Durant’s Big Game Not Enough as Hornets Surge for Victory

C

Final: 10/24/2021

L 95 – 111

For as inconsistent the Nets have been to start the season, one thing is becoming clear: Sloppy play is hurting them big-time.

The Hornets’ defense — and Brooklyn’s lack thereof — was at the forefront of their comeback as they surged ahead in the second half to a 111-95 victory on Sunday. Kevin Durant’s 38 points went by the wayside as Miles Bridges paced the Hornets with 32 of his own.

The Nets built as large as a 10-point lead in the first half thanks to the hot play of Durant, but the Hornets out-scored Brooklyn 51-37 in the second half as mistakes mounted. Charlotte scored 29 points off Brooklyn’s 17 turnovers as the visitors built as large as a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter and the Nets lost their aggression and ball movement. 

Brooklyn led 58-50 at the half and had the momentum, but the Hornets went on separate runs in the third and fourth quarters that the Nets could not counter. Brooklyn shot just 43.7% from the field and a tough 9-of-35 from three-point range — while the Hornets shot 45.7% as the Nets’ defense just didn’t cut it in the second half. 

Aside from Durant, the Nets are still looking for reliable offensive options. James Harden was the lone other Net to break double digits, while the bench added 27 points compared to Charlotte’s 39 points from the second unit.

Bruce Brown was able to get some minutes for Brooklyn as Blake Griffin got a rest day. He brought good energy but was one of many to struggle from the floor. 

The Nets’ talent has been highly touted, but the chemistry has been slow to come together. The comeback win over the 76ers was a good boost, but Brooklyn has yet to put together a full-game, balanced effort. 

They will have a quick turnaround with an opportunity to pull back to .500 against the Wizards on Monday. A Spencer Dinwiddie reunion, and another chance to get the season’s first home win.

Kevin Durant

A-

The stats: 38 PTS, 17-24 FG, 2-6 3PT, 2-2 FT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 3 TO, 36 MIN

Kevin Durant was on his A-game once again, starting the game perfect from the field.

KD was once again Brooklyn’s go-to threat. He attempted to get teammates involved to little avail, leaving the Nets with just one weapon to work with to keep up with the barrage from the Hornets. 

The slow start overall is glaring, but KD has been excelling through it all. The efforts will go to waste, though, until the team finds offensive balance and remains aggressive with shot selection. 

James Harden

C

The stats: 15 PTS, 6-16 FG, 2-8 3PT, 1-1 FT, 7 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 8 TO, 33 MIN

This was a tough game by James Harden.

It is clear that James is still adjusting to life with the stricter foul-drawing rules. James has attempted just nine free throws through his first three games combined. That would be nearly unheard of in any other season.

James also was called for a few charges in his eight turnover night, while also struggling from deep. Like Steve Nash said post-game, James will find his groove, but the Nets need a steady hand to rely upon to find success.

LaMarcus Aldridge

A-

The stats: 9 PTS, 4-7 FG, 1-1 FT, 8 REB, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 2 TO, 22 MIN

LaMarcus was one of two Nets to post a positive plus/minus on the night (the other being Paul Millsap).

LaMarcus continues to make a positive impact off the bench as he gets back into the swing of games. He was especially big on the offensive glass against the Hornets with a team-high three offensive boards, while recording two blocks defensively.

LMA has been a positive for Brooklyn so far, especially with Blake getting rest on Sunday. Reliability and consistency are the names of the game for Brooklyn, and LaMarcus is bringing it right now.

Bruce Brown

B+

The stats: 8 PTS, 3-9 FG, 1-3 3PT, 1-2 FT, 7 REB, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 1 TO, 27 MIN

Bruce, freed!

Bruce broke into the rotation against Charlotte with Blake missing time and got right to work with his defensive energy. Teammates fed off his hustle, which played into the productive first half.

We’ll see if this leads to Bruce getting more regular minutes, but he had a largely positive impact. He just needs to deliver a bit more offensively, like most of the roster.

Joe Harris

C+

The stats: 7 PTS, 3-6 FG, 1-3 3PT, 4 REB, 1 STL, 1 TO, 28 MIN

The Nets need more offense, and some of that has been falling on Joe’s shoulders.

It was tough for Joe to get good looks against the Hornets, but his teammates need to try to get him going. Brooklyn needs more from Joe than a 3-of-6 performance from the field.

When Joe is hot, good things happen for Brooklyn. That is just one of the pieces the Nets have to solve to get to full power.