The New Jersey Nets played for the last time in front of the home fans in Newark, but some things didn't change.
Like they did for most of the season, they started off in dreadful fashion, shooting just 31 percent from the floor, while allowing the Philadelphia 76ers to shoot 60 percent. The result? A typical 31-18 first quarter deficit.
And like they did for a good portion of the season as well, the Nets fought valiantly to climb back into the game, slicing a 15-point second quarter lead down to a single point -- 64-63 with 3:44 remaining in the third period.
And just like so many other times this season, the Nets fell apart in the fourth quarter at home, dropping their final contest in New Jersey, 105-87, enabling the Sixers to clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference.
But there was a different feel to the final game in the Garden State. The fans cheered the Nets, often and loudly. For once, the sellout crowd of 18,711 was in their favor, not cheering for the opponent. There were actual chants of "Let's Go Nets" that echoed through the Prudential Center one final time.
"The fan support tonight was great," Nets head coach Avery Johnson said. "They came out, they cheered us on and were really behind us. But our guys just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. We made a pretty good run in the third quarter, but we didn't lose because of a lack of fan support. They were tremendous and we really appreciated it."
The Nets' players felt the sentimentality in the building, especially with so many former players in attendance and with a crowd energetic and alive, cheering them on.
"It was great," guard Anthony Morrow said. "I can really appreciate the way they came out for us and supported us. When we got down, they cheered us on to get back into the game. Before the game, when we were working out, seeing all the fans, it kind of hit me. It's kind of an emotional time for all of the fans. It's exciting, but at the same time, it's bittersweet. I was always proud to play in front of the Nets' fans in New Jersey."
In reality, most of the Nets' roster had not spent much time in New Jersey. Only the injured Brook Lopez played for the franchise in their former home, the IZOD Center.
Still, the emotions reigned supreme.
"Right now, I'm a little sad about leaving Jersey," said rookie MarShon Brooks, who paced the Nets with 18 points. "I was born in Jersey (Long Branch). I have a lot of family helping me get through it. My mother and my grandmother are all here and I just appreciate everything that happened this year and playing in front of the Jersey fans."
Unfortunately, the Nets finished their final season in New Jersey with a home record of 9-24, having lost their last five games in the Prudential Center.