Nets let go of rope in awful fourth-quarter collapse vs. Knicks

The Nets were tied in the fourth quarter until they forgot how to score.

Or maybe the Knicks’ defense gave them amnesia. 

The Nets suffered a 105-93 loss Saturday before a sold-out crowd of 19,812 at the Garden, a game in which they clearly saw another late-game collapse coming and sadly welcomed it with open arms.

Against their rivals, no less. 

Jalen Brunson drives on Mikal Bridges during the Knicks’ 105-93 win over the Nets. Robert Sabo for NY Post

“You have to counterpunch … talking, loose balls, offensive rebounding. It has nothing to do with talent and it has nothing to do with the ball going in. It’s those little things we have to get better on, we have to double down on. That’s the only way we’re going to win,” interim coach Kevin Ollie said. “I talked to them about that: How’s your stamina? Not just your wind, I mean from a competitive standpoint. That has to be there every single minute for us to win, and it wasn’t [Saturday].” 

Whatever competitive stamina they had ran out early in the fourth quarter. 

With the score knotted at 80, they went 3:40 scoreless — conceding a dozen unanswered points to lose the game — and an 8:03 drought without a basket, one that saw a 22-4 run and a nail-biter turn into a beating. 

The Nets let go of the rope again, and had to admit their coach was right. 

“I agree. There’s gotta be kind of like a line drawn in the sand,” Cam Johnson said. “It’s just kind of one thing led to another that just piled up negatively and it’s something that we’re susceptible to, something that happens to us often, but we don’t bounce back from it well. 

“I think we just need to be a little more connected, a little bit more trust in each other. Valuing the ball, valuing offensive possessions, valuing defensive possessions, I think that’ll go a long way.” 

Lonnie Walker IV and Day’Ron Sharpe (20) look to block Alec Burks’ shot during the Nets’ loss. Robert Sabo for NY Post

The Nets fell to 26-45, their play-in hopes not yet gone but essentially invisible. 

This after getting roughed up physically. 

“We’re not playing five-on-zero, we’re playing five-on-five,” Ollie said. “They’re gonna be physical, they’re gonna play physical, you have to play through that. That’s what you got to do. These are playoff teams. They want to be in the playoffs, we want to be in the playoffs, so we’re going to have to overcome that. 

“So how do you combat physicality? You don’t fight physicality, you cut backdoor, you make crisp passes, you don’t turn the ball over, that’s how you combat physicality. You take it back again, you’ve seen it in the Milwaukee game. We started being the physical team, that’s what you do. When somebody hits you, you just don’t lay down, you hit ’em back.” 

Dennis Smith Jr. (4) gestures after making a 3-pointer during the fourth quarter of the Nets’ loss. Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

After Dennis Smith Jr. knotted it at 80 just 16 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Nets missed 11 straight shots. 

The Knicks scored a dozen straight to blow it open, before Thomas finally hit a free throw to break the drought with 8:04 left. 

But the Nets still couldn’t find the basket until 102-84. After working to slow Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo lit them up for 31. 

“They just turned it up and we didn’t respond well,” Nic Claxton said. “I think everybody we all have to just look ourselves in the mirror and figure out ways. We better figure out how we can just be more connected out there on both sides of the ball. 

“It is frustrating just losing you know being in the game all the way up and sort of full quarter. Just getting having them close the game out the way they did. Just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

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