When the ball stops moving, chances are, the Nets are losing.
Pretty simple, right?
Kemba Walker finished with a game-high 30 points to lead the Charlotte Hornets to a 99-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets Friday night at Barclays Center.
Sean Kilpatrick led Brooklyn with 19 points off the bench, Brook Lopez added 18 points but 12 of those came in the first half. The Nets dropped to 2-4 on the season, it was also their first game this season without starting point guard Jeremy Lin.
The Nets held double-digit leads twice in this game, they led Charlotte by 13 in the first quarter and again by 11 in the third. On both occasions the Nets were done in by poor shot selection, a stagnant offense, and low energy on defense. These factors contributed to allowing Charlotte back into the game.
Brooklyn led 50-43 at halftime, however the offense went cold during a key six-minute stretch where the Hornets went on a 19-3 run.
“Credit to them, I thought that third quarter really hurt us,” Atkinson said after the game. “I thought we got stagnant, I thought the ball stopped moving, and again, they got into us, they started denying some passes and got us out of rhythm. So, good job by them; credit to them.”
The Nets clawed back to within one with a three-pointer from Lopez with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter. The Hornets went back up by four when, right out of a Nets time out, Lopez shot a questionable three with 57.7 seconds left which missed. Trevor Booker, seconds later, also missed on a three-point attempt. These were two possessions where the Nets could have worked to get a better look. The Hornets were eventually able to hold Brooklyn off for the win.
The Nets shot 9 of 36 from the three-point line. Their shot selection, late in the game, left a great deal to be desired.
“They made some shots and we didn’t,” Atkinson said afterwards. ” Credit to them, I think their defense is excellent. There’s a reason they’re a top defensive team, and they take away some stuff you want to do and you have to go down the line with your options
Lin, out for at least two weeks with a strained left hamstring, was replaced in the lineup by rookie Isaiah Whitehead.
It was Whitehead’s first NBA start, the Brooklyn Native finished with eight points and three assists. Foul trouble prevented Whitehead from seeing much time late in the game, however his overall performance left a good impression on head coach Kenny Atkinson.
“I thought Isaiah took another step today,” Atkinson said afterwards. “He’s progressing, I thought he did a pretty good job.”
What we have learned so far this season about the Nets is this is a team which must sustain a high level of energy throughout the game and keep the ball moving on offense. When those two variables don’t happen, the results will not be in their favor.
On this night, the ball stopped again and it cost them.