Feb 7, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard forward Marco Belinelli (21) attempts to control the ball while being fouled by Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris (12) during the second half of the game at the Spectrum Center. The Hornets won 111-107. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
The Brooklyn Nets looked to snap their nine-game losing streak on Tuesday night vs. the Hornets in Charlotte.
Both the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets struggled in the opening minutes, as Brooklyn made just two of its first nine shots. Charlotte shot just 36 percent from the field in the first five minutes of the game, but managed to grab an 11-4 lead after Kemba Walker hit a three and Frank Kaminsky converted on a floater for two.
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Nicolas Batum followed with a three of his own to give Charlotte a 10 point lead as part of a 12-0 Hornets run. After leading 14-4, the Hornets were able to push their lead up to 10 once again, as Charlotte lead 24-14 in the final seconds of the first quarter. A pair of Justin Hamilton free throws brought Brooklyn within eight, as the Nets trailed 24-16 at the end of the first quarter.
Already in a hole just 12 minutes into the game, the Nets weren’t playing well in either facet. Bojan Bogdanovic was leading the Nets with 11 points midway through the second quarter, while Justin Hamilton had nine. Two of Brooklyn’s biggest problems were Brook Lopez‘s slow start, and a lack of defense.
Lopez made just one of his first six shot attempts, for two points. As a result, Brooklyn scored just 37 points in the entire first half, which is their lowest output in the first half this season. The Nets were able to find production from Bogdanovic and Hamilton — and Joe Harris added six points — but Lopez was rather quiet in the first half, as Brooklyn trailed 54-37 at halftime.
The Nets opened the third quarter on a 10-5 run, to cut Charlotte’s lead to 12. Brooklyn came out of the halftime break energized, in an attempt to make a comeback. Spencer Dinwiddie then hit a three bring the Nets within single digits, 59-50.
With six minutes remaining in the quarter, the Nets cut the lead to six after Lopez hit a three. But the Hornets quickly pushed the lead back up to double digits, as Brooklyn’s defense could not contain Charlotte’s offensive weapons.
The Nets closed the third quarter trailing by just nine, thanks in large part to their offense. Brooklyn scored 35 points in the third quarter alone, after scoring 37 in the entire first half. But if the Nets were going to win, they would have to step up defensively.
Brooklyn managed to cut the lead to seven with 7:30 left in the game after an Isaiah Whitehead layup made it 89-82 Charlotte. The Nets then got five quick points from Bogdanovic and Harris to get within four points, 91-87.
With 3:18 remaining, the Hornets pushed their lead to eight after a Kaminsy put-back off of a Kemba Walker miss. Charlotte then built the lead up to 10 with under three minutes remaining. Over the next two minutes, the Hornets were able to close out the Nets, despite a late Brooklyn comeback.
Lopez converted on a three-point play after he was fouled on a layup by Marco Belinelli. That brought Brooklyn within five points, 106-101, and forced Charlotte to take a full timeout. Bogdanovic then made it a one possession game. With Brooklyn down 107-101, he made a three to make it just a three point game. Bogdanovic made another three with 10 seconds left, but the Hornets were able to ice the game at the free throw line.
Charlotte would narrowly escape with a 111-107 victory. The loss is Brooklyn’s 10th straight.
Feb 7, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward center Frank Kaminsky (44) looks to pass the ball as Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie (8) defends during the first half of the game at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
1. The Nets spent the first half stuck in neutral
Charlotte currently sits in the ninth seed in the Eastern conference playoff picture. The Hornets have issues of their own, as they snapped a losing streak by beating the Nets. But the Nets did not do themselves any favors in the first half. Brooklyn scored a total of 37 points in the first half, 16 in the first quarter and 21 in the second quarter, for their worst first half of the season. The Nets did make the game close in the final minutes, but if they had played better in the first half, the comeback in the second half may have been more manageable, or perhaps not necessary at all.
2. The Nets cut down on the turnovers, but there were still too many
Compared to some of their recent games, the Nets did actually cut down on their turnovers. Brooklyn turned the ball over 15 times after turning the ball over 21 times on Super Bowl Sunday. Unfortunately, 15 turnovers is still too high for a Nets team that needs to make smarter passes. In comparison, Charlotte turned the ball over just seven times. The Nets were able to cut down their turnover margin in comparison to the Toronto game, but when the number in question is 21 turnovers, it can’t get much worse. If the Nets can learn from this game and continue to decrease their turnovers consistently, it could go a long way toward winning games.
Too many times this season, the Nets have come out of the halftime break flat, and it has been detrimental to their chances of wining. After a listless first half, it could’ve been a tough second half. Entering the third quarter, the Nets had just 37 points. But Brooklyn fought back, scoring 35 points in both the third and fourth quarter’s. Yes, the Nets ultimately lost, but this game could have gotten out of hand easily with Brooklyn already trailing in the third quarter. Instead, the Nets did not quit, and nearly pulled off a comeback victory.
Feb 7, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) is fouled by Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) during the first half of the game at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Player of the Game:
Bojan Bogdanovic played a complete game for the Nets. In a tough overall first half, Bogdanovic was one of the Nets’ prominent scorers. He also produced in the second half, most notably in the final minute when trying to complete the comeback. Bogdanovic played a team-high 30 minutes and led the Nets with 22 points on 8-15 shooting. Bogdanovic made three shots from beyond the arc, and also grabbed five rebounds. This was a rare night in which Brook Lopez did not lead the Nets in scoring, and, all things considered, Bogdanovic played the most complete game for the Nets against Charlotte.
As previously mentioned, Brook Lopez struggled in the first half. Offensively, he was a non-factor. But to Lopez’s credit, he bounced back in the second half. After making just one of his first six shots, Lopez finished shooting 8-17 for 20 points, and also had five rebounds, four blocks, and an assist. Usually, if Lopez doesn’t lead the Nets in scoring, Brooklyn’s chances of winning are slim. But Lopez played more like his usual self in the second half, and was a big part of the comeback attempt.
Up your game, please…
Sean Kilpatrick was not much of a factor against Charlotte. He played in just 18 minutes, the fewest on the team, and shot 1-4 from the field, with all four of his shot attempts coming from beyond the arc. Kilpatrick wasn’t able to find a rhythm, but in his defense it can be difficult when playing a mere 18 minutes. Still, the Nets would have benefitted if Kilpatrick had a better game offensively. The Nets continue to mix-and-match their starting lineups, as they used an NBA-leading 23rd different starting lineup on Tuesday. However, the starting five still does not include Kilpatrick, who has had an extended stay with the bench unit.
With the loss, the Nets’ losing streak has now hit 10 games. Brooklyn is now 9-43 on the season, and the Nets will have a quick turnaround. The Nets will host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at 7:30 PM EST.