Hornets-Nets Preview

Two weeks ago, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the last-place New

Orleans Hornets thanks in large part to a clutch performance from

Deron Williams.

Improved defensive play may be the key this time.

While Williams looks to continue his impressive stretch, coach

P.J. Carlesimo wants better defense from his team as the Nets

attempt to re-establish their momentum Tuesday night against the


Brooklyn (37-27) won 101-97 at New Orleans on Feb. 26, when

Williams scored the team’s final 11 points of the game to finish

with 33.

The Nets failed to capitalize on another impressive outing for

Williams on Monday, wasting his 27 points, 13 assists and six

rebounds in a 106-97 defeat at Philadelphia that ended their

three-game winning streak.

“It’s just another number,” Williams said of reaching 10,000

career points. “I’m more worried about the loss than the record or

anything like that.”

Carlesimo’s concerns are more specifically centered on Brooklyn

allowing the 76ers to shoot 52.6 percent from the floor – 8 for 15

from behind the arc. The Nets gave up an average of 78.7 points on

38.2 percent shooting – 22.6 from long range – over the previous

three games.

“I’m way more concerned with our defense than our offense right

now,” Carlesimo said. “We weren’t good offensively, but 97 points

on the road should be enough to win a game.”

An improved effort may be just what the Nets need to gain ground

in the Atlantic Division race since they soon embark on a

season-high eight-game road trip with the circus taking over

Barclays Center. On Sunday, they host Atlanta – whom they beat

93-80 on the road last Saturday – after facing the Hornets (22-42),

occupants of the Southwest Division cellar.

Williams could be the difference again since he’s averaging 25.1

points while connecting on 50.0 percent of his attempts from beyond

the arc (30 for 60) over the last eight games.

The Hornets enter this three-game road trip looking for their

third win in 11 games as the visitor. However, they’re coming off a

98-96 home win over Portland, ending a three-game overall losing

streak that included two defeats after squandering late

double-digit leads.

“We’re learning and this was a big step for us,” forward Ryan

Anderson said. “We could have lost this game, too, in a similar way

in the fourth quarter. We proved that we can kind of be resilient

and hold on.”

Anderson was a big reason for that, coming through with 20

points and 13 boards while hitting 4 of 9 from long range against

the Trail Blazers.

He leads the team with 16.7 points per game, but was held to 13

against the Nets last month.

Anthony Davis had six points and four rebounds in that meeting,

but left in the third quarter with a left shoulder injury that

sidelined him for two games. He’s averaging 17.0 points and 12.3

boards in four games since returning.