Garnett Ejected as Nets Suffer Their Sixth Straight Loss

BROOKLYN – For one half the Brooklyn Nets were matching baskets with the Houston Rockets, one of the most prolific teams in the NBA.

It was fool’s gold.

For the Nets to beat a team like the Rockets, they needed to grind it out, not shoot it out.

But when Kevin Garnett was ejected in the first quarter after getting into it with Dwight Howard, the Nets' depth and grit was severely comprised.

It caught up with the Nets in the third quarter. The Rockets outscored the Nets 26-18 in that 12-minute span and turned a 60-52 lead into an 86-70 bulge entering the fourth quarter.

The Nets’ 113-99 loss to the Rockets in Barclays Center was their sixth straight, their longest losing streak of the season. They are 16-22 and hold the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference – barely.

“I’m frustrated,’’ said Nets Coach Lionel Hollins. “If I’m frustrated, I’m sure they are.’’

This was the first of 13 games in a 16-game span against teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today. They host the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night in Barclays Center.

While other teams in the Eastern Conference – the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons – are playing better ball, the Nets are not.

The same problems that have hurt this team of late were on full display in Barclays Center. They committed 16 turnovers and were outscored 48-15 from behind the arc.

KEY PLAY: It came early and it went against the Nets. Kevin Garnett was ejected with 7:52 left in the first quarter after getting into it with Dwight Howard. KG threw a ball at Howard’s back and then head-butted him.

Mason Plumlee said he understood why Garnett, in his 20th season, is so frustrated with where the Nets are.

“That’s a champion,’’ said Plumlee. “When you’ve been a champion and you know what the feeling is, it’s very frustrating, I’m sure.’’

Already without point guard Deron Williams (left side), the Nets were seriously shorthanded without Williams and Garnett.

“In the good old days, that was a play on,’’ said Rockets Coach Kevin McHale.

KEY STRETCH: The Nets appeared to be in decent shape, trailing 70-61 with 6:15 left in the third quarter. But the Rockets, who are threatening to shatter the record for most three-pointers made in a season, went on a 16-7 spurt to seize an 86-68 lead. The Rockets started the run with a 3 by Patrick Beverley and ended it with a 3 by James Harden.

KEY STAT: The Rockets made 16 of 40 3-pointers for 48 points. The Nets were 5 of 21 for 15 points. There’s the game.

NETS GAINS: Mason Plumlee went right at Howard and the Rockets' front line. He finished with a career-high 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds.

TALK: Mason Plumlee was asked about the team’s frustration level:

“Very high,’’ Plumlee said. “It’s tough. We got to .500, we haven’t been anything since. We have to figure it out. It’s time to show what our group is made of.”

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