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Nets reward fans with 107-106 victory in last home game of the season

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NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Judging by Saturday’s game, you’d have hard time telling which team was fighting for a playoff spot and which is set to finish last in the NBA.

The Nets (20-60) defeated the Chicago Bulls (39-41), 107-106, in a tightly contested matchup at Barclays Center. It looked like the Nets were letting up in the third quarter, but Spencer Dinwiddie came up big —really big— in the fourth and propelled the Nets to victory.

They’ve now won four of their last five games and finish at home with a record of 13-28.

The Nets looked great from the start. Instead of forcing the ball to Brook Lopez and trying to get him the career scoring record at home, they continued with their balanced attack as 10 different players scored at least one field goal in the half.

In the half, the Nets came up with 11 steals and forced 13 turnovers, both season-highs for Two periods. They led by as many as 15 in the half, but Chicago crept their way back in. The Nets led, 51-45, at half.

Then, the Nets grew stagnant and allowed the Bulls to take control in the third quarter. Brooklyn’s defense was mostly enough but not simply unsustainable.

Jimmy Butler, Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant combined to score 27 of Chicago’s 37-third quarter points. They outscored the Nets 37-22 in the quarter and led, 82-75 entering the fourth. It didn't look good.

The Nets couldn’t get over the hump and slowly, the Bulls inched ahead. Nikola Mirotic nailed a 3-pointer to go up by nine with 4:27 left. The Nets answered with a 10-0 run capped off by two aggressive plays by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Suddenly they led by one with 2:20 remaining, Barclays crowd on its feet.

It was 105-103, Nets. The Bulls had possession and had a hot Jimmy Butler, but they forced a tough contested 3-pointer in the corner. It clanked off the side of the rim and fell into Dinwiddie’s arms, who iced the game with two at the line.

With Lin and Lopez struggling down the stretch, Dinwiddie stepped up and scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. He led the Nets to a 32-point fourth quarter.

“Coach used the word resiliency and that’s what it was,” Lopez said post-game. “We put ourselves in a hole and it was a little like the Orlando game, our third quarter wasn’t great, but tonight we were so responsive and came together as a group and everybody contributed towards that.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a key part of the victory, as well, driving past Nikola Mirotic and finishing strong around the rim. RHJ logged 16 points and 12 rebounds. His swing brother, Caris LeVert, had another good game with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. These guys picked it up for Lopez (13 points) and Lin (12 points, seven assists and six rebounds).

“They’re a good team. They’ve been playing as well as anybody,” said Jimmy Butler, who finished with 33, said after the game.

“I’m just so happy for our team, the coaches, the young guys,” Lin said in the Nets locker room. “I feel like a proud, I don’t want to say like a dad, but like a proud big brother or cousin or something.”

Two games left, both on the road, vs the Celtics and the Bulls.

CHASING BUCK

After scoring 13 points Saturday, Brook Lopez is 22 points away from becoming the Nets’ all-time leading scorer.

“Buck Williams I grew up watching and I loved how he played. Just think of all the great players that have came through here and I think it speaks to his longevity and loyalty to the Nets. We love having him and he loves being here so it’s kind of a feel good story when he does get it.” – said Atkinson pregame.

The Nets honored Williams during the game.

Lopez was a bit non-chalant.

“I mean it’s been coming up a lot lately, but I do my best to ignore that stuff. I’m just concerned with continuing our team’s growth and we’ve been doing so great at getting better pretty much every game. It’s been a sight to see.” - Lopez said when asked about whether the franchise record is something that sticks in the back of his head.

JIMMY BUTLER ON NETS

"We're still in this thing," Jimmy Butler, who scored 33, said. "So whether or not it's a team we should've beaten, they're a good team. They've been playing as well as anybody. They've got guys who play incredibly hard."

NOTES

It was fan appreciation night in Brooklyn. Some fans were treated to t-shirts, while another family was treated to a brand new Honda Civic.

The Brooklyn Brigade had the honor of sitting 48 guests in Mikhail Prokhorov’s suite. Both Irina Pavlova and Sean Marks made appearances, Marks as the game intensified in the fourth Host Ally Love handed out other prizes all throughout the game.

Prior to the game, Atkinson and Lin both discussed how important the fans support has been.

For post game audio, click here.

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Next up: Monday at Boston