- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN New York Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: Playoffs? You can’t seriously be talking about the playoffs. Not after this one. The Nets imploded in the fourth quarter and saw their postseason hopes dwindle after blowing a 12-point fourth-quarter lead and losing to the lowly Hornets, 102-94, on Saturday night at the Prudential Center. The Nets (15-31, 5-16 home) are now 6.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 20 games left. They are also 0-1 in the “Gerald Wallace” era. The Nets were outscored 32-12 in the final period.
Jarrett Jack hit a 3-pointer with 1:28 remaining to give New Orleans a 95-94 lead. Deron Williams missed two shots at the other end, and Chris Kaman hit a long two as the shot clock expired and 45 seconds left to make it a three-point game. D-Will missed a driving layup and Marco Belinelli stuck a dagger 3 with 16.8 ticks to go .
TURNING POINT: Anthony Morrow fueled a 12-2 third-quarter run with two 3s and a jumper as the Nets jumped ahead 75-64. Morrow had 11 of his game-high tying 20 points in the third. But the Hornets started the fourth on an 18-6 run to tie the game at 88 with 3:49 left.
CRASH: That’s Wallace’s nickname, and it’s a fitting one. He was all over the floor, and stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
The other half of “the Geralds,” Gerald Green, scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half off the bench.
D-WILL RETURNS: Williams made his return to the lineup after missing the previous four games with a strained right calf. The All-Star point guard finished with a game-high tying 20 points and a game-high 12 assists on 9-for-24 shooting.
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME: Late in the third quarter, Wallace came over from the weakside and had a monster block on Grevis Vasquez. D-Will scooped up the ball and threw a halfcourt lob to Green. The small forward somehow contorted his body and threw the ball off the backboard for Kris Humphries to slam it home. The dunk gave the Nets a 79-70 lead, and Wallace hit a 3 at the buzzer to give the Nets a 12-point lead heading into the fourth.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: The Nets have started 20 different lineups this season -- the most of any NBA team.
UP NEXT: Nets vs. Cavaliers, Monday night, 7:30 p.m.
WHAT IT MEANS: Playoffs? You can’t seriously be talking about the playoffs. Not after this one. The Nets imploded in the fourth quarter and saw their postseason hopes dwindle after blowing a 12-point fourth-quarter lead and losing to the lowly Hornets, 102-94, on Saturday night at the Prudential Center.