Mikal Bridges can’t rally the Nets ahead of the Kings

Mikal Bridges tried to put the Nets on his back in the final minutes of Thursday’s game against the Kings.

The Nets tried to come back from a 17-point second-half deficit and a nine-point hole with 5:14 left in the fourth quarter, and Bridges scored seven straight points to keep the Nets in the game. .

But a Malik Monk 3-pointer and a De’Aaron Fox offensive rebound helped seal a 101-96 win for Sacramento.

After surviving a tough five-game road trip, the Nets returned to Brooklyn, where they faced another tough test in the Kings.

They were set for the 1-2 punch from Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

Sabonis dominated the first half, and Fox played the starring role in the Nets’ second straight loss.

It was a disappointing start to a four-game homestand for the Nets (39-31) against four teams that appear to be tied for the playoffs.

Brooklyn Nets' Mikal Bridges #1 dribbles as Sacramento Kings' Keegan Murray #13 defends
Mikal Bridges dribbles as Keegan Murray defends in the Nets’ 101-96 loss to the Kings.
Getty Images

Head coach Jacque Vaughn said before the game that he was worried about facing the Kings (42-27), who have the league’s best offense.

He was right to worry.

“They have two All-Stars [Sabonis and Fox], and they play like that every night,” Vaughn said. “Sabonis can dictate the offense and push it.”

He rounded the undersized Nets and helped spark a 13-0 run late in the first half that opened what had been a draw.

Cameron Johnson #2 of the Brooklyn Nets comes in for a layup past Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings in the first half
Cam Johnson of the Nets comes in for a layup in front of Domantas Sabonis of the Kings.
Paul J. Bereswill

The Nets came back into the game with 10 straight points to cut the deficit to six with 4:11 left in the third.

Sacramento built another 13-point lead in the third, and the Nets cut it to five with a Nic Claxton with 6:42 left.

Royce O’Neale missed a 3-pointer that would have made it a two-point game.

Bridges hit two straight jumpers and a free throw to put the Nets within five, and Cam Johnson’s 3-point attempt ended with 3:42 left.

Kevin Huerter #9 of the Sacramento Kings looks to pass the ball as Nets Spencer Dinwiddie #26 of the Brooklyn Nets defends
Kevin Huerter of the Kings looks to pass the ball as Spencer Dinwiddie of the Nets defends.
Paul J. Bereswill

It came after the Nets passed out in the second half of their final game on the trip to Oklahoma City.

The Nets opened up a nine-point lead in the first quarter, highlighted by Bridges’ first 10 points.

But Bridges didn’t score again for the rest of the half and Sacramento went on a 10-0 run to take the lead, with Sabonis dominating on the inside.

Sabonis scored seven straight points for the Kings late in the second quarter as Sacramento took the lead.

In the process, Nic Claxton received his third foul before halftime.

It was part of another 13-0 run by Sacramento, as the Kings took a 54-41 second-half lead, their biggest advantage of the game.

The Nets were also outshot, 32-22, in the first half. Sabonis had 12 boards to go with his 20 points in the first half.

Fox warmed up in the third quarter with a pair of quick 3-pointers.

The Nets need to recover quickly, with Denver β€” struggling, but still top of the Western Conference β€” coming to Brooklyn on Sunday.

Vaughn acknowledged how crucial this series of games was for the Nets, trying to stay out of the qualifying round.

“It’s important with where we are in the season,” Vaughn said. β€œIn each game, can we accumulate four quarters? Because if you don’t do it this week, you will definitely pay for it.

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