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Nets History Spotlight: A Classic Comeback in Sacramento

Brooklyn rallies from 28 points down to edge Kings

If you stuck with it late into the night on a random March Tuesday in 2019, you got to witness one of the all-time great comebacks in NBA history.

Out in Sacramento, the Nets tipped off at 10 p.m. Eastern time for the fourth game of a seven-game road trip, and promptly gave up 38 first-half points to the Kings, eventually falling behind by 28 points after Sacramento’s 20-0 run to start the second half.

All that turned out to be only a scene-setter for the Nets — still trailing by 25 points at the start of the fourth quarter — to make history as they rallied for a 123-121 win.

YES Network will broadcast this young classic Wednesday night at 8 p.m., preceded by YES We’re Here at both 7:00 and 7:30 p.m.

The win helped save the two-week road trip after the Nets had dropped the first three games, as they followed up with a win in Los Angeles against the Lakers. They went on to clinch a playoff berth in the next-to-last game of the season, on the way to a 42-40 record that represented a 14-win improvement over the season before.

“No one in their right mind is thinking, ‘Hey, we’re gonna win this game.’ So we just chipped,” said Jared Dudley afterwards. “And then they were giving us confidence, shooting bad shots. What can you say? This game kind of sums up our year. Rollercoaster upa dn down, finishing high. We need some wins to get into these playoffs, so this was a big win for us.”

The fourth quarter was a spotlight for D’Angelo Russell, who finished with 44 points, 12 assists and four steals. Russell had 27 points in the fourth quarter, including 16 straight for Brooklyn at one point, while making 10-of-15 shots including 4-of-7 3-pointers.

He shared the court in those final 12 minutes with a unique lineup that included Dudley, Treveon Graham, Rodions Kurucs, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

It was Hollis-Jefferson who started and finished the comeback, opening the fourth quarter with nine of Brooklyn’s first 11 points.

“The only thing we need to do is change our energy,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “We’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to turn the ball over, but the energy was a little low. So I just knew when I came in there I had to impact the game with my energy.”

That was the start of a 26-6 run to open the fourth quarter, and when Russell knocked down two 3-pointers within 30 seconds, the Nets were within 10 points with more than seven minutes still to go.

“If there’s time on the clock, the game’s never over,” said Russell. “We had to the whoele quarter to reflect on that. We started getting stops, they started missing shots and we started getting out running in transition. The shot that weren’t falling for us early were falling for us at the end.”

While Russell was leading the offensive breakout, the Nets as a group were stifling the Kings to 22.7 shooting in the fourth quarter, including 0-for-8 from 3-point range.

The Nets finally caught up to Sacramento with Dudley’s go-ahead 3-pointer putting Brooklyn up 121-119 with 1:11 to go. A pair of De’Aaron Fox free throws tied the game with 46 seconds left.

Finally, the Nets inbounded with 5.9 seconds remaining, with Hollis-Jefferson driving down the left side of the lane and flipping the game-winning layup in over his shoulder as he drew contact and crashed to the floor.

“It was amazing,” said Hollis-Jefferson. “My first game-winner. So it was definitely an unbelievable feeling. I kind of got a little teary eyed over there. But this is the moments that you live for, you want to play the game for. It’s humbling, it’s awesome.”

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