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Nets look to beat Hornets and rise in standings

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BX!!!!
BX!!!!
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Same old, same old. The Brooklyn Nets had a chance to extend their winning streak to three games as well as gain some ground against one of the teams ahead of them in the standings, the Boston Celtics. What happened? The Nets got laid down at home (again) and lost by 19 points. Thanks to the awfulness of the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference, the Nets are still within reach of the eighth seed. They're 11 games under .500, but beggars can't be choosers, or something like that.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Charlotte Hornets. Like the Nets, Charlotte has underachieved this season and find themselves in a fight for the last playoff seed. Charlotte lost their last ballgame, a 98-86 decision to the Bulls in Chicago. This is their first game back in the Queen City after a five game road trip.

Where to follow the game

YES Network for TV, WFAN for radio. Tip is after seven PM.

Hand in hand

It's a bit tough to keep track of the chaos at the bottom of the East, so we'll do it for you. Here are the updated standings as of this writing:

2014-2015

Record

Games behind

Miami

32-38

-

Boston

31-39

-

Charlotte

30-39

0.5

Indiana

30-40

1

Brooklyn

29-40

1.5

Tonight, Indiana heads to Washington to face the Wizards while the Heat and Celtics meet up in Boston.

Injuries

Nothing new for the Nets. Sergey Karasev told Lenn Robbins this week that he would be on crutches for six months after surgery to repair a torn MCL and dislocated knee cap. That would mean September for even the most basic basketball training.

Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller are both listed as questionable.

The game

What's happening? Let's find out:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Charlotte

Record

29-40 30-39

Pace

94.78 95.44

Offensive Efficiency

101 98.1

Defensive Efficiency

105 100.6

Turnover Rate

14.8 12.3

Assist Rate

16.1 16.1

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.9 22.2

Rebounding Rate

48.6 50.3

Free Throw Rate

27.2 27.3

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.8 45.8

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.2 48.6

The Nets won the first meeting while the Hornets won the second. This is the third and final contest between the two teams this season.

How bad were the Nets on Monday? Rembert Browne explains:

This isn’t just Evan Turner having a good night. This is peak Evan Turner. Confident Evan Turner. Save us from the bad guys and lead us to the promised land, holy shit you came back, Simba, please kill Scar ASAP Evan Turner. That’s what the Nets allowed against an almost-equally-bad-on-paper, also-gunning-for-the-eighth-seed Celtics team last night. Again, in front of the youth. The children.

The job for the Nets should be really simple: Get Brook Lopez the ball. Get him the ball early, get him the ball often, get him the ball consistently throughout the game. Sounds simple enough right? Well, that didn't happen on Monday. The big guy led the game in scoring with 31 points, but his last shot attempt came with 10:43 to go in the fourth quarter. The Nets offense isn't good enough for them to not get Lopez the ball in the paint. With Big Al banged up, that leaves Bismack Biyambo and Jason Maxiel as the team's healthy big men. Biyombo is a bit undersized, but he has an incredibly long wingspan and has held opponents to 46.7 percent at the rim when he is there. He won't really hurt Lopez on offense, so having Jefferson is essential for the Hornets.

Joe Johnson had an awful game on Monday, and facing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist figures to present even more trouble. MKG is shooting a bit better than usual, but his shot still isn't something defenses respect all that much. Despite that, he is a good cutter and rebounder at his position and an excellent defender. The Hornets won't need to double Johnson so the Hornets can afford to leave MKG on him alone and spend their time making life difficult for Lopez inside.

Player to watch: Kemba Walker

The Bronx's own is back after missing 18 games due to a left meniscus tear. Since his return, he's struggled to find his shot. Kemba's only shooting 34.8 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from three point range in seven games this month. I wouldn't worry too much about him though. Knee injuries can take some time to recover from, and the more Walker plays, the more likely he'll shake off the rust. Should Walker continue to struggle, Mo Williams is someone that can pick up the slack. His acquisition from Minnesota was one of the best moves made at the deadline. Since joining the Hornets, Mo has upped his shooting percentages across the board while dramatically cutting down the turnovers he commits.

Deron Williams was one rebound away from his first career triple double. I thought he had picked one up in Utah, but I thought wrong. More importantly, he played more minutes than Jarrett Jack. Over the past week and change, Jack has seen the majority of minutes at the point guard position. Neither point guard has played consistently well this month and it's left the Nets behind the 8-ball. Brooklyn has no margin for error left, and with their PGs giving them very little, it makes the playoff push even more difficult.

From the Vault

Here's a fun fact. The Charlotte Hornets are the only team to win a first round game against the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.

More reading: At The HiveCelticsBlogIndy Cornrows, and Hot, Hot Hoops