Exceeding or meeting expectations is a tough task in the NBA. Just ask the Nets. Or better yet, just ask their opponent, the Charlotte Hornets.
The two teams had yet to play each other this season, and with the Nets at 9-12 and Hornets at 6-16, both teams have squandered an opportunity to start their season on a high note. The Nets have been dependent on their defense, which in the month of December is second only to the Golden State Warriors, limiting teams to 41.2 percent shooting in those seven games. On the other hand, they had failed to score 100+ points in 13 of their last 14 games. The Hornets, coming off a double OT loss, had also struggled offensively. They hadn't shot over 50 percent in any game heading into Saturday night..
Despite Lionel Hollins switching to his sixth different starting lineup in the last six games; not to mention that they were missing three of their top players, the Nets manhandled the Charlotte Hornets, 114-87. The basket was magnified and the sky was the limit for Brooklyn. And that's without Brook Lopez, Mirza Teletovic and Kevin Garnett. Cory Jefferson and Mason Plumlee started in place for the Nets' usual starting big men, and it paid off.
Unlike many games we've seen this season, the paint wasn't clogged. They spread out offensive possessions filled half-court with fluid ball movement, often ending up with an open three; 16 to be exact. That's 16-for-23 (69.6%) to be even more exact. The 16 three's are the most the Nets have converted this season and the 69.6% is the best for any game in team history. The Nets also dished out 29 assists. Again, those 29 assists are a season-high for Brooklyn.
From three, Joe Johnson (4-for-6), Alan Anderson (4-for-5), Deron Williams (3-for-4) and Bojan Bogdanovic (3-for-3) were all hot, hot, hot. That's four players hitting on three or more three-pointers for the first time this year. The four combined for 71 points. The 16 three-pointers was the Nets' highest of the season. They shot 58.6% overall compared to Charlotte's 38.2%.
On the glass, the Nets grabbed 43 rebounds compared to the Hornets' 34 rebounds. With that, Brooklyn outscored Charlotte 42-26 in the paint. Mason Plumlee was the anchor in that category. He finished the night with 11 points and 13 rebounds, while Cory Jefferson, who received his first career start for Kevin Garnett, finished with 11 points, five rebounds and one block.
Top performers for Brooklyn: Joe Johnson led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds on 9-for-16 shooting. He scored 14 of the 22 in the first quarter. Deron Williams finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists on 4-for-11 shooting and 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Alan Anderson chipped in 17 points off the bench on 4-for-5 shooting from three.
Fresh off his college graduation ceremony, Jarrett Jack chipped in 14 points and five assists on 5-for-9 shooting. Bojan Bogdanovic also chipped in 12 points, while Mason Plumlee finishd with 11 points and 13 rebounds. As mentioned above, in his first career start, Cory Jefferson put home 11 points and grabbed five rebounds. Overall, a fantastic day for the Brooklyn Nets.
Top performers for Charlotte: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished with 15 points, Brian Roberts with 14 and Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker with 11 apiece.
Injury note: Brook Lopez (back), Mirza Teletovic (hip) and Kevin Garnett (rest).
Quarter by quarter summary:
First quarter ... The Nets opened up the game and put together a picture perfect start to their battle against Charlotte. Their offense was a thing of beauty; they spread the floor and crisply worked the ball around the perimeter in order to find the open man. They shot 59% from the field and 5-for-6 (83%) from three. It was mostly thanks to Joe Johnson, who finally seemed to rediscover his game.
Johnson scored nine of the first 11 Nets' points, jolting them to an 11-2 run. He finished the quarter with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting and 2-for-2 from three. The two three pointers put Johnson sixth all-time in Nets' three-pointers made in franchise history, passing Keith Van Horn at 336.
The Nets led 32-17 after one, their largest lead after a first quarter this season.
Second quarter ... With Joe Johnson on the bench for the beginning portion of the second quarter, the Nets' offense cooled down. They were outscored 25-20 in the quarter, but outplayed the Hornets in nearly every statistical category. Brooklyn shot 55.6% on the half, 63.6% from three, compared to Charlotte's 43.6% overall shooting and 46% from three. The Nets, even without their top three big men, held a 24-14 scoring advantage in the paint.
Aside from Joe Johnson, no other players scored in double digits. Johnson finished the half with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, with Deron Williams and Alan Anderson chipping in eight apiece. For Charlotte, Brooklyn-native Lance Stephenson led with nine points.
The score at the half: Nets 52, Hornets 42.
Third quarter ... The third quarter looked a lot like the first, except they didn't need Joe Johnson to get them going. It was a team effort. They started the quarter on a 21-9 run, with Cory Jefferson scoring six points in the quarter (total of 11), Deron Williams chipping in five points and three assists (13 & 9) and Johnson with six points (23). That's 17 of the Nets' first 21 points. Following the early run, the Nets found a 22 point lead, their largest of the night at the two minute mark of the quarter. That lead increased to 26 as the Nets closed out the quarter.
The Nets finished the quarter having outscored Charlotte 30-17. They were 59% from the field and 13-for-18 (72%) from three. Behind that, they led 85-59.
Fourth quarter ... The Nets increased their lead to 29 with five minutes remaining. Coach Hollins took out the starters and from that point on, the result was inevitable.. finally in favor of the Nets.
Final score: Nets 114, Hornets 87.
For more on the Charlotte Hornets, check them out at At The Hive.
- Game Thread: Brooklyn Nets at Charlotte Hornets, 7:00 PM - NetsDaily
- Nets at Hornets Boxscore - NBA.com
- Nets vs. Hornets (Video) - NBA.com
- Neal Gets The Bounce (Video) - NBA.com
- Lance Floats It (Video) - NBA.com
- Jack At The Buzzer (Video) - NBA.com
- Hollins on hitting shots against the Hornets (Video) - YES Network
- Plumlee on getting extended minutes lately (Video) - YES Network
- Johnson on shooting well in blowout win (Video) - YES Network
- Jefferson on joining the starting lineup (Video) - Sarah Kustok - YES Network
- Joe Johnson Drops 14 Fast Points In One Quarter (Video) - The Brooklyn Game
- LET IT RAIN! Nets shoot threes at record clip (Video) - The Brooklyn Game
- Cory Jefferson, Moving Forward (Video) - The Brooklyn Game
- Brooklyn Nets vs. Charlotte Hornets - Recap - December 13, 2014 - AP
- Nets 114, Hornets 87: Johnson in top form - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Kevin Garnett to sit third back-to-back finale - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Will Brook Lopez adjust or leave? - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Minus ball hog Brook Lopez, Nets have 29 assists in blowout of Hornets - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Nets overcome big problems to defeat lowly Hornets - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets Dominate Hornets From Deep (Game Grades) - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Jarrett Jack, 10-year NBA veteran, graduates from Georgia Tech - Brett Pollakoff - NBC Sports
- Nets get hot from 3-point range, rout Hornets 114-87 - Rick Bonnell - Charlotte Observer