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Nets Outlasted by Blazers in 129-109 Loss

The Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trail Blazers got into a track meet on Sunday afternoon, but a third quarter stumble cost the Nets, who fell 129-109 at Barclays Center.

Brook Lopez had a team-high 21 points, but the Blazers couldn’t miss, shooting 58% from the field, 42% from three. CJ McCollum led the charge for Portland with 33 points and six threes, but the Blazers got double-digits from five others, including solid contributions from Evan Turner (19 points), Allen Crabbe (14) and Meyers Leonard (14) off the bench.

“I thought before this game we were doing a decent job of defending the three-point shot, but that wasn’t the case tonight,” Coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We’re plugging holes right now defensively, leaking in different places, so we’re going to have to regroup, get some practice time, get some film time and get our principles back.”

Sunday’s game unfolded the way the numbers predicted, with two of the NBA’s most active three-point shooting teams playing a run-and-gun offense, looking to get the ball out beyond the arc. The Nets, who entered the game with the second-most, three-point attempts, went 10-of-35, while the Blazers, who were tied for fifth in attempts, went 15-of-36.

It was close in the first half, as the Nets shot 53% while the Blazers shot 64%. Lopez had 17 of his 21 points in the first half, shooting a perfect 7-of-7, while Damian Lillard scored 16 of his 18 points. Both teams did their thing from deep, Brooklyn shooting 6-of-15 while Portland hit 8-of-16. It all added up to a 70-64 Blazers’ lead at the break.

But the shooting pace proved unsustainable for the Nets, whose shooting percentage dropped to 26% in the second half. Lopez and Bojan Bogdanovic were held scoreless in the third quarter as the Nets shot 6-of-22, while Portland continued to score at their efficient pace, staying at 50% from the field in the second half.

“We have bouts of moving it really well and really passing the ball and sharing the ball and then they go on a run and we kind of get stagnant and stop moving the ball side to side,” Atkinson said. “We can do a better job moving the ball.”

“Give them credit,” he added. “They’re a pretty good offensive team.”

The game got away from the Nets in the third quarter. The Blazers knocked down four of their first five threes and shot 10-of-17 overall in the period, extending their lead to as many as 19 points. Lillard was held to two points in the third quarter, but McCollum couldn’t miss in the third quarter, going 4-of-4 from beyond the arc, racking up 12 points. The 29-20 line wasn’t so bad in a vacuum, but entering the fourth quarter down 15, it felt like the game-changing quarter.

“What’s difficult for us is our third quarters,” Lopez said. “In each of the games we’ve come out and teams have made a run, or come out and hit first and it’s tough to come back from that, playing behind for the rest of the half.”

“We come out flat. It’s on us 100%,” Lopez added.

McCollum added nine more points in the fourth quarter, as Atkinson gave his younger bench players some minutes down the stretch. Anthony Bennett picked up five points and four boards in 5:36. The Blazers took the final frame 30-25.

The Nets return to action on Wednesday night when they host the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.