Nets general manager Billy King built this inaugural version of Brooklyn’s team in the borough’s image. The Nets play a hard-nosed, physical style of basketball, using their size and strength to make up for their lack of athleticism and speed.

Last night, though, the Nets ran into an opponent that not only uses that same style of play, but does it better. That, in the end, doomed them to a 76-72 loss to the Grizzlies in front of 17,098 inside Barclays Center.

“They play really good defense, and they pound the ball,” said Reggie Evans, who finished with two points and 14 rebounds. “They’re a great team. There aren’t any egos, there’s no ‘Who needs the touches?’ at certain times ... everybody knows their roles, and everybody accepts it.

“That’s what makes them a good team.”

The game also appeared to take the fight out of the Nets mentally, as several players left the locker room without speaking to the media. That included both Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche, who were escorted out by King.

Deron Williams, who has been hobbled all season by various ailments and who received both platelet rich plasma treatment and cortisone shots in both ankles within the last two weeks, did his best to keep the Nets in the game while his partner in crime, Joe Johnson, watched from the sidelines for a second straight game with a sore left heel.

Williams found himself matched up against one of the league’s elite perimeter defenders in Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, but that didn’t stop him from going off, starting off the game 4-for-4 with 10 points in the first quarter and scoring eight more points to help the Nets retake the lead early in the fourth.

“I felt pretty good,” said Williams, who finished with 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting to go along with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. “[Allen is] definitely a tough defender, very physical ... it’s tough to get around him, it’s tough to get free from him.

“I just tried to stay patient and play the game within itself.”

But for as well as Williams played, he was unable to make the plays the Nets needed when it mattered most. First, he failed to score on a drive inside the final minute, taking the ball hard to the basket against both Allen and Zach Randolph, and was unable to get a foul call when he was sent tumbling to the floor.