JEFFREY WEIDEL, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Brook Lopez reached a career milestone and was given the game ball. What he cherished most was the victory, a rarity these days for the Nets.
The veteran Brooklyn center had 24 points and eight rebounds to surpass 10,000 points with the Nets, who never trailed in snapping a 16-game losing streak by defeating the Sacramento Kings 109-100 on Wednesday night.
The Nets’ previous win was Jan. 20 at New Orleans, and they had dropped 27 of 28 since beating Charlotte on Dec. 26. The franchise record for consecutive losses is 18 by the 2009-10 team that went 12-70, another low mark in club history.
“The win is the most important thing,” said Lopez, who had eight fourth-quarter points. “Obviously, I’m proud. It’s a testament to all the people I’ve played with over the years.”
Lopez’s second-quarter dunk made him the second player in Nets history to score 10,000 points. Lopez has played all nine of his NBA seasons with the Nets and has 10,014 points, leaving him behind only Buck Williams (10,440) on the franchise list.
Jeremy Lin scored 17 points, Isaiah Whitehead had 14 and Caris LeVert finished with 13 for the NBA-worst Nets (10-49). Brooklyn made 11 3-pointers and shot 46 percent.
“I’m so happy for him. He’s a fun-loving guy and he works so hard and cares,” Lin said. “People don’t realize how diligent and calculated he is with his work. So 10,000 points, I’m so glad I was able to at least be a part of it.”
Lopez and Lin each played a huge role down the stretch to ensure the victory. The two combined for 14 of the Nets’ final 16 points to help end a long and frustrating six-week winless period.
“It’s so huge having him (Lin) out there leading and playmaking. He makes so many things much easier for us,” Lopez said.
Sacramento rookie Buddy Hield hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points. Ty Lawson and Tyreke Evans both had 15 points, and Aaron Afflalo added 14. The young Kings have lost three straight and are 1-3 since trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans in a blockbuster deal.
The struggling Kings (25-36) committed 15 turnovers that led to 18 points. They fell three games behind eighth-place Denver for the final Western Conference playoff spot and into a tie with Minnesota for ninth.
“I’m a little disappointed we didn’t win tonight. We couldn’t quite get over the hump,” Afflalo said. “Obviously, we’re a young team now, but we’ve just got to learn how to take care of the ball a little bit better and get stops when we need them.”
Evans hit a 3 and followed with a jumper, pulling the Kings to 99-93 with 2:34 remaining. A basket by Lawson with 30 seconds left cut the margin to four, but Randy Foye made two free throws and Lin added two more to secure the victory.
“We didn’t come out with enough force to start the game and they physically manhandled us around the perimeter of the floor,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “We just dribbled too much, which caused them to get opportunities on runouts. We’ve just got to get stronger with the basketball.”
The Nets got off to a fast start, making six 3-pointers in the first quarter while taking a 35-31 lead. They led by three at halftime and outscored cold-shooting Sacramento 24-18 in the third period to take a nine-point lead into the fourth.
Nets: This was the third stop on an eight-game road trip, their longest of the season.
Kings: Rookie big man Skal Labissiere started his first game after several recent promising performances. He had 10 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes. … Sacramento is clearly lacking an interior presence without Cousins. Starting center Kosta Koufos missed all seven shots and went scoreless in nearly 25 minutes.
READY TO GO
With three days’ rest and a couple of practices to prepare, the Nets came out strong in the opening quarter, scoring the first eight points and taking their biggest lead at 21-6.
Although the Kings came back quickly to cut into the lead, Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson thought the way his team started was vital to the victory.
“We felt it from the beginning,” Atkinson said. “We were here to take control of the game, rather than sitting back and waiting for the game. Give that starting group a lot of credit. I felt Brook was great and Jeremy was aggressive.”
Nets: The long road trip continues Friday night at Utah.
Kings: Have three days off before facing Utah on Sunday.
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