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Nets suffer 4th straight defeat in blowout loss to Pelicans

The situation in Brooklyn may worsen before it improves.

Tuesday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans ultimately had little to do with makes and misses. The Nets played like a team with a broken spirit — and a four-game losing streak. And they were handled accordingly at Smoothie King Center, 112-85.

It was ugly from the start. The Pelicans (20-14), who went 6 of 9 from 3-point range in the first quarter, took advantage of their opportunities early and often, which set the stage for a 16-of-39 night from deep for the home team.

Nets coach Jacque Vaughn went with a starting lineup of Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Dorian Finney-Smith, Cam Johnson and Nic Claxton for the third straight game. That group came out with low energy at both ends of the court and the stench of their effort lingered throughout regulation. Brooklyn (15-19) did not make its first 2-point attempt until the 2:27 mark of the first quarter and its offensive output did not get much better, as it shot 35.7% from the field and 25.6% from 3-point range for the game.

The Nets could not generate offense. Their effort on defense was criminal. And in the midst of their dysfunction, New Orleans took control of the game and never looked back.

It was a 32-18 game after one quarter, a 59-34 game at halftime, and it all added up to Brooklyn’s worst loss of the season on a night when it never led. Its 85 total points set a new season low. Fifteen turnovers did not help from a rhythm standpoint, either. The Nets were also outrebounded 53-43 and outscored 19-2 in transition. They trailed by 32 points in the loss and Vaughn started to clear his bench with 8:18 left in the fourth quarter.

Johnson scored a team-high 17 points for Brooklyn and Day’Ron Sharpe added 12 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. Cam Thomas went 0 for 11 in his third straight game off the bench. Fellow reserve Royce O’Neale went 0 for 6, as did Dinwiddie.

New Orleans hovered around 60% shooting for most of the game but finished at a more modest 46.6%. If it were not for 17 turnovers that created 14 points for the Nets, the final margin may have been greater. CJ McCollum led seven players in double figures with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The road ahead will not get any easier for the Nets. They will play the second game of their latest back-to-back set on Wednesday before returning to Barclays Center to face the Oklahoma City Thunder again on Friday, the same team that just beat them 124-108 on Sunday.

However, marginal reinforcements are on the way. All signs are pointing toward Lonnie Walker IV (left hamstring strain) returning to the lineup on Friday, according to Vaughn. Wednesday will mark the 16th straight game he has missed because of the injury.