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Nets fight off 3rd quarter woes and prevail late, 107-97, over Lakers

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Nets nation went all doom-and-gloom when they heard the news that Jeremy Lin would miss his 18th game of the season due to back tightness. Still, something we’ve learned with this Nets team: they fight no matter who is or isn’t in the lineup, win or lose.

The Brooklyn Nets (7-17) delivered the Los Angeles Lakers (10-18) their eighth straight loss, 107-97, Wednesday night at Barclays Center. The Nets almost blew a solid first half lead in the third quarter (again), but a huge 32-point fourth quarter propelled them over the struggling Lakers.

More importantly, they held Los Angeles to less than 100 points, the first time they’ve done so since November 4 against Charlotte. It wasn’t pretty and the Laker faithful was out and about, but the Nets made the real home crowd proud.

The first half was as blah as blah gets. Both teams struggled to score the basketball and Brook Lopez led all scorers with 10 points. The Nets, who took 20 3-pointers Monday against Houston, attempted 21 in the first half. They only hit six but still led, 52-43, and held Los Angeles to just 13 points in the second quarter.

The 13 points is the lowest any opponent has scored in a quarter against the Nets.

Sean Kilpatrick ended the dull half with an exciting buzzer beating 3-pointer, hoping it would spark some much-needed energy into the Nets heading into the second half.

Instead, the Nets came out of the break extremely flat (again) and were outscored, 33-23, in the third quarter. Lou Williams scored 10 points in the quarter and the Lakers nailed five 3-pointers after hitting only one all half.

This wasn’t the same script as Monday night when the Nets scored 42. Rather, things returned to normal after a strong first half.

And yet, the gritty Nets found a way to prevail in the fourth.

It went back and forth early, but then following a 7-0 run, the Nets found themselves with an 8-point lead with less than five minutes left. Brook Lopez struggled for most of the night, but scored the big buckets when the Nets need it most. Bogdanovic started the quarter on fire with eight points in five minutes, and Lopez finished the game with eight points in the final seven minutes.

Brooklyn outscored the Lakers 31-21 in the fourth and shot 11-of-21, including 3-of-6 from 3-point.

The offense was solid, but the defense won the game. Just ask Kenny Atkinson.

“I think if we’re going to take a step, that’s where we need to take a step, is defensively, so i was very pleased,” Atkinson said after the win. “We were more physical and I think that’s a theme for us ... our physicality.”

Bojan Bogdanovic led the way with 23 points, Sean Kilpatrick 22 and Lopez 20. It was Bogdanovic’s sixth 20-point game of the season. Meanwhile, Lopez, Kilpatrick and Bogdanovic became the first Nets trio to post 20+ points in the same game this season.

The unsung hero of the night was Trevor Booker, who grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds in 29 minutes.

D’Angelo Russell, who dropped 32 in the last contest vs. Brooklyn, was held to 11 points on the night. As a whole, the Lakers shot 38.5 percent and just 6-of-27 from 3-point. They were also limited to only 11 assists.

One of the few things that kept the Nets afloat throughout the game: free throws. The Nets scored 30 points at the line. Bogdanovic and Kilpatrick both got to the line five times. Impressive.

“I think we’ve done all done a really good job of taking the responsibility of keeping us together when things go bad,” Lopez said when asked about his leadership. “I just try to keep that positive mindset, letting our guys know what we need to do in the huddle, but just let them know to keep the energy about them, keep fighting and again keep their confidence.”

Next up: Nets will travel to Orlando and try for their first win streak of the season against the Magic.

For post-game audio, click HERE.