The Nets had a great opportunity to score a big win against last season's Western Conference finalists to take on a Rockets team that played without James Harden and put in four games.
But it turned out that was the fool's gold.
Instead, the nets were eradicated by Chris Paul and their defensive errors punished by former kink Carmelo Anthony, who looked young again. And when it was over, the nets had suffered a loss of 119-111, and the Rockets had left Barclays Center with a dwindling victory.
"Everyone wants to win pretty desperately, and it's a shitty thing to lose those kind of games," said Caris LeVert, who continued his hot start with a career of 29 points.
But the nets (3-6) could not build the comeback victory over the Pistons on Wednesday. This time they had a lead of 14 points. Or more precisely, they let Paul and Anthony take it.
Paul scored 32 points and 11 assists, adding seven rebounds to the now-struggling Rockets (2-5). And Anthony, now in reserve, had a season high of 28 in 9-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-9 from the bottom.
"Whatever we got it, we had to win this victory," Anthony said. "It was big."
Clint Capela added 22 points and 13 rebounds to the Rockets, which are expected to return to the Bulls Harden on Saturday.
"They have to be a little bit more perfect, a little better to beat a team that was last year's conference finalist," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. "I thought we were okay, but we were not [that], You almost have to play a perfect game to defeat them, and we were not there. We were average to above average and that's not good enough to beat a great team. "
The nets had runs of 12-2 and 10-2 in the first quarter, filling their cushion in the second quarter at 57-43. But they could not keep it.
"In the timeouts, we talked, shouted and cursed. We had to find out, "Anthony said. "It was just something we needed to find out and we did. It was just one of those tricky games we had to challenge to cut it out, and we did. "
And not the nets.
They lost their concentration and saw Paul hit a threesome in a 13-4 missile strike to end the half. D & # 39; Angelo Russell had pulled the nets forward with 5.2-5, 61-53, but Paul got a 3-pointer just before half-time.
It was not even her worst second. After a Jared Dudley 3-pointer, the nets clung to a 69-64 lead and coughed a 11-0 run, with three points scored by Anthony. His bucket left them in a 76-69 hole, from which they never came out.
"We never really stopped the bleeding. They took pictures, we took pictures. They did 3s, we did 2s, so it was hard to put a hand on it, "Russell said in the fourth quarter.
"It's hard to say, I watch the movie and see what I can do early in the game to determine if I'm playing at the end, but we have a lot of people who are capable of doing many things Whatever Kenny says goes. "
With Nets behind 79-71, Shabazz Napier beat three 3-pointers in a 15-9 run, taking them to 88-86, 5.5 seconds before the end. But they fell asleep again, pulled off the middle of the yard and did not pick Paul up before he got to the bow, and gave a 3 at Summer.
In a LeVert 3, the nets had a crack at 103-102, just seven minutes from time. But they had eight empty possessions, including three turnovers, to make the game slip away.
"That's very frustrating," Spencer Dinwiddie said. "As a unit we have to do better."