Strong fourth carries Nets to win over Hornets
Four days in between games can leave a lot of time to stew over a bad loss. It would have seemed a lot longer had the Nets sustained a second straight bad loss to an inferior opponent.
Instead, the Nets avoided that fate by turning in a strong fourth quarter on the offensive end during a 108-98 victory over the Hornets.
The Nets did not necessarily win it on the defensive side as they allowed the Hornets to shoot 51.3 percent, but instead they won by shooting 50 percent themselves.
The Nets rebounded from a horrid loss 24 hours earlier in Philadelphia and have won four of their last five. They are two games behind the Knicks, though their crossriver rival will have played three more games before Brooklyn suits up Sunday night against Atlanta.
“We disappointed ourselves last night,” interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “We wanted to get five in a row and we put ourselves in position to close out four [wins] in five [games]. Had we found a way to win last night, then today would have been really hard for us to maintain the energy and do it but I like where we’re at.”
“It was very important because we felt we didn’t come prepared. We gave them confidence in the first half and they took advantage of it,” forward Gerald Wallace said.
The Nets won because of another solid showing by Deron Williams (21 points and 13 assists). Williams had his 16th double-double and sixth game with 20 points and 10 assists while turning it over just twice.
Brook Lopez reached 20 points (26 points) for just the third time since the All-Star break, while playing effectively with Andray Blatche (18 points) in the fourth quarter.
The Nets also won while getting key contributions from Wallace, who scored 13 points a night after being benched in the fourth as Carlesimo sought more offense. Also contributing was Marshon Brooks, who scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and reached double figures for the first time since Feb. 1.
The most crucial portion of the game, though, came with Williams getting a rest and the Nets going with Blatche, C.J. Watson, Lopez, Wallace and Brooks. It was the second time Blatche and Lopez played together after Carlesimo hinted at it eight days ago.
“It was good,” Lopez said. “It was a lot of fun. It was good to finally be out there and try everything out. I know I personally wondered what it was going to be like and what was going to work.”
Last night it was done to combat the length of Hornets’ big men Anthony Davis and Robin Lopez, who combined for 32 points and 19 rebounds. In the fourth quarter, that duo combined for four points and three rebounds while Blatche and Lopez combined for 10 points and five rebounds in the final 12 minutes.
“It’s two almost 7-footers,” Wallace said. “It opens up the court a lot more. It protects a whole lot more with a bigger wingspan and those guys are so great offensively on the block, so those guys have to be respected offensively.”
“I think it makes a big difference,” Williams said. “The whole team has to pay attention to where they are at all times and we can also throw it down to either one of them on the block and let them go to work, especially when they are shooting the ball the way they are.”
The first time the two got on the court together occurred over the final 4:33 of the third quarter. It started with the Nets holding a three-point lead that swelled to nine two minutes later. That stretch was highlighted by Brook Lopez’s monster dunk over twin brother Robin Lopez but it ended with an 80-78 lead after Blatche missed a layup but rebounded his own miss and converted.
Williams returned with 5:13 remaining and the Nets holding a 97-88 lead. After a Robin Lopez hook shot made it a seven-point game, the Nets scored the next seven points, highlighted by Blatche properly boxing out a Williams missed free throw and scoring the easy basket with 2:57 to play.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.