Nets beat Bobcats again
The NBA's worst team was getting one easy basket after another in
transition, hitting outside shots, getting key defensive stops and
celebrating a rare victory.
Forgive the New Jersey Nets if they'd like a schedule change: More games with the Charlotte Bobcats, please.
Courtney Lee scored 21 points, Devin Harris added 17 and the Nets never trailed in beating Charlotte 103-94 on Tuesday night for only their fifth win of the season.
Sure, the Nets are 3-47 against the league's 28 other teams. But they're 2-1 against Charlotte, which began the night in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Bobcats were also was the first team to lose to New Jersey after its record 0-18 start.
"I have no idea," said Brook Lopez when asked to explain their mastery over a potential playoff team. "But I don't mind it at all."
Lopez scored 16 points before fouling out for the energized Nets (5-48), who snapped an eight-game losing streak, improved to 2-27 on the road and moved ahead of the pace of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished an all-time NBA-worst 9-73.
Not a bad way to return from the All-Star break.
"I really think everybody really just got away from it and kind of refocused and forgot about the first part of the season," said Harris, who spent the time off at Disney World. "Guys came in ready to play and ready to go."
That certainly wasn't the case for the Bobcats (26-26), who spent the night watching the Nets get easy layups and dunks in a dismal effort that led to pockets of boos from their sparse home crowd.
"It was an embarrassing performance. We didn't compete," said All-Star Gerald Wallace, who got into early foul trouble. "They did, their confidence got going and they started making shots."
Wallace had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Boris Diaw had 19 points and 10 rebounds, but the Bobcats allowed the NBA's worst-shooting and lowest-scoring team to shoot 52 percent.
It led to a somber atmosphere in the Charlotte locker room. Even the TV was turned off.
"Everybody is really down because it was the Nets but they are an NBA team," said Stephen Jackson, who scored 15 points but hit only 7 of 20 shots. "We didn't respect them and they came in and played a better game than we did. They played harder, they made shots."
Kris Humphries' jumper and dunk in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter put New Jersey ahead 88-75.
The Bobcats could never make a significant run, and Lopez's dunk with 4:22 left made it 96-86. After the Bobcats cut the lead to 98-93 and with Lopez on the bench with six fouls, Jarvis Hayes hit a 3-pointer with 58 seconds left to put it away.
Harris added nine assists and six rebounds and the Nets placed five players in double figures in a rare solid offensive performance. New Jersey came in averaging 89.8 points and 42 percent shooting from the field.
The Bobcats, who needed late-game heroics to beat struggling Washington and Minnesota in the two games before the All-Star break, couldn't mount a comeback this time.
"I told our coaches early in the game that I've seen this the last three weeks," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. "I think we've lost a lot of defensive intensity."
The Nets blew an early 24-13 lead with similar miscues that have plagued their season - a shot-clock violation, 8-second violation and Harris dribbling the ball off his foot out of bounds.
Jackson banked in a long jumper to beat the shot clock and tie it at 52 at halftime.
But the Charlotte run never happened. With Lee hitting from the outside and the Bobcats still not getting back on defense, the Nets built an 82-73 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Neither Bobcats owner Bob Johnson nor part-owner Michael Jordan were in their courtside seats a day after Brown said Jordan is doing everything he can to buy majority control of the team.
Maybe it was a good thing they missed the Nets win on the road for the first time since Dec. 8 at Chicago.
"We're going to try and build some momentum," center Josh Boone said. "That's what we need."
NOTES: With the Bobcats seeking a PF before the trade deadline, backup PG D.J. Augustin's name keeps coming up in trade talk. "You can't let it mess up your game or your focus," he said. "If it happens it happens." ... Nets C Tony Battie (illness) didn't make the trip. ... Nets coach Kiki Vandeweghe, who played for Brown at UCLA, called him "probably the best coach I've ever played for." ... Belmont Abbey routed Johnson & Wales 99-26 in a college matinee before the NBA game. Hayes sat in the stands watching his brother, Jonas, a Belmont Abbey assistant.