NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 11:18 PM
Bojan Bogdanovic lights up the scoreboard with 44 points, including 4 of 9 from beyond the arc.
The Nets’ 2015-16 season has been one to forget, but Tuesday night in Brooklyn, Bojan Bogdanovic put on a performance to remember.
The second-year Croatian forward scored a career-high 44 points on 17 of 27 shooting — including 4 of 9 from beyond the arc — leading the Nets to a 131-114 victory over the Sixers at Barclays Center. The total tied Bogdanovic with fellow Croation Drazen Petrovic for the most point scored by a foreign-born in franchise history, and also marked the most points scored by a Net in Brooklyn.
“I didn’t know, honestly, that he scored 44. I was surprised. I thought that he scored even more,” Bogdanovic said of Petrovic. “So I am really proud to tie his record.”
The win ended a four-game skid for the Nets and avenged the team’s back-to-back losses to the Sixers, the latest of which came Friday in Philadelphia.
Brook Lopez scored 18 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and drained just his second three of the season. Thaddeus Young added 14 points and a season-high 16 rebounds, while Yonkers native Sean Kilpatrick scored 19 points off the bench.
But it was the 26-year-old Bogdanovic who led the way Tuesday with the best performance of his young career.
“He did it in a variety of ways,” Lopez said. “He was running in transition, knocking down threes, coming off curls, doing so many different things. It really showed the diversity in his game.”
The Sixers were without four rotation players, including Jahlil Okafar, who will miss the remainder of the season because of a torn meniscus in his knee. Robert Covington, Jerami Grant and Richaun Holmes all suffered injuries in the Sixers’ win over the Nets on Friday. Covington left that game on a stretcher after being kicked in the jaw. They all missed Tuesday night’s rematch.
The Sixers, already talent-depleted to begin with, struggled without enough bodies, particularly in the frontcourt. With only four healthy big men, Philadelphia coach Brett Brown was forced to go small, sometimes playing three point guards at the same time. The lineup created mismatches that Bogdanovic exploited in the paint.
The Nets finally have reason to smile as they snap a four-game skid with Tuesday’s victory.
“He had matchups where he could post up, and he’s a pretty good post-up player,” Nets interim coach Tony Brown said. “We don’t do it a lot with him, but we had an opportunity to try to keep that going with him in the post. So tremendous game by him, and when we needed a lift, he was the one who gave us the punch.”
The Sixers started the game 6 of 26 from the field and complemented their poor shooting with sloppy play. Errant passes sailed out of play, unforced turnovers led to transition baskets, wide-open layups fell short, and the Nets capitalized.
Philadelphia turned it over 17 times in the contest, leading to 24 fast-break points for Brooklyn. Bogdanovic was the primary scorer of the transition baskets, leaking out for lay-ins and dunks all game.
“We really struggled against them the last two games when they beat us, so we tried to play much better defense today,” Bogdanovic said. “So that led to easy buckets, easy fast-break points, and I was there to score.”
Bogdanovic scored his 44th point on a turnaround jumper with 6:53 left in regulation. With a 50-point game in sight, the Nets faithful rose to their feet to cheer on a glimmer of excitement in a lost season.
Bogdanovic looked at the jumbotron and saw he was six points shy of the milestone.
But after misfiring on three straight shots down the stretch, Bogdanovic knew it wasn’t meant to be.
“I tried, but then I missed a couple shots,” he said. “Then I was like ‘Alright, 40 is good too.’”