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New York Post
Mikal Bridges pours in 42 points as Nets rally for critical win over Hawks
By Brian Lewis,
Locked in a second-quarter tie with Atlanta, the Nets used an extended blitz to win the game.
And maybe win their way into the playoffs as well.
After a huge result in Miami last weekend lifted Brooklyn out of the dreaded play-in, Friday’s come-from-behind 124-107 victory over the Hawks before a sellout crowd of 17,849 at Barclays Center may have put the issue to bed.
The Nets (42-35) now lead the seventh-place Heat by two games for the sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, as well as holding the tiebreaker.
The win also left the Nets four games clear of the eighth-place Hawks and ninth-place Raptors, who fell to Philadelphia.
With just five games left, a top six playoff spot now seems a fait accompli — thanks to stellar play from Mikal Bridges and some solid defense all around.
Bridges poured in a game-high 42 points to lead an attack that shot a white-hot 55.7 percent, and 15-for-33 from behind the arc.
And as has been their wont, much of that offense was fueled by their defense.
The Nets may not have been prolific in transition, but they got enough stops to get into early offense.
They held Atlanta to 42.9 percent shooting, and just 8-for-37 from behind the arc.
Spencer Dinwiddie handed out 12 assists, but his greatest contribution may have been smothering Trae Young to 10 quiet points on 3-for-12 shooting, and 0-for-5 from behind the arc.
The last meeting between the teams ended with a game-winning Young shot at the buzzer when Dinwiddie had been afraid to challenge with too much force.
Friday, Dinwiddie and the Nets challenged Young with more than the Hawks star could overcome.
The Nets have won two straight and three of four after a season-worst five-game skid.
“Yeah, I think you take the last probably 6 ½, seven minutes of the game the other night and the way we played, the way we stayed together — whether that was fighting to get back into the game, whether that was the defensive stops we were able to get, whether that was the penetration offensively, the spacing and then the shooting,” Jacque Vaughn said. “So if we can carry over those last six or seven minutes from last game, that’d be helpful for sure.”
Trailing 45-37, the Nets used a 14-4 run — including the last seven unanswered points — to go ahead 51-49.
Cam Johnson (16 points) twisted through the lane to cap the run.
Young finally got on the board with a step-back jumper to pull Atlanta even with 3:16 left in the half.
And it was knotted at 55-all, before Brooklyn blew it open.
The Nets used a 36-16 run that spanned the half to take complete control.
By the time Bridges capped the run by taking a Royce O’Neale feed for a reverse layup, the lead was up to 91-71. There was 4:18 left in the third quarter, but the game was over.
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