Nets' late comeback bid undermined by defensive breakdowns

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 18 with 8:30 remaining Saturday night, and a blowout loss seemed inevitable.

After all, the Nets had played terribly up to that point. Early in the game, Andrea Bargnani got caught between shooting and passing as he was up in the air, and he ended up throwing the ball behind himself and out of bounds.

Later, in what might have been a first, Brooklyn managed to commit a lane violation while Chris Paul was attempting a technical free throw. Finally, in the fourth quarter, instead of hacking DeAndre Jordan and sending him to the stripe, the Nets fouled Blake Griffin.

It was one failure after another -- some, of course, funnier than others.

So when Brooklyn did come back and cut its deficit from 18 to two, it was a bit of a surprise. But unfortunately, despite all Bargnani did in the final period (11 points), the successful Hack-A-DeAndre attempts and offensive execution at the other end, there were too many defensive breakdowns in crunch time and too many times Griffin was left uncovered in pick-and-rolls with Paul.

The Nets ultimately lost to the Clippers 105-100 at Barclays Center and dropped to 7-16 on the season. Seven of their final nine games in December are against teams .500 or better.

The Clippers' last six offensive possessions Saturday produced four baskets: a wide-open Griffin dunk, a wide-open Paul floater and two wide-open Griffin midrange jumpers.

“We could’ve switched, but there’s a double-edged sword,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “Chris Paul is really good, and Blake Griffin is really good.”

Griffin had 21 points for the Clippers, while Paul contributed in 15 points and 14 assists. J.J. Redick chipped in 21 points of his own for L.A., and Jordan added 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Brook Lopez struggled against Jordan and finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and five turnovers. He logged only 4:35 in the fourth, as the Nets rallied back once he was on the bench. Lopez has turned the ball over 16 times in his past three games.

Asked if Jordan gave him a tough time, Lopez said, “I don’t think he necessarily did. The game didn’t really go that way.”

Brooklyn, which shot 26.3 percent from 3-point range (5-for-19) and committed 16 turnovers, faces Orlando on Monday after a day off.

There was no update on backup point guard Shane Larkin, who got poked in the eye and did not return.