Kenny Atkinson
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Brooklyn Nets rode D’Angelo Russell’s career-night to an improbable comeback victory on the road against the Orlando Magic.

What letdown game? The Brooklyn Nets notched their biggest win of the season against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. They followed that up with their largest comeback in the Brooklyn-era against the Orlando Magic on Friday.

Jonathan Isaac dropped in a layup to give the Orlando Magic a 21-point lead midway through the second quarter. From that point, the Nets mounted a slow, steady comeback. D’Angelo Russell’s hot shooting from deep led the way for Brooklyn.

The NBA is a game of runs and even a 21-point lead isn’t truly safe on any given night. The Magic couldn’t deliver the knockout blow in large part due to Russell’s eight three-pointers, five of which came in the second quarter.

After a laborious effort to shave the lead down, the Nets finally took the lead with 55 seconds left on a four-point play from Spencer Dinwiddie. Head coach Kenny Atkinson called a timeout and drew up a beautiful out of bounds play to free up Dinwiddie for a corner three.

Nikola Vucevic came down and buried a floater in the lane to tie the game up at 113. But Russell, who had willed the Nets back into this game, buried his final three-pointer of the night to push his scoring total to 40, a career-high. Russell was 16-for-25 from the field and 8-for-12 from three-point range, but he failed to draw a single free throw.

After Russell’s three gave the Nets a three-point lead, the two sides exchanged free throws on subsequent possessions. Finally, the Magic found themselves down two with fewer than 10 seconds left on the lock. Evan Fournier had a decent look at the rim, but his floater fell inches short and bounced off the front of the rim.

Russell was the engine for the Nets, but he wasn’t the only one making winning contributions. Dinwiddie and Joe Harris each knocked down three triples. Jarrett Allen didn’t score much, but he secured 11 rebounds and controlled the paint with four blocks. Even Shabazz Napier provided a lift off the bench, shooting 4-for-11 from three-point range while chipping in four assists.

It was truly a team effort from Brooklyn and although they were outplayed for a majority of the game, they figured out how to grind out another victory on the road. The Nets improve their record to 16-5 over their last 21 games and 24-23 overall. This is the first time Brooklyn has been above .500 all season.

Atkinson deserves a huge shoutout for the dramatic turnaround in this game and this season for that matter. The Nets came out flat on Friday — a bad look for the coaching staff — but Atkinson was able to make the necessary adjustments to change the team’s fortunes. Whether it was peppering in some 2-3 zone to give the Magic another look defensively or riding Russell down the stretch, Atkinson pushed all the right buttons tonight.

Down 21, it would have been easy for the Nets to pack it in and let Orlando run away with this one. Brooklyn already scored a signature win on the road earlier this week. Not to mention, the team has two off days before a three-game homestand next week.

But rather than look ahead to Monday night’s matchup against the Sacramento Kings, the Nets mounted a comeback that culminated in another thrilling victory.

This victory coupled with a Miami Heat loss pushes the Nets into sole possession of sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Something special is going on in Brooklyn.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.