Lin goes down again as Nets end skid
Point Guard Re-Injures Hamstring Before Foye Hits Buzzer-Beater
Randy Foye’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer bailed the Nets out Monday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center, but Jeremy Lin’s left hamstring put him back on the bench.
Foye, filling in for Brooklyn’s injured starting point guard, barely got off the game-winning shot as time expired, helping the Nets snap a five-game losing streak with a thrilling 120-118 victory over the Charlotte Hornets in front of a sellout crowd of 17,732.
While Brooklyn fans whooped it up as they poured out onto the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, the Nets (8-22) were left to wonder how long their $36 million playmaker would be gone this time around.
Even Foye, despite benefiting most from Lin’s absence after sitting out the previous four games, was in dismay that Brooklyn’s floor-leader, who missed 17 games earlier this season with the same injury, might not be available as the Nets prepare to visit Chicago on Wednesday night.
“It’s frustrating,” admitted Foye, who logged 21 minutes in Lin’s absence and got his only basket of the game when the previously slumping Nets needed it most.
“Watching a guy work so hard to get back, just respect, just leadership every single day,” he added. “On the court, off the court. For him to go out again with the same thing is like, c’mon man. Why? At the end of the day, Jeremy is a resilient, strong person and he’s going to get through this.”
The Nets, who began the season with an inspiring 2-3 record, went 4-13 while Lin recovered from the initial injury, suffered here on Nov. 2 against Detroit, sinking to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, where many predicted they’d wind up anyway.
Playing in only his seventh game since returning to the team, Lin had 17 points, four assists and a pair of steals before his hamstring gave out again in the third quarter.
Already down 14 points, the Nets managed to rally behind Bojan Bogdanovic’s team-high 26 points off the bench and 21 more from Brook Lopez, who fueled a key 10-0 run during Brooklyn’s fourth-quarter surge.
All of the Nets’ hard work to battle back into contention appeared to go for naught when Cody Zeller gathered an offensive rebound and gave the Hornets (17-14), Lin’s former team from a season ago, a 118-117 lead on a put-back with just over three ticks remaining on the clock.
But Foye, on a play designed to go to Lopez, pulled up and released the clinching shot just before the red light indicating that time had expired flashed above the backboard, sending the Nets into a wild celebration on their herring-bone designed floor.
“It was tough seeing Zeller put that basket down, but the way our team maintained focus and our mental strength was fantastic,” Lopez said. “It was great validation.”
“These are tough games against a really good team,” first-year Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson added. “I’m thrilled with our group, we went through some rough times recently, so to go out and get a win like this – and the way we got it – is special.”
Sean Kilpatrick added 23 points, Rondae-Hollis Jefferson put up 10 and Trevor Booker pulled down 12 rebounds for Brooklyn, which will take yet another crack at its first back-to-back wins of the season against the Bulls before heading to Washington on Friday for their last game of 2016.
Atkinson, who has had to use a dozen different starting lineups this season, admits that Lin’s injury will likely force him to once again re-adjust and re-align what is a makeshift squad at best heading into the second third of the campaign.
“We’re still trying to grasp what our best lineups are and when to put in the best lineups, just trying to figure that whole puzzle out right now,” he ceded.
Nothing But Net: Despite suffering the injury on a drive to the basket in the third quarter, Lin still managed to limp to the free-throw line and hit a pair of free throws that sparked Brooklyn’s game-changing 15-0 third-quarter run. … Bogdanovic, who has been a regular presence in the Nets’ starting lineup, was benched in favor of Joe Harris after struggling over the past week. But Harris did not score in 12 minutes and Bogdanovic shined off the pine, hitting 7-of-11 shots, including four big 3-pointers. He also went 8-of-9 at the charity stripe. … Brooklyn’s-own Isaiah Whitehead, who had missed the previous three games with a foot injury, returned to action Monday. The Lincoln High School legend scored nine points, handed out three assists, grabbed a pair of rebounds, blocked a shot and picked up a steal in 16 minutes.
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