PHOENIX — The Nets had to travel all the way to Phoenix to find their grit, but they survived the loss at halftime of power forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and rallied after blowing a 15-point second-quarter lead to pull out a 98-92 victory over the Suns on Monday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. It ended their four-game losing streak and marked their first road win in five tries.
D’Angelo Russell scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth period and added eight assists, six rebounds and two steals. Joe Harris scored 18 points off the bench, Allen Crabbe had 15 after starting in place of Caris LeVert, and DeMarre Carroll added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
After going ahead 34-19 in the second quarter and 59-50 in the third, the Nets fell behind by a point in the fourth before pulling out the victory. They shot only 40.2 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from three-point range.
Hollis-Jefferson suffered a right hip contusion on the final play of the first half and did not return.
It was the best defensive effort of the season from the Nets (4-6), who held the Suns (4-7) to 34.9 percent shooting, including 24.0 percent from three-point range, and kept an opponent under 100 for the first time. The Suns were led by TJ Warren with 20 points and nine rebounds and got 18 points from Devin Booker.
“Our defense was good,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Rondae went down, and we had to play small a lot, but [center] Tyler Zeller came in and gave us a boost . . . Even though the shots weren’t falling, I thought it was a good sign of growth from our team.”
After the Suns regained a 75-74 lead with 9:17 to play, Russell re-entered and had an immediate impact, scoring 12 points and assisting on another basket to account for 14 of 17 Nets points as they built a 91-86 lead with 3:30 left. It was Russell again with a brilliant no-look pass to find Carroll alone for a layup that gave the Nets a 96-90 edge with 1:28 remaining, and they nursed it home.
“Just didn’t want to lose and tried to do whatever it took to win,” Russell said of his finishing kick. “My teammates made shots, they got rebounds, they set great screens. Anybody could have put the ball in the hole for us. I just happened to be open.”