There were missed layups, occasional airballs, various turnovers and a lack of continuity on both ends for the Nets.
And now the Nets head out on an eight-game road trip off a disappointing 105-93 loss to the Hawks.
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"You say that [it's a missed opportunity]," interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "But this is what we are. This is what we did. That would imply that because we had a better record because we had won two of the three against them that we should win this. It was a game that we had an opportunity to step up and establish what we are and this is what we are. We have to work harder.
"We weren't able to meet the challenge tonight. So we have to work harder. We have to play a lot better and the challenges aren't going to get easier away from home."
The Nets will not return to the Barclays Center until they face Chicago on April 4 in a nationally televised game. In between home games, they will face five opponents jockeying for playoff position in the Western Conference.
They will have a plane ride to Detroit to lament a missed opportunity against a team that they would have won the head-to-head tiebreaker with had they won last night.
"Definitely," Deron Williams said when asked if it was a huge opportunity that slipped away. "They played like it was and we didn't."
"It was very frustrating," Joe Johnson added. "It was almost as if we didn't know the significance of this game. Regardless of who's playing however many minutes, we need to get a win and now we have to go on the road and we can't leave here without a win."
Gerald Wallace felt focus was the issue during the fourth quarter when Atlanta raced past them by scoring 34 points.
"We weren't ready to play," Wallace said. "We all understand what's at stake. We just weren't ready to play. They came [here] like they wanted the game and we came like we were already on the road."
The Nets were atrocious in their final quarter at home before starting the 17-day trip. They led 73-71 going into the period but were blasted by a 25-10 margin in the opening 7:37. The defense allowed the Hawks to make 11 of their first 13 shots in the quarter while the offense missed seven of its first 10.
The Nets never led after surrendering the lead on a Dahntay Jones alley-oop dunk 29 seconds in. They were still lurking after Mirza Teletovic's 3-pointer with 7:32 to play made it a four-point game but they did not get another basket for another 3 1/2 minutes. By then Atlanta was on the way to wrapping it up and the Nets were on their way to getting booed by segments of the crowd.
The Hawks scored eight straight points on an open 3-pointer by Josh Smith, a layup and free throw by Jones and a wild jump shot by Al Horford as the shot clock wound down as the Hawks took a 96-83 lead with 4:23 to play.
Instead of moving within percentage points of the Knicks in the Atlantic, the Nets turned in a dud. Their three stars, Williams, Brook Lopez and Johnson, were mostly ineffective despite combining for 53 points.
Williams had 18 points and eight assists but had four turnovers. Johnson also had 18 points but scored just five in the second half. Lopez had 17 points but needed 19 shots and finished 7-of-19.
"I think we can put a lot of it on ourselves, particularly me," Lopez said. "They did very well in the paint tonight and I think that was the game right there."
The most effective Net was Reggie Evans, who had 14 points and 22 rebounds. He shot 6-of-7 while the rest of the team shot 30-of-79.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.