn’t enough in the end, however. Much like recent losses to Cleveland, Orlando, and Sacramento, the Nets couldn’t execute down the stretch.
After utilizing a 15-4 run to cut Denver’s 13-point fourth quarter lead to two, the Nets couldn’t knot the game.
Devin Harris’ lay-up following a jump-ball scramble brought the Nets to within 105-103 with 45 seconds left. With 26 seconds left, Outlaw forced Anthony into an errant fadeaway that allowed New Jersey a chance.
The Nets drop to 4-9 with the loss. All but three of the losses have been decided in the final minutes. The road isn’t any easier coming home either.
The Nets return to The Rock for a tilt Tuesday with the Atlanta Hawks and then go to Boston. The combined records of the two teams are 17-8.