Nets Rally Late, But Fall 122-105 to Sacramento

The Brooklyn Nets home winning streak against the Sacramento Kings ended on Sunday, as the Nets dropped a 122-105 decision to the Kings at Barclays Center.

The seven-game streak was effectively snapped in the third quarter, with the Kings outscoring the Nets 34-18, turning the Nets’ one-point lead at the half into a 15-point deficit entering the fourth. Matt Barnes’ ejection for a flagrant 2 foul on Sean Kilpatrick sparked what became a 14-2 Brooklyn run in the fourth, cutting a 20-point deficit down to six, but that’s as close as the Nets got.

“We have to fix the third quarter blues,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “For some reason we don’t have the requisite energy we need to.”

Kilpatrick, who led the Nets with 22 points and took the foul that ignited the fourth-quarter run, said the Nets need to play with that type of energy, but can’t wait for, or count on, a galvanizing play from the opposition.

“At the end of the day we should react like that a lot more,” Kilpatrick said. “Some teams aren’t going to be like that, throw flagrant fouls like that; we have to feed off of our own energy.”

Trevor Booker’s reverse lay-up made it a six-point game with 6:54 to play, but the Kings answered with a lengthy 16-0 run to seal it.

“They made some big plays,” Atkinson said. “We turned the ball over and credit to them. I think Rudy Gay (22 points, 8 rebounds) made some tough shots against our pick-and-roll defense. Credit to him and they played well. They it well and shot it well from three.”

Still, the third quarter undid what was a solid first half for the Nets, one that saw them shoot 61.9% in the first quarter to take a 35-31 lead and hold DeMarcus Cousins without a point in the second. Cousins came back to life in the third, scoring 18 of his game-leading 37 points, finishing the night with 25 second-half points and shooting 4-of-5 from three.

The Kings finished the night shooting 13-of-23 from deep, while the Nets were 16-of-39. Brook Lopez (17 points, 7 rebounds), Kilpatrick (22 and 5) and Isaiah Whitehead (11 and 4) each had three 3-pointers for the Nets. Justin Hamilton had a team-high 10 rebounds.

While the second half of the game didn’t go the Nets’ way, there were more positives to take out of the first half. Kilpatrick, starting in the absence of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who missed his second straight contest with a sore right ankle, established chemistry with Brook Lopez early on. The duo came up with a pair of creative plays, with Kilpatrick taking a drop-pass, pick-and-roll from Lopez for an easy layup in the first. Kilpatrick took another drop from Lopez in the second, but sent a behind-the-head pass from the baseline back out to Lopez for a three.

“At the end of the day we have to stick together,” Kilpatrick said. “That’s something that’s really important with this core group. Once everyone continues to keep getting healthy and once we’re back at full strength, we’ll be a problem in this league.”

The Nets are back in action on Tuesday night when they host the LA Clippers. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.