The Nets found a way to pull off a mile-high upset a week ago in Denver.
But their defense got shredded during a 108-102 loss in Sunday’s rematch.
Brooklyn couldn’t get stops early or late, getting blasted by the Nuggets and dropping its third straight before a crowd of 18,235 at Barclays Center.
Helpless on that end of the court, they watched Denver put three scorers over 20 points in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
They trailed by three touchdowns and the rest of the final period was garbage time against a Nuggets team that was coming off a loss to the Knicks and defeats in five of their last six.
“Yeah an extreme sense of urgency; I think that was the biggest difference for us in the second half [last week], and we’ll need that for four quarters [Sunday],” Jacque Vaughn had said beforehand.
“This team played [Saturday]. I’m quite sure they’re upset that they didn’t win, so they’re coming searching for a win. So we’re in the same boat: We’re looking for a win, so it should be a great competition. But the sense of urgency from us for four quarters.”
The Nets didn’t show that urgency.
Two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic had another dominant triple-double with 22 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists.
He flashed his preternatural passing, that trademarked push floater and a bruising physicality that the Nets couldn’t match.
Jokic de-cleated Cam Johnson and sent the spindly forward to the court in the final seconds of a first half that saw the Nets trail 63-48.
Things didn’t get any better for them in the second.
Jamal Murray finished with 25 points and eight assists and Michael Porter Jr. added a game-high 28 points, as Brooklyn got torched for .525 shooting and a white-hot 12 of 23 from behind the arc.
Meanwhile, the Nets were ice-cold, managing just 12 of 35 from 3-point range.
As usual, Mikal Bridges led the way with a team-high 23 points and center Nic Claxton added 19 points and eight boards.
But Johnson (14 points) and Seth Curry (12 points) were the only other Nets to crack double figures.
The Nets trailed by two touchdowns early, after former Net Bruce Brown found Reggie Jackson for a driving floater that made it 37-23 with 10:45 left in the half.
The Nets mounted a 15-5 run to try to get back in it, Claxton’s free throw pulling them within 42-38 midway through the second quarter. But that’s as close as they got.
Murray — who had been forced to exit the Nets’ 122-120 victory in Denver a week ago — was perfectly fine Sunday. His midrange step-back left the Nets in a 63-46 hole with a half-minute left in the half.
The deficit swelled to 22, and it was only a late run that made it respectable.