Well, it was definitely going to be a different night when Vernon Carey Jr. made his first NBA start of his career. The Charlotte Hornets tipped off in Brooklyn tonight looking and moving like a renewed team. Not only did Vernon Carey Jr. get the start, he was heavily involved early, contributing to multiple plays that helped the Hornets score 35 in the first quarter against the Nets. For context, the Hornets scored 11 points in the first quarter when they played the Nets just fifteen days ago. What a difference two weeks can make.
Vernon was the stand-out surprise at the beginning of the game, but there were plenty surprise actives on each roster. Kevin Durant who had missed the last game against the 76ers was active and active on the court, scoring with consistency and grace that is amazing to see with the length he has even if he’s been doing it for over a decade. Brad Wannamaker made it on the court despite an ankle injury, however he did not have the same influence on the game.
Miles Bridges had one of those games where you can glimpse greatness. Not only was he putting the ball in the basket, setting a career high in points scored (33) and tied a career high in 3-pointers made (6). He was also efficient, cresting 60% from the arc and 73% from the field. He took the reins of the Hornets offense and was able to show what is possible when he is uber engaged and draining his shots.
Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, and the rook Vernon Carey Jr. kept the Hornets in the game for three solid quarters. The Martin twins were scrappy and no one was being shy about diving for loose balls. But when you are playing the Brooklyn Nets, who can replace KD with Joe Harris. Players like Landry Shamet and Blake Griffin are coming off the bench. The talent deficit is simply too much to bear. And as the DMX was blaring in a mostly empty Barclays Center, the Nets stretched their lead in the fourth quarter.
There’s credit due to the coaching staff who gave the starting line-up a shake up. There’s kudos to bestow on Vernon Carey Jr. who made the best of his first career start and was a positive in his position and to the team. The box score is going to show his 21 points, but that number got inflated late in the game when the score got out of hand and his teammates were feeding him the rock. It’s fun to watch a team that has not lost its ability to fight or its will to win. But they were not coming out of Brooklyn with a win, and there hasn’t been much winning happening lately.
A few notes from the game: Caleb Martin seems to be using some cupping therapy (something I don’t understand at all) and so he’s sporting some spots nowadays. Grant Riller got his first points in an NBA game, so Chase Whitney is somewhere in the Northeast cheering. Kyrie Irving is a wonder with the ball in his hands but seems like a hard personality to play with. He and KD had visible disagreements a few times during the game.
The Charlotte Hornets travel back to the Queen City and face another hard opponent in the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday. They are currently on a four game losing streak and no one of consequence has plans to be back before Sunday to bolster this roster. That gives time for younger players, naturally, but doesn’t bode well for the win column. However, the Trailblazers have had woes of their own dropping 7 of their last 10.