The Lin-less Nets try to plug the hole at point guard against the Hornets
Opponent: Charlotte Hornets
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Barclays Center
Watch: YES Network
The Brooklyn Nets picked up their second win of the season Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, 109-101, behind the dominant play of Brook Lopez and the continued hot-shooting of Sean Kilpatrick. The Nets look will to get their first two-game winning streak of the season against Jeremy Lin’s former team, the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. However, they’ll now have to do it without Lin, as the Nets have ruled out the point guard for at least two weeks with a strained hamstring.
Last time out, Lopez dominated Andre Drummond and the Pistons as he dropped 24 of his 34 points in the first half. Lopez also put Drummond on a poster with a monster dunk in the second half and (amazingly) hit four three-pointers — matching his entire 9-year career total in one game. Kilpatrick, the Nets’ version of an instant microwave, turned in a stellar performance with 24 points, including 4-4 from deep, 10 rebounds, and also some of the point guard duties after Lin was forced out.
However, it was Trevor Booker showing off that “Brooklyn Grit” as he made a game-saving block on a Pistons’ fastbreak. On the ensuing possession, Booker came up with a key offensive rebound to secure the win for the Nets.
The Hornets (3-1) won their last game, 109-93, against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. Lin’s absence means he’ll miss facing off against his former teammate and backcourt member, Kemba Walker, who’s having a strong start and averaging 23 points per game. With Lin out, look for Isaiah Whitehead and Kilpatrick to handle the point guard duties.
Nicolas Batum tallied 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in the win against the 76ers, so expect Nets’ second-year man Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to shadow him.
3 Things to Watch For in Nets-Hornets:
1. Can the Nets be .500 for the first time since January 2, 2015?
The Nets haven’t been .500 since the 2014-2015 season when they picked up a 100-98 win in January over the Orlando Magic to bring their record to 16-16. There have been a ton of changes, obviously, since then and Brook Lopez is the lone remaining player from that team. The Nets are 2-1 at home this season and will be facing a Hornets team that made the playoffs last season — albeit with Lin.
If the Nets can work more magic, it would be another quality win for the suddenly overachieving squad.
2. Who will attempt to replace Jeremy Lin?
Lin averaged 11.7 points per game and 3 assists as a sixth-man role for the 48-win Hornets in 2015-2016. Lin, now in Brooklyn, has been handed the keys as a full-time starter and was averaging 15 points and 6.2 assists per game before the hamstring injury. Will the Coney Island native Isaiah Whitehead get his first career start? Does Greivis Vasquez or Randy Foye return from injury? Will the hot-shooting Sean Kilpatrick step up and play some point again?
3. Which Brook Lopez will show up?
Understandably, there’s been a bunch of chatter about Lopez so far this season. Why is he shooting threes? Does he fit this system? Why don’t why they run pick-and-roll? Will he be traded?
Well, if last game was any indication, this is still Lopez’s team. In the Nets’ two wins, he posted 25 and a 34-point outbursts, respectively. On the other hand, in the Nets’ three losses, Lopez tallied 7, a DNP, and 13 point totals.
Against the Hornets’ Cody Zeller, the Nets will only go as far as Lopez takes them.