Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) celebrates his three point shot...

Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) celebrates his three point shot against the Sacramento Kings during the third quarter at Barclays Center on Sunday, April 7, 2024. Credit: Brad Penner

While the Nets went back-and-forth with the Knicks in the fourth quarter Friday, Mikal Bridges watched from the bench. He was the only available Nets player who didn’t check in.

Bridges, in fact, hasn’t played in the fourth quarter in the last three games ahead of Sunday’s regular-season finale. Nets interim coach Kevin Ollie confirmed that he’s not hurt, but he gave a clearer statement Friday when asked if Bridges is being rested at the end of a long season.

“That’s exactly what it is,” Ollie said. “Just lighten his load a little bit.”

The Nets can’t outright bench players after being fined for their loss to the Bucks on Dec. 27, when they sat four players and pulled three more, including Bridges, after the first quarter. It earned them a $100,000 fine and was a turning point in the season’s decline.

But with the season wrapping up, this is a good compromise that allows Bridges to play but is mindful of his heavy load during the last three seasons.

Sunday’s game in Philadelphia will be his 474th consecutive game to start his NBA career. He will finish this season among the NBA’s top five in minutes played after leading the league in that category the previous two seasons.

Since the start of the 2021-22 season, he’s played an NBA-leading 8,646 minutes, 277 more than the nearest player in DeMar DeRozan. He also started every game for Team USA in last summer’s FIBA World Cup.

Ollie didn’t indicate whether Bridges will sit out the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. But the Nets have used the last week or so to evaluate their younger talent such as rookies Noah Clowney and Jalen Wilson along with Trendon Watford, who’ll be a free agent after the season.

Bridges criticized the decision to play him only 12 minutes against the Bucks in that December game and hasn’t been on board with not playing if he’s healthy. This time, he has been more accommodating.

“Just management, guys just going off that,” he said Wednesday.

Notes & quotes: Dennis Schroder (right Achilles soreness), Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee effusion) and Dennis Smith Jr. (right hip synovitis) won’t be available Sunday, Ollie said.

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