Close but no cigar - that's the basic summary of tonight's game in Brooklyn. The Charlotte Hornets played great the whole night and despite a valiant last minute effort from the Brooklyn Nets, earned another win on the season. Charlotte came into tonight's game following a huge victory against the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. They carried their winning energy with them for the whole contest. Brooklyn, on the other hand, carried on with their losing ways.
The Nets collapsed early, finding themselves down 11 at the end of a hot first quarter for Charlotte. It was much of the same in the second quarter with Brooklyn facing a 10 point deficit heading into the half. Tony Brown must've done something right in the locker room because his Brooklyn squad went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter. Brook Lopez and Sean Kilpatrick ignited the offensive spark for the Nets and together they cut the lead to just three heading into the fourth.
Then, they lost all the momentum. Charlotte went on 10-0 run to give them a nine point lead late in the fourth. The Nets didn't go out quiet, however, and brought Charlotte's lead down to three again. After a missed three from Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn found themselves down four with just seconds on the clock. The Nets must've surely missed having Joe Johnson in this scenario. Instead, they looked to Lopez who airballed the three and sealed the deal for the Hornets. Lights out for the Brooklyn crowd.
Stars of the Night
The Hornets' usual hero, Kemba Walker, was relatively quiet in tonight's game. He had 14 points, four assists, and three rebounds. Instead, the combined effort of Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lin lead Charlotte to the victory. Batum had 23 points and Lin came off the bench for 21 along with four assists. Rookie Frank Kaminsky had 14 points and seven rebounds, solid numbers for the 22-year-old.
As for the Nets, the usual suspects played their usual game. Lopez had 29 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. He was only one rebound shy of a double-double. Bogdanovic continued his hot scoring, nabbing 20 points on the night. Thaddeus Young wasn't quite as productive, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds. Donald Sloan didn't score a single point in his 26 minutes of playing time. Markel Brown couldn't keep up with his high-scoring pace displayed over the past few games. He finished with only two points and four rebounds.
Diamonds in the Rough
Two notable appearances for the Nets in tonight's game were that of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Sean Kilpatrick. Hollis-Jefferson returned after missing 50 games from an ankle injury. He finished with five points, two assists, and three rebounds. One of those five points was a monster dunk. Rondae has routinely provided some excitement and athleticism to the Brooklyn roster.
Kilpatrick, now inked to a two-year deal, proved himself worthy of the money. He had 25 points off the bench, shooting a scorching 9-12 from the field. The 26-year-old guard from Yonkers has exploded onto the scene in Brooklyn. His high-scoring performances have given Nets fans across the globe some hope for their team's future. A combo of Hollis-Jefferson and Kilpatrick would certainly be an exciting, athletic, and high-flying duo. For the fans sake, let's hope these guys stick around.
The Nets face off against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. Cleveland comes into Brooklyn off of a massive 33 point victory over the Denver Nuggets. A scary sight for the Nets.
Charlotte looks to extend their winning streak against the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Both teams are deep in the Eastern Conference playoff race.