Kemba Walker scored 25 points, Nicolas Batum scored all 17 points in the second half, and Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky scored 22 and 15 points off the bench respectively as the Hornets cruised to a 123-112 win over the Nets.
The Hornets looked lethargic and unfocused on the defensive end early in the game. The Nets first 12 points were all scored in the paint. The Hornets were able to hold serve, and then an interesting substitution happened. Frank Kaminsky was the first sub off the bench, presumably in an attempt to pull Jarrett Allen out of the paint. He quickly made his presence felt, hitting a 3-pointer and a layup within about a minute. On the Nets side, DeMarre Carroll was the surprise sub, scoring nine points in the frame. After one, the Hornets trailed by one.
After nearly a half quarter’s worth of traded baskets, the Hornets led 45-44. Then they went on a run. The Hornets went on a 23-6 run over the final 6:25 of the half. They forced nine turnovers in that span while the Nets only attempted eight field goals. Offensively, the Hornets converted 10 of 15 shots, with all but one of those makes coming in the paint. They outscored the Nets 37-18 in the quarter and at the half, the Hornets led 68-50.
Neither team seemed too interested in playing defense in the second quarter. The teams stayed even for most of the quarter, with the Hornets never able to build their lead past 21 points. The Nets closed the period on a 7-0 run to pull within 12 heading into the final quarter.
The Nets scored the first two points of the fourth quarter to continue the run, but Marvin Williams ended it with a bucket out of the post. D’Angelo Russell threatened to take the game over with seven straight points for the Nets that helped them pull within nine points, but Nicolas Batum answered the bell with back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Hornets lead back to 13 and force a Nets timeout. The Hornets held strong, and never let the Nets pull closer than 12 points until the game’s waning moments. Interestingly, Kenny Atkinson pulled Russell with 3:15 to play and the game still not completely decided. The Hornets called a late timeout while up 13, and Atkinson took exception to it. A Caris LeVert 3-pointer and a Nic Batum free throw set the final margin.
This game lacked the catastrophic run by the opposing team that has doomed the Hornets in recent games. They led by double figures for almost the entire second half and were never really threatened. This win also evens the season series with the Nets, which could be huge if the Hornets can close the gap in the standings down the stretch.
Frank Kaminsky, frequently reported as a disgruntled buyout candidate, got a shot tonight and made the most of it. He had struggled with fouls, but he was a huge presence on the offensive end and provided the Hornets with a scoring threat outside of Walker and Lamb. He was part of a 51 point bench performance, which is a welcome sight from a unit that had been struggling.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Malik Monk received DNP-CDs, likely because of their offensive and defensive shortcomings respectively. The new rotation will be something to keep an eye on going forward.
Up next is a 1:00 tilt with the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.