For the second time in three nights, the Nets put themselves in danger, staged a rally and got some closing experience.
New Jersey (2-0) let an 18-point first half lead slip away as a flurry of all kinds of turnovers – sloppy passes, offensive fouls, three-second violations – let the Sacramento Kings back into the game. But just as it looked like the Nets might be left in the dust, falling down by eight points with 3:40 remaining, they finished on a 17-3 run to capture a 106-100 win at the Prudential Center.
Trailing 97-89, the Nets scored 13 unanswered points to wrestle the lead from Sacramento (1-1). After a Brook Lopez hook shot, Jordan Farmar knocked down a 3-pointer to draw the Nets to within three. With the score 94-92, Francisco Garcia missed a 3-pointer which Devin Harris rebounded.
Following a time out, Harris took over. On the next trip down the floor, the Nets’ point guard knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Nets a lead they would not relinquish. After Beno Udrih missed a long two with 50 seconds left, Harris called his own number again, this time using a screen to hit a step-back 18-foot jumper from the right wing. New Jersey denied Tyreke Evans on a driving layup chance, and Farmar sunk two free throws to put the Nets up five. Garcia made things interesting with a 3-pointer on Sacramento’s next trip down, but Farmar and Travis Outlaw each made a pair of free throws to give the Nets their first 2-0 start since 2002-03.
Harris was 7-of-10 from the field and notched a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists. For the second straight night, Brook Lopez led the team in scoring, recording 29 points and making 13 of 15 free throws. Outlaw bounced back from a tough opening night with 18 points, while Farmar played a key role down the stretch once again and finished with 14 points.
New Jersey led Sacramento 57-39 at the 3:32 mark in the second quarter. The Kings closed to within eight at the half and seized the lead in the final minute of the third quarter on a Carl Landry jumper. The Nets committed 26 turnovers to the Kings’ 12, while Sacramento attempted 32 more shots from the field than New Jersey. But the Nets made the most of their opportunities, shooting 53 percent from the field, going 6-for-11 from downtown and shooting 19 more free throws than the Kings.
In the battle of top-five picks, Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins each made solid contributions but were hindered by foul trouble. Favors finished with 10 points and seven boards, but picked up five fouls in 20 minutes off the bench. Cousins, the Kings’ starting center, scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds before fouling out in 21 minutes of action.
The Kings had five other scorers in double figures, led by Evans and Garcia with 18 points apiece.
The Nets will face the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon in their third straight home game to open the season.