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Sean Kilpatrick’s return helps buoy Nets’ bench

Sean Kilpatrick #6 of the Brooklyn Nets drives

Sean Kilpatrick #6 of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket defended by Enes Kanter #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. NBA Basketball between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Brooklyn Nets. Credit: Steven Ryan

Sean Kilpatrick dipped his left hamstring back into play Tuesday night at Barclays Center and began doing what he does best — filling the nets for the Nets.

After missing seven games with a strain, Kilpatrick started to work back into the mix off the bench. The result from the 6-4 guard was nine points in just 11 1⁄2 minutes against Philadelphia.

“It wasn’t hard getting into a flow,” Kilpatrick said by phone Wednesday, a recovery day for the team after the 106-101 loss, its 16th game in 28 days.

His return bolstered a bench that has done its fair share to finally help turn more games into wins. The Nets are 7-9 in March after entering at 9-49.

The reserves are averaging an NBA-leading 48.5 points this month heading into Thursday night’s March finale at Detroit. Kilpatrick scored 70 in a three-game stretch. The bench ranks second in the league for the season at 45.5.

“We have people that can score,” Kilpatrick said. “We have people that can play hard. And defensively, I think, is actually a good thing for us. We can just keep getting better as a unit . . . with me being one of the guys that’s basically like a leader on the bench.”

Kilpatrick took the long way to Brooklyn. The 27-year-old Westchester native went undrafted out of Cincinnati in 2014. He played four games on a 10-day deal with Minnesota in 2014-15 and eight games on two 10-day deals with Denver last season before heading to Delaware in the D-League.

The Nets signed him in late February of 2016 to the first of two 10-day deals, then reportedly gave him a three-year contract last March that wasn’t guaranteed for 2017-18.

After averaging 13.8 points in 23 games, he’s at 13.2 across 66 games this season, 42 of them off the bench, primarily his role since early January. His career high came in a November start — 38 against the Clippers. Kilpatrick ranks third in the NBA in scoring among undrafted players that qualify.

“The best thing about me is that every day I just continue to keep coming in and just trying to get better each and every day,” Kilpatrick said. “With that being said, I kind of know exactly what I’ve proved to Coach Kenny [Atkinson] and Sean Marks, our GM . . . I’m a combo guard who can get everyone involved and make sure that everything is going the correct way within our team.”

The team has been holding auditions for next season. With eight games left, Kilpatrick isn’t feeling complacent.

“I took a role like that all my life,” Kilpatrick said, “and I’ll continue to keep taking that role — that I’m auditioning.”

New York Sports