The Charlotte Hornets blew out the Nets 115-91 on Wednesday night at Barclays Center, a major letdown for the Nets after the thrilling win over Golden State on Monday night.
The Hornets and Nets entered this game with identical 25-33 records in a tie for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. With the win, the Hornets (26-33) passed the Nets (25-34), and the Indiana Pacers beat the Knicks to improve to 26-34 and pass the Nets by a half-game and leave Brooklyn in 10th place. The Boston Celtics beat the Utah Jazz to improve to 24-35, one game behind Brooklyn.
The Nets came out incredibly flat in this one and saw the Hornets jump out to a 13-2 lead in the first four minutes, and that lead ballooned to 31-10 on an Al Jefferson dunk with 3:33 left. When the first quarter mercifully ended, the Hornets led 35-15, with Al Jefferson and Marvin Williams getting 10 points each, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 8 points, and Mo Williams had 5 points and 9 assists.
In the second quarter, the Nets made a game of it, as they outscored the Hornets 29-21, led by 7 points each from Mason Plumlee and Thaddeus Young, and entered halftime trailing by just 12 points, at 56-44.
Much like the first quarter, the Nets came out with nothing in the third quarter, and Charlotte took advantage, opening the quarter with a 12-2 run, led by Jefferson and Mo Williams. A Mo Williams jumper at the 6:02 mark made it 72-51 Hornets. Another Williams three made it 82-55 with 3:17 left in the third, and that was pretty much the game. Charlotte outscored the Nets 32-22 in the third, and when it was over, they led 88-66.
The Nets were led, if you can call it that for a team that shot 39.8 percent, by Deron Williams, who had 12 points on 3-for-9 from the field, with 6 assists. Mason Plumlee finished with 11 points on a decent 5-for-9 from the field, with 7 rebounds and an assist. Joe Johnson shot just 1-for-6 (0-1 on threes) and had only 2 points, with 2 rebounds. Alan Anderson was awful, as he also had just 2 points on 1-5 shooting (0-1 on threes), no rebounds and no assists.
The bench gave them nothing, as Brook Lopez was held to 2-for-7 shooting and finished with just 8 points, 3 rebounds, and an assist. Jarrett Jack had his worst game in a while, finishing with 9 points on 4-for-13 shooting and 0-for-2 on threes, with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Thaddeus Young had 8 points (3-5 FG, 1-1 on 3s), 3 rebounds, and no assists.
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of starting the game in such a big hole, “We just came out flat, we missed a lot of shots and normally, even if you’re missing shots, you don’t allow the other team to get 35. You can keep it 22, 15, but we got down, we worked our way back, found a combination, and we were down 12, even had a chance to go inside, but we fouled one time and then they scored on offensive rebounds. They got another offensive rebound, hit a three. Then we bring it back to 12 again at halftime and I thought maybe we could go out there and trim the lead and put some pressure on them, but we came right out flat again, and tried to change lineups until finally it was to no avail.
“I give Charlotte credit. They’ve been playing well. They played well tonight after having a tough game at home with the Lakers. They came in here and they beat us in every facet of the game. I don’t want to take anything away from the way they played. They defended us. We were shooting 39 percent at halftime, and end up 39 percent for the game. We did bring them down, they were shooting 65 percent in the first quarter, and we brought it all the way down. We played better, we just couldn’t score consistently and we couldn’t rebound consistently and we couldn’t get stops. We didn’t turn the ball over, it’s just a good beating by a good team, a team playing really well at this stage and they made a lot of shots and made a lot of plays,” said Hollins.
Charlotte was led by Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson, who had 19 points each. Jefferson shot 8-for-16, with 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and an assist. Henderson shot 7-for-11, 1-2 on threes, with 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Marvin Williams had 18 points on 5-for-8 from the field, including 4-5 on threes, with 7 rebounds and an assist. Mo Williams had 14 points (6-13 FG, 2-6 on 3s) and 14 assists.
Jefferson said of the Hornets’ shooting percentage in the first quarter, “Oh yeah, it’s always good to hit those outside shots because it opens up the paint. I just think the difference was being ready, starting the game ready. Brooklyn has been the best teams in the NBA in the first quarter. That’s how I think they’ve been winning a lot of their games because they’ve been playing from ahead. And we knew starting in the first quarter it was gonna be a big key for us and we started off hitting a lot of open shots. Our first and third quarter was great from the start.”
On if the Hornets started to realize the importance of tonight’s game yesterday, Jefferson said, “Oh yeah, we knew last night. To be honest with you, Mo (Williams) was the one who corrected me. We knew before the Lakers game that this game was a big deal. But Mo said, ‘let’s take care of the Lakers first and then go in here and play a good game against Brooklyn.’ But going into the game, we knew it was a big game. Now that the game is over, we are happy that we won, but now we’re back where we were last night. Now we get a good day off tomorrow and be ready to go and play a good game against Toronto (on Friday).”
Charlotte Head Coach Steve Clifford said, “Brooklyn is such a good first quarter team that we didn’t want to start the game with matchups that didn’t make as much sense. We were balanced. We had to play to our game; defend, rebound, low turnovers, and play with pace. When we do that, we play our best. Especially on the second night of a back-to-back; we played a good game tonight. A lot of nights, this is a miss-or-make league. Early in the game, we made every shot and sometimes it can snowball like that. This wasn’t Brooklyn’s best night but we did play a good game. Brooklyn’s isn’t playing a ‘four man.’ They’re playing four perimeter players. It just doesn’t make sense to do that. Thaddeus Young is really a three-four.”
Hollins said of why the Nets came out flat, “Well, if I knew that, I wouldn’t be sitting here coaching, that’s for sure. It happens in the biggest games, Super Bowls. One team comes out flat, another team comes out super. I can’t explain it. I could say, ‘well, we had a bit of a hangover from the Golden State game,’ but I’d be lying because that had nothing to do with it. We just didn’t have it tonight.”
On the Nets taking a step back after progress and if that’s a theme for the season, Hollins said, “I’d like to think not. We’ve been beaten a couple of times. Sometimes you get beat in close games, sometimes you get beat in blowouts. It would be a theme if we turn it around and lose seven or eight in a row. If that’s the theme then we can talk about it.”