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Jarrett Jack sparks season-saving run in win over Hawks

Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets were well aware that no team in NBA history has ever come back to win a best-of-seven playoff series after going down 3-0.

They had to have Game 3.

They got it with their injured $98 million point guard on the bench.

After Jarrett Jack checked in for a banged-up Deron Williams with four minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Nets put together arguably their best stretch of basketball this season, using an extended 18-0 run to defeat the Hawks 91-83 on Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center. It was the first time Brooklyn had beaten Atlanta in seven tries in 2014-15.

The Hawks lead the Nets 2-1 in their first-round series. Game 4 is Monday night in Brooklyn.

Williams, who fell hard on his tailbone after taking a charge on Jeff Teague late in the second quarter and later appeared to injure his right leg going over a screen in the third, did not play for the final 16 minutes of the game.

“I was pretty sore,” Williams said when asked about not playing for the entire fourth quarter. “So I don’t know how effective I could’ve been, and I think Coach [Lionel Hollins] really kinda saw that. Of course I want to be on the floor, but J. Jack was playing well and the other guys did a great job of closing it out.”

Asked if the bumps and bruises would affect him playing in Game 4, Williams replied: “I hope not. I’ll just take some medicine and then hopefully by Monday I’m good.”

Williams went 1-for-8 from the field and finished with three points in 26 minutes. He had seven rebounds and six assists. During the series, he is averaging just 6.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 26.9 percent shooting.

When Jack replaced Williams, who limped to the bench, the Nets trailed 60-58. A pair of Pero Antic free throws increased Atlanta’s lead to four. But Brooklyn countered with 18 consecutive points. The Hawks missed 12 straight shots during that stretch, going over seven minutes without a field goal.

Overall, the Nets held Atlanta to 35.6 percent shooting and 20 percent from 3-point range (6-for-30). Kyle Korver, who had hit eight 3-pointers in the first two games of the series, went 1-for-8 from the field.

“Just us playing at home,” Joe Johnson said of why the team executed so well on the defensive end. “It gives us extra motivation, that energy boost that we need. Guys really talking, communicating, moving on defense and switching -- switching a lot. Not letting Korver come off screens and get wide-open looks.”

Jack, who has been Brooklyn’s best point guard so far, went just 1-for-3 from the field, but made eight assists and added five rebounds. The Nets were a plus-17 with him on the floor. It’s very possible Hollins will decide to lean on Jack, who struggled during the regular season but has played confidently in the playoffs, even more than usual with Williams ailing.

“I just try to be ready when my number is called,” Jack said. “We have a helluva starting point guard in D-Will. Right now he’s a little banged up, so if I have to come in and try to give him some relief, I try to do the best I can. I thought he did a good job of setting the table for us early and getting us into a good groove and rhythm.”

The Nets, who had been burned by slow starts in their losses in Games 1 and 2, came out like gangbusters on Saturday afternoon, establishing a 31-15 lead after the first quarter. Their second unit ultimately allowed the Hawks to get back into the game, but the starters and Jack were able to finish things off down the stretch.

Brook Lopez had 22 points, 13 rebounds and played incredible rim defense, according to ESPN Stats & Information, holding the Hawks to 0-for-8 in close, while rookie Bojan Bogdanovic finally got hot from the field and chipped in 19 points. Thaddeus Young, who apologized to his team after scoring two points in Game 2, had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Johnson added 16 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.

“Just going out there and executing, believing in myself, continuing to do the things that have gotten me to this point in my career,” Young said. “It was just about focusing in.”

The Nets didn’t shoot particularly well either, making only 36.8 percent of their attempts from the field, but winning ugly sure is better than losing.

Now, the Nets are right back in the series. And they finally beat a team that they previously could not.

Whether Williams, who heard some scattered boos when he was introduced as a starter before the game by the late-arriving crowd, gets healthy and rediscovers his game, however, remains to be seen.

“It changes the dynamics of the series,” Williams said of the W. “If they had won this one, that’s tough -- no team has ever come back from 0-3 down. We just gotta focus on winning the next one and then going from there.”