Rapid Reaction: Nets 93, Mavericks 92

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How it happened: The Dallas Mavericks couldn’t finish the job in crunch time to steal a win that they didn’t deserve.

Dallas struggled for most of the night to get a stop against one of the NBA’s worst offensive teams. The Mavs couldn’t buy a bucket for most of the fourth quarter, misfiring on their first 13 shots of the final frame.

That’s a pretty good recipe for the defending NBA champions losing to a lottery team.

The Mavs made it interesting in the final five minutes, going on a 13-2 run to take the lead on a Jason Kidd 3-pointer with 48 seconds remaining. But the Nets regained the lead the next possession on a pair of free throws by big man Brook Lopez and held on for the win.

Kidd missed the Mavs’ final two shots, including a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer that didn’t even draw iron.

All-Star point guard Deron Williams registered 12 points and 12 assists, but he missed his last 10 shots and was hardly the Mavs’ biggest problem. Lopez lit the Mavs up for 38 points on 17-of-28 shooting.

What it means: Barring injury, this was the worst possible way the Mavs could begin a grueling seven-city, nine-game, 12-night stretch. They not only lost to the lottery-bound Nets, but it was a showcase performance for Lopez. That might increase the odds of the Nets pulling off a blockbuster deal to land Dwight Howard before the trade deadline, spoiling the Mavs’ summer plans to try to land Howard and/or Williams in free agency.

Bold Play of the Game: Gerald Green, the former slam dunk champion who had a few cups of coffee with the Mavs, showed off his best attribute in his return to the NBA on a 10-day contract. Green got up so high on a transition lob from Sundiata Gaines in the third quarter that he almost hit his head on the rim as he slammed the ball with two hands.

Stat of the night: The Mavericks had not lost at home to the Nets since March 2, 2000.