This time there would be no miracle comeback for the Nets.
And no momentum-building three-game streak going into the All-Star break.
A night after storming back for a stunning victory at the Garden, the Nets lost 117-103 to the woebegone Wizards at Barclays Center.
The Nets had lost last week in Washington and lost Thursday’s rematch as well, watching the Wizards shred their defense and put seven scorers in double figures.
“They made some big shots. Ish Smith made a bunch of shots down the stretch. They made, we missed. It was just a tough night,” coach Steve Nash said. “The guys worked really hard. [James Johnson] was a big miss for us, the one guy that can really create separation off the dribble and facilitate offense for us.
“We just couldn’t really get enough going offensively, paint touches and spraying the ball around and getting cleaner looks. We were just really small as well. They worked their butts off, but probably a little fatigue and a little shorthanded.”
The Nets (31-28) fell 2 ½ games behind sixth-place Boston in the play-in race, and two behind seventh-place Toronto.
They also got out-hustled by the Wizards and blew a chance to go into the break on a three-game winning streak.
Still, having looked reinvigorated after the Ben Simmons-James Harden trade, and with both Simmons and Kevin Durant expected to play at some point after the break, the Nets seemed positive.
“We all came here to win a championship this year and for us to truly believe that and understand that is where we’re at,” Patty Mills said. “It’ll take everyone in the locker room — all the coaches, all the staff, everyone in this organization to buy into what we’re trying to do here to be able to get this thing done this year.
“We’re in a very hungry, hungry place right now. The locker room is as strong as it’s ever been this season. … And coming back from All-Star break we have players coming back from injury and it’s just going to take this thing to another level. But the key here is understanding the end goal and what it’s going to take to get there: And it’s going to take all of us. Every single person in this organization. And that’s the belief. That’s the belief I know is there.”
Mills had a game-high 22 points and rookie Cam Thomas added 20 off the bench. But the Nets let Washington carve them up for 55.4 percent shooting, and 12-for-24 from 3-point range.
The Nets led 51-46 after Seth Curry (12 points, four assists) found Jevon Carter for a 3-pointer with 3:26 left in the first half.
But the Nets missed 14 straight shots and committed three turnovers in an extended 18-0 run that spanned intermission. It flipped a five-point cushion into a 13-point deficit.
The Wizards still led 67-55 after a Daniel Gafford free throw with 6:54 left before the Nets started to dig themselves back out. Brooklyn answered with a 21-6 run, including the final eight unanswered points to edge ahead.
And trailing 73-68 after a foul shot by Washington’s Rui Hachimura (team-high 20 points), the Nets reeled off an 8-0 spurt capped by Carter’s pull-up 3-pointer. That broke a deadlock and gave the Nets a 76-73 lead. And it was knotted after three quarters.
But a wretched start to the fourth — with discombobulated offense on one end and blown defensive assignments on the other — led to the Nets conceding a 10-2 run to open the final period.
Nash called a timeout with the Nets down 86-80 with 10:24 to play, but the damage was done. A Hachimura tip-in left the Nets trailing by eight with 9:35 to play and they never recovered.
“We’re excited,” Nash said. “We have  games to come together as a team. Kevin returning, Ben returning. Hopefully we have a good run of health where we can really build something in a short period of time and get a better seed and also more cohesions going into the playoffs.”