Nets lose 129-127 to Hawks after Trae Young buries buzzer-beating floater
It was almost poetic.
Here were the Nets, who trailed by as many as 18 in Sunday’s loss to the Hawks in Atlanta, figuring out how to close games now that their superstars are gone — only for a superstar on the other end to put the nail in the coffin.
After Cam Johnson nailed a three to tie the game at 127 apiece, Hawks star Trae Young drove the lane, pump faked and threw up a floater that left his hands just in time and swished through the net at the buzzer to lift the Hawks to a 129-127 victory in Atlanta.
Young finished with a game-high 34 points, and his co-star Dejounte Murray hit four threes for 28 points.
Brooklyn’s effort was a welcome sight after Friday’s 44-point loss to the Chicago Bulls. The Nets answered one of the most important questions that could define their season: How will they generate offense with the game on the line now that the stars have aligned elsewhere?
“It’s great. We talked about it in film, the ability for us to really play for each other and create for each other and believe in how we’re gonna play,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said after the loss. “That ability to continue to do it over and over again, to believe in the game plan and stay with it. I thought our guys really grew tonight from that.”
Head coach Jacque Vaughn closed the game with his starters: Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Nic Claxton. The wheels started falling off in the fourth quarter before the Nets got the car back on the road.
Dinwiddie turned the ball over on a drive to the rim in a miscommunication with Finney-Smith, who cut to the rim when Dinwiddie threw the ball out to three-point range.
The following possession, reserve guard Cam Thomas — who played 29 minutes and finished with 22 points — had a lob pass intercepted in a half-court set.
And on the ensuing possession, Bridges drove to the basket and missed an open layup.
It was the player who kept them afloat all night who hit the team’s biggest shot.
Johnson was one of few players who caught rhythm early when the Nets dug themselves an 18-point hole. He finished with a team-high 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field.
“So it’s still explaining the why to our guys right now. I think it’s gonna click, I believe it’s gonna click,” Vaughn said when asked about the adjustment for Bridges and Johnson coming from Phoenix. “But there is a space where you talk about offensive terminology, there’s some defensive terminology and some stuff scheme-wise that we’re still getting a grasp of.”
Dinwiddie finished with 20 points and eight assists.
The Nets return to Barclays Center on Tuesday to host the Milwaukee Bucks, who have been playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo, out due to injury. Antetokounmpo’s status for Tuesday is unclear, but the Bucks are still a tough task in games their MVP is off the floor.
The Nets have the seventh-toughest record in all of basketball and are clinging onto their playoff standing. The Hawks are the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed. The Nets could end up seeing Atlanta in the Play-In Tournament.