The Hornets started the game well. The offense looked smooth and cohesive, and there were a number of good looks to create easy layups on the offensive end. They gave up quite a few looks from the perimeter to the Nets, but the Nets struggled to convert. After one, Hornets led by one.
The second quarter was a straight continuation of the first. The Netsvl kept taking and missing 3-pointers while the Hornets clanged quite a few jumpers of their own. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving made some incredible buckets, but the Hornets kept pace with pure intensity. PJ Washington and Miles Bridges made a few very physical layups in traffic while Gordon Hayward made a couple savvy plays that led to Hornets buckets. All that kept the Hornets in the game. At the half, they trailed by two.
The Hornets took a lead early in the second half by forcing a couple Brooklyn turnovers and moving the ball well on the offensive end. Part of the run that gave them a seven point lead was this ferocious slam by Terry Rozier, who snatched the soul right out of Kevin Durant’s body.
One more look for good measure.
The Nets went on a mini run of their own to briefly take the lead, but LaMelo Ball took it back for the Hornets with his second 3-pointer of the game. A short time later, Ball made another highlight with his pal Miles Bridges.
Terry wasn’t the only one to yam on Durant. PJ got him too, but I can’t find the clip of it.
Miles Bridges blocked a Landry Shamet 3-point attempt late in the third quarter, which helped the Hornets maintain their five point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Gordon hayward scored the Hornets first six points of the quarter before Devonte’ Graham hit a 3-pointer to put the Hornets up 10. After Miles Bridges forced a Jarrett Allen on the other end, he passed up an open look to find Hayward in the corner for another three to put the Hornets up 13. Bridges hit another three before Durant ended the Hornets 13-0 run with a three of his own. The Hornets lead, which had been 16, was quickly chiseled down to four by a 12-0 Nets run that was ended by a transition layup by Cody Martin off a made Nets bucket.
Kyrie Irving kept the Nets alive with some tough shots, and then the teams alternated offensive fouls. After a Hornets shot clock violation, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot hit his third 3-pointer to pull the Nets within two. PJ Washington made a strong move to earn himself free throws, but what had been a brutal stretch of play for him continued, as he missed both of them. No harm though, as the Hornets forced a miss out of Durant on the other end. Rozier skied for the rebound and was fouled. He hit both free throws to put the Hornets up four with 5.3 seconds to play. Kyrie Irving lost his footing on the ensuing inbound and the Nets stumbled into a layup at the horn to cut the margin to two, but it didn’t affect the final outcome.
Hayward was the star of the show. He filled up the stat sheet and was the engine of the Hornets run that gave them a big lead early in the fourth quarter. Washington struggled at the end, but he played well for most of the game. He looked notably more physical than in the first two games and bullied his way to some strong buckets and big boy rebounds. Miles Bridges did the same, and he looked great in his energy role off the bench.
This is a fantastic win for a Hornets team that dropped two seemingly winnable games to start the season. This should be a big morale boost for all involved.
The Hornets will try to keep it rolling against the Mavericks on Wednesday.