Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson seemed to be falling out of the good graces of head coach Kenny Atkinson over the past month. However, the 24-year old swingman showed exactly why he deserves to be on the floor in a thrilling 123-121 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
In a night full of huge shots down the stretch for the Nets, Hollis-Jefferson made the biggest one, converting on a tough circus layup over the outstretched arms of Marvin Bagley III with 0.8 seconds left to seal the improbable come-from-behind win.
All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell was the star of the night for the Nets. Without a doubt, they wouldn't have been in the game at all had he not had his masterful fourth quarter. But after the game, Russell was happy to share the spotlight with Hollis-Jefferson, who is the “heart and soul” of the team:
D'Angelo Russell on Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: "We tell him every day he's a guy on our team that's the heart and soul. It's simple as that." (YES Network)
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) March 20, 2019
It was an incredible win for the Nets, who rallied from as many as 28 points down in the second half and entered the fourth quarter with a 25-point deficit.
Russell scored 27 of his career-high 44 points in the final period to lead the charge for Brooklyn, making big shot after big shot down the stretch.
However, Russell didn't need to carry the load alone, as he also found some help in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Hollis-Jefferson sparked the Nets with hustle plays and stingy defense, and made timely cuts to the basket. He scored 12 of his 16 points in the quarter, with the final two proving to be the most important of the night.
Hollis-Jefferson began to fall out of Atkinson's rotation after the All-Star break. He received six healthy DNPs and played just 12 minutes per game over the eight games in which he saw the court.
This performance last night, however, may change his fortunes for the rest of the season.