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Nets fall short after wild 4th quarter

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 4/20/2019 Stefan Bondy
a group of people playing a game of football © Mary Altaffer

There were a few shoves, two ejections and a thrilling fourth quarter. But in the end – after the buzzer sounded Saturday – it represented another blown opportunity for the Brooklyn Nets.

And now the series is probably over.

Mike Scott hit the big shot -- a go-ahead 3-pointer for Philly with 18.6 seconds left -- and Jarrett Allen was stripped on Brooklyn’s final meaningful possession in its 112-108 loss Saturday to the Sixers.

The Nets now trail the series 3-1 heading back to Game 5 in Philadelphia, as a first-round ouster looms for the upstarts. They certainly put a fight in their must-win Saturday -- literally -- but Joel Embiid scored 31 points and again proved too much to handle.

The other problem was that the Nets couldn’t get a stop or a rebound down the stretch, with Scott and JJ Redick both nailing 3-pointers for Philly in the final minute. In both instances, the Sixers were either trailing or tied.

Then with the Nets losing by 2, Allen might’ve been fouled when stripped with five seconds remaining, but he was also out of control and falling to the court on his own. And that was it. Caris LeVert (25 points, 9-for-18 shooting) and Spencer Dinwiddie (18, 7-of-12) couldn’t save the afternoon for the Barclays Center crowd.

Jared Dudley played his part for the Nets as the professional instigator.

After outdoing Simmons for much of the opening three quarters, Dudley induced a swap favorable for Brooklyn -- his ejection for Jimmy Butler’s -- following a violent shoving match.

Simmering beefs came to a head with 7:42 remaining in the third quarter, when Embiid came down hard on Allen with a foul.

Dudley immediately ran over and shoved Embiid, and Butler retaliated by shoving Dudley. The result was Dudley and a referee -- Ed Malloy -- falling into the stands. Even though no punches were thrown, Butler and Dudley were ejected.

And there was also a backstory.

In Game 2, Embiid leveled Allen with an elbow that probably warranted an ejection, but only received a Flagrant 1. Embiid laughed through an apology -- before giving a sincere one -- and a few Nets took offense.

Before Game 3, Dudley called Simmons an “average” player in the half-court, leading to a feud played out on the court and through the media. Simmons dominated Game 3, but was below average against Dudley in Game 4 while scoring just 15 points in 39 minutes. Dudley reveled in the circumstances, even staring down Simmons after nailing a 3-pointer (Simmons similarly stared down Dudley in Game 3).

So when Embiid fouled Allen hard again in the third quarter, fireworks were set off. It was legitimately an innocent foul from Embiid -- unlike the flying elbow in Game 2 -- but it didn’t matter. Dudley was on the court and got ejected, taking Butler to the locker room with him. In other words, Dudley did his job.

There was a bit of agitation and tactical warfare before the game regarding lineup decisions and Joel Embiid’s status. Apparently, the Sixers had been delaying their lineup announcement until just before tip-off, with Embiid’s availability in question because of his knee pain.

“We’ll let you know later,” Atkinson said of his own adjustments. “We find out their starting lineup with like five minutes to go. I don’t know. We’ve got to figure that one out as a league. Normally I give it 60 at the clock, but I’m not going to do that again. Let’s wait. When they gives theirs, we’ll give ours. You’ll be informed.”

Brown, however, said Atkinson also doesn’t provide his lineup until the last minute and there’s no gamesmanship on his end. Embiid has been ruled doubtful or questionable for every game and only missed Game 3. Brown acknowledged a possible tactical advantage with Embiid’s uncertain status, but claimed it wasn’t intentional and hammered at the idea that Atkinson also withheld information.

“Maybe there is (an advantage). But it’s certainly not calculated,” Brown said. “There’s not a clandestine motive behind this.

“It is what it is. We’ve been doing this long enough to, I bet most people believe me, that it’s just the way it has played out. From a tactical standpoint I mean what I just said, neither do I (get the starting lineup before five minutes till tip-off). We can text each other five minutes before and compare notes.”

Embiid played Saturday and was a force again. Atkinson’s adjustments worked well with LeVert and Dudley thrust in the starting lineup.

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