Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, and LaMelo Ball all scored over 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a terrible first half and 50 points from Kyrie Irving as the Charlotte Hornets lost to the Brooklyn Nets,
The Hornets came out with little urgency from the jump. The offense was lethargic and uncreative. The defense was soft and offered little resistance. The Nets shot 57% in the first quarter and led 34-20 after one.
The Nets got back to back threes from Patty Mills around a couple of Hornets 2-pointers to balloon the lead to 18 early in the second quarter. The Hornets could not buy a bucket from deep, while a number of defensive slipups led to easy buckets for the Nets. The Nets built up a lead as large as 28 as the Hornets put up almost no resistance. The night’s effort was summed up on a possession where Mason Plumlee blocked an Andre Drummond shot attempt. He corralled the loose ball and took off up the floor. The other four Hornets essentially watched until Plumlee dribbled himself into four waiting Nets and needed a bailout. A Miles Bridges step back three helped set the halftime margin at 69-43. It was just the third 3-point make on 17 first half attempts for the Hornets.
The Nets made two open 3-pointers on two possessions out of the halftime intermission to go up by 32 and quash any hopes of a Hornets comeback. A coast to coast layup by Bruce Brown off a defensive rebound implied that the Hornets weren’t going to turn the effort around either. However, a switch seemed to flip shortly after. Bridges, LaMelo Ball, and Terry Rozier were a three man show as the Hornets trimmed the deficit as low as 15 by the 2:19 mark of the quarter, when James Borrego finally had to break the lineup. They held that to a 100-84 deficit heading into the fourth.
The teams traded baskets for the first few minutes of the fourth quarter with Kyrie Irving serving as a one man run stopper for the Nets. Kelly Oubre scored nine straight for the Hornets to help the inch just a bit closer. They pulled within 13 off his three, but Cody Martin lost Seth Curry for an open three as the Nets dribbled the ball up the court then fouled Kyrie Irving shooting a three to give the Nets five straight points. The Hornets pulled within 13 at a couple of other points, but that was as close as they would get other than a couple of garbage time buckets. They eventually ran out of time with the game hovering in that low to mid range teens margin.
The first half was as about as bad as an NBA team could play basketball. The Hornets had more turnovers than assists and let the Nets score with little resistance. It took a 34 point third quarter deficit to force the Hornets to try, and they played well from that point on. The problem, as has been the case at several points this season, is it took an insurmountable deficit to get the Hornets to play with focus and intensity. There isn’t time left for moral victories for almost digging themselves out of holes they put themselves in.
The Hornets will try to turn it around against a surging Celtics team that is stifling everyone on the defensive end of the floor.