The Brooklyn Nets (4-6) were running low on fuel in the fourth quarter. Despite obvious exhaustion in the second game of an away/away back-to-back, Kevin Durant checked in and the Nets stung the Charlotte Hornets (3-7) late. Final score: 98-94.
Once again, as it was vs. Washington on Friday night, it was Kevin and the Kids securing the W.
“The thing that we’re going to hold on to is back-to-back, on the road, odds are against you. We talked about no excuses, and we didn’t find an excuse: We found a solution,” said interim head coach Jacque Vaughn summing things up. He added the comeback was “gritty, griming, Brooklyn-esque.”
Vaughn also disclosed what he told the team in the fourth.
“The thing that we’re going to hold on to is back-to-back, on the road, odds are against you,” said JV. “We talked about no excuses, and we didn’t find an excuse: We found a solution.”
The Hornets hit the Nets with a 10-0 burst in the opening minutes of the fourth to drain hope of a win. Instead of falling apart, Jacque Vaughn put Durant back in and the game went “The Brooklyn Way” in quick order. Following the 10-0 burst, Durant helped pave a 21-7 run to conclude the contest. But that didn’t come without some late-game drama.
Brooklyn entered the final minute of play nursing a 94-92 lead following a huge triple by Durant. The Nets superstar followed it up with a mid-range jumper to give Brooklyn some breathing room (96-92) with 33.6 seconds left. After former Net, Mason Plumlee caught an airball and reverse dunked it, Cam Thomas ran down a good portion of the game clock before being fouled. The guard then hit both free throws and Brooklyn escaped Charlotte with a feel-good win — a win that cemented the Nets’ first away/away back-to-back sweep since the 2020-21 season.
The Nets stuck with the same starting five — Durant, Edmond Sumner, Joe Harris, Royce O’Neale, and Nic Claxton. The starting unit was active defensively as it was Friday night in Washington, gathering a series of steals, and doing a solid job on the boards to provide second-chance scoring opportunities. In fact, Claxton, 23, and Thomas, 21, contributed (scored/assisted) for 25 of the 30 first-quarter points for Brooklyn to pave a nine-point advantage (30-21).
Brooklyn held their 10+ point lead until the closing minutes of the second. Charlotte, who was trailing by 13 in the frame, found a rhythm and made a push. The Hornets — led by Terry Rozier’s game-high 16 points — came back and managed to slice the deficit to only three points but the Nets concluded the first half with a 52-44 lead. Brooklyn’s bench scoring 20-8 prevented Charlotte from hitting the break with a lead.
A lead change was imminent for Hornets and it didn’t take long in the third quarter for the buzz to occur. Charlotte took their first lead since the scoreboard lit up at 5-4 in the first, behind a 12-3 run at the 7:38 mark of the third. To make matters worse, Claxton picked up his fourth foul after two foolish ones leaving Brooklyn to go small for the remainder of the tough quarter. The Nets hit the final 12 minutes of play trailing by one point (70-69).
Charlotte opened the fourth on a 10-0 run spanning the first minute and a half of the final frame before Patty Mills’ straight-on triple. When the hope was leaving the building, Brooklyn sent Durant back into the contest and great looks were generated. The Nets went on a 12-0 run to take the lead entering the final three minutes of play.
In the end, the Nets pulled out a gritty win to improve to 4-6 on the young season.
“I just think we rallied around each other. It was a tough week for us. And it’s always good to just get back to the game. Once the ball is tipped all the b—s— goes out the window,” said Durant about the Nets week.
“Once the ball is tipped, all the bullsh1t goes out the window. Everybody was just waiting to get back to playing. We also lost three or four games before that, so we just felt some pride and wanted to come out here and get some W’s. So it’s good for our character.”
Kevin Durant racking up firsts
One can make the argument that in this year, his 16th in the NBA, Kevin Durant is off to one of his best, if not his best, seasons.
Durant now has scored 25+ points in 10 straight games to start the season, the longest streak of his career.
Durant has scored 316 points in the first 10 games of a season, also the most in his career.
Durant has now made 57 straight free throws, the longest streak of his career.
These are all Nets records as well.
Stats to come
The NBA had troubles with its digital feed of stats throughout the second half. When they finally cure things, we will add all the wonderful news. We do know Kevin Durant finished with 28 on 10-of-20 shooting, Cam Thomas with 21 and Nic Claxton with this stat line: 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three blocks and two steals.
In back-to-backs, Nets already better than last season
As Nets PR notes, the Nets picked up a back-to-back sweep with tonight’s win at Charlotte (third back-to-back of the season). The Nets swept one of 14 back to backs all of last season.This is the first back-to-back sweep for Brooklyn with both games on the road since last February when they beat the Kings and Suns.
No word on new head coach
Nothing today on the Nets search for a new head coach to replace Steve Nash. The Nets were expected to name Ime Udoka as early as Tuesday, but nothing official. Of course, Udoka is suspended by the Celtics for this season following an investigation that found “a volume of violations” of the team’s code of conduct.
The latest update was an Adrian Wojnarowski appearance on NBA Today Friday. At that time, Woj said the signing was “on the brink” but that the Nets were still “vetting” the details of Udoka’s suspension. There were also rumors that the Commissioner, Adam Silver, had reservations about bringing Udoka back after only 10 ro so games of a season-long suspension.
There were also reports that women employees of BSE Global, the Nets parent company, had questioned the move in a staff meeting once word broke of Udoka’s imminent hire this week. NetsDaily asked BSE Global for comment on the women’s questions but there’s been no response.
Meanwhile, Steve Clifford, the Hornets head coach, defended Steve Nash, who used him as a coaching consultant last year in Brooklyn.
“There’s always things you can do better as a coach, but the problem there was not coaching. Nor receptiveness to the way we did things. I totally disagree with any of that and sometimes it’s just health,” said Clifford.
As Sponge Bob might say…
The Nets will conclude their road trip against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. The game is slated to tip at 9:45 p.m. ET.
For a different perspective on Nets vs. Hornets, check out At The Hive — our sister site covering the Hornets.