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Demoralizing: Brooklyn Nets lose 115-91 to Charlotte Hornets

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Just when you thought the Brooklyn Nets were turning their season around, they laid an egg in one of the biggest games of the season.

The boo-birds were out and about as the Nets were demolished by the Charlotte Hornets on their home court, 115-91, in front of a sold-out crowd. It also comes just one game after the Nets defeated the NBA's best team at ease (or so it seemed). This game was crucial because the two teams were tied for the eighth seed in the East, but now Charlotte has the upper hand.

Ugh.

This brings up the discussion of this Brooklyn Nets team being a mirage of some sort all season long. They win two straight games, look fluid on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball -- then make a mediocre team like Charlotte look like the Golden State Warriors (and made the Warriors look like the Hornets). They were outhustled on nearly every 50/50 ball and watched Charlotte grab rebound after rebound to give them a 41-28 advantage on the glass.

It was a lifeless effort to say the least.

"I felt like it was going to be the other way around," Deron Williams explained. "Honestly, before the game I felt like we were going to come out and give a great effort and it was the opposite. No explanation for it, no excuse, they just beat us. They came in here and they whooped us."

They were on the wrong side of a 35-15 margin after the first quarter after shooting 6-of-20 from the field while Charlotte finished 15-of-22. Thaddeus Young gave them a lift off the bench in the second quarter to help cut the deficit down to 12, but Charlotte outscored Brooklyn 32-22 in the third quarter and gave them an 88-66 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

It was Hollins' time to empty the bench, which led to the inevitable truth that the Nets were indeed done from the start in a high-pressure game. It brings doubt to the team after such a wonderful two-game stretch.

Deron Williams led with 12 points, but shot 3-of-9 from the floor and dished out six assists. Other than Williams, Bojan Bogdanovic and Mason Plumlee were the only other Nets to finish in double figures. Bogey finished with 11 points and five rebounds, Plumlee with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Meanwhile, all five Charlotte starters finished in double figures and then some. Marvin Williams led the way (18 points, 7 rebounds & 1 block), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (10 points, 13 rebounds), Al Jefferson (19 points, 6 rebounds), Mo Williams (14 points, 14 assists) and Gerald Henderson (19 points). Off the bench, Cody Zeller chipped in 13 points. The Brooklyn-native himself  -- and near Brooklyn Net, Lance Stephenson -- finished with four points.

Their laziness on the offensive end took a toll on their field goal efficiency. The team shot 38% from the field and 15.4% from three! FIFTEEN PERCENT. On the other hand, Charlotte shot 49% from the floor and 50% from three. Brooklyn also had just three fastbreak points. Not the fast pace numbers they had hoped for.

"We've been beaten a couple of times," a somewhat upbeat coach Hollins said afterwards. "Sometimes you get beat in close games, sometimes you get beat in blowouts. It would be a theme if we turn around and lose seven or eight in a row. If that's the theme then we can talk about it."

The Nets now fall one-half game out of the eighth seed, which essentially means little with plenty of time remaining in the season, but this would've been a huge opportunity to climb the Eastern Conference ladder -- one that's wide open. They'll face off against the Phoenix Suns at home this Friday night at Barclays Center.

For more on the Charlotte Hornets, check them out at At The Hive.