Avery Johnson issued a warning to his team before Tuesday’s game.
“We have our own pace,” the Nets coach said. “We’re not going to be good playing at the Thunder’s pace.”
Despite the directive, the Nets engaged the reigning Western Conference champions in a track meet. The results were predictable.
The Nets began a four-game homestand by dropping a 117-111 decision to the Thunder Tuesday night at the Barclays Center.
“That pace was too fast for us at the end of the first quarter,” Avery Johnson said.
The Nets have lost two in a row after starting the season with an 11-4 mark in November. The loss was only the second home loss of the season for the Nets
Deron Williams led all scorers with 33 points. He also had seven assists. Andray Blatche recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Joe Johnson had 17 points on 8-of-21 shooting. Gerald Wallace had 14, while Kris Humphries finished with 12.
Oklahoma City has won six straight and 14 out of 16. The Thunder have not lost to the Nets since Jan. 12, 2009.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 32 points. Russell Westbrook had 25 points and nine assists. Serge Ibaka finished with 18 points and six rebounds, while Thabo Sefolosha chipped in with 14 points.
“We missed so many defensive assignments and turned the ball over. We had poor transition defense,” Avery Johnson said of the first half. “They would shoot it and get three guys in transition against our one guy.”
For all intents and purposes, the game was lost in the second quarter when Oklahoma City outscored the Nets 30-17. The Thunder shot 64.7 percent from the field in the quarter and 65.7 percent for the half. By comparison, the Nets made 40 percent of their shots from the field but were only 5-of-16 from 3-point range.
“[We’re] not going to win many games [when the opposition shoots] 60 percent,” Avery Johnson said. “I challenged our team at halftime. I didn’t like our performance in the first half. We didn’t play like the Brooklyn Nets.”
The Nets fought back in the third quarter, scoring 38 points and in the process setting a season-high for points in a quarter. The quarter was highlighted by Wallace drilling four 3-pointers.
“Just got to be mentally prepared,” Wallace said when asked about his mindset. “My teammates did a great job.”
But even though the Nets were able to cut the deficit to two points on three occasions, they were unable to overcome Oklahoma City’s Olympic duo of Durant and Westbrook. The twosome scored 18 of Oklahoma City’s final 27 points, including perhaps the game-defining play.
Humphries was called for a controversial goaltend on Durant with 1:52 left. Replays showed Humphries’s hand touched the ball as it hit the backboard. The official review was inconclusive and the basket counted.
Instead of trailing by two and having the ball, the Nets were down 110-106.
“It was as close as it could be. Once they call it, it’s like football,” Humphries said, before adding that a referee told him, “it was as close as it could be.”
“I saw it in the arena but didn’t get a good look at it like you guys.”
He dismissed the notion that the Nets accomplished something in defeat, a concept that had been espoused by his coach and several teammates.
“A loss is a loss. [There are] no moral victories,” Humphries said. “That’s not what this year is about.”
The Nets will have Wednesday and Thursday off after playing nine games in 14 days.
Follow Nets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.