About Last Night

About Last Night: An improbable comeback's unlikely hero

Hollis-Jefferson saves day, Harden shines & Redick finally gets 10 rebounds

Of course it was Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

On a night when the comeback was the story, when D’Angelo Russell’s career-high 44 points made everything happen, when Jared Dudley hit the three that finally gave the Brooklyn Nets the lead after a franchise-best 25-point fourth-quarter climb, it was the longest-tenured member of the team who hit the game winner.

Acquired on Draft day 2015, Billy King’s final remnant – all-3-and-D but buried in the rotation – on this night, Hollis-Jefferson got to play hero.

The Nets, who had trailed the Sacramento Kings by as many as 28 points on Tuesday, completed the fourth-largest fourth-quarter comeback since the advent of the shot clock. The 123-121 victory snapped a three-game slide, and kept Brooklyn solidly in the Eastern Conference’s seventh slot.

That final play, of course, wasn’t drawn up for him. It was for Russell. He of the 27 fourth-quarter points, the rainbow 3s and the ice-cold veins.

Hollis-Jefferson screened De’Aaron Fox, then stepped toward the sideline to collect the inbounds with Marvin Bagley III defending. He took one open dribble toward the top of the key, looking to handoff to Russell and set up a full-speed charge down the lane.

Russell quickly realized Fox was cutting off his path to the ball and … ceded the spotlight with a simple command and a backwards step, pulling Fox clear of the path.

“[Russell] said, ‘Go!'” Hollis-Jefferson told YES Network’s Michael Grady immediately after the whistle. “I looked at Bagley and said, ‘It’s gametime, let’s get it.’ ”

Hollis-Jefferson crossed left-to-right, then back left for one head-down stumble-bumble alongside Bagley. Here, Hollis-Jefferson sensed Bagley’s presence and twisted ever-so-slightly as he leapt, an outside spin making the final attempt appear to pop out over his head before softly banking and rolling in off the rim.

Staggered reactions ensued on the Nets bench, and one errant heave later, bedlam.

“He’s the guy on our team that’s heart and soul, it’s as simple as that,” Russell said. “You can’t explain it. He came out ready to play. Didn’t play the whole first half, but came out and took care of business.”

On this upstart Nets team, the one that finally turned the culture corner in Year Three under coach Kenny Atkinson and GM Sean Marks, Hollis-Jefferson counts as seasoned. He is 25. Six Nets are younger. None exceed his four seasons in Brooklyn. Many exceed his minutes.

Hollis-Jefferson played 17 of them Tuesday; he had received but 12 minutes in the five games prior, with several “DNP – Coach’s Decision” lines sprinkled about. He credited assistant coach Jacque Vaughn with helping him to maintain a positive outlook and stay prepared.

“Not playing … man, it’s tough sitting on that bench watching your guys go to war,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “But I was always ready. They called my name, I came out and competed and that’s all you can ask for.”

That and an obligatory dousing, anyway. Cheers.

Harden nicks all 29 teams

No surprise in the Rockets beating the Hawks, or James Harden (again) scoring 30-plus. But in the wild ridiculous statistical accomplishments department, that marked the 29th opppoent Harden had dropped 30 on this season.

Yes, 29 of 29 teams caught a 30-piece this season (and several many more).

Per Elias, he’s the first player to make the 29-team circuit and the first to tag everyone since Michael Jordan’s ridiculous 1986-87 campaign.

Also, he put Kent Bazemore in the blender. So there’s that.

How it shook out

It was a night during which most contenders solidified positions rather than swapped them. Indiana missed their chance to clinch a postseason appearance, dropping a 115-109 decision to the Clippers.

Here’s the full Playoff Picture, as it stands after Tuesday’s action:

Redick doubles up … finally

On a day the Sixers smoothly turned away a feisty challenge from the Hornets, J.J. Redick knocked a longstanding check off the NBA bucket list.

More than 12 years and 800 games into his NBA career, Redick (27 points, career-high 10 rebounds, eight assists) finally notched a double-double. At 826 games, it’s the third-longest streak without one all-time, trailing only Steve Kerr (856) and Bruce Bowen (none in all 873 career games).

“Ten rebounds,” Redick said during the postgame interview on court. “I never thought the day would come.”

Clear out for Karl-Anthony

Stephen Curry might have stolen the show in Minnesota with a 22-point third-quarter, but Karl-Anthony Towns threw down the dunk that we’ll remember from this one.

Kevin Durant 100 percent had a “Yes, yes, nope!” moment in the thought process there. Bailing out was the right call, ha.

Brook Lopez is a large man

There was a unique wedgie in the second quarter of the Bucks-Lakers game, with the ball lodging above the shot clock. The refs paged the nearest friendly giant — true 7-footer Brook Lopez — for an assist, which he gladly provided once handed a mop, much to the crowd’s delight.

Sidebar: I worked at the Nets from 2008-13, so Brook and I were “rookies” the same season and two of the only everyday faces for the next 5 1/2 years. When I told him I was heading off to MSG for the Knicks gig, he bent all the way over to dap me up, which was simultaneously dope and humbling, because it was very touching and also I am a full-sized human. On the plus side, I don’t like trash comics. Make mine Marvel!