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Lin’s late-game heroics lift Nets over Grizzlies, 122-109

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets caught a glimpse of what could’ve been, should’ve been, would’ve been this season Monday as Jeremy Lin’s late-game heroics saved the day in Memphis.

Behind a 34-18 fourth quarter advantage, the Brooklyn Nets (11-51) knocked off the (36-28) Memphis Grizzlies, 122-109. The 122 points marks the second most Memphis allowed all season. The Nets had six players in double figures and shot 14-of-30 from 3-point, 53 percent overall. It was the Nets’ second win in the last four games.

Thanks to Lin’s 11 points in the fourth quarter and a 24-9 finish for Brooklyn.

“This is the culmination of a lot of people’s hard work and I’m not even including myself in it,” Lin said. “These guys have battled it out many nights and didn’t get anything for it. But tonight we grinded it out, got the rebounds and made all the little dirty plays we talked about.”

“It’s been great for building our culture,” Kenny Atkinson said. “I see a professionalism growing and more focus on the practice floor as the older guys teach our young players. We are doing things better.”

The Nets trailed by 12 late in the third quarter and it looked to be a very familiar script. However, as we know with these gritty Brooklyn Nets, they never go away.

And the difference: they had somebody to hit the big shot.

“Jeremy came in at halftime and told the whole team he was going to step it up and he did,” Trevor Booker recalled after the game.

Both teams seesawed back and forth in the final frame until the Nets went on a 9-0, 15-2 extended run to put them up by 12 with 1:33 remaining. Converting late has been an issue for the Nets all season, but with Lin back in the lineup things were different.

The Nets were up five with 2:30 remaining when Lin knocked down a difficult turnaround jumper, followed up by a pull-up 3-pointer at the top of the key. It was the dagger Brooklyn has been waiting for all season, as Lin and the bench rejoiced.

Give the Nets credit. Despite a quiet night from Brook Lopez (eight points), they managed to grind this one out against the team whose brand is grinding. Aside from Lin’s 18 points and late-game heroics, this was mostly due to the stellar play of Caris LeVert (14 points) and Randy Foye (14 points) in the first half– when they combined to shoot 6-of-7 from 3-point range.

Then, Sean Kilpatrick finished with a team-high (23 points) and Isaiah Whitehead (15 points) picked it up in the second half, helping Brooklyn climb over the deficit and make the comeback they needed. Trevor Booker also had a big game with eight points and nine rebounds, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 12 points and three steals.

Simply put: it was a team win. The bench scored 56 points and they allowed just 18 points in the fourth. They came up with a season-high 12 steals and scored 28 fastbreak points compared to 10 for Memphis.

One thing about this circus road-trip has been the lackluster starts. They’d fall behind early and try to dig their way out of a hole.

Monday was different.

The Nets came out with a ton of energy. They came up with five steals and forced eight turnovers in the first quarter. Hollis-Jefferson, LeVert and Whitehead all played tight defense and anticipate the passing lanes perfectly. With the solid defense came good offense, as the Nets nailed seven 3-pointers and dropped 36 in the opening quarter.

The problem? So did the Grizzlies. It was a good first quarter, but they owned just a four-point lead.

And that was the issue with the Nets all night -- and even all season. When they play some of their best basketball, they allow teams to hang around and eventually take over at some point. The Grizzlies were definitely lackluster, but they still took control as Brooklyn’s momentum began to fade.

That part came in the second quarter when Memphis jumped out on an 11-0 run and took a 43-36 lead. It wasn’t the best quarter for the Nets. They scored just 20 points and turned the ball over six times compared to one in the first. They also shot just 2-of-8 from three.

Still, as Memphis looked to be making its move, the Nets answered with a late 7-0 run behind an offensive boost from LeVert.

LeVert led the Nets with 11 points and kept them within one point at the half. It didn’t last very long.

Mike Conley capped off an 11-2 run with a circus 3-point shot and foul, one that put Memphis up by 12 with 2:50 left in the third quarter. Still, The Nets answered with a quick 13-2 run and cut the deficit back down to three entering the fourth.

All of this was done with Lopez having a quiet night.

After three quarters, the big guy had just four points on 2-of-5 shooting. Marc Gasol took him out of his game completely. Jeremy Lin, meanwhile, wasn’t playing bad, but picked up his fourth personal foul in the third that forced him to check out even earlier than usual.

Onto the fourth we went…

It started with Foye, then LeVert and Kilpatrick and then Whitehead. Behind Kilpatrick and Whitehead, the Nets eventually took the lead with eight minutes left. From that point on, the teams seesawed back and forth until Lin scored five straight points to put Brooklyn up by 12, 1:33 remaining. Finally, the dagger was delivered… FROM THE NETS!

EFFICIENCY:

  • Jeremy Lin: 10 shots - 18 points
  • Caris LeVert: 6 shots - 14 points
  • Sean Kilpatrick: 5 shots - 23 points
  • Randy Foye: 7 shots - 14 points
  • Isaiah Whitehead: 8 shots - 15 points

NOTES:

  • Jeremy Lin logged 24 minutes which is four more than his initial 20-minute restriction. It's the most he's played since December 23 at Cleveland. He’s getting his legs under him and the Nets are slowly bringing him back.
  • Sean Kilpatrick's 16 free throws made marked a league-high for a reserve this season and the most for a Nets reserve in a game since 1983-84.
  • The Nets improved to 5-1 this season when scoring 120+ points; 4-0 when making 30+ free throws in a game.

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The Nets have won as many games on the circus road-trip as they have on the road all season (4-27). This one felt more than just a regular win and who deserves it more than Jeremy Lin, Kenny Atkinson and the hard-working young Nets?

Next up: Game 7... of the Circus Road-Trip @ Atlanta.